Saturday, January 30, 2010

Djanogly, Planning and Local Democracy

I was browsing through Djanogly's parliamentary website (paid for by the Taxpayer) when I saw an article questioning the decision by RWE N-Power to appeal the decision of HDC to refuse the planning decision for the wind turbines at Cotton Farm. The article went onto say:

Mr Djanogly said,
'I am disappointed to learn that N-Power have decided to appeal the decision made in November by HDC’s Development and Control Panel, it shows little regard for local democracy.'

So what does Jonathan Djanogly MP means by this "shows little regard for local democracy."? It seems to me that if you make a planning application and HDC decides against your application and you appeal, Jonathan thinks appealing is wrong!

This is an enhancement of "local democracy" which isn't in law and conflicts with individual freedoms. One freedom is: I have a piece of land I should be able to develop the land as I like unless proscribed or regulated by law. Another freedom is: my right to appeal a decision.

I know this is my libertarian part coming out. I do believe where people want to keep the scenic views they should own the land underneath and keep it that way. For instance that is what the National Trust does. There are also many charities which own land to keep it for public use instead of development. With all those people objecting there must be enough money to buy this land.

Planning is currently decided by the law. Any decision by any Planning Authority has to have reasons which are valid in planning law. As with most legal decisions these can be appealed. This is right open to all developers. As a solicitor Djanogly should know this. Planning is a top down process with local involvement. Whilst local planning departments are important, the decisions taken by Councillors have always got to be valid in law. Councillors cannot make up their own rules on planning applications as these will be shot down on appeal. In reality there is no such thing a local democracy in planning. It is an illusion. To keep the illusion up means residents think the local council has more power than it actually has.

As Planning has not much to do with local democracy, I feel Djanogly is wrong to refer to this. What he could have said was: "The Appeal shows little regard to local public opinion which is wholly against this development".

This use of the term "local democracy" troubles me. Are the Conservatives moving away from the Rule of Law to a new stance where local people have the final say on all planning applications? I feel we should be told!

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