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Planning Info

Requested on
Thu 22nd March, 2012
Reference
FOI 1829
Resolution
Information provided

Question

1) How many planning applications has your authority received for developments in areas identified by the Environment Agency as Flood Risk Areas (under ss13 and 14 of the 2009 Flood Risk Regulations) in each of the financial years 2007-8, 2008-9, 2009-10, 2010-11, and 2011-2 (up to the date of this request)?

2) How many of these applications were successful in each of the financial years?

3) How many are still pending, under appeal or “called in”?

4) Please give as much detail as possible about each application made to your authority in the financial years 2010-11 and 2011-12, including the identity of the applicant, the nature of the development, the number of houses and other buildings, the location, if possible the level of the flood risk, and the outcome of the application.

I would be grateful if you could send me your response in a Microsoft Word document to this email address (oliver.moody@thetimes.co.uk).

Answer

Thank you for your recent information request regarding information on planning applications in flood risk areas.  As the request concerns environmental information the Council has considered it under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

While the information requested is held by the Council in the form of constraints listed against each individual planning application it is not held in a manner which enables the aggregated data you request to be collated easily.  1218 planning applications were received by Charnwood Borough Council in 2010-11.

Regulation 12(4)(b) provides that a public authority may refuse to disclose information to the extent that the request for information is manifestly unreasonable.  The Information Commissioner is of the view that this exception to the right of access to information applies where it would incur unreasonable costs for the public authority or an unreasonable diversion of resources.

Although there is no set cost or time limits for Environmental Information Regulation requests, we have taken as a baseline the limits set out in the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004 which is 18 hours of an officer’s time.  To go through each planning application received since 2007 and check the constraints against that application would take longer than 18 hours and would result in an unreasonable diversion of resources.  As a result in the Council has concluded that the request is manifestly unreasonable, and therefore excepted from disclosure under Regulation 12(4)(b).

Under the Environmental Information Regulations all exceptions (excluding those relating to personal data) have to be weighed against the Public Interest Test.
The Information Commissioner has suggested that the factors that would weigh in favour of disclosure would include:
• furthering the understanding of and participation in the public debate of issues of the day.
• promoting accountability and transparency by public authorities for decisions taken by them.
• promoting accountability and transparency in the spending of public money.
• allowing individuals and companies to understand decisions made by public authorities affecting their lives and, in some cases, assisting individuals in challenging those decisions.
• bringing to light information affecting public health and public safety.

It is the Council’s view that the second factor would weigh in favour of disclosure, however all planning applications and their decisions are available to view on the Council’s website, which would address this factor.  If you would like to use the Planning Explorer portal to look at any of Charnwood's planning applications received, please see the following notes:
All planning applications can be viewed online using the planning portal.

Using the General Search link you can enter your search criteria and select dates from and to, if required, to narrow your search.  Full details of each application can be found by clicking on the application number including the decision reached.

There is a list of FAQ’s available at http://www.charnwood.gov.uk/pages/planning_explorer_faq which can guide you through using the portal.

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