Site Notices, Wealden's spectrum of inconsistency.
When you apply for planning permission ( PP ), you can ask for consent on land which you do not control. Simple. Nothing too tricky so far? A good example as to why, would be if you were thinking of buying some land and wanted to do something there that needed planning permission.
There are one or two basic rules that you have to comply with when you apply for planning permission. Like declaring where land that you do not control is involved in that application. Such as (a) roadway(s) leading to or from the proposed development. Or a square of land that is rented to a statutory undertaker such as UK Power Networks for a pylon. Here, there are some common courtesies to comply with. Simple. Nothing too tricky so far? To comply, all you need to do is sign a Section 27, or a Section 66 certificate, ( or a S.13-1 certificate now ), lick a stamp and post it to the landowner or tenant, and acknowledge the service of that notice on the application form. Simple. Nothing too tricky so far? There is a good reason for this because if, in ignorance, the Committee impose conditions upon a landowner or occupier who has not been informed, things can get very messy and extremely expensive for both you, the ratepayer and a prospective purchaser.
If you do not know who owns the access, or part of the land you are involving in your planning application ( PA ), all you need do is put an advertisement in the local newspaper, and a site notice on a stake. The newspaper advertisement is the bummer because it's cost is often more than the PA fee, it can take six weeks for the printer to schedule and several weeks thereafter to elapse. Simple, but a major delay. Nothing too tricky so far?
Sometimes people want to establish whether their land would be suitable for a certain use before they sell it. A good example would be where a single storey bungalow gets consent for a roof extension before it is put on the market, or whether part of a garden or a field would be suitable for an industrial access improvement, or whether you can stick a 4,000 sq. ft. extension on an 8,500 sq. ft. industrial building. It is known in the trade as a market valuation exercise. Simple. Nothing too tricky so far?
When you fill out the PA1 planning application form ( or it's modern successor ), on the site map edged red you have to show the means of access to any development. Some sites have more than one access, so you have to show them all.
And when you are applying for a road link to an industrial development you fill out a PA2 ( or it's modern successor ) which tells everybody about the nature and quantities of materials involved in storage and shipment. There is a larger fee for a PA2 than for a PA1. Simple. Nothing too tricky so far?
So, let us combine the above. Anyone, may apply for planning permission on any site, whether or not they control it, whether or not they have any intention of implementing the consent, just so long as they fill out the correct forms, serve the correct notices, sign an honest declaration and pay the correct fee. Simple. Nothing too tricky so far? And if the site has more than one access, and one ( or more ) of the accesses has an unknown owner, then one of those expensive, time taking advertisements must go in a local newspaper. Simple. Nothing too tricky so far? Or if the site is tenanted, then you have to send the tenant(s) a notice. Then you have a planning application fit for consideration by our long suffering bewildered members who assume everything put before them has been checked by an honest executive and is fit for human consideration.
But this is not quite how things work in Wealden. Things work properly sometimes, but Wealden have their reputation for inconsistency to maintain.
Let us consider one or two planning applications where we can do a compare and contrast. This technique is useful for exposing inconsistencies. And inconsistency is maladministration. As Ombudsman report INV/95/A/3751 ( which should be available for the asking on the front desk at Vicarage Lane ) will confirm.
WD/79/823 Retention of caravan in connection with a smallholding. Accessed via Stream Lane, Horam, TN21 0BS.
21/3/1979 Andrew Stanhope Planning Scrutineer Officer ref.
AS1/AMP/WD/79/823/X to Coles & James.
“but to ensure proper consideration of it by the Council, it is first necessary for you to sign and date the certificate of ownership.
If you do not know the names and addresses of ANY of the owners of the soil of the private road, you should give notice of the application in a local newspaper in the form shown in notice 2 ( form WD/M19 ). This newspaper advertisement should be published not earlier than 21 days before the date of the application. You should then complete certificate “D” ( form WD/M18 ) and return to me. Forms NES.2, NES.3, WD/M17, WD/M18, and WD/M19 are enclosed for your use.
Well done Andrew ( “We can do what we like!” ) Stanhope. Full marks!!
Although Coles and James eventually withdrew the application they established that the owner(s) of the subsoil of the access track,the successors in title to the late R.A. Mulligan Hogg, had probably emigrated to Canada.
WD/1981/1898 was an extension to a slaughterhouse on the outskirts of Horam. It was accessed via Stream Lane, Horam, TN21 0BS. And what went wrong? Quite a lot. It was built by Dependable Mr. Digweed without any planning permission, to extend a premises which itself could be argued to have been built without planning permission ( according to Counsel's opinion ). So obviously, one would not want to go through the normal channels. When it was nearly finished, Wealden succeeded in coaxing an application out of Mr. Digweed, to which they applied a duff recommendation for consent ( we know that 'cos the Minister said so when Horrid Mr. H's wife applied to get it “regularised” ). Horrid Mr. H thought the officers were playing games by early 1980, so he told the chairlady of the committee, Mrs. Maureen Honey about his concerns ten minutes before the planning meeting started. She read his letter to the Councillors, they deferred consideration, and sent the matter back to the officers who sent it to Cripps Harries Hall & Co. They concluded that there was a “factual and evidential basis“ for Mr. H's “allegation”, and then it was revealed that the application was indeed duff. At least that is what the planning speak suggests. Let's try this:-
26/2/1982 Cripps Harries Hall & Co., The Broadway, Crowborough to WDC. Date stamped WDC 1/3/1982 “He delivered to us a packet of title deeds …. The documentary evidence [ they mean the deeds ] has not persuaded us that either Bridge Poultry Supplies Ltd. or Mr. Peter Basil Digweed is the legal owner of that part of the application site as constitutes the accessway leading to the main highway and to that extent
the Certificate under S.27 accompanying the planning application would seem to be inaccurate”. They are trying not to say that the application is duff, because by then, Dependable Mr. Digweed had a conviction for weighbridge fraud, and when we are trying to coax things through, we do not want to start “muckraking” do we?
Or this one. The point was confirmed in an enforcement report to committee on the structure in question :- “It is not possible to “refuse” or “approve” the application in it's present form having regard to the incorrect notices which prohibit the Council from entertaining the application”.
