Dear Planning Inspectorate,
In response to an FoI request L B Hounslow have informed me that a review of the Green Belt, commissioned in October 2014 was instigated by the Inspector who undertook the Local Plan Hearing in the spring of 2015, Mr R Mellor
Could you let me know if there was any meeting or other communication between Mr Mellor and Hounslow Council in or before October 2014, whether this related to the Green Belt and if other matters were discussed
C J Hern
Thank you for your request for information.
In accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information
Act\Environmental Information Regulations, we aim to respond to requests
for information promptly, and within 20 working days. If for any reason we
cannot meet that deadline, or we require further information in order to
answer your request, then we will let you know.
Dear Mr Hern
Thank you for your request for information - namely
"Could you let me know if there was any meeting or other communication
between Mr Mellor and Hounslow Council in or before October 2014, whether
this related to the Green Belt and if other matters were discussed".
As the information you are requesting is environmental information, as
defined by regulation 2(1) of the Environmental Information Regulations
2004 (EIR) your request is considered under the EIR rather than the
Freedom of Information Act.
By way of background advice and assistance, I thought it would be helpful
to explain the Inspector’s role in the examination of a local plan. With
regard to the Hounslow Local Plan, the examination begins with the
submission of the plan to the Planning Inspectorate and on the assumption
the Council has submitted what it believes to be a complete and sound
plan. It is for the Council to publish the plan for the gathering of
representations prior to submission and to subsequently provide the
Planning Inspectorate with a summary of the main issues raised in the
representations on submission in the form of an “evidence base”. The
local plan was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for examination on
20 August 2014.
It is for the examination Inspector to examine the overall soundness and
legal compliance of the plan in terms of identified issues. To this end
the Inspector controls the examination process from start to finish and
will define the matters and issues which will provide the focus for the
examination. Examination sessions are driven by the issues identified by
the Inspector as critical to legal compliance or the soundness of the
The Inspector takes account of both written and oral evidence. The onus
is on the parties concerned to provide any evidence or information they
consider is necessary at the appropriate time (through the submission of
representations or discussion at the hearings) to allow the Inspector to
have a full understanding of the issues involved. All information and
documentation before the Inspector in a Local Plan examination is in the
public domain. The Council’s website for the Local Plan examination may
be viewed at the following link:
I should clarify that the Plan is the Council’s document and the Inspector
will only make recommendations on main modifications (MMs) that are
necessary to make the plan sound and legally compliant.
I draw your attention to the relevant guidance on the Planning Portal
titled “Procedural Practice in the Examination of Local Plans”
Following the close of the examination hearings, the main modifications
the Inspector considered were necessary to make the plan sound or legally
compliant, were subject to public consultation. The Inspector’s report on
the local plan was issued on 31^st July 2015. I attach a link to the
Inspector’s report from the Council’s website:
The Planning Inspectorate’s involvement ended with the completion of the
examination and the issue of the final Inspector’s report. I note the
Hounslow Local Plan was adopted on 15 September 2015 by London Borough of
Turning separately to your request for information, the Inspector is clear
that he did not hold any meetings with the London Borough of Hounslow in
or before October 2014. It may be helpful for me to explain that all
documents and communications relating to the examination of a local plan
are channelled through the Programme officer. I confirm the Inspector did
visit the Council Offices on 28 October 2014 in order to meet the
Programme officer and view the proposed hearing venue.
We hold a number of communications between the Programme officer (on
behalf of the Inspector) and London Borough of Hounslow during October
2014 all of which relate to the examination process. I have provided an
overview of the exchanges held during October 2014.
On 15 October 2014 the Inspector (via the Programme officer) wrote to the
London Borough of Hounslow to query the status of the Council’s schedule
of ‘suggested minor changes’ as they had not been subject to public
consultation. In this letter the Inspector suggested a number of
procedural options as to how the Council may wish to proceed.
On 17 October 2014 the Council responded and confirmed they had decided to
carry out a public consultation and sustainability appraisal on the minor
changes. As a result the examination hearings were postponed to commence
in February 2015. The examination proceeded on the basis that it was an
examination of the submitted local plan including the minor changes.
On 20 October 2014 the Inspector (via the Programme officer) wrote to the
Council in relation to their policies map.
On 30 October 2014 the Inspector (via the Programme officer) wrote to the
Council with some queries regarding their Duty to Cooperate Compliance
I hope you have found this reply helpful but should you have any further
queries please contact [email address]
Customer Quality Officer
The Planning Inspectorate
3C Eagle Wing, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol, BS1
Email: [email address]
Telephone: 0303 444 5528
This communication does not constitute legal advice
Please view our Information Charter before sending information to the