The latest report on Planning, which is going to the Corporate Scrutiny Committee and Cabinet next week, is asking further delay in presenting the draft Island Plan from the promised July deadline.
This is alongside two recent decisions by IW Council Planning Committee in regard the two largest planning applications on the Island at present, Pennyfeathers and West Acre Park. One refused and one conditionally approved.
Ryde residents and those who particularly live in the Wards of Ryde Appley and Elmfield and Ryde South-East, are discussing and deciding how they re-act to these decisions. In regard to West Acre Park, residents have pursued a call for Judicial Review since the first approval for West Acre Park made on 27th July 2021. Lawyers for residents sent documentation stating their case for refusal to all Councillors attending the recent planning committee and 5 listened to residents and Ryde Town Council and 6 listened to the arguments of the developer and they won the day. There were 4286 signatories of support for refusal, 570 objections on the Planning portal. There are over 400 contributors on the current “Save Westridge farm land” crowdfunding site calling for Judicial Review of this application. A serious material consideration should have been attributed to this public interest. The majority of objections quoted correct policy references supporting refusal compared to a mere 4 letters of support. There have been now three votes by the Planning Committee in regard WAP in 2021, 2022, and 2023 and narrowly the refusal voice has been defeated and the developer has had the support to build even though residents and their elected representatives such as myself have continually highlighted errors in process and strong material objections.
In the case of Pennyfeathers Reserved Matters Application, the majority of the planning committee members did listen to the residents and Ryde Town Council and voted by 6 to 1 refusal. In this case the applicant/developer has stated they will appeal the decision. It has taken residents and RTC 8 years of campaigning since out-line planning permission was given to get their voices heard at Committee on something that would have normally been a delegated decision. As officers recommended approval delegated decision would have meant it would have been simply approved. It will be up to IW Council now to defend the arguments for refusal although recommended by officers.
In the case of WAP, residents will have to finance their solicitors to fight against IW Council even though council tax payers. Simply council tax payers are paying Council officers/lawyers to fight against them. It is a very unfair level playing field in my view and only a community-led and involved Island Plan that strengthens the voice of the people and town, community and parish councils. Planning Applications that cannot show real community involvement and engagement should be a weighted material objection. Until there is a community orientated Island Plan, residents will have to continue with direct community action such as seeking Judicial Review.
Isle of Wight needs housing but more importantly Island residents have to be part of the process and we need to work at early stages of applications with the local community assessing their own needs and giving these needs priority over the wishes of developers, landowners and their shareholders. Land allocated for housing has to be in accordance with the law, in accordance with the Core Plan, what the community want and need and most importantly allocated fairly. I am elected to serve my residents and give them a voice and will continue to do this. In regard West Acre Park, my residents wish clearly to continue pursuant of Judicial Review and I will continue to support them.