Or this one. The point was further confirmed by R. P Harnett, Assistant District Planning Officer ( ADPO ), in his Rule 6 statement on file WD/83/0560/P ( the identical twin to WD/81/1898 ) when he was stating his case to the Inspector reporting directly back to the Minister at Horrid Mrs. H's appeal APP/C1435/A/84/10564 which involved this structure. “....and having regard to the incorrectly submitted certificate under Section 27 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 which stated that the access was under the applicant's control, the District Council were unable to further entertain the application”.
At the appeal the Inspector noted that the officers had this to say:- “52 . The position regarding application WD/81/1898 – which was not a retrospective application [ What a neat little lie. Oh yes it was !! Clock microfiche 2/7 of WD/81/1898 where building inspector Nightingale says that any further development would be entirely at the owners risk in the absence of any deposited plans, so the development did come before the application. ( If that is not retrospective then black is white ). ] – is that it has been allowed to “lapse” since it was defective with regard to the Section 27 notices. A Section 52 agreement was considered but the negotiations came to nought and at the end of the day the Council felt they could take no further action and the “application died”. Thus it became a deemed refusal”.
So, the executive are told 81/1898 is duff, the committee are told it is duff the Minister is told it is duff and his report says it is duff . Shall we just accept that there is a protocol that needs to be followed for Stream Lane and it is the same for everyone whether your name is Spiers, Hudson, Digweed or Uncle Tom Cobley? Nothing too tricky so far? Have we got the picture? Incorrect site notices on an accessway can kill a planning application stone dead. At least they do sometimes. It rather depends who and where you are.
Let us try the next one where the site notices were duff. The Sandcastle, formerly Courtlands, 46 Val Prinseps Road, Pevensey Bay, once the holiday home of the 9th Marquess of Hartington, Grand Master, heir to the Duke of Devonshire, who was shot by a sniper on 9/9/1944. All Masonic memorabelia attributable to this particular Grand Master trades at a premium. A structure, modelled on a villa in Cannes, that had once hosted Edward and Mrs. Simpson. Not quite your run of the mill semi. A Past Master ( of Tyrian Lodge ) Denis Bernard Best appreciated that, and he wanted to change the use on the structure shortly after a similar proposal ( WD/87/2089 ) had been refused. So did he get a snotty letter from an Assistant District Planning Officer threatening in advance a claim for costs should he appeal, or refusing to countenance his application ( too similar and too soon after the last determination )? Naah. He got all the help the executive could muster and more.
The Sandcastle was accessed via a private road that could be chained off. A company, Leaptwo Ltd. ( company number 01827856 ) , managed the road and knew the ownership details. And Mr. Best had been a director of Leaptwo Ltd. Leaptwo's only asset is a road, so there is a sporting chance that Mr. Best, as a competent and diligent director, would have been intimate with his company's ownership.
Wealden also knew there was an unknown owner involved with WD/87/3194, because they had been told so by a Mr. R. P., in a letter, on the 29/6/87 during consideration of WD/87/2089 a few months before. R.P. asked “Has the applicant been able to give notice of the proposal in respect of the use of the small piece of land at the head of Val Prinseps Road – ownership apparently not known and marked on the plan?” ( the plan is now missing ). It is a perfectly valid observation. And who was the case officer for 2089? G. Moram White ( along with a little input from Patrick Coffey ). And what did he have to say on S.27 notices when it suited him? Try this. RPH/epg/WD/83/0560, 7/3/1983 “The response given to a “Section 27” Notice is legally a matter to be taken into consideration in determining a planning application; the weight given to such objections is of course dependent upon the nature and validity of the objections received.” The significant word here is “weight”. Weight is a judgement call. It is an exercise in “discretion”. And it is not the way the Courts have seen it. Moram White is nudging this into his home territory, the land of smoke, mirrors, missing documents, lost recollection and minutes that economise with the actualité. His companion officer, Patrick Coffey, had picked up on it on 1/7/87 with a tiny note by the date stamp by writing “Cert “C”, but at somebody's discretion absolutely nothing happened. Was R.P. a casual, uninformed observer? Apparently not. He too was an ex director of Leaptwo Ltd., and as such, would have had intimate knowledge of that company's road assets. Although his letter is date stamped 1/7/87 and initialled off by ***, they had not picked up on it ( code for “turned a blind eye to it” ), so both applications were processed with defective notices and 3194 achieved a resolution “to approve subject to” before it fortuitously came back to committee on 8/12/87. A letter, sponsored by fifteen very concerned residents came in just before the meeting written by David Randall Sinnatt, who had had considerable experience in dealing with the Banana Republic of Wealden. The first of his five points told the executive that the site notices were duff and would you believe it, there should have been a newspaper advertisement!!
"I have recently been instructed by many of the local residents in this matter - for your information I annexe a list of those for whom I have been instructed.
I understand that the present position is that your committee have approved in principle the change of use requested in the application but that the matter has been adjourned [ on 27/10/1987 ] until the next meeting [ on 8/12/1987 ] in order that the conditions may be considered. It would appear technically that no planning permission has yet been granted, and I am therefore writing on behalf of my clients to suggest, in all the circumstances, that it should not be granted and that in any event, for a technical reason, it should not be granted.
I enclose a copy of a site location plan [ now missing ]. I have marked in brown the private road which at present serves the Sandcastle. I have marked in blue Val Princeps Road so far as it is an adopted road and I have marked in red an area over which, presumably, all the parties have a right of way by prescription but the ownership of which is apparently not known. This land is part of the access required for the Sandcastle and therefore should have been included in the application. Proper notice was given to the owners of the private road marked brown but as the owner of the land marked red is unknown then an advertisement should have been placed in a paper circulating in the district and a notice should have been placed upon the land in a place visible to the general public giving notice of this application.
I am reliably informed that no such advertisement was made and no such notice was affixed to the land. In these circumstances I would with respect, remind you of the decision in Main vs. Swansea C.C. in 1985 which a notice under S.27 was incorrect in that the certificate did not indicate that part of the land was owned by someone else unknown. This was held to be a factual error which made the subsequent grant of planning permission invalid unless the Court saw fit to exercise it's discretion on favour of the applicants. You are now aware of the error in the Notice and therefore I consider it unlikely that the court would exercise it's discretion in this case. As you have not yet, technically, issued a planning permission there is still time for you to avoid the costs of an application for a Judicial Review by refusing to consider the application in the light of the incorrect Section 27 Certificate issued.
