Agenda item

Public Question Time

To receive Questions from the Public, in accordance with the Council’s Constitution.


A Public Question was received from Mr Schofield.


“Can the Chair of the Planning Committee please explain why the Planning Application relating to the conversion of the business premises at Prospect House, George Street Shaw, which has a proposal to add a large extension, and build into the roof space in order to convert it into 12 one and two bedroom apartments, the effect of which will have a detrimental effect upon the neighbourhood in relation to aspect, privacy and highways issues, along with the loss of a well established training centre and therefore jobs, is not to be heard by the Planning Committee, but rather left with unelected council officers to determine, despite the level of public opposition to this development based upon its present scale.

This council is frequently talking about openness and transparency, however this application clearly seems to be being dealt with behind closed doors with no openness and transparency to be seen.”


The following response was provided:


“The Council fully appreciates the concerns raised by Mr Schofield regarding application FUL/348433/22.  As with all planning applications, this proposal is being carefully considered by the Council’s Planning Service as part of the procedure for determining planning applications, including having regard to what the Council’s Constitution sets out regarding who the decision should be made by. 


While applications more significant, complex or contentious are debated and decided by elected members at Planning Committee, for example proposals that aim to create 20 new homes or more, the vast majority of planning applications are considered and decided by officers, under the Scheme of Delegation on planning applications established by the Council’s Constitution (which has been agreed by elected Councillors).  This is necessary because the Council typically receive around 100 planning applications a month and it is not feasible to bring all of them before Planning Committee, and so a line must be drawn to distinguish which applications come before Planning Committee and which are decided by officers.


As such, in relation to planning application FUL/348433/22, the starting point under the process for considering planning applications that has been agreed by elected Members is that the application should be considered and decided by officers.


On occasion, a ward councillor can ask that a specific planning application, that would normally be considered by officers under the Scheme of Delegation, be referred to Planning Committee for a decision instead.  In such instances, the Constitution states that the Head of Planning, in consultation with the Chair of Planning Committee, must decide whether the application warrants a referral to the Planning Committee and so depart from the process that has been agreed by Councillors under the Constitution. 


With regard planning application FUL/348433/22, Cllr C Gloster has made such a request for referral, but after considering the matters of relevance in the application and the degree of public interest in the application, it was not considered appropriate to agree to that referral request.  In particular, it should be noted that while 22 objections to the application have now been received from members of the public, this is not unusual for a planning application.  Therefore, as it stands, there’s no reason to escalate this decision to Planning Committee.


However, the Council are awaiting further information from the applicant on whether this proposal is broadly in line with the Council’s adopted Local Plan, in particular the exceptions provided for under Policy 14.  If it is, there will be no reason to refer the application to Planning Committee for a decision.  If the information provided demonstrates that the application is not broadly in line with the Local Plan (the Local Plan being the Council’s adopted policy used to inform planning decisions) then the application will be referred to Planning Committee for a decision for that reason.


Given all of the above, the application is being considered openly and transparently in accordance with the Council’s Constitution, and the fact it is being considered by Council officers under the delegations given to them rather than by Planning Committee does not alter that fact.”