Public speaking at Planning Committees
Last updated: 04/11/2013
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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.
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
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
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
- Applicant/supporter (three minutes for the first registered
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
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
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
When and where are the meetings held?
Planning Committee meetings are held in each of the areas (West,
Central and East) every three 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
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,
- Conservation of buildings, trees and open land
- Need to safeguard the countryside or protected species of plant
- 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
- Effect on the value of your property
- The fact that development has commenced without the benefit of
- 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
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
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
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
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
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
Alternatively you can telephone 0300 1234 100
or Email the planning