Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Centre no one needs !

Well, I've been persuaded into this by John Law, star of stage, screen, and, now, Birding Odyssey.  For John's sake I hope all this works. This is the first video clip I've ever included/promoted......if it succeeds then you'll get sick of them !!  The topic dominating our thoughts and concerns, skilfully produced and set to music by John ( I've absolutely no musical ability and, therefore, seeing someone master an instrument, sing in time, tune and write the music themselves is next best thing to Nobel prize stuff in my book !!! )

This is most certainly a different take on the Spurn Visitor Centre issue !  Thanks,John.

Hey, it's worked . folks.  Enjoy. !!

Misleading claim relating to the Spurn Visitor Centre proposal.

Now I suppose I'm one of those simple souls who largely sees things in black and white and prefers the world to operate in the same way. I've little patience with "spin", for egos, for manipulation or false claims or for power games , all of which fall into the same category of being petty and pathetic as far as I'm concerned. Last week I listened to a lecture by Professor Steve Redpath ostensibly linked to raptor persecution , but more generally about conflict resolution.  I was impressed with how many of the parameters associated with a conflict, which he showed on a slide that I dearly wish I had a copy of (!), that apply to the current or recent situation surrounding the issues relating to the proposal by the YWT Ltd to build a Visitor Centre at Spurn.

The matter still drags on following the initial planning application being rejected by the East Yorkshire Planning Committee, but the proposal is now to be resubmitted. The surrounding circumstances  include entrenched opposition by a large number of people,  a vast majority of the local community adamantly against anything the YWT might wish to do in future and the YWT assuming a role redolent of a Scottish Laird of yesteryear. Amidst all this lies Spurn, a National Nature Reserve, breached by recent winter tides, but still playing out a key role as a premier bird reserve and unique location for studying bird migration. Since the breach the YWT has lost what was a consistent income stream but still, as owners, have the task and responsibility of managing the site both as a reserve, given its designation, but also somewhat new aspects relating to safety of visitors. This is a predicament that I have some empathy with. Their solution was to propose the building of a Visitor Centre that would attract large numbers of visitors and solve the funding shortfall. Local people are opposed to the intrusion of the structure, many , me included, are sceptical of the visitor projections,  but still the self same claims are being aired despite a total rejection of their application by the Planning Committee who, after all, are representing the interests of the local community besides presiding over the more technical requirements of the planning process itself.  It is felt by many that there are other less intrusive alternatives available than this "must have" solution that is considered a potential white elephant.

With the re-submission being imminent the recent Newsletter issued by the YWT sadly has fuelled further flames.

   As might be expected the statement relating to the proposal being supported by the community has not had the desired effect, in fact just the opposite !  I have in front of me a list of people who live in the local villages of Kilnsea, Easington and nearby who actually objected to the application. They number 44 with only one resident known to be in support. So , who is this "community" claimed by the YWT ?  Does it stem from the whole County of Yorkshire perhaps or from the YWT membership itself, who were directly encouraged to support the application.  Time to stop playing games it seems to me !  Perhaps the YWT would like to provide the details and figures involved for all to see ?

And it also seems that Eon has a very deep parapet behind which it crouches in such times of conflict !  Due to the disruption caused when installing new capital works in recent times Eon pledged substantial sums of money from its Community Fund to various villages in South Holderness as recompense to the residents affected.  Enter the YWT who applied to the company and was successful in being awarded almost a million pounds, which will significantly offset the construction of a new Centre.   But it's a Centre the local community don't want, the very community that was supposed to be benefiting !!  Now it seems to me that, somewhere, somehow, the ethics and ideals of this large corporate business have got a bit confused. Possibly time for a major reconsideration even at this late hour ?  As it is this supportive chum of the Trust has been strangely silent of late and its take on current circumstances is unknown.   I ask again, I've asked before, what would be wrong in Eon awarding the Trust an appropriate sum of money for the management of Spurn which would take the pressure off the Trust to be chasing money, avoid the intrusion of a Centre, but most importantly of all, ensure that all management works necessary at Spurn are completed. The only person to lose out would be the person after which the Centre would be named, but who wants to be caricatured as a white elephant anyway ?

Planning proposal for a Visitor Centre at Spurn to be resubmitted.

News has been released that the YWT Ltd is to resubmit its planning proposal for a Visitor Centre at Spurn following the rejection of the original version by the East Yorks Planning Committee.  The updated details had not been received by the Local Authority when I inquired recently , but are clearly imminent.  This is an interesting development as , instead of being examined by an appointed Planning Inspector, the details could  again be considered by the Planning Committee , ( but see the caveats below ).  One imagines that the previous decision by that Committee has been accepted ( otherwise the process would have gone to appeal ) resulting in a modified application now having been constructed for their further consideration. Given that the Committee's grounds for refusal were based on visual intrusion and perceived problems relating to flood risk, subject areas that require some serious "accomodation" in terms of provision, then the revised application promises to be interesting to say the least !

    Now the mast shown on the above suggested illustration has already been removed from the application but one might imagine Phase 2 of the proposal might also look decidedly different. Why ?   Well, I'm afraid it's necessary to refer to the Town and Country Planning Act (1990 ) and some subsequent revisions.  That sounds daunting, but it is written in quite "straightforward " English  ( as opposed to some legal documents ) and, furthermore, there has been a number of useful revisions on this subject area in recent years.

Basically, the following points are those which, in my view, are the most important.  I've paraphrased the sections but I don't believe I've distorted the meaning in any way.

  • an application can be made for a development which has already been refused
  • however, in declining to determine such an application an Authority must be of the view that there has been no significant change in the development plan since the application was previously refused or dismissed.
  • Section 70A (8) TCP Act (1990) defines a planning application as being "similar" if it thinks that the development and land to which the application relates is the same or substantially the same.
  • when an application is thought to be "similar" the Local Authority is not automatically obliged to determine the application.  ( the purpose of this power is to inhibit the use of repeat applications that the Authority believes, over time, carries an intention to "wear down " opposition to proposed development. ) . Such powers are equally designed to give the Authority discretion to consider "repeat" applications where it is satisfied a genuine attempt has been made to overcome the planning objections.
  • an applicant has no right of appeal against a decision not to determine an application.  

So this would seem to be where things are at at present !  The resubmitted application needs to be materially different to the original , or it can be refused determination, and there is no appeal against the subsequent decision ( although it could be taken to Judicial Review.....expensive I should think ! ).

Clearly a view can't be taken of  " let's have another tilt at a planning application" as various conditions have to be satisfied and relying on nuisance value simply results in the matter not being determined with no right of appeal.  Does this mean that the YWT Ltd will have altered significantly its original proposal ? Well, I should think at least it ought to have done or otherwise run the risk of the matter being rejected out of hand. How many tilts at the process are tolerated is not specified, but given time constraints apply to the submission of applications, its not a system that extends never ending patience to people !!

As the process appears to be conducted along similar lines to previously I would guess all local stakeholders and objectors will be notified by the Local Authority in due course once they themselves have received details. Watch this space and be prepared, if you submitted a written objection, to consider doing so again as, of course, we may be looking at amended details !