- seeking justice
Requests to call-in planning application
Requests to call-in the planning application
Concerns about poor consultation were often cited in requests submitted to the Welsh Assembly to 'call-in' the Glebelands development. Such requests are known to have been submitted by individuals and from the Glebelands Action Group between July and September 2000.
In a letter dated 13 June 2001, Ms Sue Essex, Minister for Environment wrote:
“In July and August 2000 the Assembly received a number of requests to call-in the planning application for a new school at Glebelands, St Julians, Newport.”
It is known that each call-in request was declined and a letter sent to the person who had submitted the call-in request. A typical response letter from the Planning Division of the National Assembly for Wales included the following remarks:
“Matters of day to day planning control, including the determination of planning applications, are normally the responsibility of local planning authorities. It is the National Assembly for Wales’ approach to require reference to it generally only where an application involves planning issues of more than local importance.
The consideration of your request to call in the above development has been delegated to me by Ms Sue Essex, the Assembly’s Environment Secretary. I have concluded that the proposed development does not involve planning issues which would warrant taking responsibility for determination of the application away from the local planning authority. This neither implies nor infers any views on the merits of the proposed development.
It is now for Newport County Borough Council as a Local Planning Authority to determine the planning application.”
It is desperately disappointing that the Assembly chose not to intervene in this development or to challenge the local authority. If the Assembly did comprehend the complex and wide-ranging health and environmental issues raised by this case, it was not apparent in the wording of its response to those who had submitted call-in requests.
The ability of a local authority to grant itself planning permission for such a controversial project in the face of so much opposition, with so little information about the risks of the scheme was deeply worrying to local residents and politicians.
In her letter dated 13 June 2001 to Ms J Davies AM, Ms Sue Essex, Minister for Environment, Welsh Assembly Government set out the specific criteria that are assessed when considering whether a given planning application should be called-in. The letter states:
“Before a planning application is called-in a judgement must be made as to whether the proposal is:
- in conflict with national planning policies;
- raises issues which would have wide effects beyond their immediate locality;
- gives rise to controversy beyond the immediate locality;
- affects sites of scientific, nature conservation or historic interest;
- raises issues of national security; or
- raises novel planning issues.”
Due to the size, nature, and location of the development site, and the failure to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment, it is difficult to understand why, according to the Welsh Assembly, the Glebelands development was not determined to be a development that:
(a) is in conflict with national planning policies; and,
(b) raises issues which would have wide effects beyond their immediate locality; and,
(c) gives rise to controversy beyond the immediate locality; and,
(d) affects sites of scientific, nature conservation or historic interest.
In its letter dated 2 August 2000 to Newport Council, the Countryside Council for Wales wrote "At the present time, on the basis of the information supplied, CCW is of the opinion that it is not possible to state that the proposals would not be likely to have a significant effect on the River Usk cSAC."
And in a letter dated 16 August 2000 to the Welsh Assembly in connection with call-in requests, the Countryside Council for Wales wrote "On the basis of the information supplied to date, CCW is of the opinion that it is not possible to state that the proposals would not be likely to have a significant effect on the River Usk cSAC or other features of European importance."
Adding, with a reference to EIA:
"The application does have potential implications for the River Usk cSAC and other features of European importance and in this context could be considered to be of more than local significance. However, with an Appropriate Assessment (and any other additional assessment of the environmental impact) and the implementation of adequate conditions in any permission, in principle it should be possible to avoid the development having a significant effect on the European features."
It would appear that Newport council enjoyed significant support from the Welsh Assembly for the Glebelands development – regardless, it seems, of the provisions of Community law and UK regulations.
Local residents feel that the Welsh Assembly failed to reason properly its decision not to call-in planning application 00/0768 for the Glebelands development.