No Confidence In Planning Decisions

Recalling the planning doctrine of O’Tooleitis which said “None of the Agencies have any concerns about flooding, we have heard that so many times in the past, then we go and allow a development, and what happens a few months later we have flooding”. And “We have heard from these organisations, particularly the United Utilities and the others that were mentioned, that there wouldn’t be a problem with flooding only to find there is a problem with flooding later on”.

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We wondered “Perhaps O’Tooleitis has instigated a new planning guidance note for WLBC officers? Perhaps a public inquiry will be held into every instance of flooded developments where the doctrine of O’Tooleitis has been an invisible factor?”

It seems not, as Cllr O’Toole has received corrective advice from the WLBC Head Planning Prefect, the Head of Growth and Development Services, who has written “I have discussed with Cllr O’Toole in terms of what he meant by his statements, and he has informed me that he did not mean to imply we could not trust the advice of statutory agencies, but that rather his concern was that they do not always take on board the views of local residents when they consider that an area has had previous flooding issues. Members receive regular training with regard to issues of pre-determination and are bound by the Members’ Code of Conduct”.

The reply to the Head Planning Prefect “Thank you. This is a somewhat disappointing swerve away from what Cllr O’Toole actually said, as the recording confirms. It now minimises the appalling harm done to homes by flooding due in entirety to the neglect of statutory providers. So far as Gordon Nordell QC stated, as I wrote “councillors have to establish a stark and convincing factual case. Cllr O’Toole did that by telling the truth. His words will be remembered and quoted”.

Perhaps these O’Tooleisms will feature prominently in future planning applications? Does anyone actually think Cllr O’Toole “implied” anything, rather than speaking firmly with circa 40 years of vast knowledge about statutory agencies? How can promises about no flooding that turn into real flooding be “implications”? And is it acceptable that what Cllr O’Toole said in an official planning meeting, in the presence of planning officers who did not correct him, has now been “amended” by them after the fact?

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