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Home The News Latest News Planning Loophole!

Planning Loophole!

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Loophole CartoonWhen Heritage Homes Limited was recently granted approval of two planning applications to remove conditions in a previous planning approval, so as to allow the sewage outfall from a stand-alone treatment works serving 43 houses being built in Peel to be connected to Peel’s main sewerage system, it wasn’t to be expected that the landowner, a company called Dunbrody Limited, would appeal the decisions.

However, this is what the landowner did and it did this the day after the notifications of the Planning Committee’s Decisions were issued.

All interested parties were then advised a day later, by the Planning Appeal’s Office, that Appeals had been “requested” and that they were “required” to submit a “full, written statement of case” in respect of each appeal and that they were “required” to submit “9 collated sets” of their “submissions” of case in respect of each of the appeals. The letter also explained that a further communication would be sent to advise of the date of the Inquiry, once this had been set.

So far as other interested parties were concerned, therefore, the appeal process was under way; or so they thought. All that needed to be done was for them to write their full, written statements of case in respect of each of the appeals and to submit them with the number of collated sets which the “Inspector requires” and wait for the appeal Inquiry.

However the landowner withdrew its Appeals after the 21 day time limit for appealing had expired. Because of this the other interested parties would have been eliminated from the appeal process and lost any rights of appeal if they had not themselves made an appeal within the 21 day time limit for doing so.

Fortunately, in the cases in question, this did not happen as one party was astute enough to spot the loophole in the system and had requested appeals within the time specified.

The current procedures are such that they can allow any “interested party” or “interested person”, which includes the applicant to a planning application and, in the cases referred to, the landowner, to avoid matters going to an appeal Inquiry, by simply making an appeal as soon as the Planning Committee's notification of its Decision has been issued, so as to initiate the appeals process, which, because of the wording of the immediate notification by the Planning Appeals’ Office, can distract other interested parties from making a formal appeal and then, by withdrawing their Appeal after the 21 day time limit has expired, this removes the appeal rights of all other interested parties or interested persons (unless, of course, they have lodged their own appeal). The production to the Inspector of “full, written statements of case” is not an appeal.

We are pleased to report that as a result of an approach to the Minister for Infrastructure by the party referred to in paragraph 6 above, which spotted the loophole in the current procedures in these cases, the Minister for Infrastructure has issued instructions to his officers and politicians to look to see how the procedures can be improved.

Until that happens, P A G's advice is that if you intend to appeal against a planning decision, make sure you lodge your own appeal within the 21 day time limit and don't be distracted from doing so because you’ve been advised that someone else has already lodged an appeal.


 

 

Footnote:

The appeals process is embodied in the Town & Country Planning (Development Procedure) Oder 2005 – SD No. 251/05.

Under the provisions of Article 6(6) of that Order, any person whom the Planning Committee decides under paragraph (4) of Article 6 has a sufficient interest in the subject matter of the application to take part in any subsequent proceedings relating to it, and any person specified in paragraph (5) of Article 6 which are –

(a) the applicant;

(b) the owner and the occupier of any land the subject of the application;

(c) the Department of Transport; and

(d) the local authority in whose district the land is situated,

are referred to as an “interested person”.

Curiously though, Government Circular No 1/06, deals with the “Determination of Interested Party Status” i.e. not interested “person” status, under Article 6(4) of the Order referred to. Curiously also, this Circular does not provide any indication at all of the enabling powers under which it is made!Under the provisions of Article 8(2) of the Order referred to the “person” (he/she is not referred to as an “Inspector”) who is to conduct the Inquiry, is (inter alia) required to “invite” (not “require”) interested parties to make “written representations” (not “full, written statements of case”) to him with respect to the appeal application and to give every interested person the opportunity to make oral representations to him. Although the Planning Appeals’ Office imposes a 21 day time limit for the production of written submissions, there isn’t any time limit in the Order referred to and although the Planning Appeals’ Office also requires a number of “collated sets” of written representations to be submitted, this isn’t any such requirement in the Order.

 

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