Report on the Call-in of UVW Site - Sept 2015

update
We are due to hear the Secretary of State’s decision on or before 11th January 2016.

 

The Call-in for the UVW site was scheduled to last for a possible 3 days from the 9th Sept, but in the event lasted only the 1 day.

Inspector Melissa Hall Chaired the proceedings, and her duty is to report back her findings to the Secretary of State for Communities of Local Government - The Right Hon, Greg Clark MP (who replaced Eric Pickles) who called-in the planning decision on the UVW Site.

The Ipswich Borough Council (IBC) side, otherwise known as the Applicant - had instructed Simon Bird QC to lead their case. After giving the opening statement on behalf of the applicant, Mr Bird then called for evidence from representatives of IBC House Building, the Architects, and also from IBC Tenancy Services. This was followed by the Planning Department giving the justification for their case to build the following properties as put forward at the planning meeting on 26 Nov 2014:

68 Affordable Rent (34 x 1 bed flats and 34 x 2 bed houses)

24 Shared-Ownership (12 x 1 bed houses and 12 x 2 bed houses)

2 Social Rent (4 bed houses)

NOTE

At the time of the planning meeting, and having been told twice by IBC that they could not build and sell to private buyers for profit we proposed the following compromise:

48 Affordable Rent 

44 Shared-Ownership 

2 Social Rent 

Having found out from other East Anglian councils that IBC could indeed build and sell to private buyers for profit (though they chose not to) in our presentation we later proposed a first choice "preferred proposal" of:

41 Affordable Rent 

24 Shared-Ownership

27 Private 

2 Social Rent 

 - this to stay in accordance with the spirit of the Ravenswood development since its inception.

For IBC  to set up an "arms length" company to sell the private element part,  IBC claimed that it would take 18 months to set up, so we proposed an alternative of: 

41 Affordable Rent 

51 Shared-Ownership 

2 Social Rent 

As stated the above alternatives were presented in our statement of case

The presentations from the IBC side were followed by questions led by the QC with each of those called, in a bid to build up the justification of their position, which had of course not changed since the planning meeting last November (2014). Richard Venning and Bryan Patterson (on behalf of the Residents Association) were given the chance to clarify points and pose questions also after each presentation, in a bid to support our position.

Richard then was called to present our Statement of Case - seeking to preserve the Mixed Tenure ethic of the Ravenswood Development since its inception. The presentation was followed by some predictable intense cross examination by the QC, at which we maintained our ground. It was also explained by using a map how large the UVW site is - particularly when you add on the social rent houses around and adjacent to Fen Bight Circle. If you add those 21 properties - the "cluster" of houses becomes 115 (94 +21) -  the largest on the whole of Ravenswood.

Councillor Liz Harsant then spoke convincingly for the Residents supporting our case.

SUMMARY

The IBC focus was on meeting the housing need. We accepted this but did not accept that the objectives derived from adhering to agreed policies should be lost in the process.

After some clarifications about the site, the meeting was called to a close. This was followed by a site visit to Ravenswood so that the Inspector could guage visually the extent of the development.

The Inspectors report will be delivered to the Secretary of State in about 3 weeks time, but it is not known how quickly the Secretary of State will take to make his decision - it is entirely dependent on how much work pressure there is on his department.