Housing Secretary's reasons for not calling in Richmond Homebase proposal

By The Editor

19th Jan 2021 | Local News

A letter from the Housing Secretary's office sheds light on why Robert Jenrick has decided against calling in a 453-home proposal in Richmond.

It paves the way for a £250 million development at the site currently occupied by Homebase and other businesses off Manor Road.

The original plan was rejected by Richmond Council but Mayor of London Sadiq Khan called the application in, revised it to include more homes and granted planning permission. The council has said it is "extremely disappointed".

After a request by Richmond Park MP Sarah Olney this permission was 'suspended' as officials from Mr Jenrick's department – the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government – granted her wish by issuing a 'holding direction' on the application.

This effectively suspended planning permission for the scheme until a decision on whether to call-in the application was made - and Mr Jenrick has now opted not to.

The letter from a Senior Planning Casework Manager at the housing ministry to the Greater London Authority (mayor's office) attempts to explain his reasons. "This decision was made by the Secretary of State and signed on his behalf," it says. The letter reads:

I refer to the above application which has been the subject of third party requests to call in for determination by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The Secretary of State has carefully considered this case against call-in policy, as set out in the Written Ministerial Statement by Nick Boles on 26 October 2012. The policy makes it clear that the power to call in a case will only be used very selectively.

The Government is committed to give more power to councils and communities to make their own decisions on planning issues, and believes planning decisions should be made at the local level wherever possible.

In deciding whether to call in this application, the Secretary of State has considered his policy on calling in planning applications. This policy gives examples of the types of issues which may lead him to conclude, in his opinion that the application should be called in. The Secretary of State has decided not to call in this application. He is content that it should be determined by the Greater London Authority.

In considering whether to exercise the discretion to call in this application, the Secretary of State has not considered the matter of whether this application is EIA 2 Development for the purposes of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017. The local planning authority responsible for determining this application remains the relevant authority responsible for considering whether these Regulations apply to this proposed development and, if so, for ensuring that the requirements of the Regulations are complied with.

The Article 31 Direction issued pursuant to the Secretary of State's letter of 15 September 2020 is hereby withdrawn.

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