Letter: Third party right of appeal in public interest

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The Independent Online
Sir: Concerning your leading article on planning irregularities in north Cornwall (24 November), the Council for the Protection of Rural England does not agree that a carefully defined third party right of appeal against perverse planning decisions would undermine local democracy and create 'a blizzard of Nimbyish challenges'.

A third party right of appeal restricted to specific circumstances, such as when a local authority is approving development on its own land or other development which conflicts with an agreed local or structure plan, would renew public faith in local planning processes, introduce a greater degree of consistency into local decision-making and reinforce the Government's commitment to a plan-led system.

Only a very small proportion of all planning approvals would be open to challenge in this way and it would ensure that the public interest, embodied in structure and local plans agreed after public inquiries and consultation, would be upheld.

A third party right of appeal has been in operation in Ireland and elsewhere for years. The concept was also supported by the House of Commons Environment Committee in 1983/4 and earlier this year by the Welsh Affairs Committee. Such a measure would strengthen local democracy and ensure that the countryside is protected against aberrant local decision-making.

Yours sincerely,

NEIL SINDEN

Assistant Secretary Planning

and Heritage, CPRE

London, SW1

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