We have been in correspondance with Dorset Council to try and get some clarity on what is happending with the Detailed Planning Application for the VF development.
It has taken some time but we have an email response from James Lytton-Trevers, Lead Project Officer (Southern & Western), Economic Growth and Infrastructure. This is shown below in quotation marks.
Our biggest concern was that the detailed plans for VF might be approved by delegated authority (ie a council official) and not go to the planning committee. So there would be no opportunity for the people of Bridport to have their views heard at the committee meeting.
It is a long email response and the process described is complicated. The bottom line is that there is still no guarantee that we will get the detailed plans presented to the planning committee.
“I refer to your undated letter to Cllr. David Walsh and I, which you forwarded to the Chief Executive on 29 September 2021. You also mentioned that you had sent this to us in August, but in all honesty I did not receive it or I would have replied.
You refer to my reply to a different question on 1 August 2021 which I have included below for clarity for the other recipients of this. Thank you for acknowledging the position of the Local Planning Authority (LPA), although I would maintain that the LPA does take a robust approach to these matters if breaches occur. However, in this instance no breach of planning permission has occurred and there is no action I could take.
There is currently no planning application for reserved matters before me, so I cannot say what path such an application would take to reach a decision until such time if and when I receive it. However, I can explain the typical process that the LPA would follow on receipt of, say, an application for reserved matters for a development somewhere in the Dorset Council area. It would be improper for me to comment specifically on someone’s land and what they might want to do on it where there is nothing before me
An application for reserved matters would be advertised with notices in the usual way on and around the site. Consultations would take place with statutory consultees and non-statutory consultees including both a Parish Council and a Town Council (if it lay in both). The ward members would be notified. During the ensuing period there is an opportunity for consultees to make consultation responses and members of the public to make representations. This period would normally end after 21 days.
Once the consultation period has expired, if there are minor issues which have been raised by the consultee comments, representations or the LPA which can be resolved, the LPA may seek to resolve these. Once the LPA has sufficient information on which to reach a decision, an Officer of the LPA would normally prepare a report which would include a recommendation. In most cases a decision to grant or refuse planning permission is delegated. For example, if there is a planning application for a development which the parish council, ward member and LPA support, the decision is normally delegated. It is when the contrary happens that the Scheme of Delegation is triggered.
If an application needs to be referred to the Scheme of Delegation, the way in which the decision is taken, whether it be delegated to a nominated officer of the LPA or referred to a committee of elected members, would need to pass through the Scheme of Delegation process which is set out in the Dorset Council Constitution. In simple terms, this is a cascade system where consultee comments received from parish and town Councillors are referred to the Chair of the planning committee, Vice chair and Ward Members, whom can comment accordingly whether they consider the application should be delegated or referred to committee. Any responses received would be referred to the Head of Planning who would have regard to the planning application, consultee comments, representations and the recommendation. The Head of Planning would then reach a view whether or not to delegate a decision or refer it to a committee.
It is important to note that the Scheme of Delegation is seen as a fair way in which to decide the course of an application for planning permission. It has to be fair to the public as well as the applicant. So, for example, if there were an application which received some support from some, but for which despite some support, there was overwhelming objection by consultees and the public, it did not comply with Local Plan policy, etc and the LPA recommended refusal of it, it would not normally be necessary to refer it to the Scheme of Delegation. And vice versa.
I cannot comment further than this as at this point in time where there is no application before me. I have explained the process through which all applications made to the LPA need to pass through. The LPA could not single out specific applications for special scrutiny for the reasons I have set out above.
I hope this helps explain the process to you and let me know if I can explain further. I have copied this reply to Cllr. David Walsh and the Chief Executive as you sent your original letter to them.”