While I appreciate that the raising of this technicality may only have the effect of delaying matters - such a delay could well enable your Council and your committee to carefully re-consider their decision rather than have their totally inconsistent behaviour referred to the Commissioner for Local Government ( the Ombudsman ).
I have, I confess, used strong words when stating that the behaviour of your Council is inconsistent. As you are aware from previous correspondence I do not use such words lightly but I do feel in this particular instance that your Council must have been influenced by non-planning factors."
”Non-planning factors" eh? Oops. So we are back to exactly where we were with WD/81/1898. So will the response be the same? Will a packet of deeds be called for? Naah. Will “the District Council” be “unable to further entertain the application”? Naah. Why not? 'Cos this one is special stupid!! So what happens next? It goes upstairs to legal. And what do the beagles say? Well, because it is ( in house ) legal advice, it is very special, and it cannot be copied, so we cannot bring you anything more than a transcript from the files, sorry, file ( because one has now disappeared ). But Mr. Scarpa did not disagree with Mr. Randall Sinnatt. Let us see what he had to say on 20/10/1987:-
V Scarpa to DPO WD/87/3194, Microfiche 3/5.
“The legal position relating to Section 27 certificates has, in the past, been that, as long as a Certificate was completed and submitted with the Application, a local planning Authority could rely on that and issue a valid planning permission, if it was minded to do so. Indeed, the Courts had held that an error or irregularity in the Certificate had no legal affect, excepting for gross irregularities, for instance, when the Certificate was fraudulently issued. However, a Court of Appeal case heard in 1984, Main vs. Swansea City Council, reported in the Journal of Planning Law ( see attached copy ), has changed the legal position. That case held that, if a certificate was incorrectly issued by the Applicant, e.g. where he had not given notice to the owner of a small parcel of land forming the application site, that would invalidate the planning permission. In practice, that would be done by applying to the High Court for a declaration that the planning permission in question was invalid, The judgement in that case stated that whether or not the Court would make a declaration of the invalidity of the planning permission depended on all the circumstances, but unfortunately there has been no subsequent case law to indicate what limits the Courts would put on themselves in dealing with such cases.
I understand from Mr. Coffey of your Department that, although the Sub Committee resolved to grant permission [ 27/10/87 ], no such permission has been issued, and the application is to be referred back to the next meeting of the Area Plans South Sub-Committee [ 8/12/87 ]. The applicant should be advised that he should follow the statutory procedures in Section 27 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971, as to the giving of notice in respect of the application and re-submit the application with a new Section 27 Certificate.
In conclusion, the Court of Appeal ruling would appear to be unfortunate in that it enables residents in the vicinity of a proposed development to try to seek to invalidate a planning permission on the basis of the applicant's defective Section 27 Certificate, and can lead a Council into expensive High Court litigation in defending the validity of a planning permission, in circumstances where the only error has been the inadvertence or carelessness of the applicant.
If you wish to discuss this further, please let me know.
Solicitor to the Council”.
Note the use of the word “ unfortunate”. Unfortunate for who? For the DPA who have no interest in the outcome of the application? Or unfortunate for the applicant who is delayed by his own shenanigans?
So, how are we going to play this one? Best to stress the inadvertence and carelessness aspect, play down the deficiencies, ignore the District Solicitor's advice, turn on the arrogance, keep it on the agenda as we did with the previous application, parachute in the son-in-law to commentate, ignore the case law and see if we can massage it through the Christmas meeting? Or shall we suspend consideration and do the boring bit?
Now Christmas is a special time of year for everyone, and for Planners in particular. There is a flurry of enforcement activity around Christmas, because with firms of solicitors closed for a week, the recipients of enforcement notices will be running around like headless chickens, unable to research examples of where the circumstances had been the same but the officers did the opposite, ( and determine which inconvenient documents have been moved off the files under the Council's “retention” policy ), because the Council offices will be shut and they cannot check out nice little lies like “WD/81/1898 – which was not a retrospective application” . Also, the members are thin on the ground because they tend to go on holiday. So the Christmas meeting is very special. And if Mr Randall Sinnatt had to follow through on his threat to take Wealden to Court, time would have been very limited.
But this application was very, very special.
The two solid pairs of hands who had been kneading the dough, Patrick Coffey and G. Moram White, were taken off the case. Silver tongued Ian Kay was parachuted in on the day. It is hard to see why, because he had earlier written a letter to his line manager, K D Tomlinson, M.I.C.E., C.Eng., the clever grammar school boy imported from Hull, withdrawing from all consideration of the application. The letter was headed with his home address, High Trees, Church Lane, Horsted Keynes. Planning officers do not usually give out their home addresses and that is why most of them still have their front teeth. But the set of microfiches containing that letter have now conveniently disappeared.
So what happened on the day ( 8/12/87 ) when the matter came up again? Well, the chamber was packed. 84 objectors had written in and it was standing room only. The ex bank manager Tom Woodward was in the chair. Ashley Brown, the District Planning Officer, claims he was there ( although his name is not mentioned in the minutes ). When a near riot broke out for the second time, Tom Woodward threatened to clear the public gallery. That does not often happen at planning meetings. After the commentary the ward member, Cllr. Prangnell, seemed to have very little to say for himself. And then came the killer question “Would it be appropriate for the commentating officer to reveal his relationship with the applicant?” Son in law. Mr. Kay gathered his papers and departed the chamber in high dudgeon. The minute is cleverly worded:- “Mr. I M Kay declared an interest in this item and left the room, taking no part in the discussion thereon.” Very skilful. But whether he took any part in the previous commentary is conveniently concealed.
Now, until the summer of 2016, it was possible to prove that this was a conspiracy, because there were two sets of microfiches for this application, so compare and contrast kicked in. On the second set, the yellow headed set, the Building Control set supposedly, was the 17/10/87 Kay / Tomlinson correspondence where Mr. Kay withdrew from all further involvement with the application. And the logic of raising a Building Control file for a refused change of use will be obvious when you understand that no copies can be made from a building control file. So you are stuffed. And if you were to send Kelvin Williams an affidavit ( delivered KF748597935GB signed for by “SMITH” on 15/4/2016 @ 08:25am. ) saying you had seen evidence of that conspiracy, can you guess what would happen? Got it in one. You would get your affidavit back AND the critical set of microfiches would go missing. And that is exactly what has happened. And one of Kelvin's jobs that he failed to do before he cleared his desk on 1/5/2018 was to find that set of yellow headed microfiches for WD/87/3194 and the affidavit.
