We Know the Council, Shepway District Council have bought the land at Otterpool Manor Farmland previously owned by the Champneys. Part of the Land – Lot 6 has a SSSI on it. The 357 acres is mostly grade 2 agricultural land and cost SDC 5.2 million pounds including fees.
Shepway Core Strategy was published on 27 July 2011 and submitted to authorities on 31 January 2012 and Found Sound on 10 June 2013. The Core Strategy will set the strategic vision for the development in the Borough between 2013 and 2031.
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The Otterpool Lane site falls within the Strategic Corridor as set out at pages 24 – 29 of the Local Plan.
The intention for the land no doubt, is for SDC to change its use so that they or others may develop the site for various possible uses.
There are statutory procedures available to the Council for this purpose, including making appropriate provision for the future development of this land in the Local Plan, or designation of an Enterprise Zone, etc. Actual development of this land will require planning permission.
Do they need planning permission to change the use of the land from agricultural to development?
Designation of land as a development site does not constitute a change of use. But planning permission will be required in due course for its actual development.
Can the council can issue themselves planning permission – if necessary – could it be a conflict of interest in anyway?
Yes. They have statutory power to grant themselves permission. (There is a special process for this – they don’t have to make a formal planning application to themselves. But it requires two separate resolutions, and appropriate consultation and consideration.) Whether or not one may think there is a conflict of interest, there is nothing to prevent the Council from adopting this commonly used statutory procedure.
What difficulties does this possibly raise for the council.
None, provided they follow the appropriate procedures.