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Bullet dodged as Havering Council scrapes through planning powers battle by a single application

PUBLISHED: 15:57 20 April 2018

Havering street scenes. Havering Town Hall

Havering street scenes. Havering Town Hall

Archant

Havering Council was just one successful appeal away from losing its ability to reject major planning applications, a shocking new report has revealed.

Guidelines laid out by the secretary of state for local government say that if more than 10pc of a council’s decisions on major planning applications are reversed on appeal during a two-year period, that council can be placed under a special designation.

That would essentially mean developers could claim Havering Council’s judgement when it comes to planning decisions is flawed, and could instead go straight to the planning inspectorate to have it rule on their application.

If that happened, Havering Council would not be entitled to any planning fees or a New Homes Bonus.

A report written by council officers, to be discussed at a meeting of the borough’s regulatory committee on Thursday (April 26), confirms that although the council avoided such a designation, its figures “ran very close” to the 10pc threshold.

In fact, if one more appeal had gone against Havering they would have exceeded the 10pc limit and could have been made to surrender their planning powers.

A further breakdown of Havering Council data shows that of the 65 major applications – developments of 10 or more homes – decided between April 1 2015 and March 31 last year, six appeals were successful – a reversal rate of 9.2pc.

It also points out that of the six successful appeals, five involved cases where councillors sitting on the borough’s planning committee had rejected the application despite officers recommending it be accepted.

When it came to county matters – commercial applications for non-residential development such as for permission to carry out gravel extractions – 21 applications were decided and two appeals were successful, a slightly higher success rate of 9.5pc but still just under the 10pc allowance.

Again, both the successful appeals came in cases where councillors had ignored the advice of council officers when rejecting a proposed development.

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