We have a number of people who, because of the Vounog application, are new to the planning process. Here is a quick explanation about how it works.
Under current legislation the applicant has to perform a public consultation for a defined period. That's what is happening on the Vounog application now. The applicant has to evidence that they have performed this process. They do not have to listen to or engage with the public. It's not necessary for you to include details in your objections at this stage, but doesn't do any harm to object to the applicant.
2. Planning Officer
Once the applicant is ready, they submit the application to Flintshire County Council. There the application is assigned to a case officer. The application is opened for public consultation - there is then 28 days to formally object.
The issues you raise must involve planning matters such as:
- Impact on residential amenity (e.g. hours of use, loss of privacy, loss of light, over dominance, noise, traffic)
- Impact on the character and appearance of an area (design, appearance and intensity)
- Impact on highway safety (e.g. poor visibility, pedestrian safety, parking)
- Impact on community facilities
- Planning policies and proposals, or Government planning advice.
The planning officer will not take into account comments on the following types of concerns:
- Personal characteristics of the applicant
- The effect of the proposal on property values
- Disturbances during building work
- Loss of view
- Private rights of way, private drains and other private easements and legal covenants
- Disputes over land ownership
- Commercial competition
- Building Regulation issues (e.g. structural stability, drainage, fire precautions, hygiene and internal space).
However, if you know the land has drainage issues for example, then you should include this - we call these sorts of things 'noise' - they don't directly affect the planning decision but if enough people are making enough 'noise' then they get heard.
The job of the planning officer is to assess all the planning matters affecting it and whether it is compliant with policy and 'sustainable'.
Our job is to explain which policies we believe it does not comply with and why, and also what harm will be done to the community or infrastructure if the application goes ahead.
When the planning officer has reviewed the case, including public comments and consultations with statutory bodies, then they make a recommendation to approve or refuse the application. In many applications they make the decision, on larger ones, our Councillors can request that it is decided at Committee.
RHOS ROAD (NORTH CASE_ The planning officer recommended REFUSAL
REDROW CASE - The planning officer recommended REFUSAL
HAWARDEN ROAD CASE - The planning officer recommended APPROVAL
RHOS ROAD (SOUTH) CASE - We don't know yet
VOUNOG CASE - We don't know yet
3. Planning Committee
The planning committee sit once a month. They receive all the paperwork and are trained in planning policy but they are elected representatives and not planning professionals. They must take advice from the planning officer and the legal officer on each case. They listen to the planning officer's recommendation and then vote on whether they agree with it.
Our job is to lobby each of the committee members to persuade them that, irrespective of what the planning officer recommends, the application should be refused. Sometime the committee will go against the officer, but not often. If anyone contacts members of the planning committee directly, they must contact all of them with the same information - they cannot be seen to be prejudiced. The planning committee will come and visit the site prior to committee. We are not allowed to speak to them during this visit, but we can be very visible.
RHOS ROAD (NORTH) CASE -The committee REFUSED
REDROW CASE - The committee REFUSED
HAWARDEN ROAD CASE - The committee REFUSED
If an application is refused, the applicant can appeal the decision. In Wales that means it goes to Welsh Government where an independent inspector is assigned the case. The inspector is a planning professional and they will review all the case notes, national and local policies, including public comments and the views of the statutory bodies. The will then decide whether to uphold the decision of the committee or override them and approve the application.
Sometimes they will approve with some conditions attached - as they did on Rhos Road. Where there are more than 150 houses in the development, the case automatically goes before the Welsh Minister for consideration. Inspectors should reach the same conclusion as the original case officer but that is not guaranteed.
RHOS ROAD (NORTH) CASE -The inspector granted PERMISSION with conditions
REDROW CASE - There is a Public Inquiry underway
HAWARDEN ROAD CASE - There is a Public Inquiry in January
5. Local Development Plan
Assuming a planning application has been refused after an appeal, there is still a risk that the site could be brought forward with another application, as long as the detail has changed sufficiently. The correct planning process is for land for development to be included in the Local Authorities Local Development Plan. Flintshire's is half done and there are lots of sites identified as 'candidate sites' - they will be consulted on in the next 18 months.
The only reason we are subject to all of these planning applications is because Flintshire's Local Development Plan is not ready (and won't be until mid-2020)
All of the land currently subject to applications are candidate sites in the LDP process, except for Vounog. Though for some reason, Flintshire have reopened the candidate site register to invite more land and the site has now been submitted to the register.
Our only defence is our Community Development Plan or PLACE PLAN which sets out how we want the village to grow in the next 13 years - we need the support of the whole village to make sure that any development we have is proportionate to the size of the village.
Please please take a minute to sign up to the Place Plan now