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Chair: Paul Exell (email: phone: 01793 703276)

Membership Secretary: Sarah McDermott

Friday, 22 June 2012

Quotes from Officers at Planning Committee - Mr Awojobi, Borough Solicitor

At the start of the Planning Committee, the Chairman of the committee, Cllr Colin Lovell (St Margaret and South Marston), passes over to Mr Awojobi, the Borough Solicitor.  The first question ORA members may want to ask:  What is the normal custom and practice of the Planning Committee for who speaks first after the Chairman introduces the application? Is it the Planning officer or the Borough Solicitor?
"Thank you, Chair, I just want to give a very quick advice due to the nature of this application....Can I just check I can be heard properly.  Thank you.
Because of the controversial nature of this application it is important that I give a very short advice before the debate starts.  The Council has final authority, has a statutory duty to determine whether the application bears weight for determination.  That statutory responsibility does not mean that you have to say yes or no – it just means that when you have an application before you which the applicant says they want determined,  you have to determine it.
Now if you don’t decide, the applicant then has the right to appeal as long as the actual period for determination has past.  That is the case with this application. 
They are also entitled to treat a refusal to determine as a refusal of the application and when you have this decision where there is a refusal, a view then has to based on reasonable grounds.  So if the appeal is then following point X,  not only is point X being looked at but you also have to look at whether in refusing to determine or refusing the application the Council has acted reasonably or unreasonably and that’s where the issue of costs comes in." 
Mr Awojobi then goes on to advise that:
"I’m pretty sure that perhaps you follow the advice.”
Cllr Toby Elliott (Priory Vale) has since advised that: 
"At the Planning Committee we were presented with a report that unequivocally recommended that planning permission be approved for Tadpole Farm. Committee members were informed, in our pre-meeting briefing, that if the decision was rejected OR deferred then Crest Nicholson would DEFINITELY take the decision to the Planning Inspectorate with a 99% chance of winning.  If this appeal was won, the amount of money available to the community would decrease and the planning control taken out of the council’s hands."