Dear old Ashley Brown D.P.O. was wheeled out to poke a stick in the eye of Mr. Asquith who wrote in complaining of “maladministration”. This is what Ashley had to say:-
“ I am somewhat surprised at your assertion regarding the suspicion of maladministration where many people appear to misinterpret the meaning of this word. It relates to the consistent and proper administrative practices being carried out in the processing and reporting of the application. It has no bearing on the decision of the Council but rather the method of report. Yours faithfully, A J Brown. District Planning Officer“
Since A J Brown had received four written advices ( on 17/9/84, 26/4/85, 17/10/85 and 14/2/86 ) ( appendix 2 ) of the relationship between the commentating officer and the applicant on 8/12/87 that is a rather puzzling statement. Factor in his claim that he attended the meeting and it becomes astonishing. Factor in the absence of his name from the minutes confirming his attendance and one is totally bewildered.
And Patrick Coffey's comment dated 20/11/87 is on microfiche 3/5 to the agent “...private access road, as the ownership is apparently open to question advertisement should have been posted on the site and in a local newspaper” and that the application would be held “in abeyance until these matters are satisfactorily resolved,”.
So, “consistent and proper administrative practices being carried out in the processing and reporting of the application” include putting before members an application unfit for their consideration and getting the applicant's son in law to commentate on it? It beggars belief. P G V Kenward eventually did on 31/12/1987 that what he should have done in the first place by putting that essential but expensive notice in the Sussex Express. Result.
So, combining all our experiences so far, what happens the next time an application with a duff notice involving Stream Lane comes up? Wealden did not have long to wait. WD/90/0167 appeared in early January 1990 and it used, guess what, the WD/81/1898 access along Stream Lane, Horam TN21 0BS. And who was it for? A divorcee? A weighbridge fraudster? A grumpy next door neighbour? No. But our glorious executive had all the correspondence, appeal statements etc. for the exact same accessway at their fingertips. A nice anorexic Record of Previous Planning History emerged with all the unhelpful bits edited out plus a recommendation for temporary consent. Four analyses of the S.27 situation were available, the final one being signed off by the Minister ( because it was a recovered appeal ( and that really is special ) ). Mr. Scarpa's analysis of the Sandcastle situation was available. And was it wheeled out? Naah. We do things our own way locally. We always try and be inconsistent within our own parameters whenever certain people are involved. Here is a flavour of what went on.
Draft Statutory Declaration.
A) I pointed out to the Area Plans South ( Sub ) Committee of Wealden District Council by letter that a Section 27 site notice advertising to the unknown owner of an accessway was missing from planning application WD/81/1898.
B) That letter was read to the Committee on 13/1/82. As a result the application was taken off the agenda and the challenge investigated.
C) The result of that investigation was sent to Wealden District Council in a letter dated 26/2/82 retained in the public domain on microfiche 3 of WD/81/1898. It upheld the challenge using this vocabulary:- “The documentary evidence has not persuaded us ….and to that extent the S.27 accompanying the planning certificate would seem to be inaccurate.”
D) Three working days prior to 23/10/90 I drew the attention of David Bate Esq., a planning officer with the Wealden District Council, to an identical flaw in application WD/90/0167 to that investigated in C). above.
E). I explained that the result of my research was available on the immediately available microfiche.
F) I explained that if he did not investigate I would notify by telephone every available Councillor over the week-end, and complain to the Ombudsman.
G) Mr. Bate declined to investigate.
H) I contacted all the available Councillors and on Tuesday 23/10/90, the Chairlady of the Committee, Mrs. M Honey, asked both Victor Scarpa Esq. Solicitor to the Council and Ian Kay Esq. Deputy Planning Officer whether application WD/90/0167/P was complete and fit for consideration.
I) Both officers answered in the affirmative, and the application was determined.
J). The Ombudsman was complained to. He declined to investigate.
K) Three subsequent researches to the Land Registry have revealed that the title to the accessway in question is unregistered. Since compulsory registration in the relevant area pre-dated 1982, this means that there had been no change in ownership since the result of the research in C) above and 23/10/90.
L) I conclude that either:- i) Two senior officers delivered an unresearched assurance to Committee on 23/10/90 and an incomplete application was therefore determined in flat contradiction of an accurate challenge, or, ii) the investigation in C) did not tell the truth, or, iii) The Land Registry did not tell me the truth on three occasions.
M) The officer recommendation was for temporary consent. The Committee decision for refusal was supported by the the relevant part of the bi-partite dismissal T/APP/C/1435/A/91/180982/P2 where Inspector Osborne said ”use... of the .. access track by the traffic generated by the gas yard .. is in itself a sound and clear cut reason for dismissing this appeal”. Dated February 1997.
So, what did the land Registry say in K)? Two of the three researches are to hand. They all said the same thing ( as they will do now ).
“6 MAR 1995 Portsmouth District Land Registry Certificate of result of Official Search of the Index Map 9 Form 96 result – “Access track leading west to Bridge Farm from B2203. The land coloured blue is not registered”.
“1 DEC 1995 Portsmouth District Land Registry Certificate of result of Official Search of the Index Map 9 Form 96 result – “Subsoil of that portion of the access track shown in dense blue off B2203. The Land shown dense blue is not registered”.
The Ombudsman was asked to investigate 91LC/AD07. “You complain that Council Officers submitted an application to Committee in October 1990 [WD/90/0167 ] despite your objections that the Section 27 notices relating to the application were incomplete. You also complain that the officers failed to ensure that a public advertisement was placed in the local press. As you know the Council are under no duty to verify the accuracy of information given in S.27 notices. I understand that you were notified of the application as owner of part of the application site and were therefore fully aware that the application was being made and that, in any event, the application for the storage of LPG cylinders was refused. My job as Local Ombudsman is to investigate complaint of injustice caused by maladministration, and if the complaint is justified I seek a remedy for the injustice. From what you have sent I cannot see that you have suffered a degree of injustice that warrants my looking into the matter and therefore I do not consider that your complaint is one that I should investigate.”
