Do threats to health justify refusals of planning appeals - ??

The request was successful.

AB Welfare & Wildlife Trust

Dear Planning Inspectorate,

Please provide the following information.

(1) Details provided by any governmental organisations, to enable Planning Inspectors to make sound decisions in connection with public health.

(2) Details drawn-up by the Planning Inspectorate, to enable Planning Inspectors to make sound decisions in connection with public health.

Background Details

The Department of Health & Social Care and the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, have provided guidance for all local authorities on their duties regarding public health. Planning decisions are referred to.

Public health must be at the very heart of "EVERYTHING" which they do and they must strive to achieve, "THE MOST HEALTH BENEFIT" in all decisions taken.

However, we have a very strong impression and it is only an impression, that our Local Planning Authority is unsure of the weight which it can and/or must give, to public health considerations, even when they are an acute threat to health and even life.

More details can be found in our FoI request to the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government. That is entitled, 'Do threats to health justify refusals of planning permissions - ??' and can be found on this website:-
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/d...

Yours faithfully,

John Bradfield .
Former Medical, Psychiatric & Child Care Social Worker & Tutor.
Mental Health Campaigner & Former MH Review Tribunal Representative.
Campaigner and Writer on Bereavement Issues, Related Law & Practice.

PINS FOI Requests, Planning Inspectorate

Dear Sir or Madam

Thank you for your email. We normally aim to send a full reply within 20
working days. If the issues raised are complex, a more detailed
investigation will be needed, often requiring the views of those involved
with the case and/or their manager. This may mean that we cannot reply to
you as quickly as we would like but we will still aim to keep you informed
about the progress of your correspondence.

I should also explain that while we will look into your points thoroughly,
we have no power to reconsider an Inspector’s decision. If, as a result of
our investigations, we find factual errors or other clear mistakes or
omissions, we will say so and apologise. Under certain circumstances, we
may be able to correct minor slips such as typographical errors. More
information can be found in Annexe P of our Procedural Guide*, which can
be found at
https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio....

Whatever the results of our investigations, only a successful legal
challenge in the High Court can lead to an Inspector’s decision being
reconsidered. The time limits for making a challenge are explained in
Annexe L of the Procedural Guide (see link above). We have no power to
extend the Court’s time limit, regardless of whether we have been able to
give you a full reply before it expires.

Annexe Q of the document deals with feedback and complaints.

* The principles of the Annexes of our Procedural Guide apply to the
majority of casework handled by the Planning Inspectorate. Details may
vary according to the specific type of case. If you have any queries,
please address them to our Customer Services Team on 0303 444 5000.

Yours faithfully

Customer Quality Team
The Planning Inspectorate
Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol, BS1 6PN
http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/plannin...
Twitter: @PINSgov
Email: [email address]
Complaints Line: 0303 444

Gray, Ashley, Planning Inspectorate

Dear Mr Bradfield

Thank you for your email of 7 August requesting information about public health concerns and how Inspectors should address such matters.

In response, I should say that in the vast majority of appeals, Inspectors are not required to deal with such matters as they are covered under separate legislation to that set out in the planning Acts. As you may appreciate, it is not the function of the planning system to duplicate safeguards already in place under such separate legislation.

That said, the Planning Inspectorate's Inspector Training Manual, which acts as an ongoing and updated source of guidance for Inspectors on all planning topics, does contain several references to public health that relate to such other legislation, which I have copied the appropriate and relevant extracts below:

2.13 Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010 – transposes the Ambient Air Quality Directive and the Fourth Air Quality Daughter Directive and therefore sets legally binding limits for concentrations in outdoor air of major air pollutants that impact public health such as particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Also sets targets for levels in outdoor air of certain toxic heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

2.15 Air Quality Strategy - The Air Quality Strategy for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland sets out the air quality objectives24 and policy options to further improve air quality in the UK from the present and the long term. As well as direct benefits to public health, these options are intended to provide important benefits to quality of life and help to protect our environment.

2.25 Local Air Quality Management: Policy Guidance (LAQM.PG16) – This guidance has been designed to maximise the public health benefits of local authority action, in particular on priority pollutants such as NO2 and Particulate Matter (PM10/PM2.5). A key element in streamlining the LAQM process is that while the quality of information is retained, the requirements are more consistent and less burdensome and enable local authorities to clearly point to the actions that are being or will be taken. The guidance is statutory and applies to local authorities in England only (except for those in London) who should have regard to it on action in respect of responsibilities affecting local air quality, including planning and transport.

There is one single section of this Inspector guidance that specifically addresses Inspectors' decision-making:

3.51 Public concerns / perceptions of Air Quality - You will need to deal adequately with any concerns over public health to allay perceived ‘fear’ if an event is held and will need to make sure that any questions over the reliability of AQ data with regard to either standalone AQ Assessments, as Part of an Environmental Statement or Habitats Regulation Assessment or regarding the basis for Local Plan policies are dealt with appropriately. Obviously you will need to make sure the issues and concerns over public health and reliability of data are dealt with sufficiently in the decision/report.

I hope this is helpful.

Yours sincerely

Ashley Gray
Complaints Officer
Customer Quality Team
The Planning Inspectorate
3H hawk, Wing, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol, BS1 6PN
 :  https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati...
/ : [email address]
a : 0303 444 5339
Twitter:  @PINSgov

This communication does not constitute legal advice.
Please view our Personal Information Charter before sending information to the Planning Inspectorate.

show quoted sections

AB Welfare & Wildlife Trust

Dear Ashley Gray,

Thank you for your helpful reply of the 20 Aug 2019.

We would welcome clarification on some points which you made.

