Before we begin informing you about the upcoming Little Densole Farm Y16-0623-SH planning application; which is before the Planning & Licensing Committee tonight (agenda item 5) at 7pm at the Civic Centre, we’d like to say a few words about Ben Geering, Head of Planning at Folkestone and Hythe District Council (FHDC).
In July 2018 Ben Geering will be stepping down as Head of Planning. Ben was unveiled as Head of Planning back in May 2016 at that time he had served the Council loyally for 9 nine years, so all told he has been at FHDC for 11 years, joining in 2007 as a planning officer. Prior to that, he worked as a planning officer at Ashford Borough Council.
Ben (pictured below right) is a chartered planner, who has a master of arts in city/urban, community and regional planning from London South Bank University. He also has a postgraduate certificate in strategic leadership from Canterbury Christ Church University and a bachelor’s in geography from the University of Reading.
Cllr Clive Goodard (pictured above left), Chairman of the Planning Committee told our public face that Ben’s departure was: “tragic news” and a “terrible loss of an excellent asset.”, for once we completely agree with Cllr Goddard. We truly wish Ben well in his future endeavours.
Now possibly, just possibly one of the reasons Ben maybe moving on is that as Kevin McCloud presenter of Grand Designs said, along with others at Hay Festival recently:
That aside and moving onto Little Densole Farm planning application -Y16/0623/SH before the Planning Committee tonight – do come along if you are free and for those who can’t be there – you can watch it on the Interweb on https://folkestone-hythe.public-i.tv/core/portal/home– Mr Tim Steer (pictured) brought a Judicial Review against FHDC (and won), then Shepway District Council. In a recent letter to the Council and Councillors he has stated:
The decision to grant planning permission first time round in Feb 2017 was quashed in the High Court in Feb 2018. It returns to the Planning and Development Control Committee for re – determination on 29th May 2018. It is important to note that the application has not changed, a new application has not been submitted,
The Planning Officers recommendations was to refuse permission in Feb 2017, yet eight FHDC Cllrs inexplicably and irrationally went against officer advice. This time around Planning Officers have again recommended refusal.
Mr Tim Steer goes onto say to Councillors and FHDC in his letter sent to them on 23rd May:
Folkestone and Hythe District council face another Judicial Review if this Committee unlawfully approves this application, a second Judicial Review will succeed, and the application will then return to you a 3rd time for determination. If you study the evidence, there is no opportunity to lawfully approve this application.
Now way back in March 2017 we wrote there was something fishy about this planning application and brought it to your attention. The loss of the Judicial Review cost the Council £22,750 in costs. Of course, that does not include all the work done by FHDC’s lawyers LSR; which according to the Payment to Suppliers states FHDC paid £14,681.82, for legal advice from LSR Solicitors for the Judicial Review.
However, in an FoI response FHDC state:
The total sum payable to LSR Solicitors was £11,185.42 (made up of £9,085.50 plus VAT plus printing/postage/conference call costs of £282.82); the total sum payable to Daniel Stedman Jones – the Barrister FHDC used in the Judicial review – was £14,940.00 (made up of £12,450.00 plus VAT), amounting in total to £26,125.42. So add that to £22,750 one has £48,875.
Will the Councillors pay heed to Mr Steer’s letter, or will they once again go against the officer’s recommendations to refuse planning permission? We hope Cllrs will heed the letter from Mr Steer as we truly do not wish FHDC to pay out close to £50,000 for a second Judicial Review, if they approve it tonight. We will wait and see and of course we’ll bring you the result.
The Shepwayvox Team – Dissent is NOT a Crime.