A little while ago we reported that the developers who own the building containing The Backstreet had lodged an appeal against the refusal of planning permission (see here). We can now update you with a little more information.
The chief aim of the planning appeals process isn't to re-make the arguments, but rather to see if the decision was made correctly based on the evidence presented - so we didn't ask everyone to submit information to the appeal, as it probably wouldn't make any difference. The guidelines state explicitly that new evidence cannot usually be introduced during an appeal, and any previous representations made to the planning authority will be sent to the Planning Inspectorate as part of the process.
I have made a single additional representation to the appeal, which consists of a condensed summary of the three speeches that I made at planning hearings regarding the application; this, I hope, doesn't count as new evidence since it was already heard, even if not previously submitted in writing.
Now, there's a long wait. The date of the appeal hearing has provisionally been set for 15th January 2019, with an estimated five days sitting for evidence. The location is not yet confirmed, but we'll update when we hear more information. There's not yet a date for the issuing of a decision, though the guidelines for appeals suggest a further four working days, which takes us up to the 25th of January, though it could well be longer.
Two things to bear in mind - first, as I noted in the last article I wrote about this, the developer committed to giving The Backstreet at least a year's notice of wanting to commence work on site. With the decision not happening until late January 2019 then as I suggested, we'll be able to see in the year 2020 at Backstreet, even if the application is granted on appeal.
If it's not granted, things go back to square one, and timescales become even longer. The current plan was formally submitted in April 2016, so it will have taken almost three years to reach a decision - though the original exhibition of the scheme was even longer ago than that. It's impossible to anticipate what the next steps of the developer will be if they don't get approval, but it's worth noting that a previous plan was rejected in 2007, and the financial situation from 2008 was very likely the reason why nothing then happened for several years. With the appeal decision due not long before the UK is scheduled to leave the EU, it's worth pondering whether the developer will want to commit funds to a new scheme if the economic outlook is uncertain.
Nigel, aka SubDirectory (3)