• Westhayes decision delayed by new Govt planning rules

    5th May 2012 | News | Claire
  • The NPPF was launched in late March and although the appeal hearing for Westhayes took place before the NPPF was published, the decision is now delayed because of new pro-development and vague policies.

    Planning consultants confirm that appeals all over the country are being slowed up as the Planning Inspectorate attempts to get to grips with a new localist agenda and apply it at a national level.

    Localist planning may make sense at a ‘local’ level, however, as soon as an appeal is lodged any decision must be consistent, not only with related decisions at that local authority, but right across the country.

    How on earth the planning inspectorate is navigating its way through this thicket of chaos, I have no idea. 

    If it gets it wrong there will be a postcode lottery. 

    Ministers threatening the planning inspectors with ‘watching them very carefully’ (as they have done this week) conveniently avoids them taking any responsibility for their new sieve-like set of policies.

    Head of planning at the Town and Country Planning Association, Hugh Ellis, told a packed environment conference that I attended in London in March, that the reason that planning (up until 23 March 2012) had clear nationwide guidance was to ensure clarity and keep the number of appeals as low as possible, as well as the length of time taken for applications to go through the system.

    But Chancellor, George Osborne thought he knew better than the planning experts.  He decided that by ensuring the NPPF was as vague as possible he would make it easier for developers to gain planning permission. 

    He thought that by creating a deregulated planning system he would fix the economy.

    We are now starting to see the early results of what Mr Ellis labelled ‘an extraordinary experiment’ – and that is a slowed down appeals system. 

    I am looking forward to Mr Osborne’s resignation. 

    Photograph: The Westhayes Parkland at West Hill.