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Inquiry procedures and ‘duly made’ objections

November 2014

Following repeated situations where a leading adviser to the TRF was being allowed to get away with objections which said nothing more than “I object”, and with inquiries being convened as a result, a detailed analysis of the Inquiry Rules, the Guidance by the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) and the legal requirements were sent to PINS in November 2012.  On 23 Feb 2013 the following letter was sent from GLPG to the Quality Assurance Unit:  “I wrote to Annie Owen on 16 Feb 2013 (attached) but have yet to receive a reply.  Advice Note 7 is wrong as it based on an error of law.  The defective advice is being taken advantage of repeatedly, but PINS steadfastly declines to do anything about it. The matter was referred to the QAU some time ago but the reply effectively says ‘Advice Note 7 must be correct because Advice Note 7 says so’.  I also attach the legal analysis setting out the reasons. No-one has yet addressed the contents properly, nor has legal advice been taken as far as I know.  As you’ll see from my letter to Annie, I am not asking for this to be treated as a complaint, but I would appreciate action. I would be very grateful if you could generate a proper legally considered response telling me whether the point is agreed or the reasons if not.”

Two years later Advice Note 7 has been withdrawn and replaced with Advice Note 23 – see http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/planning/countryside/rightsofway/advicenotes . That advice is entirely consistent with what GLPG was saying over two years ago.

It is nice to know that PINS does eventually listen, but a lot of public money and wasted time would be spared if PINS would act a little more expeditiously.