Stobart Planning Applications - 2017/31757 & 2019/34739

Response to this request is long overdue. By law, under all circumstances, Warrington Borough Council should have responded by now (details). You can complain by requesting an internal review.

Dear Warrington Borough Council,

Please let me have the following information with respect to Planning Application 2017/31757 (the first Stobart application) heard by the Development Management Committee (DMC) in October 2018, and the subsequent appeal by Stobart against the DMC refusal of the application.

1. The deadline for submission of the council's appeal evidence is not until 17 September 2019. Was it open to the Council to leave submission of evidence, or making statements about not submitting evidence until closer to the 17th September 2019?

2. What was the urgency and what were the reasons WBC found it necessary to write to the Inspectorate on 16 May 2019, (6 weeks after the 4th April 2019 deadline for the Statement of Case, and four months before the deadine for evidence), indicating that they would not be submitting any evidence defending their second reason for refusal?

3. Please let me have a copy of all correspondence (both internal and external) subsequent to the October 2018 DMC in which the application or matters relating to the handling of the Stobart appeal are discussed.

4. Was a barrister’s (or other legal opinion) obtained in connection with defending the council’s refusal at the forthcoming public hearing in October 2019? If so please let me have a copy of both the brief that was given by the council to the barrister, and the opinion received.

In connection with the second Stobart Planning Application 2019/34739
5. Please let me have a copy of any barrister’s (or other legal opinion) that was used to support the officer’s recommendation for approval of the application.
If the barrister’s opinion used was the same as the one that was used in connection with item 4 above then please indicate.
If not please let me have a copy of both the brief given to the barrister and the opinion received.

Yours faithfully,
Richard Buttrey

FOI, Warrington Borough Council

Thank you for contacting Warrington Borough Council.
 
Your request for information has now been forwarded to the relevant
department who will respond directly to you.
 
This is an automated email from:
[Warrington Borough Council request email]
 
Please do not reply to this email.
 

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FOI E&R, Warrington Borough Council

Good afternoon,

I acknowledge that your request for information (as below) has been received.

A response should be sent to you within 20 working days of receipt of your request, therefore you should be sent a response by 23 September 2019.
                     
Should you need anything further please let me know.
                         
Kind Regards

Claire

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Adams, Loraine, Warrington Borough Council

Dear Mr Buttery

 

I write further to your email dated 26 August 2019.  Firstly, it is
considered that the information requested is environmental information in
accordance with the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.  This is
because it is information about measures likely to affect the land and the
landscape.  Therefore the request has been considered under the 2004
Regulations and not the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

 

It is considered that due to the volume and complexity of your request, in
particular, the information sought under point 3 of your request,  that an
extension of time to provide the information is required.  An initial
search using the terms “Stobart Appeal”, “2017/31757”,
“APP/MO655/W/19/3222603” and “Land North of Barley Castle Lane” from
October 2018 has been undertaken in respect of the information sought
under point 3.  This has resulted in successful matches totalling 753
emails.   Given this quantity of emails and the fact that officers may
have further emails in their accounts with different subject headings, it
is considered appropriate to require this extension of time.  A number of
the officers who have previously worked on this matter have now left the
Council and so IT will need to access their email accounts.   There may
also be documents held in a non-email format.

 

Regulation 7(1) of the 2004 Regulations provides that  where a public
authority reasonably believes that a request is particularly voluminous or
complex, it may extend the time for compliance for making the information
available from 20 working days to 40 working days.  While the extension of
time allows a further 20 working days for the Council to respond, it is
anticipated that a response will be sent to you within a shorter period. 

 

One of the concerns that the Council has in respect of the information
sought is the length of time it will take to collate this information and
that this may be considered to be ‘manifestly unreasonable’.  You may
therefore wish to consider refining your search request.  If you wish to
do this, please let me know by close of business on Wednesday 25 September
2019.  Otherwise I will proceed on the basis of your initial request.

