LETTER: 'Council can only judge applicatons on the use of buildings not the proposed companies involved'

PUBLISHED: 09:57 31 October 2015

In response to recent correspondence regarding the cinema development, I feel it is important to make it clear the powers a council has regarding planning applications.

It has been said that the council should be saying which operators should be allowed to trade from the site. Planning law dictates and is very clear that we can only judge applications on the use of buildings not the proposed companies involved.

The choice of the operators is a process which the council cannot and does not get involved in – it is a matter for the developer. We also cannot set conditions stating which type of company could take an outlet as this would be anti-competitive and open the authority to legal challenge.

So while some people may object to a certain company or operator due to their feelings towards their products – this is not considered to be a ‘material’ consideration when looking at an application from a planning perspective.

A planning application is approved or refused by a planning committee after they look at the information provided. A number of factors may determine their decisions from the economic viability of the plans to job creation and the community impact. Should they choose to refuse an application, they would need defendable planning reasons should the applicant decide to appeal, for example adverse impact on the highway, residential amenity and visual impact.

When the application for the cinema and food outlets were considered by Committee there were effectively no planning reasons to refuse the application so permission was granted in April 2015.

For any campaign regarding this development to have had an impact on the decision, it should have been made and submitted during the statutory consultation process in December 2014 – March 2015. The Council does not have the power to revisit an application unless the developer resubmits their application or wishes to make changes to their plans through non material amendments or variation of conditions. We cannot revise or request changes following the granting of permission.

We must stress this is a planning matter which the council has dealt with in a thorough and professional manner. While we understand there are residents who may not wish to see such fast food developments, there are also a large number who do. It would be naïve for us to expect to be able to appease all sections of the community but in planning terms – and this is the only way this application could be dealt with – the Council has worked to the letter of the Planning Law.

CLLR JOSH SCHUNMANN

Chairman of planning committee

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