22 January 2020
The Minister for the Environment Deputy John Young has asked the Judicial Greffe to appoint an independent planning inspector to review an ongoing planning dispute.
The dispute in question is that of planning application PP/2017/0034, which was decided by the planning committee prior to the current Minister’s appointment.
The applicants of PP/20127/0034 initially lodged a statutory appeal under the Planning & Building Law which would have provided an independent review by a planning inspector into the planning decision, however, they decided to withdraw their appeal in favour of proceeding with a complaint against the Minister of the Environment of the time.
The first report of the Complaints Board included findings which I was unable to agree for reasons explained in my published response. The Complaints Board have since published a second report and I have considered the comments the Board had made about the conduct of the planning department after having sought the views of the officers who were involved at the time.
It is important for the public to remain confident in the planning system and that the difference of opinion is resolved, and all doubt removed.
Therefore, notwithstanding the Board’s absolute independence, I have asked the Judicial Greffe, via its planning appeal process, to appoint an independent planning inspector to:
• conduct a retrospective forensic review of the application
• the evidence provided
• the process undertaken by the department
• the officers’ report to the Committee
• the Planning Committee’s decision
I will request that the planning inspector’s report is produced within the next three months and, whatever the findings may be, if there are any lessons to be learnt that all parties involved, including myself, utilise the opportunity.