Government Intervenes in Arcadia Planning Decision

Secretary of State issued Ealing Council a 'call in' letter on January 30

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The Planning Inspectorate - A Guide to Called In Planning Applications

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On January 30 the Secretary of State for Local Government and Communities 'called in' the Council's planning decision on Arcadia.

The development's green light has effectively been reversed and a public inquiry is to be held.


A letter to Ealing Council from the Government Office for London (GOL) states that the Secretary of state, "is of the opinion that the application is one that she ought to decide herself because she considers that the proposals may conflict with national policies on important matters."

The letter informs Ealing Council's Planning Officer, Jason Kaye, that the application, "shall be referred to her instead of being dealt with by your Council."

Matters that she 'particularly wishes to be informed about' include: "the extent to which the proposed development is consistent with Government policies...in particular whether the design principles in relation to the site and its wider context, including the layout, height and massing, scale, open space, visual appearance and landscaping are appropriate in their context and take the opportunities available for improving the character and quality of the area and the way it functions," and, "the extent to which the proposal is consistent with her policies...to meet the housing requirements of the whole community."

A Council spokesperson said: "The Council awaits the public inquiry with interest. As is normal practice, the Council will attend and present information about our planning policies to assist in the decision making process."

Thousands of applications are made every year, but the Planning Inspectorate estimates that of those the Secretary of State calls in only about 150.

On its website it describes the process: "Policy is that normally he will only call in an application if he thinks that there are planning issues of more than local importance. Examples of these are-

  • development that may conflict with national planning policy on important matters;
  • development that could have wide effects beyond its immediate locality;
  • development that raises significant architectural and urban design issues;
  • development where the interests of national security are involved, or the interest of foreign Governments;
  • development where there is significant regional or national controversy.

February 9, 2009