Agenda item

Neighbour Notification and Town/Community Council Consultation in the Planning Process


The Group Manager Planning and Development Services presented a report advising Town and Community Council members of the statutory process of notifying neighbours and consulting with Town and Community Councils in the planning application process. 


The Group Manager Planning and Development Services explained that where a valid application for planning permission had been submitted, there was a statutory obligation for Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) to undertake publicity and consultation. LPAs had discretion over how they informed communities and other interested parties about planning applications, although there were minimum statutory requirements. He explained that at Bridgend County Borough Council, they went beyond the minimum statutory requirements for notifying neighbours. On simple applications for a house extension, whilst the Order stated that they should give requisite notice by site display in at least one place on or near the land to which the application related for not less than 21 days; or by serving the notice on any adjoining owner or occupier, they tended to do both and also tended to extend the notification to a wider range of neighbouring properties. They also went beyond the minimum 14 day deadline for receipt of representations from Town and Community Councils by allowing 21 days. If the Town or Community Council could not meet that deadline, they regularly agreed extensions of time.


The Group Manager Planning and Development Services reported that individual Community Councils and the Town and Community Council Forum had proposed that the LPA should send copies of neighbour objections to them for the Councils to ascertain the strength of local feeling. He explained that unfortunately, they were not able to forward any neighbour comments on to the Town and Community Councils (TC)/Community Councils (CC) as that would be a breach of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). Even if they had the neighbour’s consent to forward their representation on to the TC/CC, they did not have the time or resources to redact each submission of personal information before doing so. In addition, the consultation and notification processes were undertaken concurrently, and they could not delay the process due to the statutory targets for determination. He suggested that Town and Community Councils could approach and advise their residents that they could, if they wish, send a copy of their representation on any planning application to the Community Council at the same time as they respond to the LPA.


A member referred to the LPA extending notification to a wider range of neighbouring properties and asked if there was a definitive distance. The Group Manager Planning and Development Services replied that there was no set distance and it was discretionary. They were only compelled to consult with the adjoining landowners or neighbours but they tried to consult further depending on the type of application. They would also use site notices in a location close to the development. They would prefer to get it right the first time and allow everyone the opportunity to comment rather than have to restart the process at a later date.   


A member explained that he understood both why Town and Community Councils wanted to know what residents were saying and the issues with GDPR. He asked if it would be feasible for the LPA to advise the consultees  that Town and Community Councils were engaged in the process and that they could make their concerns known to the LPA and also to their Town and Community Councils as a statutory consultee. The Group Manager Planning and Development replied that they had to take care when providing information to residents and the wording of the consultation was indicated in statute. The Town and Community Council were not part of the decision making process and it was not a function of the LPA to advise residents to contact Town and Community Councils to hear their grievances or air their views. Any comments made by external bodies were taken on board and addressed when the officer wrote his report.


A member referred to the 3 week consultation period and asked if it could be extended in light of the fact that most Town and Community Councils met every 4 to 5 weeks. The Group Manager Planning and Development Services replied that 21 days was a reasonable period taking into account the LPA only had 8 weeks to determine the application and if they failed within that period, the decision would be taken out of their hands. He understood the issues and explained that if there was a genuine reason to extend then this would be considered. Larger schemes clearly took longer than 8 weeks to determine but this had to be agreed with the applicant.


RESOLVED                       The Town and Community Council Forum received and considered the report.


Supporting documents: