LOCAL PLANNING AUTHORITY: MANCHESTER CITY COUNCIL
PLANNING APPLICATION BY FC UNITED OF MANCHESTER FOR THE ERECTION OF A NEW SPORTS STADIUM (CAPACITY CIRCA 5,000), CLUB HOUSE, SPORTS PITCHES AND ASSOCIATED CAR PARKING AND LANDSCAPING AT RONALD JOHNSON PLAYING FIELDS, LIGHTBOWNE ROAD, MOSTON, MANCHESTER. M40 0FJ
I refer to your representations to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to exercise his powers under Section 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, to direct that the above-named planning application should be referred to him for decision rather than being dealt with by Manchester City Council.
As you may know, the Secretary of State’s general approach is not to interfere with the jurisdiction of local planning authorities unless it is necessary to do so. Parliament has entrusted local planning authorities with responsibility for day-to-day planning control in their areas. These authorities are normally best placed to make decisions relating to their areas and it is right that, in general, they should be free to carry out their duties responsibly, with the minimum of interference.
There will be occasions, however, when the Secretary of State may consider it necessary to call in a planning application for his own determination, rather than leaving it to the local planning authority. His policy is to be very selective about calling in planning applications. He will, in general, only take this step if planning issues of more than local importance are involved and if these issues need to be decided by the Secretary of State, rather than at a local level. Each case is considered on its own merits.
The Secretary of State has considered all the matters put to him about this application, including the representations made directly to him by objectors. Bearing in mind that the issue before him for decision is not whether the application should be granted planning permission, but whether or not he should call it in for his own determination, the Secretary of State considers that the main matters relevant to his decision are his policies as set out in: PPS9: Biodiversity and Geological Conservation; Planning Policy Guidance Note 13: Transport; Planning Policy Guidance Note 17: Planning for Open Space, Sport and Recreation; and Planning Policy Note 24: Planning and Noise.
Having considered these and other relevant planning issues and having regard to his policy on call-in, the Secretary of State has concluded that there is not sufficient conflict with national planning policies on the above matters, or any other sufficient reason, to warrant the calling in of the application for his own determination. The Secretary of State is satisfied that the issues raised do not relate to matters of more than local importance. He has, therefore, decided that Manchester City Council should decide the application as it sees fit.
I must point out that it is not the responsibility of the Department for Communities and Local Government to police local authorities. The Secretary of State has no duty or power to supervise the general propriety or efficiency of actions taken by individual local authorities or call them to account on matters connected with organisation, management or conduct of business. Local authorities are provided with considerable statutory discretion to arrange for the discharge of their duties in accordance with their own interpretation of local needs and circumstances. They are accountable for their actions and services they provide to their electorate, and ultimately the law courts.
Each local authority has a Monitoring Officer who is concerned with matters of legality and propriety. It is his or her duty to report to the full council any cases where he or she thinks that the council, one of its committees, sub-committees or officers is about to or has done something unlawful, or which constitutes maladministration. The Local Authority Ombudsman may also investigate such matters.
In considering whether to exercise his discretion to call in this application, the Secretary of State has not considered the matter of whether the application is EIA Development for the purposes of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011. The local planning authority responsible for determining the application remains the relevant authority responsible for considering whether these Regulations apply to the proposed development and, if so, for ensuring that the requirements of the Regulations are complied with.
I know you will be disappointed by this decision. The decision not to call-in this application does not represent tacit approval of the proposal and nor should it be construed as an expression of opinion on the merits of the application.
Planning Casework Officer
Department for Communities and Local Government
National Planning Casework Unit
5 St Philips Place
Birmingham B3 2PW
Tel 0303 444 8050