Society Slams DCLG Decision not to Dispense with the Need for Newspaper Publicity of Planning Applications
The Planning Officers Society has expressed extreme disappointment with the DCLG decision not to pursue changes to publicity requirements such that Local Planning Authorities would have discretion as to whether or not press notices were carried out.
The Government, in its response to the consultation on Publicity for Planning Applications, has declined to do away with the need to publicise certain applications in newspapers. Two other amendments have been accepted; however the reference to planning decisions in the response to amendment 1, is inconsistent with what the amendment was actually proposing i.e. the notice of applications received.
Phil Kirby, the Society's Immediate Past President, said web publication of notices is a good thing and we are all going to be made to do it; but it's not that good, as we are still going to have to duplicate the requirement by also using a newspaper!
The Society is concerned that the DCLG response ignores the strong evidence of the administrative and financial burden this requirement puts on LPAs. Given the considerable publicity given to planning applications via direct and indirect means it does not believe any element of the community would be disadvantaged if notices were not displayed in local newspapers.
David Hackforth, the Society's President, shares the general dismay expressed by a number of Society members that the DCLG have backtracked on the press notices issue. he added In Milton Keynes there are no paid-for local papers, just a couple of free sheets that only circulate (and then very patchily) in the city itself. In our fairly extensive rural area (71% of the Borough) there is no relevant local paper to put a notice in. To put it another way: using a press notice to advertise a development in our rural area pretty well guarantees that none of the affected people will see it!
The Society has written to John Healey MP, the Minister for Housing and Planning, to press for an early review of the decision.
Note: this has also been copied to Bob Neill MP the Conservative Shadow Minister for Planning and Julia Goldsworthy MP the Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government.
See also the email from the President to Steve Quartermain, DCLG Chief Planner
Earlier this week I wrote to John Healey (with a copy to you) expressing POS's extreme disappointment that the Government has decided not to pursue changes to the planning application publicity requirements that would have given local planning authorities discretion whether to use local press notices.
Following that letter I have received a copy of a survey carried out by ALBPO in 2006/7 to find out how much London planning authorities were spending on statutory newspaper notices. I attach a summary of the results of the survey, which had a 100% response. You will note that the average spend was £47,539.41 - the cost of a senior planning officer in each London Borough. If one omits the two atypical authorities (Camden and the ODA) the average spend is still £36,356, easily enough for a planning officer.
I also draw your attention to the comments about Camden, which has a parliamentary exemption from the duty to advertise most planning applications. I think this adds further weight to my contention that the existing publicity requirements cannot be justified on a cost/benefit basis and result in an unnecessary and unjustified waste of public money.
I would be grateful if you would bring this information to the attention of the Minister for Housing & Planning.
David Hackforth, President Planning Officers Society
T: 01908 252250; M: 07713 288390; E: President@planningofficers.org.uk; W: www.planningofficers.org.uk
We are the single voice for public sector planning practitioners, pursuing good and effective planning practice within local government