The primary responsibility for development control within an area rests with the local planning authority. It is for the authority to decide in the first instance, with particular regard to the provisions of the statutory Development Plan and any other material considerations, whether a particular development should take place. The Secretary of State rarely intervenes in the consideration of individual planning applications and then only when planning issues of national or regional significance are involved. To do so more often would be to undermine the responsibility of local authorities for planning in their area.
Government policy in Planning Policy Statements 1 and 12 states that planning decisions should be taken in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise. Officers at the Government Office for the East of England (GO East) studied the Council’s Planning Committee Report for this proposal and were satisfied that the decision to grant planning permission would be made in accordance with local plan policy and, in view of the fact that the planning issues raised were of no more than local significance, it was considered that the Secretary of State’s intervention was not be appropriate.
Now that planning permission has been granted, there is no set procedure by which the Secretary of State can intervene. She does have certain powers which could be invoked if a development of land use was judged to be so grossly wrong as to do serious damage to the wider public interest. In this instance, and for the reasons given above, such action would not be justified. It is now for Castle Point borough council to monitor the development to ensure that it is carried out in accordance with the terms of the planning permission.