After approaches from residents in Fleckney about the appeal by Bellway homes against Harborough District Council’s refusal to grant them permission to build houses in the village, Sir Edward Garnier, MP for Harborough, Oadby and Wigston, wrote to the Planning Inspector to ask him to change the time of the hearing so local residents who are working in the day can be present and put forward their views. The response from Mr Tim Rogers, Charting Manager at the Inspectorate, is set out below.
Sir Edward commented: “This is good news and I hope my constituents can attend at the new time of 6pm in order to express their concerns and show the Planning Inspector why they have such strong objections to the development.”
Please find below Sir Edward’s email to the Planning Inspector and the subsequent response from the Charting Manager.
The Planning Inspectorate has been contacted by Sir Edward Garnier QC MP, as well as other interested parties expressing their concerns that local residents will not have an opportunity to speak before the appointed Inspector if the Hearing opens at 10:00 and runs during the day. I have received the views of the local authority and appellant and have asked the appointed Inspector to consider the alternative views proposed.
I should emphasise that he considers that it is important that he can take account of the need to hear the evidence from the appellant and local authority whilst allowing an opportunity for interested parties and local residents to have their say.
Starting the Hearing in the evening of 26th March and finishing that same day, as has been suggested, would not be practical as there are many issues to discuss including some of a very technical nature. In addition the Inspector will need to hear the views of third parties as well as conduct a site visit. The alternative of opening at 10:00 and concluding at 22:00 is unreasonable so the Inspector has proposed the following.
In order to accommodate an evening session it will be necessary to arrange a 2 day Hearing starting at 10:00 on the first day with the bulk of the main parties’ evidence being discussed. The Inspector then proposes to adjourn at about 14:00 prior to re-opening at 18:00 and continuing until 21:00 to listen to the views of local residents.
On the second day the Inspector will resume at 10:00 and complete the Hearing, including discussing conditions and hearing any costs applications in the usual way and then go on to conduct the site visit.
The Inspector has noted the local authority's and appellant’s currently stated position vis a vis availability for the current date and times, as well as for the following day. He has asked that careful consideration be given to reviewing these positions with a view to remaining with the 26th March and adding 27th. If that does not prove feasible he will wish to re-arrange the event as he will want to sit on consecutive days.
The Inspector notes that the local authority are prepared to accommodate an evening session, but not on the scheduled day. The appellant is prepared to stay until about 20:00 on the scheduled day, but cannot attend on the following day.
Local residents will need to be informed that an evening session has been arranged as requested, but that they are also obviously free to attend the whole hearing session if they wish.
Given that the Hearing is due to open on 26th March, I would appreciate your urgent comments on this matter.
4/06a Kite Wing
Temple Quay House
Bristol BS1 6PN
Dear Mr Bartle
APP/F2415/A/13/2202070 – 13/00211/FUL
I understand you have received correspondence from a number of my constituents in Fleckney about the appeal by Bellway Homes against Harborough District Council’s refusal to give planning permission for their proposed development in the village. There is, as you will appreciate, considerable local antipathy towards this application and the appeal but because of the hours you intend to sit, many people will not be able to attend to give evidence or make representations at the hearing because it will be on a weekday during working hours.
Is there any possibility that you could move the hearing to a Saturday or, if that is not possible, to extend the hours of the hearing so as to permit those working but who cannot get the whole day off to attend the hearing after work or to take only a few hours off work as opposed to the whole day? It strikes me as important that everyone affected by the appeal and your decision should have the opportunity to appear at the hearing.
I look forward to hearing from you.