The Parish Council is a statutory consultee on the development plan including Local Plans and Structure Plans.
Planning authorities (e.g. District Councils, County and Unitary Councils) must inform the local Parish Council and consider its views when deciding on planning applications.
To speed up the planning applications the planning committee at the planning authority delegates decisions to officers. The current government target is 90% of all applications.
The Parish Council's strength lies in its special knowledge of the local environment, local needs and local views. So activities which the Parish Council can undertake include:
- checking that plans are accurate and appropriate
- assessing local needs and informing the planning authority
- gathering views and informing the planning authority again
- making effective observations on planning applications
- producing design guides for the Parish
- taking the lead as the community draws up a Parish Plan
- actively engaging in the development plan process
- asking the planning authority to enforce planning decisions
Planning authorities control development by responding to applications for permission to carry out activities that comply with the definition of development. Development is defined in legislation as “the carrying out of building, engineering mining or other operations in, on, over or under land, or the making of any material change in the use of any buildings or other land”.
The Parish Council can contribute to development control by making effective and relevant observations on local planning applications. Given the delegation of planning decisions to officers of the planning authority, it is important for the Parish Council to object in time if it wants the objection to be heard.
It is essential to know the policies contained in the Local Development Plan. Planning permission will probably be granted unless there is a policy that opposes the development.
The Parish Council examines each planning application and is expected to comment on whether the planning authority should grant or refuse the application.
The Council must respond in a professional way. This means that observations noting support or objection must reflect planning legislation and policy rather than emotional reactions to applications, based for example on the suitability of the applicant. Other irrelevant matters include the personal enjoyment of the view and the effect on house values
The Planning Committee of the Council meet approximately every 4 weeks to discuss applications received. The applicants are invited to attend the meetings – an agenda is put on the notice boards. The plans are duly viewed, discussed and any support/objection from members of the public considered. The Council then make their comments accordingly and these are sent to the planning authority who make the final decision
Councillors must declare a personal interest if a planning application affects their circumstances – or the circumstances of family and friends. This does not affect their contribution to the debate unless the Councillor has a prejudicial interest – in which case the Councillor withdraws. A prejudicial interest occurs if a member of the public might think that the Councillors judgement of the public interest will be prejudiced by their interest in the application.
If in any doubt about any of the above then members can contact the Clerk who will endeavour to reply to the query raised.