The Petition of the people of Addington and Forestdale,
Declares that the residents are concerned that there should be a regularisation of the planning arrangements for Pear Tree Farm, a waste transfer station nestled in the Green Belt on the borders of the London Borough of Croydon and Tandridge District Council.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to take steps to see Croydon and Tandridge Councils regularise the planning arrangements at the site and to see the Environment Agency review the Waste Transfer Licence for Pear Tree Farm.
And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mr Andrew Pelling, Official Report, 29 March 2010; Vol. 508, c. 605 .]
Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government:
The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is aware of the concerns of local residents about the activities on the Pear Tree Farm site.
The Secretary of State understands that lawful planning use of the land in question was determined in 1981 when an established use certificate was granted for use of part of the site for
“the dumping and transfer of waste building materials, top soil and manure and for the parking of farm and other commercial vehicles”.
The Secretary of State is informed that following increases in the activity on the site and local complaints, Croydon Council undertook a series of enforcement investigations, subsequent to which—across a number of years—a series of planning applications and applications for Lawful Development Certificate have been made and refused, and that there are four enforcement notices requiring remedial action by September 2008 which remain extant. He understands that Croydon Council is continuing to collect evidence to establish the degree of planning control breaches further to the extant enforcement notices in relation to the possibility of further action.
The Government’s policy is not to interfere with the day to day planning control functions of a local planning authority unless it is absolutely necessary to do so. This is because local authority Councillors are elected to represent the views of local people and, in the main, it is these Councillors who are in the best position to decide whether a development should go ahead or be refused, or whether enforcement action should be taken. In determining any planning application the local planning authority are required to have regard to all material considerations, including the development plan, national policies and views expressed by third parties. It is, of course, for local planning authorities to provide whatever justification it may be appropriate to give for their decisions and procedures. The Secretary of State’s potential formal decision-making role in relation to any planning application or appeal (against refusal of permission or in relation to enforcement) also means it would be inappropriate for him to seek to influence the decisions of the local planning authorities in relation to the site in question.
Environment Agency regulation
The Secretary of State is informed that the London Waste Regulation Authority (predecessor of the Environment Agency) issued a waste management licence (permit) to Samuel Smith to receive and handle certain low risk types of waste on the site in 1982 and again in 1986. He is also informed that the Environment Agency regularly inspects the permitted area of the site against the licence conditions. Although there have been minor permit breaches, no legal action has been taken against the operators. It is understood that the Environment Agency has some operational concerns with the site, and has begun a permit review to address these. The reason for any such review is to update an old permit and to provide the appropriate level of regulatory control to this site relevant to current activities.