Often in planning and enforcement you will find yourself in a reverse burden of proof situation. You will say one thing and the officers say the opposite. And who is always right? Well the officers of course! After all, they are the professionals. Then you have the choice of either spending a bundle of money on a judicial review or allowing their writ to run. In this case it was only necessary to spend £4 with the Land Registry to undermine their certainty, and another £4 to confirm without question that the Committee had been misled and prove beyond doubt a negative, that since Stream Lane was still unregistered no transfer could have occurred since 26/2/82. The onus is always on the applicant to provide an accurate application. Hollow laugh.
Perhaps we should believe the Land Registry got it wrong? Or did the officers not bother to check? If Mr Hudson had researched the matter before the meeting and tried to hand Land Registry correspondence over his efforts would have doubtless been thwarted and triggered another snotty letter from Martyn Garrett. Monopolies do not usually countenance interference gracefully. The correspondence goes on, and on, and on. There was a lovely paragraph in a snotty letter from V. Scarpa District Solicitor to Mr. Hudson dated 20/2/1997 :-
“I thoroughly refute any allegations that misleading advice was given to members. It is of course up to you, if you wish to spend time making such spurious allegations and putting them on a website, but anyone reading your draft statutory declaration would query your motives for repeating such allegations 7 years after the alleged event, particularly bearing in mind the planning application was refused permission, a point which you deliberately omit from the draft statutory declaration”.
Sorry mate, I was just trying to discuss your procedure, not the Committee's decision. When the advice given to members departs so fundamentally from that on file given in 1982 and the advice given to officers departs so fundamentally from that which you yourself gave on 20/10/87, and there is no change in circumstance, something has to be very, very wrong.
Get an earful of this from I M Kay on 21/1/1991 ( Ref IMK/SC/WD/0167 ). “....when planning applications are received from applicants who indicate they own all the land the subject of the application sites, this Council acts in good faith and normally accepts the statements made by the applicants ( or the agents on their behalf ) since the Planning Department does not possess records of land ownerships. However, when it is brought to our attention that other landowners may own part of an application site and appropriate “Notices” do not appear to have been served properly, then it is normal practice for this office to advise the applicant/agent, pointing out such apparent deficiencies and to await the expiry of the requisite time periods following relevant Notices being served, if appropriate, before entertaining the planning application. This was the procedure adopted in the above case.
Following service of the relevant “Section 27” Notices on the District Council on 22nd August 1990, and other interested parties including yourself ( though it is not clear to me whether you own any land within the application site area edged red on the accompanying application plan ), the planning application was considered by Members of this Council's Area Plans South Sub-Committee at their meetings held on 25th September 1990 and on 23rd October 1990. It was not considered necessary for the application to be publicly advertised in the local press since the development was not of a type that required to be so advertised under the provisions of Section 27 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1971.
I can assure you that it is not the case that your earlier comments were ignored. Indeed, a considerable amount of staff time and effort has been expended already pursuing your enquiries, both via the telephone and as a result of your personal visits to the Council's offices, and care has been taken to ensure that your queries have been investigated as far as reasonably can be expected in the time available.”
Is anybody reassured? I am not.
Try this one relating to The Sandcastle, and once again, ownership of part of an access:-
18th ? February 1988 WDC to D of E
“A subsequent application on the appeal site for a restaurant, which was recommended for refusal at the Area Plans South Sub-Committee on on 28th January 1988 ( Ref WD/87/3194/F ) has been held in abeyance pending clarification of the correct Section 27 notice. At the time, the applicants acknowledged that ??? a notice had been incorrectly served, in that the ownership of part of the access road to the site ( included within the site ) was not known. Subsequently the Notice was correctly served and the application proceeded with.
In this case and for the same reasons as above, this Section 27 notice also appears to have been incorrectly served. Thus in the light of recent Case Law, it would seem that on this basis the application, the subject of this appeal, is invalid, rendering this appeal invalid also.”
I know this is getting tedious, but would you believe the same stunt was tried yet again in 1995? An application for a 4,000 sq. ft. extension on to Bridge Farm ( WD/95/2908 ) went in with the same defect, ( and a fee undercharge of £240 ). The original site plan showed no means of access along Stream Lane, Horam. Still, it came from one of IMK's old Masonic ( according to his telephone admission @18.36 on 6/12/1996 ) mates from way back making an application on behalf of a convicted fraudster so what can you expect? Naturally, the original plan and PA1 then disappeared from the file without attracting the underused “Superseded” stamp. ( “Excepting for gross irregularities” was the vocabulary used, when Vic could remember Main vs. Swansea but that requires a judgement call ). So if you can forget all about the previous run ins and start from scratch every time, irregularities are never going to become gross. Wipe the slate clean, invoke the Royal Arch Charge, bin the inconvenient documents, feign amnesia and you will have covered your tracks. Thimple. And if you can keep all the Masonic connections concealed, better still! But this one gets really messy. 2908 was twinned by 3352, and Horrid Mr. H took 3352 to appeal. He lost and costs were awarded against him. Bridge Farm was sold and one might have assumed that the elapsed 2908 consent could have been presented as something of a planning plus. But it wasn't. And why? Because the ground ( title ESX 133508 ) upon which it was to be built was not owned by Bridge Poultry Supplies Ltd. So, consideration of two planning applications and one appeal were flawed by a non declaration of lack of ownership, ( as was WD/90/3572 ), and the conditions appended to 2908 were not prefaced by a Grampian condition as they should have been. So where does that leave the inquiry costs? As the proceeds of crime? Outside the planning bubble, “fraud unravels all”.
In a land in the grip of Covid 19, one relies very much on the internet because the Council offices are closed. So if you think nothing could possibly go wrong and brush past WDC's disclaimer :-
“While the District Council take great care to ensure that the information provided on this site is accurate, we cannot accept any liability or responsibility should you rely on the information provided and ultimately find it to have been incorrect.“
and look up the two applications, WD/1995/2908 and WD/1995/3352 you will get a surprise. Only 2908 comes up. It clearly shows approval. So if it were still a live consent, and you were a prospective purchaser, you might be reassured by no Grampian preface to the conditions, discount competitor sites, and spend on professional services such as surveys. And after you had spent a bundle of money find that the consent was duff.
