The latest news on the West Acre Park planning application is that it has still not received consent after 14 months, so it does not have planning permission as yet. In addition, Natural England have raised concerns about the loss of habitat for protected birds. In turns out that Natural England did not raise concerns at the time of public consultation stage in the application process. This meant when local residents and I raised our material objections on the loss of habitat of endangered species, we were dismissed as Natural England did not.
I have called for the entire application to be recalled:
Letter/Email to IW Council:
I wish to formally request that the West Acre Park (Westridge Farm) application be recalled to planning committee as an entirely new application due to the revelation that Natural England admittance that they failed to identify the importance of the green land known as Westridge Farm was an important habitat for protected species under Habitat Regulations. Their letters/emails are posted on the IW LPA portal.
The reason for this is that a large amount of the detailed material objections was based on environment issues especially the importance of habitat for Solent waders and migrating birds. These objections were dismissed due to Natural England making no objection to the application. It is now proved that this was incorrect and Natural England are now seeking redress. I, as the IWC elected Ward Councillor for Ryde Appley and Elmfield, wish to state that this admittance by Natural England simply means planning committee members were misinformed and made their decision on flawed information on the 29th July 2021. IW Council has still not issued consent due to now this revelation from Natural England and taking over 14 months to complete a S106 agreement. It is likely the conditions of the approval and S106 will have to change due to Natural England’s admitted mistake.
This mistake along with other process mistakes has resulted in a farming family losing their livelihood, endangered protected species and important habitat/environment are threatened and has resulted in a pending Judicial Review. This is totally unacceptable and a total injustice to Ryde and my Ward residents. I have continually called for an IW Council investigation into WAP and continually been ignored. How many mistakes need to be highlighted before IW LPA/Council takes action?
There is clear evidence that the decision of approval on the 29th July was flawed due to Committee members not having all the facts and misled by bodies such as Natural England. The only ethical and moral (possible legal) way forward is for you both as Chair of Planning Committee and Cabinet member of Planning and Community Engagement is to call an emergency meeting of all involved and decide to call the application devoid and a new application process is started.
I wish to also state that as IWC Ward Council have requested the draft WAP S106 agreement for many months and although now have been promised I will receive it this week, as yet I have not. I believe that I am being continually blocked on information that as an elected member I have due right to access to.
The LGA Peer Review 2022, clearly raised concerns about the production of S106 legal agreements and the lack of trust between all stakeholders and the importance of building bridges. I cannot see any way for this trust being built until flawed applications such as WAP are properly dealt with. I feel it is abhorrent that my residents have to independently raise money to appoint a legal team to go to Judicial Review to prove that IW Council did not follow process and procedure properly and has evidence of flawed reports/statements from statutory consultees such as Natural England when IW Council knows it was wrong. IW Council should be open, transparent and admit it was wrong and start to rectify this unjust mistake.
I was elected to represent my residents and make their voices heard and I will continue to do this until they get justice on this issue. I have no problem with a decision whatever it is as long as it is fair. The WAP decision on 29th July was not fair!
Cllr Michael Lilley
IW Councillor for Ryde Appley and Elmfield
Further Information on Solent Waders and Brent Geese Sites
The Solent Waders & Brent Goose Network (arcgis.com) You can find the mapped areas here, it’s really worth a bit of an explore. The West Acre land comes under supplementary block IOW60, but you can see that there are lots of other identified sites around Ryde. The Solent Wader and Goose Strategy is an often-overlooked planning requirement, but I’m surprised this has happened on such a high-profile scheme.