Fate of The Goat in hands of unelected officials

Enfield Council’s planning committee denied chance to debate and vote on application to convert last Ponders End pub into restaurant, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

The Goat in Ponders End High Street is the last remaining pub in the area
The Goat in Ponders End High Street is the last remaining pub in the area

The fate of the last remaining pub in Ponders End will be decided by unelected planning chiefs rather than councillors, it has been confirmed.

Civic centre bosses will determine whether The Goat in Ponders End High Street can be turned into a restaurant – despite demands for the application to be brought to a planning committee so elected members can have their say.

If the council approves the application, it will leave the area without a single local boozer, following a wave of pub closures in recent years.

Campaigners have been battling to save The Goat, claiming the change of use would go against local and national policies that protect pubs. Philip Ridley, a pub protection officer for the Enfield and Barnet branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), has lobbied local ward councillor Nikki Adeleke to call in the application to the planning committee.

But a council spokesperson said this week that “following consideration of a call-in request and on the advice of legal and senior planning officers, the application will be determined under delegated authority”, adding: “This is in line with the way comparable planning applications have been treated and in line with legislation.”

Philip branded the council’s statement “ridiculous” and “meaningless”. He said if council officers intend to approve the application it could still be called in to a planning committee, providing the request is based on sound planning reasons.

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To add to the confusion, Cllr Adeleke indicated she had not submitted a call-in request. She said: “Councillors can request to make representation to the planning committee regarding planning decisions which will affect their wards. This is not the same as a call-in, which is a completely different function.

“On the request of some residents, I requested to make representation to the planning committee regarding the planning decision relating to The Goat pub. Upon consideration, I was told the committee were satisfied that the decision could be made without reference to the planning committee.

“Residents have been advised to log comments relating to the planning decision on the council website, and these are taken into consideration when decisions are made.”

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) asked the council for the scheme of delegation setting out the system for determining planning applications but the council did not provide it. However, a council report published in 2017 includes a scheme of delegation setting out exceptions to when planning chiefs alone determine applications – one of these states that requests from councillors received in writing within 21 days of the circulation of details of the application should be determined by committee, subject to the agreement of the chair.

Another exception is allowed for applications that are advertised as a departure from the DMD (the council’s development management document, which sets out local planning policies) and which are recommended for approval.

A further exception relates to applications that should, in the opinion of the assistant director of regeneration and planning, be determined by the committee because of a high level of public or likely councillor interest.

Unlike some other local authorities, including neighbouring Barnet and Haringey councils, Enfield does not publish residents’ objections to applications on its online planning portal. The LDRS asked the council whether officers are planning to approve the application and to reveal how many objections were received during the public consultation, but the authority would not provide any further information.

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