At the committee’s meeting last week Cllr Roger Giles raised the issue of the threat made by George Osborne in his Autumn Statement in December 2013.

Mr Osborne had said that he was considering removing the entitlement to the new homes bonus from councils who refused planning permission to developers who subsequently won planning approval on appeal.

Roger Giles said that all planning applications should be decided entirely on their merits. By threatening to remove entitlement to the new homes bonus the chancellor of the exchequer was trying to bribe councils – particularly cash-strapped councils – to approve planning applications that would otherwise have been refused.

The Chancellor’s threat is a gross interference with the impartiality of the planning system. There is a danger that some councils might be tempted to approve inappropriate planning applications in order to receive financial benefit.  Other councils, who determined an application fairly, and reached a decision to refuse the application, could find themselves financially penalised. Overall there was a probability that there would be more approvals of inappropriate and damaging planning applications.

The scrutiny committee agreed that planning applications should be determined on merit, and expressed concern about the chancellor’s statement.  It was agreed to ask the LGA to seek to ensure that the chancellor’s statement should be abandoned.

Photograph:  The appeal result that many of us are waiting on tenterhooks for. Will Feniton get over two hundred houses, or will the planning inspector make the right decision. It all depends on her interpretation of the national planning policy framework.  We may know the outcome by the end of this week.