 

Please note that the extension of time does not mean that the information
requested will be provided and in this respect the Council reserves its
position to refuse in whole or in part the information sought in
accordance with any appropriate exemptions. 

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

 

Loraine Adams
Locum Planning Solicitor
Legal Services
Resources and Strategic Commissioning Directorate
Warrington Borough Council
New Town House
Buttermarket Street
Warrington
WA1 2NH
01925443043
[1][email address]<mailto:[email address]

 

 

PLEASE NOTE THAT MY WORKING DAYS THIS WEEK ARE MONDAY, TUESDAY AND
WEDNESDAY

 

 

 

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Dear Loraine,

Re Stobart Planning Applications - 2017/31757 & 2019/34739

Thank you for your response dated 23/9/2019. Please note I still do not have a formal reference for this. Please let me know what it is.

I fail to understand how you can regard this matter as one to be considered under the Environmental Regulations 2004. The request is a straightforward normal request for information that merely concerns the timing, procedural and administration matters along with advice given in connection with the process of a normal planning application and the applicant's subsequent appeal. It is no different from hundreds of other requests for information about a planning application. Self evidently all planning matters concern land but it does not follow that any request is asking for information about the environmental aspects which may incidentally be contained within the application.

I require the matter to be treated as a normal request under the FoI Act. To the extent that any disclosure mentions anything the council regards as an environmental aspect which for some reason may not be released then that part of the disclosure may be redacted.

Since you indicate that there 753 emails in connection with my point 3 (a quite phenomenal number) I will prioritise my requirement.
In the first instance please deal with items 1, 2, 4 & 5 in my FoI request and let me have that information without any further delay. When you have supplied that information and in order to narrow down the 753 emails which are apparently involved in item 3, then in chronological starting with the first email after the October 2018 planning meeting I will accept as many of the 753 emails that can be accommodated within the normal standards of a FoI response. The response should indicate how many of the remaining 753 emails have not been included in the response.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Buttrey

Adams, Loraine, Warrington Borough Council

Dear Mr Buttrey

Thank you for your email. I note your comments about your request being treated under the Freedom of Information Act. Having considered the request, I consider that information being sought is environmental in nature and should therefore be dealt with under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) as set out in my previous email to you.

Information is “environmental” if it meets the definition set out in regulation 2 of the EIR. Under regulation 2(1)(c) of the EIR, any information on activities affecting or likely to affect the elements of the environment listed in regulation 2(1)(a) will be environmental information.

In this case, the requested information relates to the development of land which is one of the elements listed in Regulation 2(1)(a) of the EIR. Environmental information must be considered for disclosure under the terms of the EIR rather than the Freedom of Information Act.

I note that you reference the DMC meeting on 10 October 2018 as the start date and we have therefore undertaken our initial searches from this date. However, the Stobart Application 2017/31757 was considered by the Planning Committee on 7 November 2018. Please can you confirm that you want the date to remain as 10 October 2018.

I will endeavour to send you a response to points 1, 2, 4 and 5 next week. I note your comments in respect of point 3 and I will consider this accordingly.

I understand that the internal reference point has been addressed by my colleague Jonathan Morley but please let me know if this is not the case.

Yours sincerely

Loraine Adams
Locum Planning Solicitor
Legal Services
Resources and Strategic Commissioning Directorate
Warrington Borough Council
New Town House
Buttermarket Street
Warrington
WA1 2NH
01925443043
[email address]<mailto:[email address]

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Adams, Loraine, Warrington Borough Council

4 Attachments

Dear Mr Buttrey

 

Please see attached.

 

Kind regards

 

Loraine

 

Loraine Adams

Locum Planning Solicitor

Legal Services

Resources and Strategic Commissioning Directorate Warrington Borough
Council New Town House Buttermarket Street Warrington

WA1 2NH

01925443043

[1][email address]

 

 

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References

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