Now, things get really complicated with WD/89/4371. Are you sitting comfortably? Fax correspondence was found in Bridge Poultry's files. It is not on Wealden or East Sussex County Council's files. The file reference, WD/88/3085 does not contain a copy, it is obviously a mis-reference. But because the agent David Osborn had played fast and loose with the site notices, the Assistant County Engineer's comments can be interpreted one of two ways. On the plan was just an agricultural field adjacent to Oak Glen TN21 0BL. It is edged red and hatched blue on appendix 1. The only means of access shown on the plan ( 4344/1 ) was onto the A267. It was an overgrown single five bar gate. Bridge Poultry Supplies Ltd. had purchased Oak Glen and the field in order to access the turnpike with 44 tonners and planned to tart up the house and flogged it off to an unsuspecting individual. At least, that was the master plan. But the field had rights of access leading eastwards across another field, across the former gas holder site, past the slaughterhouse ( from whence the artics would come ), and, here is the rub, along Stream Lane, TN21 0BP, the accessway that confounded WD/81/1898. So one would expect to find two S.27 notices plus a newspaper advertisement costing c. £160 ( the planning application fee was £35 ). But these notices were not served. Now let us look at what Mr. Mulrenan had to say:-
D C Mulrenan Assistant County Engineer 3/10/1989 commenting on WD/89/4371 to David Osborn of Coster Associates.
"I confirm the layout shown on your plan 4344/1 is considered to be the best available as a replacement for the existing farm access through this property. Although there would be a marginal reduction on the "x" distance to the south [ as a result of the front boundary of "Birchwood" ] this is not serious as it is not in the direction of nearside oncoming traffic.
The only drawback to this layout is that through visibility on A267 is limited to some extent by the bank on the side of the road. However it is considered that this can be accepted in the overall interests of providing a better access at this point and reducing the use of the seriously substandard access onto the B2203."
The problem is, the applicant must show all means of access on all five sets of the plans he submits, and if there are two accesses, which Mr. Mulrenan acknowledges there were, the second access must be shown. It was not. In practical terms, the B2203 access was seldom used for farm traffic, but this does not matter, it still has to be acknowledged. The second problem is, that if Mr. Mulrenan was considering this expanded access as ultimately being an industrial substitute for the “seriously substandard access” onto the B2203, there is another document missing, the PA2 needed for industrial applications, and the fee goes up. A PA2 would ring alarm bells with neighbours as to the actual intention, so was this just a pretty little fraud, a Trojan horse, the thin end of the wedge, a prelude to something very much more substantial, introduced with incomplete documentation and the connivance of a highly experienced highways engineer / civil servant working for East Sussex County Council? The subsequent applications for an industrial road ( WD/90/3492 & WD/90/3572 ) which emerged a few months later, suggests that it was. So why was the Assistant County Engineer colluding with this and playing along with a fraud? He should have sent the plans straight back and said that he would reconsider them when they were correct. Who else is the expert on road applications? But he might have had a motive. The Stream Lane access had drawn some pretty devastating vocabulary from the County Engineer in 1980 along the lines of “flagrant disregard for highway safety”. The agent's comments do not provide much reassurance either:-
30/10/1989 David Osborn to P. C. Digweed ( from an original letter not a fax ) “You will note that they refer to a “farm access” and I therefore feel that the same wording should be used on the application, as previously discussed”. There is another missing document missing from the file, a HT403. One would normally expect superseded documents to be stamped “Superseded”, ( what else would one use a “Superseded” stamp for ? ), but that is not how things are done locally.
So to schedule the items missing from this file in decreasing order of importance:-
A newspaper advertisement relating to Stream Lane.
Certainly one or possibly two notices to other landowners in the chain.
D C Mulrenan's correspondence.
A PA2 from the agent.
A superseded HT403.
It stops being inadvertent as soon as you are told. Thereafter you have knowledge of circumstance ( Johnson vs. Youden ). And when you tell your section leader on 17/9/84, 26/4/85, 17/10/85, 14/2/86, and 17/10/87 ( disappeared ) that you must withdraw from all consideration of your father in law's application and you then go on to commentate on it, you have conspired, and you have involved all those named in the correspondence – Derek Richard Holness, Ashley J Brown, Timothy William Dowsett, K D T Tomlinson, Cllr. Herbert Smith etc.
The “marginal reduction on the "x" distance to the south [ as a result of the front boundary of "Birchwood" ]” aspect was overcome by the simple expedient of bulldozing Mr S F Yard's verge and encroaching on Birchwood's territory ( if Mr. Yard is to be believed ). Unsurprisingly, the response he received to his simple complaint does not address the issue which is “development not in accordance with the approved plan”. Bridge Poultry were serial offenders in taking territory that did not belong to them by force, stealth and subterfuge, and WDC well knew it. WDC were happy to collude. However, the response authored by an officer who could not perceive the wrong in the ratepayer funding his wife's unauthorised trip to France rather suggests that his moral compass was not in sync with Mr. Yard's.
But of course when the circumstances are the same WDC are prepared to argue the opposite ( with the D. of E. ) prior to an appeal ( if it is convenient ). See if you can make any sense of this lot.
18?th February 1988
Department of the Environment,
Town & Country Planning Act 1971
Appeal by D Best – Sandcastle, Val Princeps Road, Pevensey Bay.
Further to Mrs. Harvey's recent telephone conversation with Mr. Caukwell regarding the validity or otherwise of the above appeal my Council wish to make the following points.
It is the Council's view that the application, the subject of this appeal, would appear to be invalid in as much as the Notice pursuant to Section 27 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 was incorrectly served.
18?th February 1988
A subsequent application on the appeal site for a restaurant, which was recommended for refusal at the Area Plans South Sub-Committee on on 28th January 1988 ( Ref WD/87/3194/F ) has been held in abeyance pending clarification of the correct Section 27 notice. At the time, the applicants acknowledged that ??? a notice had been incorrectly served, in that the ownership of part of the access road to the site ( included within the site ) was not known. Subsequently the Notice was correctly served and the application proceeded with.