For clarity, it would be of great assistance, if you could use the same numbering system as that used below.

Our first request was for:-
"Details provided by any governmental organisations, to enable Planning Inspectors to make sound decisions in connection with public health".

Question 1
Are we correct in concluding from your reply, that no governmental organisations have issued such details, e.g. Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, the Department of Health & Social Care, Public Health England and NHS England?

You have kindly mentioned the Planning Inspectorate's Inspector Training Manual, which "does contain several references to public health" and you give the example of guidance on air quality.

From what may be the same source, it is stated that Planning Inspectors, "need to deal adequately with any concerns over public health" and that their reports deal sufficiently with those "issues and concerns". We are aware that there are clear legal duties, which apply to how those reports are written. Those statutory duties are listed in the Civil Service Code and associated Statutory Guidance.

Question 2
In view of the above paragraph and for the avoidance of doubt, could you please confirm, that when Local Planning Authorities reject planning applications, solely or partly on the grounds of public health, that PLANNING INSPECTORS MUST CONSIDER THOSE GROUNDS AND WHETHER TO UPHOLD OR OVERTURN THEM?

You mention that, "in the vast majority of appeals, Inspectors are not required to deal with [public health] matters as they are covered under separate legislation to that set out in the planning Acts".

Question 3
Do you mean by the above quote, that most decisions are taken by other organisations, when not about planning law and policy but that Planning Inspectors do have a role to play, only when those same decisions are used, solely or partly to reject planning applications?

It is our understanding that the relatively new public health duties imposed on local authorities, including Local Planning Authorities, stem from the Health & Social Care Act 2012. In the case of county council areas where there are also borough councils, those duties appear to fall only to the former and not the latter. However, it would not make sense for Local Planning Authorities to have different approaches to public health, depending on postcodes. It seems inevitable that all Local Planning Authorities must have the same legal perspective on public health and decision making obligations. Obviously, planning policies must be consistent with and cannot avoid or override legally imposed duties. It cannot make sense for some Local Planning Authorities in England to have a legal duty to protect "health and wellbeing" and the remainder to have the power to impose decisions which harm "health and wellbeing". Indeed, it seems inevitable that if nothing else, common law will prevent decisions by public organisations, which could or would harm health.

Question 4
Regarding the last paragraph, could you provide information which has been given to all Planning Inspectors, which proves that all Local Planning Authorities in England, must as stated in our initial request, strive to achieve "THE MOST HEALTH BENEFIT" in all decisions taken?

Question 5
If the answer to Question 4 is that Planning Inspectors have not been given information on that specific point, could you let us know whether and when that information will be given to them?

Yours sincerely,

John Bradfield.
Former Medical, Psychiatric & Child Care Social Worker & Tutor.
Mental Health Campaigner & Former MH Review Tribunal Representative.
Campaigner and Writer on Bereavement Issues, Related Law & Practice.

Plummer, Kevin, Planning Inspectorate

Reference: APP////

Dear John Bradfield ,

Thank you for your recent email   to Ashley Gray received 2^nd September,
2019. We normally aim to send a full reply within 20 working days.  If the
issues raised are complex, a more detailed investigation will be needed,
often requiring the views of those involved with the case.  This may mean
that we cannot reply to you as quickly as we would like.  We still aim to
keep you informed about the progress of your correspondence.

 

 

Yours sincerely,

Kevin Plummer

Customer Quality Assistant
The Planning Inspectorate
3B Hawk Wing, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol, BS1
6PN

[1]http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/plannin...
Twitter: [2]@PINSgov
Email: [3][email address]
Complaints Line: 0303 444 5884

This communication does not constitute legal advice.
Please view our [4]Information Charter before sending information to the
Planning Inspectorate.

 

 

References

Visible links
1. http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/plannin...
2. mailto:@pinsgov
3. mailto:[email address]
4. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati...

Gray, Ashley, Planning Inspectorate

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Bradfield

Thank you for your email of 2 September. Please accept my apologies for the delay in replying.

1. I am not aware whether or not other Government Departments have issued such advice - I can only confirm that any advice issued by MHCLG that directly influences the way in which Inspectors are expected to address public health concerns will have been subsumed into the Planning Inspectorate's Inspector Training Manual.

2. Planning Inspectors are required to independently consider any reasons for refusal of a planning application by the council that are planning-related (i.e. are not solely covered by other legislation). The weight that they decide to attribute to such concerns would be solely a matter for the Inspector, and they are not required to mention every material consideration in their decisions.

3. I can only say that if an appeal proposal before an Inspector features public health issues, and such issues relate specifically to the proposal and are not wholly addressed by separate legislation but impact on planning legislation, then the Inspector would deal with such issues as a material consideration.

4. I am unable to provide such information since planning Inspectors are not provided with information specifically regarding the ongoing planning control responsibilities of local planning authorities - Inspectors' remits are entirely independent.

5. Given my response to question 4, the question does not appear relevant or material to the role of Inspectors.

I am attaching a copy of the Planning Inspectorate's procedural guidance which explains more about the role of the Inspectorate and Inspectors, which I hope is helpful.

Yours sincerely

Ashley Gray
Complaints Officer
Customer Quality Team
The Planning Inspectorate
3H hawk, Wing, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol, BS1 6PN
 : https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati...
/ : [email address]
a : 0303 444 5339
Twitter: @PINSgov

This communication does not constitute legal advice.
Please view our Personal Information Charter before sending information to the Planning Inspectorate.

Information Charter before sending information to the Planning Inspectorate.

show quoted sections

Dear Ashley Gray,

Thank you for your helpful, clear and conclusive response to our questions and concerns.

Yours sincerely,

John Bradfield.