I live in Fort William, Scotland but my question regards my sons problem in Devon.
My son has a small caravan site in south Devon., it has a planning exemption, thats secure.
He wants to build a small 2 peson shower and toilet block, He needs regular planning permission for this, but neighbours (wealthy/retired) have objected on the grounds of loss of their amenity. The block is 440 meters from their house and so, as far as i can make out, they can't actually be affected by this small building. yes, they can see it, but it can't affect them, its simply too far. Thus, I don't believe thir objection is valid under the regs' - the application is currently being processed.
The principal objector, (the neighbour), has friends in a local tennis club and a few of them have also objected in her support!
One of these is the Vice-chairman of the Parish council and when my sons application landed before them for consultation, they rejected it.
2 days later, this Vice-chairman also lodged a personal objection as a member of the public on the planning committe website under her ordinary name (not Councillor, etc.).
So, my questions are three:
1) Is it appropriate for a Vice-chairman of a District Parish planning meeting which has rejected an application to then also immediately lodge an individual objection?
Technically, it may/may not be ethical but is it 'wise' given her role in the objection being fashioned at the meeting at which she was vice-chair.. Does this not infer that she was minded to reject (because she immediately lodged a personal objection) and therefore this 'proves' a bias against the applicant when it came to discussion and voting? Oh, she lives 15 miles away from my sons place, so no personal issues with the wee building.
At this same meeting 'two members of the public' were invited to attend to outline their objections to my sons plans (this was the neighbour and his wife). the parish council listened to them and then made their decision to object, supporting their grounds that this 3 meter by 2 meter building, more than one quarter of a mile distant, would affect their visual amenity. My son, the applican,t was not invited to attend and was not informed his application was to be discussed at this meeting.
2) As a matter of natural justice this seems most odd, but is it undemocratic and/or irregular? Does it make the process illegitimate? Surely if objectors were invited to speak so should the applicant (particularly since a decision was made thereafter). It is as if the process was 'constructed' to create the outcome of rejection (the objectors raised and discussed their issues but my son didnt), and so the outcome was more or less inevitable.
I notice the councills written guidance to councillors in that County, it advises them to be very careful within their professional dealings lest there be any perception of unfairness or even-handed-ness.
3) I'd be hard-pressed to 'prove' a conspiracy to block my sons application (in support of the neighbour by her 'friend)', but would it be appropriate to outline my unease to the planning officer before he makes his judgement in a couple of weeks time - remember, the District Parish councils deliberations are a key element in the legal process of gaining planning permission, (if its 'iffy' it needs exposing). or would that be a waste of time (or might even work against my son))?
I'd be interested in any comments specially from anyone with experience of planning or councils workings, etc.
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