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Havering Council could be stripped of planning powers because one-in-ten appeals are upheld

PUBLISHED: 07:00 20 September 2017

Romford Town centre. Havering Town Hall

Romford Town centre. Havering Town Hall

Archant

Havering Council could be left powerless to rule against major planning applications from developers due to little known government guidelines.

At a meeting last week, councillors were told that 9.2 per cent of decisions made by the council on major planning applications have been overturned by the planning inspectorate since December 2015.

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.

This would give developers the ability to circumvent Havering Council entirely and have the planning inspectorate rule on their application, meaning Havering Council would not be entitled to any planning fees or a New Homes Bonus.

There are currently three outstanding appeals against planning decisions made by Havering Council – if any of these is reversed by planning inspectors the 10pc threshold will have been reached.

If that happens, members of planning advisory team will come to Havering to launch a full review of the council’s planning procedures, before making a recommendation to secretary of state Sajid Javid on whether or not a special designation is called for.

The revelations came to light as a result of a Conservative amendment to an Independent Residents’ Group motion that called for councillors to have the right to comment on all planning applications, not just those submitted within their ward.

Councillor Damien White, Havering’s deputy leader and cabinet member for housing, has revealed the revelations prompted the council to launch a full review of its planning policy, led independently by the Planning Advisory Services.

Cllr White told the Recorder he was “disappointed” at the news Havering was so close to the threshold.

He said: “As soon as I saw that figute of 9.2pc, my view was that the council had to take a positive approach and make sure we were able to provide the best service for our residents.

“While it’s disappointing we are where we are, we have to take the positives from it and develop a fresh approach to planning.”

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