The past month has been particularly busy, so what I have done, is give a list of my activities on a day by day basis, which allows both town councillors and the community to look at what I have been involved with. If anyone wants a greater explanation of any of my activities, then they are free to contact me for a fuller explanation.
There is a recurring theme around planning issues and it may bear a little time explaning how the system works.
Last year there were 1500 planning applications and most of these were dealt with by a delegated decision, which means one of the highly qualified and professional officers looks at the application and makes the decision whether it is acceptable or not. Other applications which are deemed contentious, will be determined by the planning committee, which is made up of elected District Councillors from all the political parties, with a Chairman and Vice Chair. Planning officers will have looked at these applications and will make a recommendation based on their professional skills. Most applications that are dealt with this way, follow the recommended advice of the officer. Occasionally the committee do not follow the advice and vote against the advice, this leaves the possibility that the applicant may go to appeal if the vote was against them. Appeals are an expensive process for the Council and the money comes out of the pocket ultimately, of the local taxpayer.
Sometimes an application is given to a delegated officer but the applicant or members of the community may disagree and ask for one of the two District Councillors to ask for it to be placed on the Category B list, in other words to be reviewed by the Planning Committee, this is often referred to as, " calling it in ". For the District Councillor to do this, he or she, has to base the request on a objection based on planning law and as the request goes to the Delegated Officer, they may not agree and determine it anyway. All this has to be done within the 21 day consultation period.
There are exceptions but this is a fair outline of the process. I think the important lesson to be learnt, is that having a planning application ,"called in ", is not a magic bullet, which will see the decision arrived at, as being different to the original process.
If in doubt, ask to talk to one of the District Councillors and they will have a chat with the delegated officer and may be able to give some reassurance as to what decision is likely to be arrived at, or may be able to put concerns to the officer, that may not be obvious in the application.
Douglas Hellier Laing