The Planning Committee is responsible for making decisions on the bigger and more sensitive planning applications received by the council. It meets every month and is made up of councillors from all parts of the borough and the different political parties. During each meeting, the councillors must consider all the planning issues raised and then decide whether to approve or refuse planning applications.
The current Chair is Councillor Peter Dean (Waterhead)
Other councillors may substitute for, or replace the usual members if they cannot attend a meeting
All questions and queries about the planning committee should be addressed to:
Planning Administration Team
firstname.lastname@example.org 0161 770 4105
Who attends the meetings?
The Chair of the committee is responsible for controlling the meeting, or the Vice-Chair in their absence. The committee is made up of elected councillors from across the borough. All councillors are welcome to attend the meetings and can arrange to speak for or against planning applications.
It is the role of the Head of Planning and the council’s legal team to advise members on their decision making and any potential consequences and costs. This advice is impartial.
Planning officers attend the meeting to present their reports to the committee and answer any questions raised; this usually includes Planning Case Officers, Highway Officers, Legal Officers, and Constitutional Services who administer the meeting. Other officers may also be in attendance depending on the nature of the planning applications being heard.
Case Officers will be asked to present the planning application and their recommendation based on local, regional and national planning legislation, after which they may be required to answer questions from the committee.
Members of the public
All committee meetings are open to the public and are also streamed on our website. Members of the public (or their agents) can arrange to speak for or against planning applications by contacting the Committee Clerk. If members of the public are accepted to speak, they are given three minutes to make their statements, after which they may be required to answer questions from the committee. Other than those who register to speak, any other members of the public are there to observe and are not permitted to speak as part of the proceedings while the meeting takes place.
The only exception to this is when there is a ‘Part B – Exempt Information’ application being heard. When this appears on the agenda, the public and the media are asked to leave the meeting so that legal, financial or personal information about individuals remain confidential.
What happens at a meeting?
On arrival, a copy of the agenda and planning officers’ reports are available for anyone who has not had chance to view the documents in advance.
The agenda and reports are also published on our website five working days before the Planning Committee meeting date.
Key parts of the meeting include:
- Welcome from the Chair
- Members’ apologies for absence.
- Approval of the minutes of the last meeting (record of what was agreed).
- Any matters arising from the minutes.
- Declarations of Interest
- Public questions – Members of the public can submit questions to the Planning Committee for consideration and response.
- Main business – hearing the planning application presentations, including questions by the Committee
- Appeals and other reports.
Main business of the meeting
- Officers introduce / present each planning application report.
- Committee Members may then ask questions of the officers.
- Speakers are then asked to make their statements for or against. (All speakers need to have booked a slot in advance with the Council’s Committee Clerk). Speakers will be able to talk for a maximum of three minutes.
- Committee members may then ask questions which require a response from the speaker.
- Councillors are then invited to speak in support or against the planning application, however they have no limitation on the amount of time they can speak, and again they may then need to answer questions from the committee.
- Committee members will then be asked to discuss the report. Following which, members will be asked to ‘propose a motion’ in relation to the planning application and its potential decision.
- For the motion to be accepted for debate it must be supported (‘seconded’) by another member of the committee.
- The debate will then progress – giving time for members to discuss the report and express their views. Planning officers will also be asked further questions and be asked to give further information and policy advice as necessary.
- Committee members will then have to decide on whether to vote in favour or against the motion.
There are three key decisions they can make:
- Recommendation of approval – a motion to approve the application. Members can also add or amend conditions to this approval.
- Recommendation of refusal – a motion to refuse the application. Members can add new reasons for refusal and / or amend the reasons stated in the report.
- Defer making a decision – if members need further information or need to visit the site again, they can agree to not make a decision, until the next committee meeting.
How members reach a decision
The officer’s recommendation in the report is based on national and government planning laws, not ones set by the council.
The officers will have reached this decision after considering a range of information and issues such as use of the land, transport infrastructure, design of the building etc.
The committee members’ role is to consider all the planning issues and merits of each application put forward in the report and then make a decision. The members cannot consider any other issues other than planning issues.
- Members decide by voting – for a committee decision to be agreed, the majority of members need to be in agreement. Votes are cast by a show of hands. If members are divided, then the Chair of the meeting has the right to use a ‘second’ or ‘casting’ vote to finalise the decision.
- If a motion is not agreed further motions can then be proposed and discussed until a clear decision is reached.
Other important points
All members are expected to have visited the site and to be familiar with the planning application ahead of each meeting. Where possible, site visits are co-ordinated to allow all members to visit the site together, so they all see the relevant points set out in the planning application in situ.
If a member has a personal interest in any planning application, then they must declare their interest at the meeting. If they feel that the interest would affect their judgement, then they must leave the meeting until the item has been dealt with. This is called a prejudicial interest. Once that agenda item is decided the member who declared a personal interest can continue to participate in the meeting.
All members operate within the statutory Members Code of Conduct.
The code can be found on the Standards Board for England website www.standardsboard.co.uk
More information on national planning and building guidelines