Row overshadows cabinet meeting – but progress made with new planning ‘bible’

Councillors take advice from Chris Potter, the monitoring officer

The IW Council’s cabinet has tonight voted to recommend that full Council at long-last approves the Draft Island Planning Strategy (DIPS) at a special meeting on May 1.

So far, the DIPS has been six years in the making and cost £660,000, and the council is running out of time to approve it. If the council does pass the plan on May 1, the new Island planning ‘bible’ will start the process of taking the Island out of the ‘tilted balance’. Currently national rather than local policies are used to judge planning applications.

One of the latest delays was due to a claim made by MP Bob Seely that he had “secured changes to planning law” enabling the IW Council to claim exceptional circumstances to reduce housing numbers. However, advice from King’s Counsel, and a report from planning specialists, suggest that, in adding a footnote to the National Planning Policy Framework, the government has pulled the wool over Mr Seely’s eyes. They say that attempting to reduce housing numbers using exceptional circumstances could backfire, ending up with much higher housing targets than the currently proposed 453 a year, and even higher than the standard calculation of 667 each year.

Speaking after the meeting, the cabinet member responsible for planning, Cllr Paul Fuller, said: “I am very happy that we are hopefully now at a stage where, subject to the agreement of full council, the scene is set for submission of the strategy for consideration by the Planning Inspector.

“I am grateful to those councillors who have made positive contributions to get the draft plan to this stage. The plan is of fundamental importance and hopefully we can now look forward to seeing it having a positive impact on the Island, its people and our environment”.

Tonights cabinet meeting was overshadowed by a heated row between council leader, Cllr Phil Jordan and Cllr Peter Spink, who strongly objected to being told that he would receive a written answer to a question he asked. Sparks flew as Cllr Spink refused to be “deliberately shut down” and repeatedly spoke over Cllr Jordan, who was chairing the meeting. Proceedings were adjourned and security called after Cllr Spink refused to leave the room. After taking advice from the monitoring officer the meeting was reconvened and a motion passed that Cllr Spink was not allowed to speak again or take any further part in the meeting.