Over 90% of applications are decided by officers acting on behalf of the Council. Officers can only approve applications where no more than five written objections on planning grounds have been received and the application complies with the Council's planning policies.
Officers can only refuse applications where no more than five written representations in support have been received and the application fails to comply with the Council's planning policies. If an application does not meet the above criteria, then it has to be reported to the Development Control Board for a decision to be made.
An elected Councillor may request that an application be determined by the Board, regardless of whether or not representations have been received.
The Development Control Board:
The Board is made up of elected Councillors and meets monthly. The purpose of the Board is to consider planning applications and, where appropriate, enforcement action against breaches of planning control and related matters.
Each report on a planning application describes the application site, the proposed development, any relevant planning history, a summary of responses from those who have been consulted on the application, along with any other comments received and finally, a report on the main planning issues relevant to the application.
Each report contains a recommendation to the Board Members, generally of either refusal or approval. There is a narrative by the Planning Officer of his/her consideration and the reason for refusal, or the conditions to be attached to an approval, are set out at the end of the report.
The main Agenda is printed some time before the Board meeting. The Update is a document which is available on the day of the meeting and circulated to Members just before the Board meeting. It provides further information relevant to applications to be considered at the meeting which has emerged since the Agenda was printed. This could include further comments from interested parties, recent changes to the application and amendments to the recommendation. Copies are made available to the public.
Site Visits by Board Members:
Planning officers make a site visit whilst considering the planning application and will include details arising from the site visits in their report. Whilst all the application details are available at the Board meeting, Members of the Board may decide that it would help them to visit the application site before the meeting. Any necessary visits take place in the few days prior to the Board meeting. The arrangements will usually be agreed with the applicant/agent. Time constraints mean that notification to the general public is not practical but neighbours are not precluded from attending the site visit if they wish.
During a Board meeting, Members may occasionally decide that a site meeting is necessary before reaching a decision on an individual application. Site meetings are more formal than site visits and they enable Members to consider each proposal in more detail, to view the site and to hear from neighbours and other interested parties.
Any item for which a site meeting is agreed will not be discussed further at the meeting. Those who made representations on a planning application which has been deferred for a site meeting will be notified of the arrangements. Applications are usually reported to the next Board meeting for determination.
If an application is due to be considered by the Development Control Board, those who commented on the application, as well as the applicant and agent, have the right to register to speak at the meeting.
One speaker will be allowed to speak in favour of an application and one against. This will be operated on a "first come first served" basis. The Council will write to all relevant parties advising them of the public speaking arrangements.
In addition, the Council will advise all those who made comments on the application of the final decision once it is made.