PLANNING AND THE PARISH COUNCIL
The Local Plan – have your say on the future of the borough
The Local Plan – have your say on the future of the borough We are currently consulting on a potential development strategy for the borough, and you have until 5pm on Friday the 25th November 2016 to provide us with your comments. Here’s how: Online: www.tmbc.gov.uk/localplanconsult E-mail: email@example.com In writing: Planning Policy Team Tonbridge and Malling
Strategic Land Availability Assessment (SLAA)
The purpose of this document is to offer some guidance to residents on how the planning system works. It neither seeks nor claims to be comprehensive, but further information can always be obtained from the parish office or from Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council.
How is the parish council involved in planning?
Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council is the Local Planning Authority (the LPA). They consult the parish council on all planning and tree-work applications from within the parish.
What are the key components of planning?
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and supporting legislation guides local planning authorities in all planning matters.
Some of the principles that have the most impact on planning decisions are:
- The NPPF presumes in favour of development (providing it is ‘sustainable’, of which the key dimensions are economic, social and environmental).
- Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council (TMBC), as the local planning authority (LPA), decides local planning applications. Once made these have the backing of the law.
- Applicants have a right of appeal against a refusal to allow planning permission; objectors do not have a right of appeal.
- Traffic and highway issues are decided by KCC. TMBC cannot challenge its decisions.
Reasons that the LPA can use to refuse an application.
The reasons are strictly controlled. The LPA will not consider an objection as valid just because the objector does not like a development. It can only take into account ‘material considerations, of which the following are the most common:
- Design being out of keeping with the street scene, because of e.g. bulk and/or height or unsympathetic materials.
- Highway issues. KCC decides this issue.
- Impact on neighbours: such as water run-off, loss of privacy or seriously blocking light (mathematical calculations are used for the latter). But loss of a view is not considered to be a ‘material consideration’.
- Impact on conservation areas.
- Pollution. Noise/air/light/general.
- Likelihood of flooding.
- In the case of trees subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO), the Conservation Officer advises that the TPO should not be varied.
If permission to develop is granted, the LPA may attach conditions to it. Generally these deal with time for completion, landscaping and materials to be used. An objector can put forward suggestions for conditions to be considered if the LPA is minded to grant the application, for instance additional landscaping to screen the development. The request for conditions must be made at the same time as the objection is lodged. Conditions cannot be added retrospectively.
What is the role of the parish council’s Planning Committee?
The Environment Committee is responsible for considering and making comments on applications received from the LPA. These it then submits to the TMBC planning officers for consideration. Due to the limited number of reasons that can be used to object to a planning application, the Planning Committee will often list ‘non-material’ concerns to ensure that the Planning Officer is aware of local issues. However, just because the parish council objects to an application does not mean that it will be refused. TMBC’s planning officers or Planning Committee may not agree with the parish council’s arguments.
On receipt of an application for consideration from TMBC, the Planning Committee has 14 or 21 days to respond. To meet such these strict deadlines, the committee meets twice a month. Meeting dates are available on our website and from the parish office. Committee members try to visit application sites, but sometimes this is not possible.
Letters supporting or objecting to an application should be sent direct to the TMBC Planning Department. It is helpful if photographs are included with letters of objection. Residents may, if they wish, copy their letters (and photos) to the parish office, to arrive before the Planning Committee meeting at which the application will be considered. It is helpful if photographs are included with letters of objection.
The parish council takes its responsibilities very seriously and will not just object to an application because a resident or residents want it to. There must be material planning objections and, where applicable, the interests of the local community as a whole will be given due weight. The parish council will attempt to discuss the issue with the planning officer and support residents with reasonable requests for conditions but residents should be aware that their hopes and expectations may not be met, however valid they may think their case.
Can I address the Planning Committee?
Yes, all our meetings have an open session to allow the public to address members, see our leaflet “How to ask a question at Council and Committee meetings”. Generally people wish to address members, either to object to a planning application or to support one (often their own). Members will consider both arguments.
Can I see planning applications?
Planning applications are public documents and can be seen at the Planning Office, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council, Kings Hill, West Malling, at the parish office or on the TMBC website. If you wish to see the plans at the parish office please contact first to check availability.
How else can the parish council help?
The parish council office has copies of TMBC planning strategy documents and other information. Office staff can also talk you through the systems and procedures for objecting to a planning application, but cannot advise whether it is likely to be successful.
Both the office and the Planning Committee welcome residents talking to them prior to submitting a planning application. However, committee members are all volunteers and whilst they have a wealth of life experience and have often undertaken some training they are not qualified to give advice on planning issues. This should be sought from Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council which has a pre-application service. Details and cost are on the TBC website.
Freedom of Information.
All councils are covered by this legislation and so any application, written correspondence, notes of conversations etc. are open to public scrutiny (subject to compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998). For more information please see the parish council website or contact the Parish Clerk.
Informal summary of the TMBC planning system
1) A TMBC Planning Officer makes decision on the planning application using planning law and policy guidance. He/she will be aware of any representations received from the parish council and/or local residents and other interested parties but is not obliged to take notice of them.
- If he/she decides to allow the application then, in normal circumstances, they have the devolved power to do so.
- If the Planning Officer agrees with the objections of the Parish Council and/or local residents then the application is refused.
- If the planning officer is minded to allow the planning application but the parish council has objected, or if a Borough Councillor ‘calls in’ the application, then this devolved power (the right to approve or refuse an application) is removed and the application is referred to the TMBC Planning Committee.
2) The TMBC Planning Committee meets every third Wednesday and will normally decide all applications before it on the night. The agenda is released the previous week and is available on the TMBC website. Included with the agenda are the planning officers’ reports and recommendations on each of the applications to be decided. The applicant and objectors also receive notification that the application is on the agenda. Members of the public can attend the meeting but may not speak (except as in 4 below).
3) If the Planning Officer is minded to approve an application then an objector should consider whether there are any reasonable conditions that might be put in place by TMBC that could resolve/mitigate some of their objections/concerns. This must be done before the formal decision of the Planning Officer or Tonbridge and Malling’s Planning Committee. It is strongly advised not to wait until the meeting to raise these but to tell the Planning Officer/Committee members, in writing, as soon as possible. Once a decision has been taken by the officer/committee it cannot have additional conditions attached or otherwise be amended.
4) The applicant, a single objector, a Parish Councillor and a Borough Councillor can ‘book in’ to speak at the meeting. Each speaker is allowed 3 minutes only; this is strictly enforced by the Chairman. A speaker is not allowed to speak again or make comments. Committee members may also be lobbied by sending them a letter or e-mail before the meeting. Details of the committee membership and their contact details are on the TMBC website. Whether speaking in person or commenting in writing, it is imperative that you relate your comments to the Planning Officer’s report in the agenda.
5) If TMBC refuses a planning application then the applicant (only) has a right of appeal to the independent Planning Inspectorate. The inspector can overturn TMBC’s decision and his/her ruling is final. Objectors have no right of appeal.
Further information on the planning laws can be found at http://www.communities.gov.uk/