Posted by: westlancashirerecord | September 12, 2018

Whose Liability Is It For The Local Plan?

Liability for what is happening with the Local Plan falls entirely with whoever controls the council. Labour controls the council and has done since 2016. End of. Never mind the diabolical Tory Local Plan of 2013 , Parrs Lane and Yew Tree Farm Burscough erosion of the greenbelt, it is Labour that controls it.

Let us take a few steps back. The Local Development Scheme (LDS) 2017 was a project plan for the Local Plan for West Lancashire. The version of the LDS replacing that previously produced in September 2017 is the all whistles and bells “Local Development Scheme West Lancashire Borough Council September 2018” .

The LDS 2017 included a claim that “Therefore, while the current adopted Local Plan for West Lancashire is not out of date at this point in time, the Council considered it prudent to begin work on a Local Plan Review in September 2016 with the aim of preparing a new Local Plan”.

Even earlier “Development in the Green Belt Supplementary Planning Document Consultation Statement August 2015… Council “The West Lancashire Local Plan recognises the importance of agriculture in the Green Belt. Policy EC2 relating to the Rural Economy states that “the irreversible development of open, agricultural land will not be permitted where it would result in the loss of the best and most versatile agricultural land, except where absolutely necessary to deliver development allocated within the current Local Plan or strategic infrastructure or development associated with the agricultural use of the land”. The SPD cannot and does not seek to amend this Policy. The WLLP sets the priorities for development in the Borough. Almost half of all new development is focussed on Skelmersdale, as the Borough’s Regional Town. However Ormskirk with Aughton and Burscough form the secondary focus for new development in the Borough, as these towns both have good transport connections and most local services provided for. It is important that development is distributed through the Borough to ensure sustainable development across the Borough”.

The Labour Council, for whatever its reasons, chose to fight development of Parrs Lane. I asked under FoI200 to be provided with the full cost, including all legal advice and legal representation, to WLBC of defending the Parrs Lane appeals. They replied “The Council is unable to provide an accurate figure for the “full cost”, as it does not generally record officers’ time spent on dealing with applications and appeals, given these are part of their normal workload. However, the Council has paid Counsel’s fees for legal advice and representation in the sum of £81,248.35 in connection with the two joint planning inquiries held in 2016 and 2018. Of that figure, £44,592.75 was incurred in connection with the first inquiry and £36,655.60 for the second inquiry. Costs do not follow the event at planning inquiries and, generally, they are only awarded if a party behaves unreasonably and puts the other party to unnecessary expense. No such applications were made at the two inquiries.

“Following the receipt of the first decision in August 2016 (it was a joint inquiry with Redrow, the second being published in December 2016) following the inquiry in May 2016, the Council successfully challenged the decision to grant planning permission for the Wainhomes development. As part of those proceedings, and as costs do generally follow the event in civil proceedings, the Council successfully recovered its costs in the sum of £37,511.50, so there was no cost to the Council for challenging the decision.

“There is an ex gratia scheme for re-determination inquires where the Secretary of State decides, on the basis of legal advice, not to defend a challenge brought and submits to the Court’s judgement (see previous paragraph). In such circumstances the Secretary of State will consider what went wrong and whether an ex gratia payment in respect of the costs of the redetermination is appropriate. Following the receipt of the redetermination of the appeals decisions in March 2018, the Council submitted a claim for Counsel’s fees in the sum of £36,655.60. Further, as part of that claim, the Council has included a claim for officer time. The latter was recorded for this second inquiry, as the Council was aware of the ex-gratia scheme and that it would be able to submit a claim under it. The total sum which has been claimed is £51,962.60. A decision is awaited”.

So it cannot, apparently, be denied that Labour appealed Parrs Lane knowing they would nevertheless include it in the new Local Plan. Only they can tell us why. Perhaps this was the reason?

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