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Letter: Power to Modify Planning Permissions Does Exist

Published on: 6 Aug, 2021
Updated on: 6 Aug, 2021

From: David Reeve

former GGG borough councillor

In response to: There Is Absolute Logic in Our Approach to the Local Plan Review

For the record, Section 97 (“Power to revoke or modify planning permission or permission in principle”) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as subsequently amended) includes the following paragraphs:

(1) If it appears to the local planning authority that it is expedient to revoke or modify (a) any permission (including permission in principle) to develop land granted on an application made under this Part, or (b) any permission in principle granted by a development order, the authority may by order revoke or modify the permission to such extent as they consider expedient.

(2) In exercising their functions under subsection (1) the authority shall have regard to the development plan and to any other material considerations.

GBC currently finds itself in somewhat exceptional circumstances:

  • Primary infrastructure that is seriously delayed or even in doubt altogether;
  • A Local Plan built upon Office of National Statistics (ONS) population estimates that are significantly and demonstrably incorrect (including a statement to that effect by the Office of Statistics Regulation);
  • A response from ONS that gives little comfort that they will publish updated population estimates in a timely manner;
  • One of the strategic sites (Wisley Airfield) was rejected by Guildford’s Planning Committee, and then also rejected at appeal by the Secretary of State in June 2018 before being included as an allocated site in the Local Plan in April 2019.

Although the power to revoke or modify planning permissions is very rarely invoked, it seems to me that it is incorrect to state that “the current council has no legal ability to just cancel or scale back the three strategic sites in the Local Plan”. Indeed, I imagine that those who drafted Section 97 of the Act did so precisely to handle scenarios similar to that faced by Guildford at the moment. As such, I strongly encourage the Council to revisit the options that are available.

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test 5 Responses to Letter: Power to Modify Planning Permissions Does Exist

  1. Ben Paton Reply

    August 7, 2021 at 9:02 am

    David Reeve sets out an incontrovertible, reasoned and evidenced case.

    It is time that Guildford Borough Council listened and acted.

    It is disappointing that as soon as councillors join the Executive they start to utter the same misleading platitudes as their predecessors.

  2. John Rigg Reply

    August 11, 2021 at 10:14 am

    Rather easy for David Reeve to quote individual paragraphs of the Planning Act – we can all be armchair lawyers. He also needs to have a look at paragraph 107 of the Act which states the following:

    “where planning permission [F2 or permission in principle] is revoked or modified by an order under [F3 section 97(1)(a)], then if, on a claim made to the local planning authority within the prescribed time and in the prescribed manner, it is shown that a person interested in the land or in minerals in, on or under it—

    (a)has incurred expenditure in carrying out work which is rendered abortive by the revocation or modification; or

    (b)has otherwise sustained loss or damage which is directly attributable to the revocation or modification, the local planning authority shall pay that person compensation in respect of that expenditure, loss or damage.”

    Can you imagine the applications for compensation that would come in if this course of action would carry through? It could bankrupt the council.

    John Rigg is a R4GV borough councillor for Holy Trinity.

  3. Ben Paton Reply

    August 11, 2021 at 7:23 pm

    Para 107 as cited above states: ‘where planning permission [or permission in principle is revoked…’
    In the case of Three Farms Meadows (aka agricultural land at the former Wisley airfield) there is no planning permission. There is no permission in principle. Development of the site is subject to multiple prior events including GBC granting planning permission and Highways England granting access to the A3. The arguments for those events taking place were laid out before a planning inspector (Clive Hughes) and he and the Secretary of State refused the developer’s appeal to overturn GBC’s decision to REFUSE permission.
    So the argument that the owners of Three Farm Meadows are going to able to claim against GBC or ‘bankrupt’ it is balderdash.
    It’s time the council stopped quaking in its boots whenever developer’s barristers concoct some specious argument or other.
    We are tired of the council rehearsing the same old excuses – which are demonstrably false and misleading.

  4. Lisa Wright Reply

    August 12, 2021 at 10:53 pm

    We all know that building on fields is wrong, unnecessary and disliked by many. The UN, SCC, GBC and just about everyone else has declared a climate emergency. Our shops are empty as the UK doesn’t produce enough homegrown food. Our roads are full and our air is polluted.

    Why do councillors and officers keep on pushing these ill-thought out, badly placed and unsustainable sites for huge housing estates?

    Before the election of the new Lib Dem/R4GV council, all these sites could have been thrown out for numerous reasons which were all nicely set out in the NPPF: green belt, AONB, farmland, pollution, drainage, traffic, and so on, but everything was brushed aside. Now we have a new council that still insists on pursuing a development programme that quite honestly seems like shoving a square peg in a round hole.

    Cllr John Rigg is at least honest when he says it’s an issue of money.

    What happens now? Perhaps officers and councillors can advise how we can review the Local Plan (as David Reeve has done) rather than keep blocking every attempt at change. After all, they are supposed to be working for the good of the residents, not the developers.

  5. David Roberts Reply

    August 13, 2021 at 6:49 pm

    We are all heartily sick of Cllr Rigg’s endless defence of the Tory Local Plan status quo. Why is his leader and the rest of R4GV in thrall to him? Let him have done and join the Tories.

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