I have just received an e-mail from the Department for Communities and Local Government to say that the Secretary of State is postponing his response to the court decision on the Helioslough appeal, which we had all been expecting next week.
You will recall that the Planning Inspector recommended approval of the scheme. The Secretary of State decided to over-rule him – good. Helioslough then challenged that decision by appealing to the courts. The court decided that the Secretary of State had to come up with better reasons to justify his decision – not so good.
Well the Secretary of State (or his legal advisers) has now decided that there may be implications for the proposal from the coming into force earlier this week of the new National Planning Policy Framework. Accordingly he has asked those of us who gave evidence to the Inquiry for our views whether and how the NPPF changes things.
The key paragraph of the letter reads:
The Secretary of State considers that he will not be in a position to reach a decision on the above appeal by 5 April 2012, as previously notified, because of the need to allow parties time to deal with the matter set out above. [ie the implications of the coming into force of the NPFF]. Therefore, in exercise of the power conferred on him by paragraph 6(2) of Schedule 2 to the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, the Secretary of State hereby gives notice that he has varied the timetable for his decision previously set, and will now issue his decision on or before 13 June 2012.
We have until April 16th to communicate our views back to him, so that they can be considered. I will be putting a wet towel round my head to read the NPPF and would welcome any additional input!
This is our last chance to head off a wholly inappropriate and disastrous development which if it went ahead would be a knife in the underbelly of our great city and district – see my previous postings here.