Planning Applications. What is the legally permitted time limit for public representations?

Alan Rundle made this Freedom of Information request to Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

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

The request was partially successful.

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council ('the Council'),

Concerning: Planning Application APP/16/00823 - Ashton Court, West Kirby.

What is the legally permitted time limit for public representations?

There is concern among many West Kirby residents concerning considerable confusion caused by the Council's 'neighbour notification' and 'site notice' procedures with regard to Planning Application: APP/16/00823 ......for the demolition of twenty-two flats at Ashton Court, Ashton Drive, West Kirby.........and the construction of 13 X 3-storey houses and 1 X 2-storey house.

1. On 28 July the Council says that it sent out 69 neighbour notification letters regarding the APP/16/00823 planning application .

2. These letters gave until the 12 August 2016 for representations to be received by the Council.

3. I live 21 metres away from Ashton Court and did not receive a neighbour notification letter. Other residents in Banks Road and Ashton Drive, likewise, did not receive a neighbour notification letter concerning the APP/16/00823 planning application. It is not clear where the 69 neighbour notification letters were sent. Details have not been provided on the Council's planning application website, as was the case previously.

4. No APP/16/00823 Site Notices had been displayed in the vicinity by the Council.

5. Some local residents put laminated copies of the APP/16/00823 neighbour notification letter on local lamp posts......with the 12 August 2016 date as the final date for representations.

6. When challenged by local people about the total absence of site notices the Council put three site notices on display.....with the final date for representations now given as 31 August 2016.

7. The Council left the laminated neighbour notification letters, giving the final date of 12 August 2016, still on display.

8. No new neighbour notification letters were sent out, by the Council, to residents in the vicinity of Ashton Court, confirming the amended 31 August 2016 date, for receipt of representations.

7. By 28 August 2016 the Council's planning application website gave the final date for representations as 7 September 2016.

8. No new neighbor notification letters were sent out, by the Council, to residents in the vicinity of Ashton Court, confirming the amended 7 September 2016 date, for receipt of representations.

Considering the considerable confusion caused by the Council over the planning notification process would the Council now agree to extend the period for APP/16/00823 representations to be received, to 30 September 2016, and to send neighbour notification letters to all residents living within 100 metres of the boundary of Ashton Court, West Kirby.

Many local residents believe that the date for representations concerning the APP/16/00823 planning application ended on 12 August, as a consequence of incorrect information provided by the Council.

Please provide an explanation of why and how the above procedure went so wrong.

Please also provide details of what the legal requirements are concerning the neighbour notification/site notice/press announcement minimum standards.

Please explain whether the chaotic process detailed above is the norm or the exception, in terms of the Council's notification process regarding planning applications.

Yours faithfully,

Alan Rundle

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Rundle

 

I write in response to your request for information dated 30 August 2016. 
As the information you have requested relates to planning matters, it is
classified as ‘environmental information’ for the purposes of the
Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIRs).  Environmental
Information is defined in Regulation 2(1) of the EIRs as “……….information
relating to measures and activities affecting, or likely to affect, the
elements of the environment; in particular land and landscape”.

 

The Council is therefore obliged to deal with your request under those
Regulations, not the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

 

In response to your enquiry, the Council would respond as follows.

 

The Council's Guidance on Publicity for Applications can viewed and/or
downloaded online here:
[1]http://www.wirral.gov.uk/planning-and-bu...

This document sets out the statutory requirements for publicity placed on
local planning authorities (see page 2 of that document) together with the
Council's own approach to publicity for applications.

As this application is for 14 units, the statutory provisions require a
Press Notice and a Site Notice.  The Press Notice was displayed in the
Wirral Globe on 3 August 2016 and Site Notices were displayed. 

 

In terms of Neighbour Notifications, the Council is only required to
notify adjoining properties, being properties that share a common boundary
with the site. Properties separated by a road are not considered to be
adjoining.  All properties who share a common boundary with the site were
sent a neighbour notification.   The Council does consider on a case by
case basis whether wider publicity is required by notifying properties
that do not share a common boundary but this is at the discretion of the
individual case officer. Only those properties with an immediate and
shared boundary are required to be sent notification letters.

 

In answer to your query as to why the neighbour notification letters and
the Site Notices have different dates, I would advise that the provisions
for publicity require the LPA to give 21 days from the date of such
notification letters for comments.  The neighbour notification letters
asked for comments before or on 12th August.

 

The Site Notices were dated 19 August 2016 so as to allow an additional 7
days in which the case officer could physically attend the site and have
the opportunity to display the notice.  Due to the volume of applications
received, it is not always possible for an officer to get to the site on
the same day that an application is made valid or the publicity period
commences.  It is for this reason that an additional 7 days is added to
ensure the notice is publicly displayed for a minimum of 21 days.  

 

When a Site Notice is displayed, the Council is held (by the relevant
Planning Regulations) to have satisfied its obligations for publicising
applications in this way.  It cannot be held responsible for any Site
Notices being removed.   However, if the Council is advised that Site
Notices have been removed, the Council will endeavour to return to the
site and place new Site Notices.  We were advised that the original Site
Notices had been taken down so additional Site Notices were displayed at
the site.

