The principle of public participation in the planning process has been affirmed by Westmorland and Furness Council.
The council’s Strategic Planning Committee has approved its Public Participation Scheme to enable any person (including councillors, parish representatives, applicants, objectors and supporters) to seek to address the strategic committee and the three area planning committees in relation to applications on their respective agendas.
Councillor Phll Dixon said: “As chairman of the Strategic Planning Committee, I cannot promise that everybody will be pleased with the outcome of every application but I can promise that our planning meetings will be open and accessible, that decisions will be made locally as much as possible and that everybody participating will be treated with respect.
“The majority of planning applications are not controversial and around 95 per cent are delegated to officers to ensure applicants benefit from a timely decision. But there will always be the remainder where there are differing views and we are committed to people’s voices being heard and informing the process.”
Anybody can make a representation for and against a planning application before it is determined and information about objections and supporting comments will be included in committee reports about applications.
The committee was told that most planning authorities also permit members of the public to address the committees about a particular proposal prior to the consideration of the application. Procedures vary across the country but all are designed to provide as fair an opportunity as possible for a balance of views to be provided between those supporting and those opposing an application.
For the Westmorland and Furness area committees, which align to the former Barrow, Eden and South Lakeland council areas and will meet in those areas, the public participation element will allow up to three objectors and three supporters to speak on a particular item, with each speaker allowed up to five minutes.
For the strategic committee, up to five objectors and five supporters will be allowed to speak on a particular item, with each speaker also allowed up to five minutes.
If more people apply to speak either as a supporter or opponent, places will be allocated on a first come first served basis, with larger groups asked to consider electing spokespeople. The chairman will be able to use their discretion to allow more objectors or supporters to speak on exceptional items in which there is a lot of interest.
Information on how to apply to speak can also be obtained by contacting the Planning Services Team at email@example.com.
The Local Area Planning Committees will consider local area based-planning matters not otherwise reserved for consideration by the Strategic Planning Committee or else dealt with by planning officers under delegated powers.
These will include:
- Residential development of up to and including 100 dwellings that is not part of a strategic development.
- All non-residential development proposals (including commercial, retail, and industrial developments) of up to and including 10,000m2, or a site area of up to two hectares of land that is not related to a strategic development.
- Applications for any type of renewable energy developments which cover an area of up to five hectares that is not related to a strategic development.
- Major road schemes, including improvement schemes to existing roads, up to one mile in length that is not related to a strategic development.
The Strategic Planning Committee will consider strategic development management and related matters, including:
- Residential development comprising more than 100 dwellings or site area exceeding three hectares.
- Non-residential development proposals (including commercial, retail, and industrial developments) of more than 10,000 square metres or two hectares of land.
- Proposals for mineral extraction involving a new quarry or mine or for a physical extension to an existing quarry or mine or for waste disposal other than small scale works which are ancillary to an existing mineral working or waste disposal facility;
- Applications for any type of renewable energy developments which cover an area of five hectares or more.
- Proposals for the treatment of waste and the recovery of energy from waste including (without limitation) Advanced Thermal Treatment Processes such as an Energy from Waste Plant; or for an Incinerator or Gasification Plant or a Pyrolysis Plant;
- Major road schemes including improvement schemes to existing roads which exceed one mile in length.
- Power to make a formal response to consultation on behalf of the authority in respect of major developments outside of the area of the council’s which may have implications that could impact on local residents (where ‘major development’ means any form of development which would fall within the committee’s terms of reference if the development proposed were to take place in Westmorland and Furness);
- Significant applications (meaning those kinds of development which otherwise fall within the committee’s Terms of Reference) by the council to develop any land owned by the council, or for development of any land by the council or by the council jointly with any other person;
- Applications which are recommended for approval contrary to the policies of the statutory development plan(s), including those applications which are of a kind or scale which would otherwise be determined by the Local Area Planning Committee; or
- Any development, application or matter (not being one which is delegated by the council to the Strategic Planning Committee or a Local Area Planning Committee), which, in the opinion of the Head of Planning, is of strategic significance.