In this case and for the same reasons as above, this Section 27 notice also appears to have been incorrectly served. Thus in the light of recent Case Law, it would seem that on this basis the application, the subject of this appeal, is invalid, rendering this appeal invalid also.
I should be very grateful if you would, at your earliest convenience, confirm the Council's view in this matter, namely that the appeal is invalid and should not proceed.
A copy of the site plan, showing the area of land in question, ????? is attached, for your information.
Microfiche 3/5 Sue Harvey WDC to Dof E 20/2/88
Sandcastle, Val Princeps Road, Pevensey Bay.
I refer to my memorandum of 9 February 1988 in respect of the above mentioned appeal, and to the subsequent discussion between your Mrs. Harvey and Mr. Coffey of my Department.
I understand that further to the initial consideration of this Council's representations, the Department of the Environment has queried the basis for the Council's allegations of invalidity of the application and hence of the appeal.
In response, I would comment that the Council's approach to this appeal derived from the advice from the Solicitor to the Council in respect of application WD/87/3194/F, a copy of which I enclose for your attention, and would be grateful if you could draw these matters to the attention of the Department of the Environment.
With regard to the contention of the Department of the Environment that the appeal could be rendered valid by the correct serving of notices, I would challenge this contention in the light of comments from the Council's Solicitor, and I would advise that no agreement should be given in this respect with the Department of the Environment until these matters have been resolved.
District Planning Officer.
So, in summary, the officer's have ignored an ownership challenge, processed an application, prepared an appeal, and then told the D of E that it cannot proceed. The D of E said that it would be OK to proceed so long as the notices were correctly served . WDC challenge this.“A copy of the site plan, showing the area of land in question” is inconveniently missing from the file.
If you are not flavour of the decade, you may expect treatment of the following sort. The Steamhouse has received over 153 enforcement visits, based on a secret report that was defective, ( and Horrid Mr. H has seen ), ( and at both the 2020 and 2021 audits, Wealden could not tell Mr. H how much they had spent on enforcing against the Steamhouse for the previous 33 years ). Here they are getting to work on Mr. Kruschandl's former partner in the hope of unsettling her. You will note the laughable phrase “ the Council having to adopt a consistent approach“.
Ref JRB/WD/00/0587 Ask for Mr. J R Black
5 July 2000
Dear Ms. ****,
LAND AT THE OLD STEAMHOUSE, LIME PARK, HERSTMONCEUX
Thank you for your letter dated received on the 13th June 2000 regarding planning application ( ref WD/00/0587 ) seeking outline permission for the erection of a dwelling house to replace the premises at the above site.
In my letter dated 3rd April 2000 the second paragraph sets out the requirements under the Town and Country Planning ( General Development Procedure ) Order, 1995 wherein it is incumbent upon an applicant to state his / her interest in the land the subject of a current planning application. In this respect I asked you certain specific questions relating to your ownership of the land. Despite this being a statutory requirement you have failed to supply satisfactory evidence of your ownership of the land. In view of this I would be grateful if you would supply the name and address of your Solicitors in order that I may obtain verification from them regarding the current land ownership position. I am sure you will understand the necessity of this bearing in mind that the position is further complicated by the fact that the registered title lies with Mr. Kruschandl. In addition the matter also seems to be confused by the fact that you have suggested that the transfer to yourself has not been completed and that Mr. Kruschandl is still the holder of the land.
As regards the unregistered area of land edged blue, on your submitted application plan, which signifies that this land is in your ownership, I would again request that you confirm when you purchased this land and provide documentation in support of your claim. Once again, I would ask that your Solicitor confirm this. Alternatively, this land should be deleted from the application. In addition, it would appear that you have not served notice upon Mr. Kruschandl in respect of his interest in the land.
I notice that you have also failed to address the points raised in the fourth paragraph of my letter in which I requested your written approval that the description of your application be amended to introduce the word “buildings” in place of “premises” as currently submitted. Equally, no clarification has been provided as to which buildings are intended to be removed.
I would be grateful for your prompt attention in addressing the above points in the interests of enabling your application to be processed as quickly as possible. I am sure you will be aware that it is imperative that these issues are resolved given the legal requirements placed upon the Council. Indeed my letter of 22 May requested that you address these issues as a matter of urgency in order that my Council could proceed to determination of your application. The request for necessary information was also repeated in my letter of 12 June.
I was therefore disappointed by the inference in the penultimate paragraph of your letter that the determination of your application is being delayed unnecessarily. Firstly, you were written to on the 3rd April following registration of your application on the 14th March and a reply was not received until the 13th June. In the interim period I wrote to you] on the 22nd May and the 12th June requesting that you give prompt attention to the matters raised in my earlier letter. Secondly, you claim that it is the function of this office to determine applications efficiently”. I wholly concur with this view, but it is equally important that applications are dealt with properly and in full compliance with legal requirements.
In conclusion, I hope you will appreciate that these requests are in no way specific to the application site; the Council having to adopt a consistent approach to the determination of all planning applications. In the meantime, if you have any queries in respect of the above points please contact Senior Planning Officer Mr. Julian Black, on extension 2475 who will be pleased to assist.
A J Brown.
District Planning Officer
Consistency? Let us know if you can find any. Discrimination yes, consistency no.
A neighbour beside the Wealden Football Club at Paygate Common on the southern outskirts of Uckfield had the temerity to point out that WFC did not own the access leading up to their field that ran past the Rajdutt Indian restaurant, ( formerly the Barley Mow pub ), TN22 5QL. He received a snotty letter for his pains. Our professional planners considered that enhancements to the lighting intended to extend the days and hours of play in winter would have no impact on traffic and therefore no admission as to the non ownership of the access road was required. Photographs of fans cars parked outside the site on Eastbourne Road's verge were considered irrelevant. The planners could have studied the 99 year lease dated 1/3/72 between Watney Mann ( London & Home Counties Ltd. ) and the Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer of the Uckfield Rugby Football Club ( that became WFC ) but that would have run contrary to their timetable and recommendation. It would appear that WFC had unrestricted pedestrian access to the site, but vehicular access was contingent upon WFC buying their booze from their landlord. Hardly a rock solid foundation:-
“3 THE playing field and Clubhouse cannot conveniently be approached except by walking over the land of the lessor nor can electricity be supplied except by passing through the land of the lessor.
