Further to the article published on 10th July below, the following reply has been received from the Case Officer at the Planning Inspectorate. Despite LOSRA providing evidence that the application would indeed "have significant effects beyond its immediate locality", the Secretary of State, doesn't agree; and signally fails to give a reason for his disagreement. Readers will have to make up their own minds as to the degree of enquiry devoted to LOSRA's request given that the reply appears to derive from a standard template and was turned around within 3 days.
The full text of the email is reproduced here:
Further your email of the 9th July 2012, regarding the above planning application.
Firstly, I would like to explain that local planning authorities have the statutory responsibility for considering proposals for development. Authorities have to determine planning applications in the light of the local development plan for the area and any other material planning considerations. They must also take into account any representations received and give reasons for their decision. The Government is clear that localism and decentralisation are at the heart of their planning agenda and the general approach of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is not to interfere with the jurisdiction of authorities on planning matters
As requested, the Secretary of State has carefully considered this case against call-in policy, as set out in the 1999 Caborn Statement. The policy makes it clear that the power to call in a case will only be used very selectively. The Government is committed to give more power to councils and communities to make their own decisions on planning issues, and believes planning decisions should be made at the local level wherever possible.
The Secretary of State has carefully considered the impact of the proposal, and the key policy issues which this case raises. In his opinion, the proposals do not: involve a conflict with national policies on important matters; have significant effects beyond their immediate locality; give rise to substantial regional or national controversy; raise significant architectural and urban design issues; or involve the interests of national security or of Foreign Governments. Nor does he consider that there is any other sufficient reason to call the application in for his own determination. He has therefore decided the application should be determined at local level, and has not called it in.
In considering whether to exercise his discretion to call in this application, the Secretary of State has not considered the matter of whether the application is EIA development for the purposes of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011. The local planning authority responsible for determining this application remains the relevant authority responsible for considering whether these regulations apply to this proposed development and, if so, for ensuring that the requirements of the Regulations are complied with.
I appreciate that you will be disappointed with the decision. It is, however, now for Elmbridge Borough Council to determine this application.
Mrs M Peart