Housing minister James Brokenshire quashes hopes of appeal for 500 homes at Kennett insisting it is an issue for local people to decide
PUBLISHED: 19:05 29 June 2019 | UPDATED: 19:05 29 June 2019
The Government has washed its hands of the decision to allow 500 homes to be built at Kennett, claiming it remains a ‘local’ decision.
James Brokenshire, the Minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government, says he will not intervene in the controversial planning application by East Cambridgeshire District Council to create a 'garden village' at Kennett.
It means the 100 acre can now be developed by the council's trading arm, Palace Green Homes, with only a handful of caveats thrown in.
Only hope for the Kennett 500 action group opposed to the scheme is for a judicial review - a process that would be prohibitively expensive.
The council has put the scheme under its Community Land Trust development wing and believes not only can it deliver local housing for local housing it can net millions of spare cash.
Kennett action group has always protested that the scheme is not - as claimed - 'community led' and waged a massive campaign to persuade the planning committee of East Cambs Council to reject it.
Ironically a Government planning inspector who headed the review into a new Local Plan for East Cambs wanted all CLTs removed locally but the council pulled out of the hearings and quashed the work already undertaken.
Daniel Fawcett, a planning casework manager in Mr Brokenshire's department, revealed the minister's decision in a letter to Rebecca Saunt, planning manager at East Cambridgeshire District Council.
He told her: "The Secretary of State has carefully considered this case against call-in policy; the policy makes it clear that the power to call in a case will only be used very selectively.
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"The Government is committed to give more power to councils and communities to make their own decisions on planning issues, and believes planning decisions should be made at the local level wherever possible.
"In deciding whether to call in this application, the Secretary of State has considered his policy on calling in planning applications."
Mr Fawcett added: "This policy gives examples of the types of issues which may lead him to conclude, in his opinion that the application should be called in.
"The Secretary of State has decided not to call in this application. He is content that it should be determined by the local planning authority."
Mr Fawcett said that in considering whether to exercise the discretion to call in this application, the Secretary of State had not considered the matter of whether this application is EIA development for the purposes of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017.
He said it was for the East Cambs Council - the local planning authority responsible for determining this application- whether these regulations apply to this proposed development. If so they needed to ensure the requirements of the regulations are complied with.
Mr Fawcett said an earlier directive that effectively froze consent was now withdrawn.
In a separate email to opponents Mr Fawcett added: "I appreciate that this is not the preferred outcome for you and I understand that there will be disappointment as a result.
"It is however, now for the council to determine this application."