Council take step to stop ‘table tennis’ in planning process in Hartlepool and reduce delays

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Council bosses have installed a new measure to reduce the time it takes to decide on divisive planning applications and stop ‘table tennis’ between sides.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s regeneration services committee approved the plan to add an extra step in the decision making process for when planning applications reach a deadlock.

Now if negotiations between planning bosses and the applicant reach an impasse over section 106 funding for proposals then the District Valuer will be called in to impartially value the land.

Section 106 funds are used to mitigate the impact of a development and can include contribution towards affordable housing at a site, expanding educational provision or leisure facilities in an area affected by a development.

The District Valuer will rule the cost needed for the development and whether the applicant or planning bosses are providing accurate costs and enable the council to move to reject proposals if demands are not met.

Jim Ferguson, council planning and development manager, said the move will benefit the council.

He said: “Going to the District Valuer will speed the process up as usually it can end up as a ding dong table tennis game.

“If we have that in our pocket it can get a decision made more quickly.

“It should help us reduce those impasses and also reduce the number of appeals.

“It would be rarely used but useful for when we reach those points.

“There’s only been a few occasions in my time at the council we would use this, but recently have a few problems where we really have reached an impasse.

“We’re trying to get this obligation to support facilities and services in the town.

“We are not trying to get anything more than what we need, there has just been problems more recently.

“The final decision will still be made either by planning officers or the planning committee.”

The District Valuer provides an independent, impartial, valuation and professional property advice across the entire public sector where public money or public functions are involved.

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service