NOTE: The local planning authority is the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park (“PCNPA”) and the Development Plan for this area is the PCNPA Local Development Plan 2010 to 2021 (hereinafter the “LDP”)
The determination of an application for planning permission must be made in accordance with the Development Plan “unless there are ‘material considerations’ that indicate otherwise” (see section 70(2) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004)
In principle, any consideration which relates to the use and development of land is capable of being a planning consideration. Whether a particular consideration is material in any given case will depend on the circumstances. It is ultimately for the Courts to decide.
Planning Policy Wales gives some guidance on what material considerations are. They must be genuine planning matters, that is, they must be relevant to the regulation of the development and use of land in the public interest, towards the goal of sustainability. The Courts have the final say on what may be regarded as material considerations in relation to any particular application, but they include the number, size, layout, design and appearance of buildings, the means of access, landscaping, service availability and the impact on the neighbourhood and on the environment. The effects of a development on, for example, health, public safety and crime can also be material considerations, as can public concerns in relation to such effects.
Helpfully, as recently as 15 April 2015 the PCNPA’s own Solicitor presented a Report to the Development Management Committee, reminding them of just what is, and what is not, a “material planning consideration” which they can take into account. The following is from his Report:
“4. Material considerations can be:
(a) National planning policy, which is set out in Planning Policy Wales and
the accompanying Technical Advice Notes.
(b) Considerations relating to the planning history of a site, highways,
nature conservation, noise, loss of privacy, the layout, design and
appearance of a proposed development, and any effects on a listed
building or conservation area.
(c) The need to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and
cultural heritage of the National Park, and to promote opportunities for
the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the
National Park by the public.
5. Non-material considerations must be disregarded when taking planning
decisions. For example, issues such as loss of view, or negative effect on the
value of properties, are not material considerations. Personal circumstances
are only very rarely material to planning decisions.”
Information in the various “Supplementary Planning Guides” produced by the Planning Authority are capable of being regarded as of material consideration, so long as the Guidance itself is “fully consistent” with the Development Plan.
When determining an application, all comments received must be taken into account. Once a decision has been made, all those who provided comment must be informed.
The Local Planning Authority planning committee is ultimately responsible for all local planning decisions. Planning officers employed by the Authority will make a recommendation to the committee about whether or not to approve an application and any conditions that should be imposed. The planning committee does not have to agree with the officer recommendation, but if they decide to reject an application against officer advice they must give their reasons. The decision may be overturned on appeal with costs being awarded against the authority if valid planning reasons for the decision cannot be demonstrated.
Smaller applications are often decided by the Local Planning Authority’s Chief Planning Officer, who can be granted powers by the authority to decide some applications under a ‘delegated authority’ scheme. In the case of NP/15/0194 the scale of the proposed housing (more than 10 units fn1) means that it must be treated by law as an application for a “major development” and this will come before the planning committee (PCNPA Development Management Committee or DMC)
PCNPA may grant permission for development which does not accord with the provisions of the LDP, so long as such applications are identified as such during the so-called verification procedure and are advertised as such in a local newspaper circulating in the area fn2 . These are known as “departure applications”. The Local Planning Authority must tell the Welsh Government about these applications. On site planning notices indicate that so far the PCNPA has correctly identified this application as for a “major development”, but not that they have also identified it as an “departure application”.
Ministerial Interim Planning Policy Statement 01/2006 Housing June 2006 (paragraph 9.2.1)
“In planning the provision for new housing, local planning authorities must work in collaboration with housing authorities, registered social landlords, house builders, developers, land owners and the community.”
It is deeply disappointing that there has been no contact by the Authority with the wider community during the development of this planning application.
To view the main LDP policies against which the PCNPA ought to be judging this application are set out and followed by some BDOG comments, click here.
1. Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (Wales) Order 2012
Art.2 – Interpretation :”major development” para (c) (i)
2. Art.12(3)(b) of the 2012 Order as above.