After elected representatives and over 1,300 interested parties were denied an opportunity to comment on the change in planning policy affecting the Marl Lane planning application, Janet Finch-Saunders, Assembly Member for Aberconwy, has been working to address the serious unfairness by asking the Welsh Government to change the regulation which caused the problem. After months of work, Janet has spoken out in anger at the Minister for Housing and Local Government’s refusal to review the regulation.
“As you know, the decision of the planning inspectorate to grant approval to the development of 110 houses in Llandudno Junction is extremely frustrating. Indeed, it is truly disheartening to see the voice of the clear community majority and the refusal of Conwy Council overturned.
“Whilst efforts are underway to take the decision to judicial review, I have been busy working to try and address a major unfairness that was encountered as part of the planning inquiry.
“What happened is that in missing the ministerial deadline for a decision, the Inspector saw his deliberations flow into December. This meant that new planning policy, introduced that month, had to be taken into account.
“Given that the policy was not in place when objections were being presented, and representations made at the inquiry, its points just could not have been raised. Therefore, it seemed right to me that all interested parties should be allowed to comment further in December.
“Shockingly, whilst the Welsh Government allows the Planning Inspectorate to invite all involved in an inquiry to make representations about new evidence, where that evidence is Welsh Minister’s policy, the requirement does not apply.
“This ridiculous rule is based on sub-section 47(7) of the Town and Country Planning (Referred Applications and Appeals Procedure) (Wales) Regulations 2017. To my astonishment, Julie James AM, Minister for Housing and Local Government, Welsh Government, has refused my request for the rule to be reviewed.
“After so many people were denied an opportunity to comment on the impact of new Welsh Government planning policy on the now approved development, I think it quite incredible that the Labour Minister is prepared to see such an unfairness occur again.
“Indeed, how can it ever be right that the majority of interested parties are excluded from an important development in a planning inquiry?”.
Letter to Julie James AM, Minister for Housing and Local Government 11/02/19
Response letter from the Minister 27/2/19
(Photo - North Wales Pioneer)