Date: 24th October 2006
The above paragraphs are extracted from the website: www.freshfordmill.co.uk
The residents of the village of Freshford (like all other villages in England) one of the most beautiful in this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty are presently compiling a village report that will present how they feel about the future development of their village. It makes a mockery of this lengthy activity that the most unwelcome planning proposal in recent history in Freshford has been approved without being "called in"
Freshford village is partly in BANES and partly in Wiltshire, this means that because the Mill is in BANES that the Wiltshire residents and the West Wiltshire District Council were not allowed to take part in responding to planning proposals and have no vote in the matter.
I have been asked to request that this proposal is properly considered not just rubber stamped.
A reply to the letter to the PM above is included below. The text of the letter is identical to that received
Government Office for the South West
Our reference: SW/THM/5021/203
Planning Team 2 Rivergate Temple Quay BRISTOL BS16EH
Website: www.gosw.gov.ukDirect Dial: 0117 900 1880 Fax 0117 900 1906
Date: 16 November 2006
Thank you for your letter of 24 October to the Prime Minister about our decision not to call-in this application. I hope you will appreciate that the Prime Minister receives a considerable amount of daily correspondence, so it would not be possible for him to reply to every letter personally. Your letter has therefore been passed to this office for a reply, as we deal with planning matters in the South West region.
We received a number of requests last year to call-in this application, but concluded that the Secretary of State's intervention would not be justified, so it was left for Bath and North East Somerset Council to decide the application as they thought fit. I understand that planning permission was in fact granted last December. Once an application has been approved, the only course of action left open to the Secretary of State would be to revoke the permission. However, she would only consider doing do (sic) if the decision to grant permission was considered to be so grossly wrong as to damage the wider public interest in a matter of national concern. Given that we did not consider this application raised issues which would justify call-in by the Secretary of State, we do not consider that use of revocation powers would be justified now.
I am sorry I cannot send a more encouraging reply.
A reply is published belowPlanning Team
I am not at all sure that there is a need for a government office in the south west, but that is another matter. I note that your office decided not to call-in the application but you do not state the grounds under which that decision was made. Aren’t the public entitled to an explanation of why your office made that decision, Especially when the former Secretary of State requested that the application should be called-in?
Issues that are Not in the Wider Public Interest?
You note that a reversal of the decision would not be justified as the decision would have to have been so grossly wrong as to damage the wider public interest. Why aren’t the following in the ‘wider public interest’?
Rejection of a decision made by John Prescott’s former Department- The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs DEFRA who requested that the planning application for redeveloping the site known as Freshford Mill should be 'called-in' for their approval, before a decision is made. As this particular application meant:
Building dwellings not only in the Green Belt but also within an:
An Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty and an Area of High Ecological Value
persistence of a highly misleading Flood map of the location of Freshford Mill on the Environment Agencies web-site which depicts the Mill as being outside the flood zone when it and the new build is wholly within it.
Can you explain to me why these three issues are “not in the wider public interest” and why the development would not damage the wider public?
A reply is published below
Government Office for the South West
Planning Team, 2 Rivergate, Temple Quay, Bristol, BS1 6EH
Our Ref: SW/THM/5021/203
Thank you for your letter of 6 March about our decision not to call-in the planning application at Freshford Mill.
Perhaps I should explain that we did in fact receive a request from Freshford Parish Council for John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister (who is also the First Secretary of State) to call-in the application. At that time the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister had responsibility for planning matters, including consideration of requests to call-in planning applications, but this has since passed to the Department for Communities and Local Government. However, in this case it was decided that, on balance, the Secretary of State's intervention would not be justified. The attached letter sets out the reasons why the application should not be called-in, from which you will see that very careful consideration was given to all the issues involved. In the circumstances I can only repeat the advice in my earlier letter that we do not consider that there are any grounds for revoking the planning permission.
I hope this clarifies the situation.
Attached letter below
Government Office for the South WestMr G Webber, Planning Services, Bath and North East Somerset Council, Trimbridge House, Trim Street, BATH, BA1 2DP
Our reference: SW/THM/5021/203 Your reference: 05/02563/FUL
The Planning Team 2 Rivergate Temple Quay Bristol BS16EH, Website: www.gosw.gov.uk Fax 0117 900 1868
22 November 2005
Dear Mr Webber
TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING (GENERAL DEVELOPMENT PROCEDURE) ORDER 1995
CHANGE OF USE TOGETHER WITH ALTERATIONS TO PROVIDE 21 NO. RESIDENTIAL UNITS, PROVISION OF IMPROVED ACCESS, LANDSCAPING, PARKING AND ASSOCIATED DEMOLITION , AT FRESHFORD MILL, ROSEMARY LANE, FRESHFORD
' The Secretary of State's policy on call in is set out in a Parliamentary reply reprinted below.
CALLED-IN PLANNING APPLICATIONS
GOVERNMENT POLICY STATEMENT
Mr. Bill Michie:To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement about his policy on calling in planning applications under section 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. 
Mr. Caborn: My right hon. Friend's general approach, like that of previous Secretaries of State, is not to interfere with the jurisdiction of local planning authorities unless it is necessary to do so. Parliament has entrusted them with responsibility for day-to-day planning control in their areas. It is right that, in general, they should be free to carry out their duties responsibly, with the minimum of interference.
There will be occasions, however, when my right hon. Friend may consider it necessary to call in the planning application to determine himself, instead of leaving the decision to the local planning authority.
His policy is to be very selective about calling in planning applications. He will, in general, only take this step if planning issues of more than local importance are involved. Such cases may include, for example, those which, in his opinion:
may conflict with national policies on important matters;
could have significant effects beyond their immediate locality;
give rise to substantial regional or national controversy;
raise significant architectural and urban design issues; or
may involve the interests of national security or of foreign Governments.
However, each case will continue to be considered on its individual merits.
a comment is published below
In spite of the content of the letter above and its enclosure of the reasons given for why the Secretary of State did not Call -In the application. I still assert that in relation to the list above:
Once again, this is just another example of an undesirable development that locals and others have failed to stop. We must continue to support the National Trust as this body would seem to be one of the only ways we can preserve our natural heritage from undesirable development. Whatever the designers of the planning policies believed they had created, the reality is that a coach and horses can be driven through their pieces of paper. www.nationaltrust.org.uk