Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Planning Update

If one judges the state of the economy by the number of planning applications then there is really strong evidence that things are on the up.  CWaC is handling many more planning applications at the moment.  We have our share of them in Frodsham - and some of them are controversial.

Unless you have experience of the planning system it can be confusing - so here, in brief is a quick overview of the system here in Frodsham at the moment.

With the exception of national infrastructure schemes - which are decided by Government Ministers (eg windfarm permission granted by Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey (Lib-Dem)) or planning appeals which are decided by planning inspectors or in the case of larger schemes by Government Ministers (eg Ince Resource Recovery Park under Labour) all planning applications are submitted to Cheshire West and Chester Council ('CWaC') and it is for CWaC to determine them.

'Determine' in a planning application context means 'to decide.'  In other words the decision is taken by CWaC.

CWaC planning officers are responsible for 'validating' all applications (ie checking the formalities have been complied with and the fee paid), determining who should receive 'neighbour notifications' and evaluating the applications.

CWaC planning officers also send out details of the applications to 'statutory consultees' - these are the bodies that are entitled to be told of the planning application.  These statutory consultees vary on the type of the application and its location.  Some of the consultees are other deparments within CWaC - such as highways.  All applications in Frodsham are sent to Frodsham Town Council.  FTC can express an opinion to CWaC about these applications.

All planning applications are published by CWaC on the web - you can find the planning portal very easily by searching on Google for 'Cheshire West planning portal.'  Anyone can make comments and representations about a planning application directly on the web - or by writing to CWaC.  Please note that all representations made are published for everyone to read.

The vast majority of small scale uncontroversial planning applications are determined by CWaC officers.  The more controversial are decided at a Planning Committee made up of CWaC councillors.

Each Borough councillor - in Frodsham Lynn Riley and me - have the right to call-in any planning application for determination by the planning committee.  We have to exercise this right within 28 days of the application being published.

At the planning committee the applicant and representative objectors can addresss the planning committee.  Lynn and I can address the committee too as ward councillors.  All CWaC planning committee meetings are broadcast live on the web if you want to watch what is happening without having to attend the planning committee yourself.  Anyone is entitled to attend a planning committee meeting.

Do please let either Lynn or me (or both of us) know about any planning application you are concerned about and we can discuss what representations can be made and whether or not to call it in or seek to persuade officers that a matter should be heard by the committee.

I have called in 2 current planning applications for consideration by the planning committee they are:

  • 13/02874/S73   Removal of condition 1 of planning permission 12/01321/COU (change of use of land to use a residential caravan site for one Gypsy family, with 4 caravans, including one static mobile home, hardstanding and access improvements) to allow permanent occupation of the site. Brown Ridings Bradley Lane Frodsham Cheshire
'I wish to call this planning application in to the planning committee on the grounds that the application is of great interest to the local community and is a matter of local controversy. 

The original, recent grant of temporary planning permission was itself a matter of significant controversy locally. The application to make the land use permanent will, when knowledge of the planning application becomes better known also be a matter of significant local controversy. This site is in green belt, and is, in my view an inappropriate use in this location. CWaC is making significant strides in bringing forward permanent residential sites for Gypsies and Travellers meaning that there is even less justification for this type of development.

I reserve the right to add to these submissions both in writing and at the planning committee.'
  • 13/01647/FUL    Land At 64 Howey Lane Frodsham - 2 detached dwellings
'I would like this matter called in to the planning committee for determination.
There is significant local concern about this proposed development. Most of the concerns relate to the design of the proposed dwellings, the fact that they are no in-keeping with the area and that they could be seen as detrimental to the near-by conservation area. They can be seen as a controversial design.
Given this I do believe this application is best dealt with in front of a planning committee where all parties can put their views forward.
I do take the view that the proposed development is contrary to the Frodsham Town Design Statement - and its desire to resist sub-division of plots on Howey Lane. The fact that the dwellings will have little garden land of their own, in contrast to the existing layout suggests an urbanisation of this area - and demonstrates that the proposal is not in keeping with the area.
I agree with the views of the Landscape Team - but come to a different conclusion - in the sense that the development proposals should be rejected and that conditions are insufficient to mitigate against the adverse impact.
I believe that there are concerns regarding privacy for those on Netherton Drive. That the loss of mature trees should be resisted. In that regard I agree with the Tree Team.
I also agree with the comments of the Conservation and Design Team. The importance of Castle Park cannot be overstated in Frodsham. Anything that affects its setting is of concern.'

There is one other potentially controversial matter which officers are to send to committee.  Lynn and I persuaded them to exercise their discretion to send it to committee.  It is:
  •   13/01392/FUL Conversion of shop and flat above into single dwelling with rear ground floor extension 48A High Street Frodsham Cheshire WA6 7HE

If you are interested in any of these or indeed any other applications do please make sure you have your say.  Planning is a democratic process that involves balancing competing interests.  The best decisions are made when as many people as possible get involved.