B&Q site application on hold

B&Q site application on hold

Barnet Council have been told not to approve Montreaux’s application yet, to give the Secretary of State time to decide whether or not to get involved.

The letter went to Barnet last Friday. The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities “hereby directs your Council not to grant permission on this application without specific authorisation. This direction is issued to enable him to consider whether he should direct … that the application should be referred to him for determination.”

So as things stand, the Secretary of State (Michael Gove) hasn’t decided yet whether to call it in.

  • If he does call it in, then an inspector will carry out a public inquiry and make a report with recommendations. The Secretary of State would then grant planning permission or refuse the application. That’s how it usually goes, anyway. We’re not experts but we know it varies – sometimes the Secretary of State will invite further representations after the inspector’s reported, for example.
  • If he doesn’t call it in, Barnet will be free to go ahead and issue approval – the planning committee voted to approve it last September, and the Mayor of London has told Barnet he’s not getting involved.

When will the Secretary of State decide whether to call it in? A Barnet officer’s suggested he might decide in 3 to 4 weeks, but that would be just before the local elections on 5 May 2022 so who knows?

If he does, how long would it then take? It varies. In February 2022, the Secretary of State approved the big development on the Wembley Park station car park, 9 months after calling it in.

Do many applications get called in? No. Eleven applications were decided on in 2021, up from eight in 2020. The government website says “The secretary of state will normally only do this if the application conflicts with national policy in important ways, or is nationally significant.”

Where’s that? https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/planning-applications-called-in-decisions-and-recovered-appeals

If the Secretary of State turned it down, could Montreaux appeal to the Planning Inspectorate? No. They could seek judicial review in the High Court. Or they could just put in a new application.

What about the Mayor of London? He didn’t approve the application or refuse it. On Monday 28 March he wrote to Barnet saying “I am content to allow the local planning authority to determine the case itself, subject to any action that the Secretary of State may take, and do not therefore wish to direct refusal or to take over the application for my own determination.” That was after he received a report from his officers and legally, should have been within 14 days of Barnet referring the application to him (we don’t know when they did that).

What can we do? We don’t know if writing to the Secretary of State might persuade him to call it in. We’re still furious that over 2,200 objections to this application were crudely and inadequately summarised in half a page of Barnet’s report to the planning committee and ignored. But we’ll try. According to this page, we can email correspondence@communities.gov.uk or write to
Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities
2 Marsham Street
If we find a better way, we’ll put that on our website and Facebook page, and tweet it.

The Barnet application ref is 20/3564/OUT, address B And Q Broadway Retail Park Cricklewood Lane London NW2 1ES, it’s for up to 1049 residential units in blocks up to 18 storeys high, Barnet planning committee voted to approve it on 9 September 2021 and there’s loads about it including our previous objections here on our website.

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