Author: Cyril Richert
To the question: “If the adopted Local and National Planning Policies are only treated as loose guidelines which can be ignored at will, then Wandsworth Council should state that such is the case” the leader of Wandsworth Council, Cllr Govindia, answered: “Yes, the keyword is ‘guidelines’“.
On Thursday 10th April, the Wandsworth Society organised a local election hustings with the representatives of the Conservatives, the Labour, the Libdems, UKIP and the Greens.
Following the comment, Battersea Society Secretary Harvey Heath said:
“This is full admission that the Council considers that Policies are just rules that can be bended and ignored“.
Local policies are statutory Development Plan for the borough and must comply with a long list of requirements and must be submitted to the Secretary of State for Examination and reviewed by an independent Planning Inspector and subject to the changes identified in the Inspector’s Examination report. Policies say clearly (DMPD p13): “Planning permission will be granted for developments which comply with the following criteria…”
Policies are NOT guidelines (and Cllr Govindia, as former Chairman of the Planning Committee for a decade, knows that very well indeed).
Cllr Rex Osborn, leader of the Labour, proposes that the public should be able to make representation at the Planning Application Committee meetings (this is currently forbidden by Wandsworth Council – the only borough in London not allowing such representation) and that Community Societies/groups should be involved in planning discussions with the planning department (maybe represented at the PAC?).
All the other local election candidates said yesterday that policies are not only guidelines and therefore should be applied at a much tougher level than currently.
Cllr Govindia also said that all decisions can always be challenged in court with a judicial review. However this process is way above the financial possibilities of most of individuals, community groups and even Societies. The only recent case known is when the Friends of Putney Common managed to quashed a Council’s planning decision, after spending £12,000 in solicitor and lawyer’s fees.