Grant '3rd party' rights to appeal 'Inappropriate development' on Green Belt & Floodplain

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UK residents should have the right to an appeal hearing in circumstances where the Local Planning Authority permit ‘inappropriate development’ in Green Belt and/or in Floodplain (Flood Zone 2 & 3).

Case study:  In February 2019 a Local Planning Authority (Oldham Council) granted planning permission for three developments on Green Belt land as part of a scheme to move Saddleworth School from its current site to a rural location; all three developments are deemed ‘inappropriate development’ in Green Belt according to the National Planning Policy Framework and established case law.  The LPA argue that these developments are justified because they believe that ‘special circumstances’ exist that would permit such ‘crucial’ development as:

  • An all-weather pitch on a ‘main river floodplain’ (requiring extensive earthworks to create a flat platform on steeply inclining land).
  • Two car parks (one for parents, one for residents) & a turn-around area.

At a recent Judicial Review it was determined that an ‘alternative site’ was available for the development (within the funding available from the Education Funding Agency) that would avoid development on Green Belt and on Floodplain.

Moreover, the Council also also argue that despite availability of nearby brownfield & greenfield sites – they will not develop on these instead of the Green Belt because they are ‘designated for employment land’ and therefore ‘too valuable’ in terms of future development potential!

The three approved developments will cause extensive environmental damage, flood issues, will have a direct and detrimental impact on residents and a significant negative impact on the setting of surrounding heritage assets, listed buildings & Conservation Areas.

In such circumstances, residents should be entitled to a hearing in order to appeal against the LPA’s opinion that ‘special circumstances’ apply and that other identified sites are 'not viable'.  Residents should also be granted the opportunity to argue the case in favour of retaining the Green Belt where (as in this this case) the LPA fail to identify & weigh-in the material disbenefits of permitting ‘inappropriate development’ in Green Belt.

We have an unjust system where – developers who disagree with an LPA decision are entitled to appeal in any circumstance; but UK residents cannot bring a planning appeal against an LPA decision, even when protected Green Belt land and Floodplain is earmarked for ‘inappropriate development’.  This is not the case in other countries.

Therefore, we the undersigned request that the Secretary of State review the current system and bring in legislation that would permit 3rd parties to appeal LPA planning decisions in the special case of ‘inappropriate development’ in designated Green Belt and/or Floodplain.