The Planning system is always in a state of change so the Parish Council is often engaged in consultation or other work in progress related to emerging Local Plans, Planning Policy, Core Strategy documents and such like. Parish Councillors attend workshops and seminars run by the Local Authority and have been in discussion Wiltshire Council Forward Planning to help determine future policy development to take us up to 2036 by which time Wiltshire Council is expected to provide 44000 new homes. As a result, the Parish Council is currently seeking to carry out a Housing Needs Survey.
On a more regular basis the Parish Council is asked to respond to Planning Applications within the Parish boundaries and sometimes outside where Planning Officers feel there may be a direct impact on the Parish.
Not all development requires a formal Planning Consent but that which does is subject to a number of varied application types. The most common in our Parish is a Householder application which covers development within the curtilage of an existing dwelling. An application to build a new house would require a Full Planning Application.
When an application is registered by the Wiltshire Council the clock starts ticking. Under normal circumstances the Planning process runs eight weeks from the date when the application is validated. The first 21 days of the designated period is called the consultation period and during this time the Parish Council is asked to comment on the application. Parish Council meetings are public and are notified three days in advance on the Parish Notice Boards.
Members of the public are invited to attend and speak for or against planning applications. Your views are important. You can of course submit your own comments direct to the Planning Department within the same 21 day period.
The Parish Council submits a recommendation to Wiltshire Council which can support, object or no comment. The recommendation is just what it says. The Planning Officer has no obligation to consider the recommendation. It is not the role of the Parish Council to act as Planning Officers and it often looks at applications with a subjective eye and from a villagers point of view.
At the same time the Parish Council is notified of a planning application so is the Ward Councillor. Our Ward Councillor at this time is Councillor Christopher Devine and his role can be pivotal.
Planning Officers normally deal with Planning Applications using their delegated powers to determine the outcome. They can make the decision to approve or refuse but must do so in regard to established Planning Policy. Reasons for, or against, an application have to be justified and may be subject to scrutiny by an independent Planning Appeal Inspector.
The Parish Council can request the Ward Councillor to submit a written request to the Planning Department to “call-in” an application so that the Officers present the application to the Southern Area Planning Committee. It is then the role of the Ward Councillors in the Southern region to debate and vote on the outcome. These meetings are public. The Parish Council can speak at these meetings as can objectors and supporters.
There is a very useful reference for councillors titled a councillor’s workbook on planning.