What does it do
- A Guide to the Planning Committee and Public Speaking Procedures
When and Where….
The Planning Committee usually meets at the Guildhall, Winchester, every fourth Thursday. Please contact the Public Speaking Co-ordinator or consult our website for the full calendar of meetings.
Who the Committee is…
The membership of the Committee is drawn from elected City Councillors and its membership is set out on the Council’s website.
What the Committee does…
The Council’s Constitution states that the vast majority of applications will be determined by planning officers at a senior level (which are sometimes known as “delegated decisions”). However, if certain criteria are met from the Constitution, some applications (about 5%) are referred to PDC for determination, rather than officers.
As part of the Winchester District includes the South Downs National Park, the Planning Committe can also determine applications from this area on behalf of the National Park Authority.
How will I know if an application is going to Committee?
The Council will write to inform applicants/agents and people who made representations on an application, parish councils and ward members that the case is going to be determined by committee. These letters are sent out about 10 days before the committee meeting.
How to register to speak
If you would like to speak at the Committee, you must register with the Public Speaking Co-ordinator by 4pm, one clear working day before the Committee. As most meetings are held on Thursdays, the deadline is usually 4pm on the Tuesday before. Further details about speaking and the use of visual material in support of your deputation are included below.
You can contact the Public Speaking Co-ordinator on 01962 848 339 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lobbying Members before the meeting
Using the contact details from our website, you may circulate written information, including pictures or drawings, by post or email directly to the Councillors on the Committee, no later than one clear working day before the meeting. This will be at your own arrangement and expense. A copy should be sent to the Council’s planning case officer and please make sure that, in the in the case of email, the electronic file size of any attachments is less than 10mb. If you are unsure as to whom the case officer is, please contact the Public Speaking Coordinator.
The Committee is a quasi-judicial body and abides by the various codes, policies and protocols set out in the Council’s Constitution. This includes guidance on pre-determination, which means that Councillors on the Committee must approach each application with an open mind and consider all the material facts before voting. Therefore, Members of the Committee should not make firm commitments to supporters or objectors before the meeting on how they will vote.
The Officer’s Report
Officer reports for each item to be considered by the Planning Committee are included on the agenda. This includes an assessment of the planning merits of every application, including a summary of responses received from consultees, objectors and supporters, along with the officer’s recommendation. The report will be available five clear working days before the meeting on the Council’s website. Paper copies are available to read at the Council Offices in Colebrook Street, Winchester.
Any late information that comes in after the publication of the agenda, but before the meeting, will be set out in the “Update Sheet” which will be available on the Council’s website at the close of business the day before the meeting and will be available at the meeting itself. The officer presenting a case may also provide verbal up-dates at the meeting.
Timing of Applications – morning or afternoon
The Committee considers many applications and assesses each one thoroughly. In order to minimise the time spent by interested parties waiting for their application to be heard, where there are a sufficient number of applications, agendas will normally be split into morning and afternoon sessions.
The morning session will usually start at 9.30am and the agenda will set out those items which the Committee will not consider before 2.00pm in the afternoon. You can find out more about when your item will be considered from our website the Public Speaker Co-ordinator.
At the meeting
At the start of the Committee meeting, the Chairman will introduce the Councillors and officers at the table. If any Councillor has made a declaration of interest, it will also be announced at this point. If the interest is considered by the Councillor to be significant, he/she will leave the meeting when it reaches that item on the agenda and make a statement before departing.
The officer’s presentation
On each item, the planning officer will introduce the application to the Committee. They will concentrate on showing details of the proposals with the aid of projected visual material, including photographs of the site and plans. The length and detail of the presentation at the meeting will be proportionate to the nature and scale of the proposal. The officer will make a recommendation to the Committee to either approve or refuse the application and, in the latter case, will state the reasons for this.
The officer is required to make a recommendation and the presentation will include material to explain why the scheme is being recommended for permission or refusal. However officers will not restate the information set out in the report which relates to the assessment of the planning merits of the case. Specialist officers dealing with issues such as design, historic environment and highways may also be available at Committee to provide advice on such matters and a legal representative will attend all Planning Committee meetings.
After the presentation, there will be an opportunity for the Councillors on the Committee to ask questions of the officers, usually structured around the headings set out in the report.
