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Sprint Route and Car Park

Volume 699: debated on Wednesday 18 August 2021

The petition of residents of the United Kingdom,

Declares that Transport for West Midlands should withdraw its proposal to build a 300-space Park and Ride car park on land adjacent to the Bell Inn, Birmingham Road; further that the proposed location of the car park is green belt land, which contravenes the National Planning Policy Framework and Walsall MBC’s Site Allocation Document; further that there was no consultation with local residents before this decision was made by Transport for West Midlands and that four mature trees have now been removed along Birmingham Road as part of this project, also without any consultation; further that no consultation was carried out by Walsall MBC before it approved an Environmental Impact Assessment Screening option for this site, removing important environmental safeguards by exempting the proposals from a full Environmental Impact Assessment.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to ensure that Transport for West Midlands withdraws its application to build a car park on green belt land.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Valerie Vaz , Official Report, 7 July 2021; Vol. 698, c. 1021.]

[P002674]

Observations from the Minister for Housing (Christopher Pincher):

Local authorities act independently of central Government. Government Ministers have no remit to intervene in the day-to-day affairs of local authorities, except where specific provision has been made in an Act of Parliament. Democratically elected local authorities are accountable for their actions to their electorate and must act within their statutory powers. Therefore, we cannot comment on the handling by Walsall MBC or any other planning authority of any aspect of the transport scheme or associated development to which the petitioners refer.

I am advised that, to date, no planning application has been submitted. In any event the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) cannot comment on the merits of the proposal since to do so could prejudice the position of the Council in the event that a planning application is submitted. MHCLG must also be careful to avoid prejudicing MHCLG’s own position since the application could come before MHCLG formally in the future.

Once a planning application has been submitted, the relevant local authority has to ensure that the appropriate regulations on publicity are complied with, for example, site notices and newspaper adverts, and where representations should be sent. Any additional publicity, including neighbour notification, is at the discretion of the authority. This will ensure that there will be an opportunity for the petitioners and other local residents to make their objections known and for those objections to be taken into account. There is also guidance at: http://planningguidance.planningportal.gov.uk/blog/guidance/consultation-and-pre-decision-matters/ which I hope will be helpful.

However, if the petitioners consider that the planning application is one which should be determined by the Secretary of State following a public inquiry, and if the local authority has not yet issued its decision letter granting planning permission, the petitioners may write to the Planning Casework Unit (PCU@communities. gov.uk) setting out the application details and the planning reasons why MHCLG should consider call-in of the proposal. It should be borne in mind that it is the Secretary of State’s policy to be very selective about calling in applications and, in general, this will only be where issues of more than local importance arise. This policy can be found at: