Tenbury planning decisions threatened with Whitehall control

IT is likely that planning decisions affecting Tenbury will be placed in the hands of Whitehall.

This could have major implications for Tenbury that is already set to have more homes built in the area than was originally envisaged.

Planners had earmarked Tenbury for 70 new homes in the next 15 years but this figure has already been almost doubled following successful appeals by developers against the refusal of applications to build.

But the situation could be about to get a whole lot worse according to Tony Penn, who represents Tenbury on Malvern Hills District Council where he holds the planning portfolio.

He has already said that it is effectively ‘open season’ for developers who are taking advantage of the fact that there is no South Worcestershire Development Plan in place and no agreement on land supply for development in the next five years.

There has already been considerable pressure to determine major applications favourably in the absence of an agreed local plan and designation in which the Government takes control will, it is feared, only exacerbate that pressure.

The concern is that developers may use the Planning Inspectorate to achieve their ends rather than the local authority; with the effect of potential loss of local control over planning issues and loss of fee income.

Designation is a threat when local councils have more than 20% of their planning refusals overturned on appeal enabling Government to step in and take over.

Malvern Hills District Council, that deals with planning in Tenbury, is almost certain to cross this threshold and fall victim of the sanction.

“If the council becomes designated then applicants can choose to submit major applications directly to the Planning Inspectorate for determination,” said Tony Penn.

“In that case, while the council can seek to influence the outcome, the eventual decision would be taken out our control and the application fee would be paid to the Inspectorate and not to the council.

“Malvern Hills District Council does not wish to become designated but equally we will continue to scrutinise all planning applications having particular regard to local policies and circumstances and will always make sure we take the necessary time to arrive at what we think is the right decision.”

It will also be at least another year before there is a South Worcestershire Development Plan in place.

A planning inspector has already put on hold the processing of the plan for future development and instructed that more housing is provided in the future.

The three local authorities preparing the development plan – Malvern Hills District Council, Worcester City Council and Wychavon District Council - had originally said that over the area a further 23,200 new homes would be needed between now and 2030.

However, after being told by the Planning Inspectorate to go away and think again they have revised the figure up to between 26,700 and 27,300.

But this figure may still not been high enough as developers had been saying that the figure should be 36,000.

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