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Public speaking at Planning Committees

If you wish to speak at a planning committee meeting, please use the public speaking registration form. Please note, registration to speak will commence on the publication of agendas.

The purpose of this scheme is to give the public, Parish Councils and applicants an opportunity to make their views known in person to the Planning Committee.  Letters of support or objection will also continue to be taken into account.

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The information below sets out the basic parameters of a system of public speaking using a Question and Answer approach.

You can view details of future committee meetings.

Who can speak?

An objector (whether they have made written comments or not), a representative of the Parish/Town Council and the applicant or a supporter (whether they have made written comments or not) may each speak on a planning application which is due to be heard at the Planning Committee.

Objectors, applicants and supporters must register to speak as below but Parish/Town Council representatives will be entitled to speak, subject to the Clerk of their Council notifying Democratic Services of the nominated speaker(s) and the application(s) they will be speaking on.

In the event of more than one objector or one applicant/support wishing to speak, a spokesperson should be agreed between the objectors or applicant/supporters, as the case may be, to speak for all persons in the same category, prior to the meeting.  Professional agents may be used by any party entitled to speak.

Public speaking is not an adversarial opportunity.  It relates solely to the Committee procedure and decision making process as a whole.  The purpose of the speaking opportunity is not to seek to explain all points expressed (as the Authority is already aware of these), but to emphasise material planning related points before a decision is taken.

For Major applications additional time will be allowed, as detailed below, as these applications tend to generate more interest and comment.

How will a spokesperson be appointed?

If the objectors or applicant/supporters cannot reach agreement about who will speak, then the person who asked first will be given the opportunity to speak.  Any subsequent speakers will be asked to co-ordinate their representations through a spokesperson, otherwise the person who registered next will be given the opportunity to speak next.  Subsequent speakers will only be allowed in relation to major applications as only one speaker for each category is permitted to speak on minor applications.

How much time will be allowed for speakers?

For minor applications, there will be a maximum of nine minutes public speaking time allotted to each development proposal.  The time is divided between the following categories:

  • Objectors (three minutes for the first registered speaker)
  • One Parish/Town Council representative (three minutes in total)
  • Applicant/supporter (three minutes for the first registered speaker)

For Major applications the amount of time afforded to each category of speaker will be increased by allowing a second speaker to speak for three minutes.  In the case of Parish/Town Councils this will be one speaker from the local Council and one from the adjoining local Council.  A buzzer or some other device will be used to indicate the end of each three minute speech.

The time limits imposed will be strictly observed and interruptions will not be allowed. You will not be allowed to complete your presentation if the time limit expires.  Speakers should restrict their comments to material planning considerations only, examples are listed below.

Can I speak on any planning application?

Only on those which are due to be determined by the Planning Committee.

The vast majority of the applications are, however, determined by planning officers under 'delegated powers' and do not go to Committee.  A request for public speaking will not transfer a delegated application to a Committee application.

How will I know when a particular application will be heard at Committee?

The Council will advertise details of which items will be heard at Committee on its website and objectors/supporters who commented on the application will be notified in writing.

How do I arrange to speak at the meeting?

There are several ways you can register to speak.  You can complete a registration form, found at the main Planning receptions or on the website, and send it to or telephone a Democratic Services Officer.  All requests to speak must be received by no later than 12 noon two working days before the Planning Committee meeting.  Contact details for Democratic Services can be found at the end of this page.

When and where are the meetings held?

Planning Committee meetings are held in each of the areas (West, Central and East) every four weeks, and a Strategic Planning Committee meeting is held every four weeks.  Further details on dates, locations and times are available in the Planning receptions, on the Council’s website or by telephoning 0300 1234 151.

What is the order of business at the meeting and what is the procedure for speaking?

The order of business at the meeting is normally as printed on the agenda.  The Chairman will start the meeting by explaining the rules of public speaking.  The Chairman will announce each application and a planning officer will give an introduction.  The objector(s)*, the Parish/Town Council representative(s)* and the applicant/supporter(s)* will then be called to speak, in that order.  The Chairman will invite the Councillors to ask any questions of the speakers after each speaker has finished to clarify any matters of fact but such questions shall be limited to relevant planning issues.  Public address is not an opportunity to engage officers or Councillors in dialogue, however, at the end of the period of public address the Chairman will allow officers to clarify any matters raised and/or to point out any non-material considerations in the submissions.

* There may be up to two speakers per category of speaker but only where a major application is being considered.

Committee Members will then discuss the application and may seek clarification from the planning officer on particular points prior to making their decision.

Who will be at the meeting?

The Sub-Area Planning Committee for the area, which is made up of 15 elected Members, or the Strategic Planning Committee, which is made up of 21 elected Members, as appropriate.  Council staff attend to advise Members and to formally record the meeting.  The applicant and any member of the public may attend to listen to the debate and the media is often present.

What will I be able to speak about?

This will depend on the application, but should be restricted to material planning considerations.  Examples may include:

  • Government guidance and Local/Structure Plan Policies
  • The Development Plan
  • Highway safety and impact of traffic in the environment
  • Design, appearance and layout – visual impact
  • Residential amenity – privacy, loss of light, overbearing, noise, smells
  • Conservation of buildings, trees and open land
  • Need to safeguard the countryside or protected species of plant or animal
  • The need for development
  • Previous planning history of the site
  • Case Law
  • Appeal decisions

The following are examples of matters which cannot normally be taken into account by the Committee:

  • Private property rights such as covenants
  • The applicant/developer's identity, morals, motives or past record
  • Effect on the value of your property
  • The fact that development has commenced without the benefit of planning permission
  • Loss of a private view
  • Private neighbour disputes.

(You are therefore advised that reference to these matters in your presentation will reduce the time available to refer to valid material considerations)

Can I ask any questions?

No.  There will not be an opportunity to ask any questions as the meeting.

Can I provide additional information to present at Committee?

No.  Third party documentation cannot be displayed or distributed at Planning Committee meetings.

How will my representations be recorded?

Minutes will be taken but will only record the names of speakers, which applications they addressed and whether they spoke for or against the proposal or as a Parish/Town Council representative.  The minutes are available for inspection at least five working days before the next scheduled meeting and will be published on the Council's website.

What happens if an application is deferred?

Even if the Committee decides to defer the application after hearing the speakers there will be a further public speaking session at the Committee meeting to which the application is brought back for consideration but the registration requirements will still apply.  In respect of deferral of applications for site meetings, if the Committee decides to defer the application after hearing the speakers there will be a further public speaking session at the Committee meeting to which the application is brought back for consideration. Registration requirements will still apply but preference will be given to those that initially registered to speak.  When an application is reported back to the Committee, following a site inspection, if there are vacant public speaking slots these may be filled subject to the normal registration process.  The numbers of public speakers at committee for each application will not be affected’.

What happens if an application is withdrawn prior to being heard?

Applications are seldom withdrawn, however, if the application is withdrawn before being presented at the meeting, those who have already expressed a wish to speak will be notified before the meeting, providing that sufficient time has been given for officers to notify those involved of the withdrawal.

Can I make representations on more than one application?

Yes, representations may be made on more than one planning application.

Can I see the Planning Officer's report on the website?

Yes, reports can be seen on the Council's website at least five working days before the relevant Planning Committee meeting.

Who do I contact if I have any queries on public speaking?

If you have any questions in addition to those already answered in this guide, please contact a Democratic Services Officer.  Their contact details, including a telephone number will be listed on the web page for each meeting and printed on each agenda. 

Alternatively you can telephone 0300 1234 100 or Email the planning committee

General Enquiries

0300 1234 100