Gazette Letter and a proud Sir Humphrey
Friday, March 23 2012 @ 11:33 AM GMT
Contributed by: Peter Bloyce
- These representations are made without prejudice to the Company’s position before the court in the judicial review proceedings before the Hon Mr Justice Lindblom. Any future decision in relation to Manydown will be obliged to take the findings of that judgment into account.
- To be frank, the Officer’s report (‘the Report”) and the recommended decision are plainly an attempt by the Council to kick the issue of development on the Manydown land into the long grass, with an unnecessary “assumption” of starting again from scratch to consider all possible options, a protracted and drawn-out process, unnecessary steps, and inflated costs.
- It is premised on the assumption that “the requirement is for a fundamental review of the options for Manydown, which will include comprehensive consultation with the public on its views and preferences” (para 9.1). This includes “a range of potential new options yet to be identified”. There is no basis for this assumption in the 15 December 2011 Council resolution, or otherwise. It is also inconsistent with the Council’s own view as local planning authority.
- The Report appears to be an example of what Sir Humphrey Appleby famously called “Plan B” to scuppering any project: make it appear long and expensive. The Report estimates a cost of up to £500,000 for work to get to the point where the Council decides whether the land should be promoted or not. Total costs before a final decision on whether to promote the land for development are up to £1 million, with a timescale of three years or more (at Stage 11). Yet we note that Hampshire County Council’s email of 12 October 2011 to Karen Brimacombe estimates less than £250,000 to get to the same point (ie production of a development framework / masterplan). A great deal of work of continued value and relevance has already been done.
5. The recommended decision is that a final decision on whether to promote the land for development would not be taken for three years or more – no ordinary landowner with such a site with the benefit of the SHLAA and the local planning authority’s site assessment would behave in such a way.
6. The work set out in the Report goes far beyond what would be necessary to consider whether the land has “any potential for future development” Much of the work would be done by the Defendant as local planning authority, and much of that after the inclusion of the land in a Core Strategy for example as part of a more detailed development plan document or area action plan.