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How it Should Work ...

Posted on 15th January, 2020

 

Purn Way Housing Development

THIS IS NOT A NEW APPLICATION - see application & BOB comment

 

There appears to be much mis-communication and subsequent frustration on social media with regards this application. So to try and clarify a few things:

  • Bleadon Parish Council (BPC) DO NOT HAVE the power to decide(approve/reject) planning applications, but they are consulted by NSC
  • North Somerset Council decide planning applications according to their adopted policies E.g. NSC Local Plan/Core Strategy & any approved NDP
  • RESIDENTS HAVE THE POWER TO INFLUENCE NSC DECISIONS by submitting positive/negative/neutral comments on the application independently

Residents do not have to be councillors to influence applications as NSC has the power to override/support BPC decisions based on policy.

  • Residents can be elected or co-opted to be BPC 'parish' councillors BUT they must follow:
  • documented and adopted laws, policies, procedures, protocols, legal obligations, etc.
  • "Be accountable to the public for decisions and actions" [including financial expenditure]
  • "Submit to scrutiny appropriate to the office"
  • "Be as open as possible about all decisions and actions."
  • "Give reasons for decisions; restrict information only when the wider public interest demands."
  • Declare "Disclosable Pecuniary Interests" and "Other Interests"

Note:

  • All four current councillors live towards the Purn Way end of the 'village', none from the wider 'parish'.
  • Four of the last five resigning councillors also lived towards Purn Way.
  • To be able to make decisions, i.e. be 'quorate', BPC only need 3 councillors that have not made an associated declaration of interest.
  • As far as BOB is aware, as a council BPC has been 'quorate' in the last few years and has been able to make decisions, except briefly for the one 200 Houses application.

Over the last few years BPC has not been attending to these basic obligations or responsibilities, which BOB believes has resulted in an increase in public frustration and complaint. Let's hope that any newly elected or co-opted resident is fully aware of the commitment required to be a councillor and will represent the 'parish' and not just the 'village'.

 

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

 

General Planning Process Overview

  • (The Applicant submits a planning application)
  • NSC make planning application and consultation decisions NOT BPC (e.g. some current and decided applications)
  • NSC set various application time deadlines, then
  • NSC asks various Statutory Consultees, including BPC, for their comments on the application, e.g. support, object, neutral
  • NSC asks the public for their comments on the application e.g. through the NSC website, via BPC agenda, minutes, public meetings, etc.
  • NSC makes the decision whether to Approve or Reject the application, based on documented and adopted laws, policies, etc. NOT BPC.

The Applicant can appeal against a NSC decision NOT a resident(?unless on a point of process)

  • The Planning Inspectorate will decide the type of appeal
  • NSC will choose how to defend an Appeal NOT BPC e.g. Mendip Motor
  • Residents can speak at an Appeal at the Inspector's discretion e.g. 200 Houses and/or become a Rule 6 Party e.g. Bleadon Hill
  • The individual Inspector (not a panel) then decides the outcome of the Appeal

General 'Parish' Councillor Roles, Responsibilities, obligations, etc.

BPC's adopted Code of Conduct states: "Give reasons for decisions; restrict information only when the wider public interest demands."

  • To achieve better openness and transparency:
  • "The Freedom of Information Act requires every public authority to have a publication scheme, approved by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), and to publish information covered by the scheme.
  • The scheme … [sets out BPC's] commitment to make certain classes of information routinely available, such as policies and procedures, minutes of meetings, annual reports and financial information."
  • "The legal commitment is to the model publication scheme, and public authorities should look to provide as much information as possible on a routine basis.

Neighbourhood Plan

  • The fundamental creation and adoption of a Neighbourhood Development Plan (unlike Bleadon's adopted Parish Plan) prescribes that Bleadon identify sites where housing will be permitted. As well as the ongoing maintenance obligation and cost to Bleadon, BOB has always argued that identification of sites by BPC would inevitably create conflict amongst residents... Purn Way would appear to be one of them, but other sites adjacent to boundary have also already been considered for the JSP and NSC Local Plan purposes, as well as BPC's NDP as indicated in its recent grant application submission.
  • BPC NDP Feb 19 Minutes - "The response to the survey had been magnificent – 281 questionnaires completed in total (130 online)."  and  "There are just under 500 houses in the village and just over 950 adults on the electoral roll ... nearly 30%.". (NB: The 200 House Appeal submission and BVN113 states " The responses equate to 56% of households in the parish")?
  • Reference should also be made to the BPC's responses to the JSP(Joint Spatial Plan) and NSC Local Plan 2036 consultations. E.g. Currently there is housing all along Bleadon's Settlement Boundary, except for the Quarry area.
  • On 10 Dec 18 BPC indicated that a flex of settlement boundary may be acceptable at some point? "The current [NSC] policy should be amended to ensure that the size of any housing development adjacent to the boundary is limited in number to no more than 10% of the existing homes in the parish (currently circa 500 homes)" (Min 317.12)? What sites adjacent to the boundary did BPC have in mind? However, most of the councillors who submitted this consultation comment have since resigned!

 

 

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