Why did Wirral Council’s planning department send out a decision letter about 3 marquees at Thornton Manor with no planning conditions?
Published to very little fanfare yesterday, was a supplementary agenda containing a 12 page report to Wirral Council’s Planning Committee that meets on the 20th July 2017 starting at 6.00 pm in the Civic Hall at Wallasey Town Hall, Brighton Street, Seacombe, CH44 8ED.
It’s about the ongoing saga that are the marquees at Thornton Manor. In April 2010 Wirral Council received a planning application for the erection of three marquees within the Thornton Manor estate (referred to as The Dell, The Walled Garden and The Lake). These locations are in the greenbelt.
A Planning Committee held on the 21st July 2010 agreed to a site visit that was then held. There were petitions both against and in favour of the planning application being approved.
On the 7th September 2010, the Planning Committee met and approved it (on a 7:5 vote) subject to 10 planning conditions, a section 106 agreement and a referral to the Government Office of the North West.
The planning conditions ranged from no fireworks between January and July, the permission being only for five years from the date of the decision notice, the erection of a noise barrier and seven other conditions (that are detailed in the report).
Wirral Council then negotiated a section 106 agreement with the applicant and in May 2011 a draft decision notice (detailing all the conditions) was included with the draft section 106 agreement for signing by the applicant. This was published on Wirral Council’s website.
A further draft decision notice (listing all the conditions) was sent out in September 2011.
The final section 106 agreement was signed and sealed on the 11th November 2011.
At this point, a letter should’ve been sent to the applicant stating that the application was approved and listing the conditions (but wasn’t).
A letter was sent on the 20th December 2011 to the applicant stating that the planning application was approved (but listing no conditions whatsoever)!
This letter went out in the name of Kevin Adderley* (who at the time was the senior manager in charge of that section of Wirral Council). Just because it went out in Kevin Adderley’s name doesn’t mean he’d have had sight of it, just that he was paid for political accountability to politicians for what happened.
*Early retirement for Kevin Adderley was agreed in 2015 by a majority vote of councillors at a cost of £296,229.
This decision notice letter was received by the applicant on the 21st December 2011.
Then Wirral Council sought legal advice and were told that the grant of permission was the letter (without conditions) sent on the 20th December 2011.
Wirral Council cannot enforce the original conditions (agreed by the Planning Committee) as they weren’t in the decision notice letter and only what was in the section 106 agreement.
Another update to the Planning Committee will be given in August 2017 about Wirral Council’s view on whether the section 106 agreement is being complied with.
In the report Wirral Council state, “It has been impossible to identify whether this incident was a system error, human error or a combination of both.”
In other words the report author doesn’t really know why it happened! In future Wirral Council does promise that a senior manager or Team Leader will read all decision notices before they are posted to the applicant!
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