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Planning applications that go to committee

Planning Committee is held once a month, usually on the third Thursday. Planning Committee reports are usually available 5 working days before the date of the Committee and the minutes are available within a week following the Committee meeting. For information on Planning Committee meetings, agendas, members, attendance statistics and declarations of interest, go to the committee details - Planning Committee.

Why do applications go to the Planning Committee?

We aim to strike a balance between achieving a rapid turn-around of planning applications, and the public's desire to have a greater say in the decision-making process. We have two ways in which decisions are made. These are through a Delegated procedure and a Committee procedure, both of which are outlined below:

Delegated procedure

We have been given delegated authority for our staff to decide certain planning applications. Delegated authority does not apply to the following:

  • approvals would be contrary to policy;
  • applications are of a major, controversial, or sensitive nature;
  • applications which have aroused significant public interest on valid planning grounds*;
  • an objection from a statutory consultee;
  • applications subject to a Parish Council objection on valid planning grounds*;
  • applications subject to a request by an objector to address the Planning Applications Committee*;
  • applications requested by a Member to go to Committee;
  • applications where the recommendation is contrary to that of a statutory undertaker, for example, the Highways Authority.

*The following are not valid planning grounds:

  • devaluation of a property;
  • loss of view;
  • personal or financial circumstances, or the character of the applicant;
  • some matters covered by other legislation or controls, including building regulations and licensing.

Planning Committee procedure

Where delegated powers cannot be used, the Planning Committee make the final decision as to whether to approve or refuse the application. Applications sent to Committee are usually large or complex/controversial, or those requested by either an objector or a Council Member to be taken to Committee.

How do I find out if an application is going to Planning Committee?

When we notify you of an application, we will state which officer is dealing with the case. Once the Case Officer is sure that the application is being taken to Committee, he/she will let you and any others who have made representations know the date of the meeting. When we publish the Committee agenda, we will provide both the applicant and any objectors who have registered a desire to make an oral presentation, a copy of the relevant report.

When are Planning Committee meetings and who can attend?

Planning Committee meets on a monthly cycle, generally the third Thursday, commencing at 9.30am in the Town Hall, Penrith. All members of the public are allowed to attend the Committee meeting. Planning officers' reports for each Planning Committee agenda are available online five days before a Planning Committee meeting at the office receptions of Mansion House and Town Hall, Penrith.

Who can speak at a Planning Committee meeting?

Members of the public are allowed to speak at Committee to elaborate on their objections to an application. If an objector speaks, the applicant/agent is given the opportunity to respond to the issues raised. The maximum time allowed for each category of speaker is five minutes. If there is more than one person wishing to speak, we encourage you to agree beforehand on how you intend to share the time allotted. It may be that your interests are best served by nominating a spokesperson who will cover all the points of concern.

What will happen at the Planning Committee meeting?

Planning applications will be dealt with in the order in which they appear on the Planning Committee agenda. It is impossible for us to tell you exactly when a particular application/item will be heard, as the time taken to consider each one varies. The sequence of events is usually as follows:

  • the officer briefly, yet factually, outlines what the proposal is about, with site location and photographs of the siting of the proposed development;
  • objectors have a maximum of five minutes to address the Committee, their presentation will be uninterrupted, with the exception of a reminder from the Chairman after four and a ­half minutes and closure at five minutes;
  • the applicant may respond to the issues raised (again uninterrupted) for a maximum of five minutes if they wish to;
  • once the applicant has spoken, no further contributions from representatives of the public are permitted;
  • the Planning Officer then concludes the presentation on the application by summarising the main issues, both from their report and the presentations;
  • the Committee will then debate the proposals and come to a decision.

The Committee members are not able to question the speakers directly and can seek points of clarification through the Chair only.

What will I be able to say at the Planning Committee meeting?

The purpose of allowing members of the public to speak is to enable them to put forward any points they wish to make directly to Committee. Due to the time constraint, you will need to be specific and succinct in getting your point over. The Chairman of the Committee can refuse to hear someone if their behaviour is improper, offensive, or intentionally obstructive to the business in hand. Speakers are asked to make verbal presentations only.

Presentations made by objectors must be based on the written objections already deposited with us, based on land use planning considerations and must not introduce any new material issues. The Committee is not allowed to take into consideration a number of issues, some of which are listed below:

  • effect on property values;
  • character or motives of the applicant;
  • aspects covered by other legislation;
  • private neighbour disputes;
  • protection of a private view;
  • financial gain or commercial interests.

When are the decisions made and how are they publicised?

The Committee considers the Planning Officer's recommendation and arrives at their decision by means of a vote. This does not always follow the Officer’s recommendation; the recommendation given in the report is meant as advice to Members only. A recommendation for approval could be turned down and vice versa. In all cases, the Committee must arrive at their decision on planning grounds, not just because they personally like or dislike the proposal, or for other non-planning reasons. A decision to approve or refuse the application can only be made after the Committee has debated the issues. Members may decide to defer consideration of an application. This could be to allow them to visit the site, or to allow more time for negotiation. Each Committee Member arrives at his/her decision independently. Once a decision is reached, the public have no further role.

What happens when a decision is deferred?

If an application is deferred before the Committee hear the presentations, speakers are allowed to address the Committee at a subsequent meeting when the application is considered again. If an application is deferred for a site visit, the date of this will be agreed at the Committee meeting. This is a public meeting, to which Parish Council members are entitled to attend and are given an opportunity to speak to Committee Members whilst on site. There is, however, no opportunity for members of the public to address the Committee.

After the decision

After a decision is reached, we will issue a Decision Notice to the applicant. Where the decision is made to refuse an application, the applicant can, within six months, appeal. We will advise any interested parties if an appeal is submitted. Where the application is approved, the Decision Notice will usually contain planning conditions attached to the approval. If an application is approved, third parties have no right of appeal.