Dear All –
Since I last wrote to you at the back end of July, the Planning Team has spent an extensive amount of time poring through the fine detail of the SOV application, reviewing this against policy, and taking into account the significant objections and more general comments raised not just by those of you who had corresponded via me directly, but also the many others who went directly to Officers or used the Planning Portal – when it worked, that is.
In addition, and as part of the entire robust assessment process, there have been regular, extensive, and ongoing discussions/negotiations with the developer by Panning Officers to reflect the concerns that Officers and residents both would have had with the scheme as it existed at the time. This has resulted in a variety of detailed modifications to the scheme, with revised drawings coming forward which themselves now need to be considered.
I am not going to comment or speculate as to how these will be received by local residents and stakeholders, and/or how acceptable they will be deemed by you; indeed even the three Councillors have yet to see these in detail, as they weren’t available to us when we held our review meeting with the lead Officers last Thursday afternoon. But I am here to share with you what happens next:
1: The Officers were in the process last week, and have been since, in reviewing the latest iteration of the scheme. As I said last time, these things are always a moveable feast, and can be so right up to the point at which the final version of a proposed scheme is brought to Planning Committee.
2: It was the intention the that of all goes well, and there are no significant interruptions, they would hope to be in a position by this time next week, to put the scheme out to as second and further consultation.
3. There is no statutory need to do so, but I insisted that given the scale, scope, extent, and degree of local interest in the scheme, and in the interests of openness and transparency, such a consultation should be undertaken to ensure residents are fully engaged in the process.
4: The consultation will last for three weeks, just like in June/July and as would be the case were this to be a statutory requirement. In addition, I also insisted (and the Officers agreed) that letters should and will go to precisely the same addresses as were consulted last time – and which itself, again at my/our insistence, took in a more extensive radius that is laid out in policy.
5: I further asked that some simple but clear narrative should accompany the consultation papers to explain what are the key changes, how these were arrived at, and why, in order to give a context beyond the very basic nature of the scheme in what will be its present form.
6: It is impossible, for all sorts of reasons to be precise on timing, but it is currently anticipated that the Application could well be considered and determined at the mid-January Planning Committee. But even that is conditional upon what happens between then and now.
7: This means the role of the Planning PANEL becomes even more critical. It will always be a pivotal moment. As you know, I established at the outset and insisted that there really must be a Planning Panel in this case. This is the pivotal public meeting at which the widest possible views can be canvased and expressed. I won’t repeat here the nature of a Planning Panel, but it my from belief that from a resident perspective, this session is far more important to you and for you than the Committee meeting itself (where you are heavily time and otherwise constrained). This was spelt out at length in my previous update.
8: If consultation letters do go out at the back end of next week and early next, this will take things to the end of October. After that, all the feedback needs to be gathered and assessed, alongside the ongoing assessment of the scheme, whilst negotiations with the developer and other meetings between Officers and key stakeholders need to be factored in.
9: Should this time frame play out, all the indications are that the Planning Panel will be convened between the middle and end of November. An indicative date has been pencilled in, but it would be imprudent for me to share that now because there are still so many variables that cold impact upon that, and occasion a further push back in the timetable.
10: In normal circumstances, one would seek to have a 6-8 week period between Panel and Committee in order for all parties to assimilate, process, accommodate, and make changes to proposals and reports in readiness for final presentation to and discussion at the Committee, whenever that should occur.
11: In summary, indicatively, and possibly still subject to change – but nothing will happen sooner, and could only become later still:-
- 2nd Consultation ….. the last three weeks of October
- Planning Panel …. No earlier than 18th November
- Planning Committee …. Mid-January 2020
As soon as I am confident that Officers have a clearer picture that all is going to the currently intended schedule, I shall get back in touch with you to confirm the date for the Planning Panel, and then share with you some advice as how best to approach that meeting to ensure that all the key concerns you have with the expressed and fully articulated, with clarity on each of the issues and with the minimum of duplication and repetition. After all, the general nature of the objections are already more than well known, and overegging the obvious pudding will serve no useful purpose.
It will be about seizing the moment, proper and organised mobilisation of voices, and making the most of the opportunity afforded to you by the occasion – at which you will be in direct dialogue with the Applicant, their professional advisers (architects and designers etc), some members of the Planning Committee (who need to be on listening mode to avoid any hints of predetermination) and of course the Officers from the Planning Authority who will be able to make observational and policy related comments on the night, and minute the entre proceedings.
I have known Planning Panels lead to significant last minute and often critical changes in Applications, which is why I place such faith in them as being a major forum for residents and their advocates to influence opinion and make a difference.
Councillor Derek Levy
LB Enfield: Southgate Ward