 

All applications are displayed on the Council's website.  The Important
Dates Tab for every application will list the relevant dates in relation
to publicity. In the case of this application, APP/16/00823, the Important
Dates can be viewed here:
[2]https://planning.wirral.gov.uk/online-ap...
The Neighbour Consultation Expiry Date and the Standard Consultation
Expiry Date are both listed as being 7 September 2016.

 

However, although members of the public are encouraged to submit any
comments before the close of the consultation/publicity period, the
Council will continue to receive representations up until such time as a
decision is made.  The reason members of the public are encouraged to
submit their representations as early as possible is because once the last
date for publicity has passed, in this case, 7 September,  the Council may
lawfully make a decision on an application at its earliest convenience.

 

The Council believes that it has met both its statutory requirements in
relation to publicising this application and followed its own guidance,
set out in its Publicity for Applications Guidance Note.  It has applied
all the correct procedures and processes in this regard and the publicity
period as clearly set out on the Council's website is still open.

 

I trust this answers your enquiry in full. You have the right under
Regulation 11 (1) of the EIR to make representations to the Council, if
you consider that the Council has failed to comply with a requirement of
the Regulations in relation to your request. Any representations should be
sent to [3][Wirral Borough Council request email]

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

Lynette Paterson

Senior Information Management Officer

Records and Information Management

Legal Services

Transformation and Resources

Wallasey Town Hall

Brighton Street
Wallasey
Wirral
CH44 8ED 

[4]Tel: 0151 691 8201

[5][Wirral Borough Council request email]

 

 

[6]LGC Awards15_Winner_MIP

 

 

This information supplied to you is copyrighted and continues to be
protected by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.   You are free
to use it for your own purposes, including any non commercial research you
are doing and for the purposes of news reporting. Any other reuse, for
example commercial publication, would require our specific permission, may
involve licensing and the application of a charge

 

 

 

 

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. http://www.wirral.gov.uk/planning-and-bu...
2. https://planning.wirral.gov.uk/online-ap...
3. mailto:[Wirral Borough Council request email]
4. file:///tmp/Tel:0151
5. mailto:[Wirral Borough Council request email]

Dear InfoMgr, FinDMT,

The Planning Department's handling of the APP/16/00823 planning application for Ashton Court, thus far, has been a complete shambles.

You state: "The Press Notice was displayed in the
Wirral Globe on 3 August 2016 and Site Notices were displayed."

Site Notices were NOT displayed on the 3 August 2016.
Local residents photocopied copies of their Neighbour Notification letters and displayed them on local posts. Then, and only then, did the Council display Site Notices, in open-topped plastic pouches, flapping in the wind, tied loosely with string. The Council DID NOT replace any missing site notices, as stated.

The dates on the neighbour notification letters and the site notices were NOT accurate and remained unaltered by the Council. For any residents not able to access up-dated information online, the date for objections/comments/support could have been seen as 12 August 2016, just FOURTEEN DAYS after the neighbour notification letters were received (28 July 2016) whereas the Council finally settled on the date 7 September for objections/comments/support.

Either the Planning Department is

(a) remarkably disorganised OR
(b) the Council intended to confuse and mislead local residents over the final date for their views on planning application APP/16/00823.

Please explain the Council's antics, in an OPEN, TRANSPARENT and FAIR manner.

Yours sincerely,

Alan Rundle

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Rundle

Thank you for your email of 28 September 2016, which has been treated as a request for an internal review.

Your enquiry will now be reviewed by another member of the Information management team and we will issue a substantive response within the statutory timeframe of 20 working days.

Yours sincerely

Lynette Paterson
Senior Information Management Officer
Records and Information Management
Legal Services
Transformation and Resources
Wallasey Town Hall
Brighton Street
Wallasey
Wirral
CH44 8ED 
Tel: 0151 691 8201
[Wirral Borough Council request email]

This information supplied to you is copyrighted and continues to be protected by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.   You are free to use it for your own purposes, including any non commercial research you are doing and for the purposes of news reporting. Any other reuse, for example commercial publication, would require our specific permission, may involve licensing and the application of a charge

show quoted sections

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Rundle,

 

Thank you for your email below, regarding the Council’s response to your
recent request for information dealt with under the Environmental
Information Regulations 2004 (EIRs). You have expressed dissatisfaction
with the Council’s response to your original request, your correspondence
has therefore been treated as a request for an Internal Review.

 

I have reviewed the original request, I am satisfied upon review that the
information provided is factually correct and as the reviewing officer, I
uphold that decision.

 

You have the right to complain to the information Commissioner if you are
dissatisfied with this review of your request and they can be contacted at
the following link 

 

<[1]https://ico.org.uk/global/contact-us/>

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Tracy O'Hare

Information Management Officer

Legal and Member Services

Wallasey Town Hall

Brighton Street
Wallasey
Wirral
CH44 8ED 

[2]Tel:0151 691 8397

Transformation and Resources

[3][Wirral Borough Council request email]

 

 

[4]LGC Awards15_Winner_MIP

 

This information supplied to you is copyrighted and continues to be
protected by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.   You are free
to use it for your own purposes, including any non commercial research you
are doing and for the purposes of news reporting. Any other reuse, for
example commercial publication, would require our specific permission, may
involve licensing and the application of a charge

 

 

 

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. https://ico.org.uk/global/contact-us/
2. file:///tmp/Tel:0151
3. mailto:[Wirral Borough Council request email]