Monday, June 01, 2009

John Baron MP: FOI reveals extent of Government’s conflict of interest over Barn Hall

MP questions Government’s decision given 85% kickback

An FOI request tabled by John Baron MP has revealed that the Government is entitled to 85% of the increased value of the land at Barn Hall following the granting of planning permission. John has written to Hazel Blears demanding that she now re-considers her decision to grant permission given this conflict of interest.

John said:
The whole community was against development – residents, Councillors and MP. The Planning Inspectorate agreed with us. Yet the Government rode roughshod over local democracy and granted permission. The Secretary of State’s decision made little sense at the time, but our FOI showing an 85% kickback now perhaps explains it.

In light of this conflict of interest, I’ve written to Hazel Blears asking her to revisit her decision, otherwise I will ask the Council to re-consider its legal options.
Peter Boynes of the Wickford North Green Action Group said:
I’m horrified to learn of the extent to which the Government will benefit from granting planning permission. 85% of the difference between what the land was sold for and what it is now worth with the planning permission granted is truly enormous – a matter which has never been made public, not even during the public enquiry.

I really do not know what the public is entitled to feel about both the extent of local democracy and the impartiality of planning decisions in this country.

For those who have forgotten this follows Basildon Council's refusal of a planning application, which was supported by a planning inspector, but overruled by the Secretary of State for no good reason that anyone could discern. Well, now we know.

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