Attending the planning committee

The details below explain how you can speak directly to Councillors at Planning Meetings. It tries to explain some of the questions you may have and what to expect at a Planning Meeting.  Meetings are held approximately every three weeks on a Tuesday afternoon and start at 5pm.

The advice below applies to:

  • Applicants and their agents or supporters of an application
  • Objectors to an application and

  • Representatives of Town or Parish Councils

Please note – only one person from each of the above groups can speak. If the applicant is a town or parish council, then only one representative can speak, not one for the applicant and one for the town or parish council. That one speaker will be allowed only three minutes to speak. Where an application is on the boundary of one or more parishes, then speakers will be allowed from each parish, and the applicant will be allowed the same total time to speak.

If I want to speak, how do I arrange it?

We write to applicants, agents, supporters and objectors a week before the meeting. If you want to speak you need to telephone 01529 304807 (answer phone service). This is the only way you can register a request to speak at a planning meeting. You must call by 12 noon on the Friday before the Committee Meeting.

Only one person from each of the three groups is allowed to speak.  If there is more than one objector/ supporter, we advise that they nominate a spokesperson. If no agreement can be made, then the first person to register their request will be the person allowed to speak. We will try to facilitate contact where there is more than one person per group wishing to speak. We will call you back to confirm meeting arrangements. To help ensure fair proceedings, we cannot accept late requests to speak.

How long does each speaker have?

To be fair to all parties, there is a strict time limit of three minutes per speaker.

Are copies of the agenda available before the meeting?             

Copies are available to view online. Alternatively, you can contact Democratic Services on 01529 414155.

Can a question be answered by another speaker? 

You may ask questions of other speakers within the three minutes. However, the other speaker can choose whether they answer or not.

You must not interrupt other speakers or the Committee’s discussion.

Can supporting material be included in the presentation?

Photographs, illustrative drawings or presentations may be used within the three minutes speaking time, but you must make sure that our Development Management has them by NOON on the Friday before the Committee Meeting. After this time, no further material will be accepted. Please contact Carolyn Smith, or one of the Planning Assistants, on 01529 414155 for details on how to submit your presentation material.

Please remember that you must be careful what you say. Wrong comments can lead to legal action.

What are the relevant issues in considering a planning application?

The relevant issues will depend on the specific application and the site. They might include the following:

  • Structure and local plan policies;
  • Government planning guidance;
  • Planning law and previous planning decisions;
  • Highway safety and traffic;
  • Noise, disturbance and smells;
  • Design, appearance and layout;
  • Conservation of historic buildings, protection of trees, etc; or
  • Residential amenities.

What issues are usually not relevant in considering a planning application?

These will also vary depending on the application. The following are examples:

  • Issues covered by other laws or regulations;
  • Private property rights eg boundary or access disputes;
  • The developer’s morals or motives;
  • Suspected future development;
  • Loss of view over other people’s land; or
  • Any effect on the value of property.

What happens at the meeting?

Applications involving speakers are usually heard first. A Planning Officer will introduce the item and then speakers are heard. Members of the Committee may then ask speakers questions. The applicant or supporter will speak first, followed by the objector and then the Parish or Town Council. Councillors will then discuss and consider the application. Further information from the Planning Officer may be asked for at this stage.

A decision is then made.

If you have any other questions relating to Public Speaking on Planning Applications, please contact Democratic Services on 01529 414155. You should note that Councillors are elected to represent you on the District Council. However, he or she will not be able to commit him or herself to a decision before hearing all the evidence and debate at the planning meeting. They will need to take into account Planning Law and Guidance in making the decision.