Speaking at Planning Committee
The Council gives wide publicity to planning applications and welcomes the views of the public so that these can be taken into account when applications are considered. The views of objectors and supporters are summarised in a report. In certain circumstances, the Council allows members of the public, applicants or agents to speak, or be represented by a spokesperson, at meetings of the Planning Committee. These are held in the Council Chamber at the Council Offices in Capswood, Denham.
This advice note tries to answer some of the questions you may have about the scheme of public speaking and what will happen at the Committee meeting.
Does Public Speaking apply to all Applications?
No. The scheme only applies to applications considered by the Planning Committee which are being recommended for approval and where at least 10 separate letters of objection from individual households (not petitions or duplicate letters) have been received 10 working days prior to the planning committee meeting date or after the 21 day neighbour notifications period has expired, whichever is later. The scheme does not apply to a second or duplicate application which is basically the same as the first. There are limitations on the amount of time available for speaking as set out later on in this advice note and there is no guarantee that everyone who wishes to speak will be able to do so.
Are all Applications considered by Committee?
No. Many applications are delegated to the Development Control Area Team Managers.
How will I be told if I may have an opportunity to speak at the Committee Meeting?
When we know that an application is to go to a Committee, all objectors who may be entitled to speak will receive a letter which will invite them to register their wish to speak. Invitation letters will be sent by first class post about a week before the date of the meeting. The rules limit the time for speaking so it is important to talk to other objectors to see if one person can speak for everybody. As well as writing to objectors, we will let agents know that either they, or the applicant, may wish to register a wish to be heard in the event of an objector speaking.
What do I do if I decide I would like to speak?
You must register your wish to speak by telephoning the Development Control Administration section on 01895 837284 at least 2 days before the meeting (by 4.00 p.m. on the Monday before a normal Wednesday meeting).
Can any member of the public speak about any Application on the Agenda?
No. The only people who can speak are those who have been sent and accepted an invitation to do so.
Can I see the officer’s report before the meeting?
Yes. The agenda and officer’s report can be viewed at the Council reception for 5 working days before the meeting (normally Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Monday and Tuesday) as well as on the day of the Committee itself.
For how long may I speak?
An overall total of 5 minutes is allowed for objectors to address the Committee. This time limit is for all objectors in total, not 5 minutes each. Coloured lights (like traffic lights) will guide you on how much time is left.
What happens if there are a number of objectors wishing to speak on an application?
Objectors will be encouraged and helped to contact each other so that repetition can be avoided. This means that you may be given the names, addresses and telephone numbers of other objectors and they may be given your details. In many cases, it may be sensible for a spokesperson to speak on behalf of objectors. Where a number of speakers cannot agree on a spokesperson, speakers will be heard in the order in which they registered an intention to speak, until the 5 minute period ends.
Can someone else speak on my behalf?
A group of objectors may have a spokesperson as set out above. Alternatively, you may ask someone to speak for you, or you may use a professional advisor.
Can applicants speak to the Committee?
Where an objector has addressed the Committee, applicants, or their agents will have the chance to comment on what has been said by objectors. Applicants will not be allowed to make full presentations of their proposals and they will not be able to speak where objectors have not spoken. Applicants or their agents will also be limited to a total of 5 minutes.
What is the order of speaking for each application?
The order of business on each application will be:
How do I present my objections?
- the Chairman will announce the application number
- a planning officer will introduce the application and provide any new information
- the Chairman will call on registered objectors to speak in accordance with the rules set out
- the Chairman will call on the applicant or agent to respond to the objectors’ comments
- the Committee will discuss the application
- the Chairman has the discretion to question speakers directly to clarify points they have made
- if appropriate, officers will respond to issues and questions raised by Councillors
- the Committee will make a decision.
The Committee can only consider relevant planning issues. You are asked to avoid matters which cannot be considered by the Committee such as:
What happens if the application is deferred after debate or referred for a site visit?
- boundary disputes
- personal remarks (e.g. the applicant’s motives)
- reduction in property values
- loss of views
- effect on competition (e.g. between traders)
The application will be heard again at the next or a later Committee. No further invitation to speak will be made, although you may provide further comments in writing.
Can I speak at a Councillors’ Site Visit?
No. The purpose of the site visit is for Councillors to see the site for themselves. It is not an opportunity for discussion about the merits of the proposal.
Can an application be approved by the Committee if it is recommended for refusal?
The Committee can disagree with an officer recommendation. If it does so, and the application is one where public speaking would otherwise be allowed, the item will be deferred to the next meeting so that objectors have an opportunity to speak.
For more information please contact Development Control on:
Tel: 01895 837200