District Council to face losing planning powers - The Malvern Observer

District Council to face losing planning powers

Malvern Editorial 20th Feb, 2014 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016   0

THE DISTRICT council will almost certainly be placed in special measures this year and risk losing its right to any say in future planning developments.

In a review of the council’s performance during the last financial quarter chief executive Chris Bocock declared there was no reason ‘not to expect’ the ruling which would give developers the right to bypass the council altogether and go straight to the Government for a planning verdict.

A formal decision on whether the council is ‘designated’ will be made in October but Mr Bocock said by that time the council was likely to have failed in its target regarding how many decisions had been overturned by Whitehall planning inspectors.

He added there had been ‘considerable pressure’ to give the green light to large housing proposals because the South Worcestershire Development Plan – that provides planning guidelines until 2030 – was yet to accepted by Parliament.

Mr Bocock added the pressure would only ‘exacerbate’ once the authority was placed in special measures.

“This would be another nail in the coffin of localism. I don’t agree with this whole Government knows best notion. It doesn’t. They are running roughshod over us.”

Coun Paul Cumming, responsible for the council’s finance, performance management and resources, said national planning laws were supposed to benefit the whole country but they had resulted in bad planning decisions in Malvern which were not good for communities.

Coun Tom Wells, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, branded the news horrific.

“This is a bombshell which is yet to go off. The penny hasn’t dropped about what we are talking about here.

“If this threat is imposed, from October planning applications will not take place in this room or even this district.

“There will be no transparency, no opportunity for residents and parish councils to contribute.

“This is a very serious issue for the district council and not something any of us would be pleased about.”

Council leader David Hughes said most of his fellow members had been affected by controversial planning applications in recent months but argued even if the council was placed in special measures, it would not automatically mean developers would ignore the authority.

“Government policy has put councillors including myself between a rock and a hard place in terms of planning.

“If we do what residents want and stand up to these appeals then we will be designated.

“We are not in charge of our own destiny. We have got to try and change Government policy but if we do go into special measures its not a foregone conclusion developers will go straight to inspectors.

“It is up to us make sure we demonstrate we can work with developers and applicants.”

He added councillors would be briefed on the full implications of special measures next month.


Advertise with the Malvern Observer to reach your audience


Weddings, Birthdays, Bereavements, Thank you notices, Marriages and more.

Buy Photos

Buy photos online from the Malvern Observer newspaper.


Receive a weekly update to your inbox by signing up to our weekly newsletter.