Mr Kirkaldie expressed concerns in respect of the Planning Inspectorate's handling of three planning appeals at the site of the former Manston Airport in conjunction with RiverOak Strategic Partner's emerging application for development consent.
The planning appeal process under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (TCPA) is different to the decision-making process for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects under the separate Planning Act 2008 (PA2008). The handling of these processes is distinct.
The Public Inquiry into the four planning appeals at the site of the former Manston Airport sat in March 2017, the Inquiry has concluded and the Inspector is writing the decision on these appeals. Having consulted with colleagues, I understand that the decision in respect of these appeals is expected to be issued soon.
The PA2008 process places specific duties on prospective NSIP applicants in respect of how they must consult with statutory consultees (s42 PA2008) and local communities (s47 PA2008) at the Pre-application stage, that is, before an application is submitted to the Planning Inspectorate. In the Pre-application stage, it is entirely for the applicant to decide when they carry out their statutory consultation exercises. We understand that RiverOak Strategic Partners Ltd (RSP) opened its statutory consultation period for its development proposals on 12 June 2017. The consultation period will close on 23 July 2017, having run for 42 days.
I can assure you that the Planning Inspectorate has no influence as to the timing of RSP’s consultation. I can also assure you that there is no question of the Inspectorate having any regard to the prospective applicant’s statutory consultation in respect of the timing of the determination of the four planning appeals. Decisions will be issued when the Inspector is ready to issue them.
If an application for development consent is submitted to the Planning Inspectorate by RSP it will be subject to rigorous testing in the 28-day Acceptance period before a decision is made about whether it is of a satisfactory standard to be examined. These tests include detailed scrutiny as to whether the applicant has satisfied its consultation duties under s42 and s47 of the PA2008, referred to above.
All of the legislation and statutory guidance that governs the PA2008 process is accessible on the Planning Inspectorate’s website, together with our own suite of non-statutory advice notes: attachment 1