Terry Norris, Consultations Manager at Taylor House
This article is from Signpost 67, Spring 2021
All planning applications potentially affecting a public right of way have to be advertised by a notice on the site of the proposed development and in a local newspaper. This is a legal requirement under Article 15 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) England Order 2015. Some local planning authorities send copies of these notices to the Society. This enables us to look at the planning application on line and check that the path is not threatened by the development. In the case of large developments e.g. those involving the building of a housing estate, we will request improvements to the path, such as better surfacing and path furniture, and links to other paths near to the development. Without sight of these Article 15 notices it is very difficult to ascertain which planning applications might affect public rights of way. The position is made worse by the government’s removal of any obligation to show the line of the path on the location plan within the planning application.
In January 2020 I write to Tameside Planning Services to ask them for a list of their Article 15 notices so we could monitor these applications. This request was firmly rebuffed. If the list was provided for us then other interest groups would want it so there would be an unreasonable burden on the Council. They also pointed out that we could look at the list of planning applications on the Council web site – even though this gives no indication of which proposed developments could affect a PROW and in any event the line of the path is not shown!
I then used Freedom of Information (FOI) Act requests to ask for lists of all Article 15 notices issued over a period of several months. I also looked each week at the Public Notices columns of the Tameside Reporter. The answer to the FOI requests was that there had been no Article 15 notices. Also no notices had appeared in the Tameside Reporter. During the same period my local authority, Kirklees, had issued three or four notices each week. It was not obvious why Tameside, which is subject to similar development pressures, should be totally different
By this time I began to suspect that the law was not always being followed. I set out my concerns in a letter to the Development Control Manager. After failing to receive a satisfactory reply I contacted the complaints section of the Council. The Manager eventually responded by assuring me that his team were following all the legal requirements to advertise planning applications. He quoted as an example an article 15 notice relating to an application affecting Mossley 182. This passes through the site of a proposed house extension. This caused a wry smile as this was a case which I had drawn to the attention of the planning officer at the request of one of our inspectors in Tameside. Chutzpah or what?
This continued the note of absurdity surrounding my complaint joining the failure to agree to send the Society copies of notices which did not exist because it would impose an unreasonable burden.
However, a satisfactory ending. Tameside Planning Services has now agreed to email us a list of all planning applications which potentially affect a public right of way. These are being monitored by our assessors and will be referred to our inspectors where there are concerns
Next: Signpost Report
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