Secretary of State will not call in council’s controversial planning decision

Residents are urging Stone Town Council to seek a judicial review following a controversial decision to allow a care home to be built on a playing field.

A Google Street View of the Tilling Drive playing field area as seen from The Fillybrooks Stone Staffordshire. A third of the space closest to The Fillybrooks is earmarked for the care home plan
A Google Street View of the Tilling Drive playing field area as seen from The Fillybrooks Stone Staffordshire. A third of the space closest to The Fillybrooks is earmarked for the care home plan

Stafford Borough Council approved the proposals for a 66-bed care home on land at Tilling Drive earlier this month.

But the council was ordered not to issue planning permission without specific authority to do so after the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) was urged to call in the application for consideration.

Last week the council was advised that the application would not be called in by the Secretary of State however, despite third party requests to do so.

A letter to the borough council said: “The Secretary of State has carefully considered this case against call-in policy, as set out in the Written Ministerial Statement by Nick Boles on 26 October 2012. The policy makes it clear that the power to call in a case will only be used very selectively.

“The Government is committed to give more power to councils and communities to make their own decisions on planning issues and believes planning decisions should be made at the local level wherever possible.

“In deciding whether to call in this application, the Secretary of State has considered his policy on calling in planning applications. This policy gives examples of the types of issues which may lead him to conclude, in his opinion that the application should be called in.

“The Secretary of State has decided not to call in this application. He is content that it should be determined by the local planning authority.”

Stone residents have fiercely opposed Stafford Borough Council’s proposal to sell off around a third of the playing field area at Tilling Drive for development.

But the council has said the proceeds from the sale would be used to fund leisure improvements in Stone – including facilities at Tilling Drive.

The area of green space closest to The Fillybrooks has been earmarked for a planned 66 bed care home. LNT Care Developments is planning to build the care home and a planning committee heard this month that it would meet a local need for beds.

Following the Secretary of State’s decision calls have been made for Stone Town Council to seek a judicial review.

Town, borough and county councillor Jill Hood, who spoke against the care home application at the planning committee meeting, said: “In my view we need to seek advice from the town clerk and see what he is going to say.

“Do we use public money for one area within the town? We can argue it will benefit all residents – if it was my decision I would ask if they could fund it.

“I would put in a members’ item to Stone Town Council asking if they would support a call for judicial review. It’s all going to be down to finance in the end.

“When the Aston residents wanted a judicial review they formed a residents’ group and funded the review that way. It was the same when we wanted to go to judicial review to try to stop the building on Westbridge Park.

“My view is the borough council had no right to hear the planning application but this has gone now and they have made their decision.”

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