Planning appeals ‘in need of a shake-up’

A GOVERNMENT appeals body should be abolished to stop local people being overruled on key planning application decisions, political figures have urged.

WH 310115 Goring cllr Mark Nolan calling for abolition of planning inspectorate to prevent key decisions being taken away from local control. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-150202-160351001

Goring councillor Mark Nolan has backed Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert in calling to get rid of the Planning Inspectorate.

The agency can rule against previous decisions by local planning committees, without referring back to residents or councillors.

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He said: “Is it any wonder the voting public is so disengaged with the democratic process, when we have an unelected, anonymous quango overruling us?

“I fully agree that a new regime must be put in place to restore the public’s confidence in the planning process.”

A controversial application for a house in Marine Drive, Goring, was granted by the inspectorate, after Worthing planning committee rejected it in July last year.

The application, which councillors said would ‘stick out like a sore thumb’, received ten letters of objection and opposition from two conservation groups.

Mr Herbert said it undermined localism and called in Parliament last week for a community right of appeal.

He said: “Developers know that they have an opportunity to get permission for sites that they would not get permission for were the neighbourhood plan to go through.

“Too often, the Planning Inspectorate either upholds on appeal a local authority’s decisions to decline those applications or terrifies the local authority into submission, so that it gives permission because it knows that otherwise it would lose an appeal and would have to spend a great deal of money on doing so.”

Planning committee chairman Joan Bradley said the system had generally worked well in her experience, which spans over a decade.

She added: “We haven’t had any problems up until quite recently. It has always worked very well.

“I do believe there are occasions where they are in favour of developers over the residents.

“(In planning) you only please half the people half the time.”