...provided .. The Committee COVENANTS with the Lessor …. to purchase from the Lessors ….all beers wines spirits and other alcoholic drinks and soft drinks for sale in the proposed Clubhouse … and after such Licence has been obtained to purchase such drink from the Lessors or from the associated companies of the Lessors.
Nothing …. shall impose upon the Lessor any obligation to provide an alternative route for the said right of way … aforesaid”
So, if this flaky arrangement fell apart, that would ensure the main road's verges would be populated by even more fan's cars and the reference to “additional vehicle movements” would be revealed for what it is, a red herring and an exhibition of WDC's talent for missing the point and countenancing overdevelopment of backland served by an inadequate entrance. A brief site inspection reveals the absurdity of pretending that a fire engine can enter as fans evacuate, but a proper assessment would have involved considering the East Sussex Act, and clearly the case officer was going nowhere near that can of worms.
Similarly, the case officer Mrs. Kirstin Roberts would have had to consider the East Sussex Act when assessing WD/2017/2930 ( correspondence below ). That necessity was eliminated by countenancing yet another application involving Stream Lane that showed no means of access.
Edited very slightly after despatch.
Heath Close, Old Heathfield Road, Heathfield, East Sussex, TN21 9BN.
Re:- Mrs. Ottaway's proposal for a new house on the Stillyans site,
accessed from Stream Lane, Horam.
Dear Parish Councillor,
Your Council has suggested that entrance improvements to Stream Lane ( from whence Stillyans is accessed ) would be a benefit in the past ( appendix 1 ), as indeed has the County Engineer ( appendix 2 ), as have I on eleven occasions ( see below ). Unfortunately, it has not been possible to achieve improvements because Wealden say different things to different audiences ( appendices 3 & 4 ). The contents of the brown envelope indicate the lengths to which the previous controlling mind would go to generate non disclosure, obstruction and foster negotiations in bad faith.
Mrs. Ottaway's application provides another opportunity to improve an entrance that was acknowledged as deficient when K/1972/464 was refused. Paul Harrington's proposal ( appendix 5 ) is perfectly viable and has the benefit of giving Stillyans more curtilage, taking traffic away from it's foundations ( appendix 6 ), reducing baulking events ( when emerging and incoming vehicles meet ), and launching exiting vehicles into the nearside lane. It is a win win. The plan exists, the land exists, all we need now is the will. The County Engineer might even be able to repopulate his eastern B2203 verge with life saving reflective marker posts!!
No management plan exists for this access which provides 90 metres of hedge to be maintained at over 4 metres in height. This has to be a two man maintenance operation. The surface has been upgraded whereas previously it was considered acceptable to maintain it to an appallingly low standard ( appendix 7 ). We, ( Jillian Hudson and I ), do not want to find ourselves in a situation where we have to maintain a road and hedge to a proper standard, the pool of potential objectors to poor maintenance in the immediate vicinity has doubled, thus usage has doubled, and yet they make no contribution to surface or hedge maintenance.
The current arrangement whereby my existing privet hedge has been reduced in height by two metres can only be regarded as temporary and is a result of my unilateral decision. The LPA have no control over the height of this hedge.
Stillyans proposal, and the main house itself, may be subdivided in future, so the current WD/2017/2930 traffic generation estimates cannot be relied on to endure.
I have spent sufficient time and treasure on this simple road improvement, so perhaps it is time to acknowledge that “a fresh approach” ( in the brown envelope, appendix 5, page 2, line 40 ) is required to do the trick. I am sure Mrs. Ottaway will have the right connections to pull it off.
cc Mrs. Kirstin Roberts case officer for WD/2017/2930.
K72/464 Full application for erection of a poultry processing building measuring 40' * 46'. Following a sub committee site visit when queries were raised over hours of working, additional parking and inadequate access, permission finally refused by the former Hailsham RDC on 28th June 1972, on policy grounds of a poorly located industrial and commercial use in a rural area, out of character and detrimental to the visual and rural amenities, and increased danger to persons and vehicles using the Horam-Heathfield road.
WD/82/0191 Stream Farm mail order warehouse final revision offered entrance improvements to Stream Lane – Direction to Refuse not lifted.
WD/84/0557 Extension to existing poultry processing unit & alteration of access to B2203.
WD/90/3492 Industrial store for LPG in cylinders, and the improvement of access by the construction of a new road to the A267 adjacent to Oak Glen, Little London Road, on land at the former Gas Yard, Bridge Farm, Horam. Abstract from the Strategic Planning and Economic Development Committee report for 20th January 1998. Page16 ““In his Proof of Evidence to the Public Inquiry in October 1991 relating to Mrs. Hudson's application WD/90/3492 Mr Kay drew attention to the lack of a turning space for vehicles at the eastern side of the tunnel. No such turning space has been sought from Bridge Poultry Supplies Ltd. in negotiations over their application WD/90/3572.”
“This is outside the Panel's remit. Mr Kay writes, “Subject to confirmation from the Highway Authority that this shall be a requirement ( rather than just desirable ) APS have concurred with my recommendation that Mr. Hudson's applications WD/96/3134 and 3135 should be amended so as to correspond in this respect with his other application WD/96/3136 which does include such turning space provision on his land at Stream Farm. It is my intention to address the differences and compare the Council's current requirements on these applications with the outstanding Bridge Poultry application WD/90/3572 which was last considered in April 1996, in order that any new requirements/amendments required are addressed prior to any further consideration being given to WD/90/3572.” Mr Kay expands on this point at pages 7 and 8 of the transcript of his interview.”
WD/91/1931 Industrial Storage for LP Gas in Cylinders & improve the existing access connecting to the B2203.
WD/91/2139 Retain existing change of use of former stable to plumbers store, new estate road skirting slaughterhouse site envelope connecting to A267 south of Oak Glen.
WD/94/3504 New road connecting A267 to Bridge Farm and change of use of smallholding buildings to residential.
WD/96/3134, 3135, 3136, 3137. WD/96/3136 & 7 revised immediately before the inquiry to apply to the B2203 only.
Further suggestion to re-run the above applications 3134 - 3137 declined by LPA citing too similar, too soon, based on an incomplete analysis which omitted the material consideration of an investigation into Bridge Poultry's level of indebtedness ( over £100K ).