Planning Applications featuring Change of Use from A1

Matt White made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to Carmarthenshire Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Roedd y cais yn rhannol lwyddiannus.

Dear Sir or Madam,

I believe you are an authority with planning responsibilities
(according to
http://www.theplanningdirectory.co.uk/au...), apologies
if this is not the case.

Can you please let me know the following relating to planning
applications featuring a change of use from A1 (shop), under the
Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987.

In the last 5 years:

1) How many planning applications have you received featuring a
change of use from A1?

2) Of those applications in 1, how many of these were
retrospective?

3) How many planning applications have you received from Starbucks
(or their representatives) featuring a change of use from A1?

4) Of those applications in 3, how many of these were
retrospective?

Yours faithfully,

Matt White

FOIA, Carmarthenshire Council

Dear Mr White,

Thank you for your request for information regarding planning
applications, which was received on 29th July, 2009 and is being dealt
with under the Freedom of Information Act 2000/Environmental Information
Regulations 2004. We are therefore required to provide you with a
response within 20 working days, which will be on or before 26th August,
2009.

If we require any clarification or further details, we will contact you
as soon as possible.

In the meantime, if you have any queries, please do not hesitate to
contact me, remembering to quote the reference number above in any
communications.

Yours sincerely

John Tillman
Swyddog Gwybodaeth a Diogelu Data
Adran y Prif Weithredwr
Cyngor Sir Gaerfyrddin

Information & Data Protection Officer
Chief Executive's Department
Carmarthenshire County Council

Tel: (01267) 246108
Mewnol/Internal: 6108
Ffacs/Fax: (01267) 246134

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

FOIA, Carmarthenshire Council

1 Atodiad

Dear Mr White,

I refer to your request for information regarding planning applications,
which was received on 29^th July, 2009 and has been dealt with under the
Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) as it concerns measures
which affect or are likely to affect the environment.

The specific information you requested was as follows, in relation to
planning applications featuring a change of use from A1 (shop), under the
Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 in the last 5 years:

1. How many planning applications have you received featuring a change of
use from A1?

2. Of those applications in 1, how many of these were retrospective?

The Council maintains a database of planning applications it receives and
it is possible to run a report and extract certain data. Those with the
term `A1' in their description can therefore be easily picked up.
However, other applications for change of use from A1 may not have this
use class in their description.

Therefore, please find attached a spreadsheet containing information
extracted from our database of planning applications, which details all
change of use applications received, and which contains all applications
for change of use from A1.

<<Change of applications.xls>>

With regard to retrospective applications, these can only easily be
extracted from our database when the word 'retrospective' appears in the
description, or if an enforcement case had been opened before the
application was submitted.

A number of applications captured by the report do have the word
'retrospective' in their description, however, it is possible that others
may have also been submitted retrospectively. The only way to confirm
this would be to manually check the details of each application.

It would be possible for you to do this as planning applications from 2004
onwards are published on the Council's website and may be accessed via the
following link:

[1]http://www.carmarthenshire.gov.uk/Englis...

3. How many planning applications have you received from Starbucks or
their representatives) featuring a change of use from A1?

One, (reference: W/19538) for the change of use of a retail unit use class
A1 to mixed A1/A3 use class at unit 7, St Catherine's Walk, Carmarthen.

4. Of those applications in 3, how many of these were retrospective?

None.

Returning to points 1 and 2 above, under Regulation 12 (4) (b) a public
authority does not have to provide information if it considers that the
request is "manifestly unreasonable". This term is not defined in the EIR,
however, guidance published by DEFRA has this to say on this exemption:

"These requests could include requests for information that place a
substantial and unreasonable burden on the resources of a public
authority. Examples might include when the amount of information sought
is considerable, when extensive scans of historic files prove necessary,
or when significant searching in large databases or files of information
is necessary....

One of the factors therefore to be taken into consideration is whether the
work involved would require a unreasonable diversion of resources from the
provision of the public services for which the public authority is
mandated."

I believe this to be the case here. With 1,446 records to check, this
would represent a significant task and divert the resources of our
Planning Services away from their core work. Based on an a conservative
estimate of 5 minutes per application, to check whether they are in
respect of change of use from A1 and whether they are retrospective would
take over 120 hours.

Although it does not apply to the EIR and Regulation 12 (4) (b), if one
considers the appropriate limit of 18 hours of work defined in The Freedom
of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees)
Regulations 2004, this would clearly be exceeded here.

In deciding whether the Authority should comply fully with a request in
such circumstances, I am also required to consider the public interest is
in favour of maintaining the exemption provided under Regulation 12 (4)
(b), or whether the Authority should undertake the work described above
and provide the information as requested.

In this case, the information is not being withheld, rather, it requires a
lengthy list of applications to be checked against planning files, which
as I say above, are available online.

The strong public interest factor favouring transparency in relation to
decision making processes (in particular planning decisions) has therefore
already been met and I do not consider that there is any genuine public
interest in going further than this. I am therefore maintaining the
exemption.

If you are unhappy with the way in which your request has been dealt
with, you are entitled to complain in the first instance to:

The Head of Administration & Law

Carmarthenshire County Council

County Hall

Carmarthen

SA31 1JP

If you remain unhappy with any subsequent decision, you have the right to
appeal to the Information Commissioner to rule on your complaint.  You
may contact him at:

Information Commissioner

Information Commissioner's Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact
me.

 

Yours sincerely

John Tillman
Swyddog Gwybodaeth a Diogelu Data
Adran y Prif Weithredwr
Cyngor Sir Gaerfyrddin

Information & Data Protection Officer
Chief Executive's Department
Carmarthenshire County Council

Tel: (01267) 246108
Mewnol/Internal: 6108
Ffacs/Fax: (01267) 246134

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References

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1. http://www.carmarthenshire.gov.uk/Englis...