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Agenda item

Questions by Members

No member questions were received by the deadline of 12.00pm, Monday 6 February 2023.


The deadline for urgency questions is 10.00am on the day of the meeting.


The following question was asked at the meeting by Councillor Harry. St. John, with the answer from Councillor Carl Rylett, Executive Member for Planning and Sustainability.


Q1: Blenheim Solar Farm - I realise that as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project application, the decision will be out of our hands and ultimately depends on the Inspectors report to the Secretary of State for a final decision. 

However, how is the WODC Development Control Committee going to handle it once more detail is forthcoming, as clearly it would be a large enough proposal to merit all Planning members to debate how WODC responds to it when officially consulted?

I have heard that the applicants have offered to pay the salary of an officer whose time would be solely dedicated to the application. Can that be right, or is that in relation to the Enstone Car museum case?


A1: The application is unusual in that it will be determined by the Secretary of State as opposed to the District Council. Because it is unusual (the first one of its type ever submitted in the District) the scheme of delegation that applies to planning matters does not specify where it will be commented upon (e.g. Council, Executive, DC Committee, Uplands, Lowlands, Officers etc.). That matter is still being worked through and will of course ultimately be determined by Members.


The application has absorbed and will in future require a huge amount of Officer time. The District receives no fee for processing the application. We are thus seeking for the costs of the Officer time that has had to be reallocated to this project to be reimbursed to the District by way of Planning Performance Agreement (PPA). These are a standard part of the planning process whereby councils can seek for their costs to be met in return for meeting the deadlines set out in the PPA for providing responses at predetermined times.


Councillor St. John then asked the following supplementary question:


Q1a: I think it is clear from the process that we can seek to claim the cost of an officer’s burden. When do we think we may get an answer on that from the powers that be?, because as a Council, it seems to me that we need to make clear what our position is and that ought to be discussed by the Development Control Committee, not just Lowlands or Uplands. Obviously, the officers will have to do a lot of work to give us the pros and cons. At this stage, we don’t know enough details to start the process, but it is looming.


A1a: I can certainly assure Council that there will be opportunities for Members to be involved in the process and to be fully informed. Exactly what that looks like is slightly premature at this stage, but you will be informed shortly. I think that the answer makes clear that situation of the extra officer resource and the difficulties that it creates for the Council, is very standard practice in this type of large application for there to be a planning performance agreement.

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