Re Seacourt P&R extension application, we were informed on 9 March as follows:
“The Government remains committed to giving more power to councils and communities to make their own decisions on planning issues, and believe that planning decisions should be made at the local level wherever possible. The call-in policy makes it clear that the power to call in a case will only be used very selectively. The Secretary of State has decided, having had regard to this policy, not to call in this application. He is satisfied that the application should be determined at a local level.”
The Secretary of State in question is the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid. Of course his decision is disappointing to us. The Secretary of State in 1998/99 did call-in, and refuse, a very similar application on the same site. The guidance on not building in the flood plain has become much tighter since then, following Sir Michael Pitt’s report on the nation-wide floods of July 2007. The permission that Oxford City Council has given itself is contrary to both national (NPPF) and local planning policy. Note that the Secretary of State has not in any sense approved the plans, he has merely not intervened, leaving the decision to the local council.
We believe the Council has pushed through a perverse decision, contrary to planning guidance and a very great deal of substantial and principled opposition from local residents and local organisations. We believe that the Council may come to regret its decision. We will continue to make that case.