Decision Maker: Housing, Economy and Business Committee
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
The committee considered a petition from the Wandle Valley Forum, submitted to the council on 8 April 2019, relating to the enforcement of planning conditions in the restoration of Beddington Farmlands. The petition was presented by Ms Lysanne Horrox, representing the Wandle Valley Forum, and Mr Peter Alfrey, representing Beddington Farmlands Group.
The chair invited the petitioners to address the committee for up to five minutes. The petitioners raised issues including:
· The importance of Beddington Farmlands to nature conservation;
· That planning permission for the Beddington Energy Recovery Facility was conditional upon the nature reserve being developed;
· The Local Government Ombudsman’s 2015 advice regarding development of the nature reserve; and
· The need for Sutton Council to undertake enforcement action prior to the completion date of the nature reserve works.
The Chair thanked the petitioners for raising this issue and invited Mr Andy Webber, Head of Development Management and Strategic Planning, to address any points referenced in the petition.
Members noted that the council had considered both formal and informal solutions to the restoration of the nature reserve, including enforcement action on the basis of the planning conditions. However, it was noted that because the planning conditions require restoration of the reserve by 2023, formal enforcement action could not be taken until such a time as this condition was broken; namely, if the reserve were not to be restored by 2023.
Mr Dan Cooke and Mr Adrian Frost, representatives of Viridor, addressed the committee, acknowledging both the importance of the matter to the local communities and that whilst progress on restoration of the reserve had fallen behind schedule, there was confidence that the works would be completed by the 2023 deadline. It was acknowledged that whilst not every aspect of the work thus far has gone entirely to plan, the company did recognise its commitments and responsibilities and would continue its hard work to complete the work as scheduled.
The Chair invited Councillor Tim Foster, Chair of the Conservation and Access Management Committee (Beddington Farmlands), to comment. Councillor Foster noted that whilst his committee had faced initial difficulties in undertaking its work, recent improvements to its governance and resourcing had improved its performance and that the committee would continue to scrutinise the ongoing works.
Members discussed that the petition claimed the works to restore the nature reserve had been delayed by several years but that it was not in the gift of the Planning Authority to take enforcement action prior to the conditions being broken, but that negotiation and working closely with Viridor and other stakeholders should avoid any conditions being broken.
Councillor McCoy thanked officers and members for their work on the issue and the petitioners for their vigilance in raising their concerns with the committee.
· to note that the relevant condition (42), subject to which planning permission was granted in May 2014, does not require the restoration of the land until 2023. As a consequence, there can be no breach of planning control until the period for compliance has expired and therefore enforcement is not an option at this time;
· to support the Planning Service in their work to secure delivery of the restoration by 2023; and
· To request that Viridor provide an update to the committee on the progress of the restoration work on a six-monthly basis.
Report author: Andy Webber
Publication date: 12/11/2019
Date of decision: 08/10/2019
Decided at meeting: 08/10/2019 - Housing, Economy and Business Committee