Many of you may have seen an announcement by Hook Parish Council that “Planning permission has been granted for housing developments at Reading Road and Brown Croft, despite local opposition”. On their web site they have provided more detail, but unfortunately the information is simply not accurate. I have informed them of this and requested that the notice be removed and a retraction issued. [Update: they have changed the words very slightly but it is still inaccurate and misleading].
Planning permission has not yet been granted in either of these cases. At the date shown against the article on the Parish Council website, neither case had even bee before Full Council, a requirement for these applications that as we all know are outside of the current and proposed settlement boundaries.
The Planning Committee recommendations came before Full Council on 27th February but were not given any debate or vote because Councillors had not requested this at least 48 hours before the meeting. The claimed Full Council “oversight” of these applications truly was the absolute definition of a rubber-stamping exercise. The matters for which the cases were referred to Full Council were not considered by Full Council.
There was great disquiet from Councillors about not being able to discuss these applications given the rising public sentiment against them and the valid criticism that had been raised about their handling at the Planning Committee stage. The “Brown Croft” application was let through, inevitable given the lack of a procedure available to stop it. However there was a statement to the effect that no planning decision would be issued on this case until the criticism of the Highways matters had been investigated and concluded. The Reading Road application was not let through and was returned to the Planning Committee. This was because in their haste to add a “condition” (that was not a condition) to the approval regarding road access, the Planning Committee had managed to produce an invalid recommendation for approval. This was no surprise to those of us who witnessed the contortions used by some Councillors to expedite the case for approval in the face of serious open questions.
So neither case has yet resulted in a planning decision being issued and in one case has to go back to the Planning Committee and then again before Full Council before any decision can be issued. As well as demanding that the Reading Road application be refused when it comes back to the Planning Committee, we will also be pushing for the “Brown Croft” case to be reconsidered and that if and when Full Council next see either of these cases that they genuinely consider the cases put before them. However, this relies on at least 5 councillors demanding this at least 48 hours before the meeting. If you want your District Council to actually debate these significant planning issues you should contact your Councillors immediately.