Sometimes people take something that is simple and make it overly complex. For example, the basis upon which to decide this recent planning application by Gilpin Group.
Read Gilpin’s planning application. Ask yourself a few basic questions – ‘Is there a public need for this development?’ ‘Here?’ and ‘Are there other sites, perhaps even more suitable ones, where this proposed development could take place?’
Here are two links to where you can find Gilpin’s planning application, because the application was initially made to Teignbridge District Council, then got transferred to Devon County Council. and the documents to Gilpin’s Planning Application DCC/3643/2014.
Before you attempt to answer these questions remember that ‘NEED’ in terms of Planning and Development is neither the ‘need’ of the applicant nor the ‘need’ of a company or private individual. Planning and Development is based upon public need.
National Planning Policy is set out to improve local people’s lives; proposed development should be that which is in the public interest. Gilpin’s proposed development is not in the public interest at all. It is quite clearly a corporate need. So the answer to the first question – ‘Is there a public need for this development?’
It’s simple. Gilpin want Whitecleave Quarry for their demolition business. For their own purposes. Toward their own goals. This development is not in the interest of the public, there is no public need.
If Buckfastleigh needed more land given to industrial use there could be an argument made that Buckfastleigh needed Whitecleave Quarry to be an industrial site. However Buckfastleigh has several industrial sites already. The town doesn’t need more land given to industrial use. The town needs to make better use of the land they have that is already designated for use of industry.
On to the second question – ‘Are there other sites, perhaps even more suitable ones, where Gilpin’s proposed development could take place?’
This is a no brainer. Yes! There are a surfeit of places Gilpins could use. Ready now, to lease or purchase. The Buckfastleigh Community Forum provided evidence of this by a report provided by an industrial property agent who identified at least 30 other options available to Gilpins.
In order for Gilpins to use Whitecleave Quarry for their demolition business, Devon County Council have to impose ELEVEN separate conditions. Each condition will need to be monitored to ensure not just compliance with the condition, but to ensure there is no harm done to the ecology and European protected rare and endangered species whose survival depends upon Whitecleave Quarry. There are no guarantees that monitoring will even work. In fact evidence shows that monitoring conditions attached to planning applications that are supposed to protect species most often times fail!
The other sites available to Gilpins are already classified for the industrial use Gilpin want. The sites have no need for monitoring and protection of ecology and endangered species.
So ask yourself, if you were deciding upon this planning application, is there really a need for this change of land use to industrial use when there is suitable land available within reasonable distance of where Gilpin want to operate?
So, the above is a layperson’s interpretation of what is fundamentally a key part of the Habitats Directive…
Habitats Directive: Guidance on the application of article 6(4) Alternative solutions, imperative reasons of overriding public interest (IROPI) and compensatory measures. August 2012
The purpose of the Habitats Directive is to enhance Europe’s biodiversity by protecting its most important habitats and species. This is achieved, in part, through the designation of protected sites. The directive requires competent authorities (those with decision making powers) to assess the impact of plans or projects that may have a significant effect on these “European sites”, either alone or in combination with other plans or projects. Competent authorities cannot consent to plans or projects they determine may have an “adverse effect on the integrity of a European site” following such an assessment.
However the directive provides a derogation under article 6(4) which allows such plans or projects to be approved provided three tests are met:
• 1) There are no feasible alternative solutions to the plan or project which are less damaging.
• 2) There are “imperative reasons of overriding public interest” (IROPI) for the plan or project to proceed.
• 3) Compensatory measures are secured to ensure that the overall coherence of the network of European sites is maintained.
Gilpin’s application fails • 1) and • 2). And evidence has been provided that it would fail • 3) as well.
Devon County’s Development Management Committee should turn Gilpin’s application down. They don’t need to over complicate things.