Protocol for public speaking at planning committee
Members of the public, elected representatives of town and parish councils and applicants for planning permission (or their agents) are allowed to speak on each planning application at the Planning Committee. The procedure allows two people (one in support, one against), a representative of the Town/Parish Council, plus the applicant or their agent, to address the Committee members on relevant planning applications.
If there are several objectors and/or supporters who wish to speak on an application, each group will need to organise a spokesperson to speak on their behalf. Each speaker will be given a maximum of three minutes.
If an agent wishes to speak on behalf of the applicant they must be the agent named on the specific planning application form, or have provided the Local Planning Authority with written notification before Committee that they have replaced the original agent. As an alternative, the applicant can appoint somebody to speaking on their behalf. That person must have confirmed in writing prior to the Committee that they represent the applicant.
For a major development, additional speakers may be allowed but this would be at the discretion of the Chairman of the Committee in discussion with the Head of Development Management.
Representatives of statutory bodies and organisations who have been formally consulted on the application may not speak at meetings.
Material planning considerations
You can speak about material planning considerations pertinent to any planning application submitted to Cheshire West and Chester Council that you have made a written representation on, and which is on the agenda for determination at the Planning Committee.
In addressing the Committee you are requested to restrict your comments to issues which are material planning considerations and relevant facts. Some examples of material planning considerations may include:
- the environmental impact of the development
- the impact of the development on the highway network
- any policy in the Council’s Local Development Framework, or the relevant Local Plan for your area.
- central and regional Government planning policy guidance, circulars, orders and statutory instruments
Issues that may be taken into account by the Committee
- planning laws and previous decisions
- noise, disturbance, smells
- residential amenity
- design, appearance and layout
- impact on trees, listed buildings and conservation areas
- public open space
Issues that will not be taken into account by the Committee
- boundary disputes
- private rights of way, private covenants or agreements
- the applicant’s conduct, private affairs or how a business is run
- the applicant’s motives (including profit)
- the impact on property values
- suspected further development
- loss of views over other people’s land
- land ownership
The laws of slander are very strict. If you say something defamatory in public about a person which is not true, even if you believe it to be true, you may be at risk of legal action. You are strongly advised to avoid such comments when speaking at Committee.
Your comments must be confined to material planning considerations only, and be specific to the relevant planning application that you have made written representation on.
The circulation of plans, photographs, or other material at the Committee meeting will not be permitted. Any such documentation should be submitted to the Head of Development Management marked for the attention of the relevant case officer Planning Officer as part of the existing consultation arrangements.
All speakers either in support or against the application or speaking on behalf of the applicant will be allowed a maximum of three minutes to address the Committee.
Non Council participants addressing the Committee will be advised when they have 60 seconds of their allotted three minutes remaining and will be expected to cease talking immediately on being advised that their three minutes is up.
Order of discussion
The discussion on applications will be in the following order:
- the Chairman of the Committee will announce the application
- the Development Control Manager or their representative may present the item and will add any further information relevant to the application and report
Members of the public can then speak in the following order:
- parish or town councils
- the applicant/agent to address the Committee
The Chairman will invite the local Councillor to address the Committee. In the event of any dispute over these procedures or the Committee’s protocol the Chairman’s decision is final.
Any speakers who are not Members of the Committee will not be entitled to ask questions of officers, the Committee or each other and must take no further part in the procedure once they have finished their address to the Committee.
If two people are registered to speak
The protocol only allows one person from each category to speak on any application. If two or people register a request to speak, they will be contacted and asked to agree a spokesperson to represent their views.
No items will be deferred to the next Committee meeting if you are, for whatever reason unable to attend. Please make sure that you are able to be present at the Committee meeting at the time the relevant item is to be considered.
However, if a proposal is deferred after public speaking has occurred on that item, you will be given the opportunity to speak again at a subsequent Committee and if the application has been deferred before you have chance to speak, you will be given the opportunity to return to the next Committee meeting. In that event, the list of registered speakers would be carried forward to the next meeting.