This post seeks to clarify the position relating to the issues raised in recent social media exchanges relating to the Woodpecker Farm planning compliance situation.
The details of the planning background to this case are appended below. The Neighbourhood Planning Committee meeting of Monday 28 September discussed the situation further. The draft minute of that discussion is:
The Chair allowed an early-agenda discussion to facilitate Ms Cox’s request to discuss the Woodpecker Orchard situation, which has arisen because the owner of the farm shop is subject to a September 2019 planning appeal inspector’s order, and follow-up HDC legal action to clear the site.Ms Cox told members that this situation had arisen because the site owner had received poor professional advice and had been subject to ‘discrimination’ by a combination of HDC and TPC, but was now taking further, better-advised legal/planning steps to contest the closure order. She highlighted the service that the farm shop had provided during lockdown, that current supportive petitions had gathered 2k+ signatures, and asked the Committee to take a position in ‘support’ of the farm shop operation.In the responding discussion, members clarified that the Parish Council’s role in this context is restricted to being a consultee on planning applications. In this case, planning permission had not been sought for either the farm shop operation or the mobile home on this site. Although HDC enforcement action to resolve these breaches had extended over many years, unfortunately it had not led to action to resolve the situation. The request that the PC should now ‘support’ the site owner poses several problems. In relation to planning processes, the 2019 appeal decision is final and HDC are required to implement it. HDC also have a valid policy not to consider new planning applications that would effectively duplicate a recent appeal process. As a result, the PC is not due to be consulted further in any planning process. More widely, the PC (like HDC) bears no ill-will towards this business, but equally there is an important principle that where a development needs planning permission it is the legal responsibility of the owner to secure it, and the PC cannot pick and choose to whom this should apply. The Committee therefore thanked Ms Cox for her eloquent representations on this issue, and appreciated both her sincerity and the local support for her concerns, but concluded that it did not have scope for further action or statements on this case that would be meaningful at this time.