It has been a busy summer and there’s still more to come. Not only has there been the usual high level of planning applications in the area but we have had three planning appeals to contend with. Two are over and we have one yet to come. One yet to be heard is about the game bird breeding activity at Iford farm. This appeal will be heard on Wednesday, 23 September in Lewes. Click here for more information. Click any of the titles below for more information:
Spring Barn Farm Centre: The first planning appeal we had to deal with in the Ouse valley was at Spring Barn Farm Centre. This appeal was held in writing and submissions had to be in by 17 July 2015. I asked the planning inspector in Bristol to allow further time and to hold the hearing in public but this was refused. Because the district council had not publicised the appeal very well I sent a note round to residents mostly closely affected in the few days available. I noticed a number of residents did manage to get their submissions in. We now await the result of the inspector’s deliberations!
Shooting Lodge: Update of 16th Oct 2016: Sadly, I have to report that this appeal has been allowed by the Planning Inspector. This has been the most difficult appeal to date. The background is that the applicant decided to appeal against non-decision by the district council. Leaving aside the whys and wherefores of this peculiar step in the process and despite the recommendation of the officers, the members voted to refuse the application. The applicant then appealed which led to a public hearing. This hearing was held on 25th of August. There are a number of different types of planning appeal procedures; they can be in the form of a ‘hearing’ or an ‘inquiry’ and they can be held in public or by written form. A public ‘hearing’ is the most informal of the processes and in this case that’s how it was conducted. It was held at the club house at the Stanley Turner recreation ground just off the Kingston Road.
There was little or no publicity in the lead up to the hearing which I believe disadvantaged many people. I guess now there are still many people in the area who don’t know even that the hearing has been held. I will be registering a complaint about the whole process with the district council and the apparent lack of a robust defence by the district council planning officers. I am also concerned about how the hearing was conducted and I will be registering my concerns with the Planning Inspectorate. All the officials seemed to be giving undue deference to the barrister representing the appellant!
That said it was good that a number of people spoke up and made their case. No one from the public gallery spoke in favour of the shooting lodge. It was a great pity the inspector would not accept written submissions by people who could not get to the hearing.
We have not been served well by the local authority and by the Planning Inspectorate processes. I believe these need to be considerably improved.
One of the things I shall be making clear to the district council and the Inspectorate is that it seems extremely unfair for the public to be denied the right to write in before the closing date when it’s a ‘hearing’ but if it had been a written enquiry their submissions would have been valid. This seems a most peculiar way to go on!
In summary this case hinges on whether or not the Planning Inspectorate considers that the shooting activities on the Downs surrounding the lodge are actually linked with the lodge. We all know they are, in practice , but in planning law the barrister for the appellant may win the day based upon a point of planning law! If the barrister is successful we will see shooting on a wide area of the South Downs above Kingston, Swanborough, Northease and Rodmell over six days a week including Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Many people from all over the country and internationally who use the South Downs Way will be affected. They haven’t been able to express their opinion, sadly.
Game Rearing Appeal: having just got over the Shooting Lodge application we have to prepare for the game rearing appeal. At the previous hearing on the 25th August we discovered that the Planning Inspectorate will not accept further written submissions so anybody wishing to make comments to the planning inspector who has not already done so (the cut off date was 26th Aug 2015) will have to do so in person on 23 September. For more information about the appeal click here.