Planning An Intervention ?

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There was a timely reminder this week about just how incompetent Wirral Council’s Planning Department is with the publication of the full Court of Appeal judgment from April in the case Regina (Thornton Hall Hotel Ltd) v Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council.

The full citation can be read here

Someone who had read The Times law report contacted us and posed these questions :

Good Afternoon

So yet again, the marquee saga at Thornton Manor has managed not to reach the local press, I wonder why?

The planning permission quashed by the high court, Appeal dismissed with more criticism of WBC and Thornton Manor. It even made The Times on Wednesday!

Are weddings at risk now the Marquees are continuing to operate without planning consent?

Is WBC going to do anything about it?

Is planning permission worth the paper it’s written on (or not written on) should you bother with it if you can just carry on regardless?

All very pertinent we’re sure you’d agree. However could help be on the horizon for our exasperated source as it would appear that they’re not the only one getting increasingly frustrated with Wirral Council’s ineptitude when it comes to planning  issues.

There is another report from earlier this month which once again seems to have bypassed the local mainstream media but potentially has serious implications for local planning.

Indeed a recent contact commented to us :

Any update on the Green Belt? I’ve heard that MHCLG are about to trigger an intervention on Wirral soon due to constant delays and lack of capability.

Could this have been prompted by the following damning report which can be found on the Planning Resource website  ?

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As you can read below the worst of all was, yes you guessed it- Wirral Council! It is interesting to note that under the government’s special measures programme, Wirral Council could have planning decisions taken out of its hands by the Planning Inspectorate if they fall below specified thresholds for the speed and quality of their decision making. And as we can see from the Thornton Manor marquee saga case study above speed and quality is not exactly a strong point ! Never mind at least Wirral Council are top notch when it comes to getting artist’s impressions of planning developments in the local press. It’s just such a shame they never make it through the planning process!…

 

The councils that determined the fewest applications within government time limits up to March 2019

2 July 2019 by John Geoghegan

Eight local authorities are now below the government’s ‘special measures’ threshold for the proportion of application decisions made within the statutory timescales, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

Wirral Town Hall: council determined the fewest major applications within government time limits up to March 2019

Under the special measures programme, councils can have planning decisions taken out of their hands and dealt with by the Planning Inspectorate if they fall below specified thresholds for the speed and quality of their decision making.

Authorities that decide fewer than 60 per cent of major applications within the statutory deadline of 13 weeks or 70 per cent of non-major applications within the eight-week deadline face the sanction.

In December 2018, the government announced the programme would continue until 2020.

However, no council has been penalised under the initiative since January 2015, despite many falling under the sanction thresholds.

Last week, the government updated its figures showing how many major and non-major decisions that each English local planning authority determined within the prescribed timescales in the two years up to March 2019.

It shows that a total of eight councils fall below the thresholds for major and non-major decisions: Wirral, Craven, Barrow-in-Furness, Ealing, Wakefield, Stoke-on-Trent, Southampton and Worcester.

In the previous quarter’s data, the two years up to December 2018, a total of ten councils fell below the three thresholds for speed of determination.

The latest data for major decisions shows that Wirral, Craven and Barrow-in-Furness councils are below the 60 per cent threshold (see below).

Wirral Council is still the worst-performing authority in this category, deciding just over than half of its 75 major applications within the 13-week deadline. Wirral and Craven remain below the threshold from the last quarter’s data.

For ‘county matters’ major application decisions, which covers mineral and waste development, Ealing and Wakefield Councils remain below the threshold (see below).

However, both authorities only dealt with one ‘county matters’ major application each over the two-year period.

They are joined below the threshold by Stoke-on-Trent, which only determined two applications.

For non-major decisions (see below), the data shows that Craven, Southampton, and Worcestershire are all below the 70 per cent threshold – the same three councils as the last quarter but with Craven now replacing Southampton as the worst-performing authority.

Out of a total of 1,070 decisions, Craven Council made 65 per cent of them within the eight week deadline.

Last December, the MHCLG announced that designation decisions in the first quarter of 2019 for speed of decision-making would consider the two-year timeframe between October 2016 and September 2018.

Meanwhile, for quality of decision-making, the assessment period would be between April 2016 and March 2019

 

Float On

Today there was a good news story today splashed (!) over the Wirral Globe website announcing Government funding for New Brighton’s Marine Lake transformation

Apparently the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) will be providing a grant for the princely sum of £38,594  to pay for ‘a floating ‘event platform’ to create ‘Animate Marine Lake New Brighton’.  So, basically a giant float. Which we’re sure we all agree that when it comes to planning and regeneration is a drop in the River Mersey.

Meanwhile on a macro planning level there was a further announcement today from MHCLG about Wirral Council today which whilst far more significant in the scheme of things found itself being announced in the rather more obscure Planning Resource website which can only be accessed via a pay wall.

Here we discovered that ‘ten local authorities have fallen below the government’s ‘special measures’ threshold for the proportion of application decisions made within the statutory timescales, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG)’.

And of those ten councils we’ll give you one guess as to which authority was the worst performing in the country :

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Which again we’re sure we can all agree that this doesn’t augur well for the ambitious developments we keep reading about the Local Plan ,Wirral Growth Company, and Wirral Waters (One), especially when it comes to these plans being realised any time soon.

But never mind there’ll always be plenty more artist’s impressions in the local press and a ‘floating event platform’ to keep the Wirral Council’s regeneration plans afloat in the public imagination.