20 Jul 2007

Dear XXXX

I acknowledge receipt of the documentation in respect of the planning application made by you on 22nd December 2004 ie over eighteen months ago. I note that the planning authority record the application received on 1st February 2005 and perhaps you could clarify this.

Sometime ago I would have been astounded by the attitude of the planning authority (PA) but this type of behaviour is becoming more and more common. Many planning authorities either deliberately ignore or are completely ignorant of the provisions of the Planning Acts as regards further information. Article 33(3) of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 is very clear. A planning authority shall not require an applicant who has complied with a requirement under sub-article (1) to submit any further information or evidence save (a) as may be reasonabley necessary to clarify the matters dealt with in the applicant's response to a requirement to submit further information or evidence or to enable them to be considered or assessed.

In your case the PA has ignored this provision not once but twice. The history of your application records that the first request for further information (FI) was made on 21st March 2005 and was replied to on 7th July 2005. The second request is dated 5th August 2005 and was replied to on 18th November 2005. The third request is dated 15th December 2005 and was replied to on 9th February 2006. The first request contained 11 headings and it might be best to deal with them one by one using the numbering in the first request.

1.    Revised site layout including floor levels of proposed and existing structures. This was responded to in your letter of 7th July 2005. The exact same request appears in the purported FI request of 5th August 2005 (item 1). The information was reconfirmed in your reply of 18th November 2005 but, unbelievably, is re-repeated in the third purported FI request of 15ht December 2005 (item 1). You provided the information for the third time on 9th February 2006.

2.    Car parking details: This was replied to in your first letter. The request is repeated word for word in the second request (item 2). It was responded to in your letter of 18th November 2005 and for the third time in your letter of 9th February 2006.

3.    Scale of drawings: The scale of drawings is provided for in article 23 (1) of the regulations and if your original submission conformed to those requirements then this particular item is invalid.

4.    Traffic Impact Assessment and Road Safety Audit: This was responded to by McKenna Pearce, Consulting Engineers. This item is repeated in the second request (item 3) and again in a very prolix in the third request (item 2) despite your response in your letter of 18th November 2005.

5.    Hydrological Assessment: This was responded to by McKenna Pearce. The item is repeated in the second request (item 4)

6.    Revised Site Layout: This item covers details of the car parking arrangements and internal traffic movements. Dealt with by McKenna Pearce. Surpirsingly enough, it is not referred to again.

7.    Sight distances: These sight lines are dealt with in the McKP response. They are referred to again in the second request (item 5) and again in the third request (item 2 (b). The third request contains a short lecture on road design and demonstrates the knowledge and perception of the planning authority.

8.    Design brief: This is an extraordinary item. It is no business of the PA to enquire into the instructions given to the architect. And what on earth is the 'wider area'? It is the function of the PA to decide on matters submitted to them. In any event the matter was responded to. The same item requested a 3D photomontage. (Was this provided?) The item is repeated in the second request at item 6 and again in the third request at item 4.

9.    Drainage, water supply etc. This was responded to by McKenna Pearce. It is raised again in the second request (items 7 and 8) and again in the third request at item 3. The demand for full design details of the drainage and water supply systems is invalid. This is a matter for the Building Regulations.

10.    Landscaping: This was responded to in your letter of 7th July 2005.

11.    Public Lighting: This was responded to in your letter of 7th July 2005.

12.    Site boundaries, dividing walls etc: This does not seem to have been addressed in your reply of 7th July 2005. The item is repeated in the second request (item 10) and again in the third request (item 5). It is responded to in your letter of 9th February 2006.

In addition to the nonsense set out above there are a number of other strange demands. There is not much point in detailing them but a good example would be the request for "full details and drawings" of small retaining wall in the car park. The PA seems to have no idea of what a planning application is.

Overall I am of the view that you have obtained permission by default. This would have come into effect four weeks after the date of the first request for FI. There are no conditions attached to a default permission. The application as submitted is the approved scheme. The time for lodging a third party appeal is long past.

It is necessary to add a word of caution. The courts have never liked default permissions and the circumstances must be very clear. In my view this is the case here. The original intentions of the planning acts was that an applicant was entitled to a decision within two months. In this case eighteen months have passed and the finishing line is not even in sight.

Yours sincerely

David Keane

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