Cllr Jacqui Meade (pictured) ~(Lab) of Folkestone Town Council has sent via email a request to call in the s73 Folkestone Seafront Development (pictured above) application.
Cllr Meade believes the seafront development has caused such local controversy that “calling it in” was the right and proper thing to do.
So what does this mean? Will Folkestone & Hythe District Council now suspend the application allowing the Secretary of State to deal with the matter? That is yet to be announced.
So what is a call in?
The Secretary of State (Sajid Javid MP) can “call in” certain planning applications that local authorities propose to approve. For example, where it may have wider effects beyond the immediate locality, significant regional or national controversy, or potential conflict with national policy. These will then be subject to a public inquiry presided over by a Planning Inspector who will make recommendation to the Secretary of State who will decide the application instead of the local planning authority.
Damian Collins MP (Left) – Sajid Javid MP (centre) – Sir Roger de Haan (Right)
Cllr Meade in her application has specifically applied
“for an urgent holding direction under section 31 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015 directing that the Council desist from deciding the said section 73 2 application until the Secretary of State has decided whether to exercise his powers under section 77.”
Left Damian Collins MP – Centre- Sajid Javid MP – Right Sir Roger De Haan
It is not yet known if the “holding direction” has been effective. In the call in – it states:
“The Council (Folkestone & Hythe District Council) has published no guidance as to what amounts to a “minor material amendment” under section 73. This is in contrast to other councils which do, such as Lewisham which is plainly in the interests of administrative consistency and fairness. This highlights an issue of national importance, namely the absence of any such guidance on a national level which results in a postcode lottery: what is minor in Folkestone would not be minor in Lewisham. It means that the high judicial review bar of irrationality essentially collapses the judgement of whether an amendment is “minor” into an entirely discretionary one. This is particularly so where there is an inequality of arms as between local campaign groups reliant entirely on their participants own funds and time, and well-resourced developers and their elite lawyers This is not what the distinction between minor material changes and more significant material changes was intended to achieve.”
Cllr Meade continues
I am aware that the developers have this week proposed two new concessions and Council Officers are recommending they be accepted. However, these concessions are far from sufficient to address the wider issues of national importance identified above. As requested at paragraph 2 above, in view of the imminence of the Council meeting on Tuesday,
I would invite the Secretary of State to preserve the status quo – until the public have had a chance to comment on my call-in application, and until the Secretary of State has considered my application substantively taking account of all relevant factors and undertaken any due enquiry – by issuing a holding direction to that effect.
Finally a test usually carried out to assess the acceptability of a change to an approved scheme under the minor amendment procedure is:
Would the interests of any third party or body who participated in, or was informed of, the original application be disadvantaged in any way?