Puzzling is one word that springs to mind regarding the delay in releasing the decision on the Glebelands Appeal.
The proposal to develop Green Belt land within Castle Point was originally Refused permission in April 2012 by the Development Committee.
This decision was challenged at Appeal, held during December 2012 with the Inspector’s decision arrived at mid February 2013.
However our MP Rebecca Harris intervened recognising the Green Belt concerns amongst residents within the Borough.
She arranged that the Inspector’s decision would be further scrutinised by the Secretary of State.
The final decision was due for release on or before the 16th May 2013.
This date passed with no news, causing the developer to enquire as to progress.
The Secretary of State’s office released an update explaining they had not been able to release a decision but reassured that the decision would be released as soon as they were in a position to do so. Hoping this would be within a fortnight, taking us to the 28th May.
As at the 7th June, today, still no news.
This delay is surprising given the emphasis that our Government have placed on the importance of the construction industry to the economy.
There are pressures placed on local Councils to decide a minimum of 30% of planning applications within the statutory period, otherwise run the risk of being designated as under-performing. Failure would introduce the possibility of applications being submitted directly to the Planning Inspectorate, in effect taking decisions out of local control.
The new Local Plan appears to be slipping behind schedule, to prevent this it would be fair to expect a raft of evidence to be approved at this month’s Cabinet meeting.
The Council’s whole strategy to protect the Borough’s Green Belt from development is solely based on the announced 5 year housing supply list.
This housing list of sites will have been scrutinised and dissected during the Glebelands Appeal.
Would it be unreasonable to suggest that the announcement of the Glebelands result. If found in favour of the Appellant, may serve to completely undermine the process of the new Local Plan?
In the interests of Local Plan progress, it would be circumspect for the Appeal result to be further delayed.
With the intervention by Rebecca Harris in the Glebelands Appeal, she may well have served our Council well in it’s struggles with the Local Plan, and the consideration of the 6-15 year period’s supply of housing.
As explained earlier, the S fo S has emphasised the need for efficiency in handling planning applications, it appears unusual for his own department to not comply.
If a decision is released soon, remembering it is now well overdue, the 5 year supply may require re-assessing and Jotmans Farm and the Dutch Village Fields will be under severe pressure from development.
Let us hope the Planners and Councillors have done their homework.
Unconfirmed rumour received that the Felstead Road, Benfleet proposal, included within the Local Plan 5 year housing supply, numbers up from 160 to 240 dwellings.