Following the Councillors’ questions, there will be a period of public participation to enable the Committee to hear from (in the following order):
• Objectors (3 minutes in total for all objectors),
• Parish Council representatives (3 minutes),
• Ward Members (local District Councillors)/Portfolio Holders (5 minutes each),
• and the supporters/applicant/their agent of the application (3 minutes in total for all those in support).
How long can I speak for?
As set out above, a three minute period is allowed for public speaking for each party in total. The only exceptions are Ward Members and relevant Portfolio Holders, who can each speak for a five minute period each.
Where more than one speaker wishes to speak on the same issue (e.g. to object or support), speakers will be assisted by the Public Speaking Co-ordinator to organise themselves in advance, so that preferably only one person addresses the Committee on their behalf. You may therefore wish to appoint a spokesperson to represent a group of people with the same views. If this cannot be achieved, the speakers will have to share their three minutes amongst themselves.
After each speaker’s category, there will be an opportunity for the Committee to ask questions of the speakers, if the Committee considers it necessary to clarify any matters of fact that arise.
General Advice on Speaking
Your speech at the Committee will be timed, to ensure fairness between all the parties that wish to make a deputation. Therefore, before the meeting, you should practise your speech to ensure that you can convey all the main issues within the time limit. As the public participation period is held after the officer’s presentation and Councillors’ questions, you might also want to ensure that you have provided sufficient time in your deputation to pick up on any new issues which might have arisen during this part of the Committee’s consideration of the application.
Aside from the public participation session (and any questions the Councillors might want to ask the speakers) the Chairman will not usually accept any further contributions from the public gallery.
Issues you could raise during your speech:
Speakers can refer to any matter they consider relevant to an application and are advised to ensure that the speech focuses on the main material planning considerations, which in summary may include:
• Local Planning Policies
• National Planning Policy Framework and other government guidance
• Case Law and previous decisions
• The effect on the enjoyment of neighbouring properties
• Design, appearance, layout and visual impact
• Conservation matters, in terms of the historic environment, trees and wildlife (ecology)
• Highway safety and traffic issues
• Flooding and drainage
This is not meant to be a definitive or exhaustive list of relevant issues, but is merely guidance to illustrate what types of matters can be considered when the application is determined. The relevant considerations will vary from one case to another.
The following issues are not generally relevant in reaching planning decisions and speakers may therefore wish to avoid reference to these:
• Matters covered by other laws, eg alcohol licences
• Private property rights (eg boundaries or access disputes)
• The developer’s motives
• Possible future development
• Loss of view over other people’s land
• The effect on the value of a property.
Presentation of plans, photographs and diagrams
People who have registered to speak may also wish to illustrate their presentation with visual aids (for example plans, photographs or diagrams). These will need to be received by the Planning Department by 4pm one clear working day prior to the Committee (usually the Tuesday before a Thursday meeting). The visual aids will need to be verified by Planning Management as being accurate and relevant. These should be provided in paper format at the City Offices or emailed to email@example.com by the deadline mentioned above.
The provision of written handouts/photographs etc to Councillors by the public/applicant/other parties will not be allowed at the meeting.
Do I have to attend?
No – written objections are placed on file and the number of responses and main points of the comments will be summarised in the officer’s written report.
If you can’t be at the meeting, you might be interested to know that we update our website during the meeting, as the Committee determines each item. Therefore you can find out instantly what the Committee’s decision was and what item the Committee are currently considering.
Can someone else speak on my behalf?
Yes – you can ask a friend, relative or professional adviser to speak for you.
Situations when I cannot speak:
It will not be possible to speak on the following:
• Items marked on the agenda as deferred (as these applications are in the process of negotiation between the Planning Officers and the applicant)
• Items marked on the agenda for referral to a Sub-Committee
• Items that have been referred to a Viewing Sub-Committee. Viewing Sub-Committees are formed when the main Planning Committee agrees that it is not possible to determine the application without first visiting the site. If the decision to hold a Viewing Sub-Committee is held after public participation, there is no duplication of public participation at the Viewing Sub-Committee.
The Councillors’ Debate
After public participation, the Councillors will debate the application and may pick up any issues raised during public participation before a vote is taken to either;
• refuse or
• defer (usually for a Viewing Sub-Committee or further information).
If the Committee votes against the officer’s recommendation, the reasons for this will be discussed and explained. A summary of the Committee’s reasons will be included in the minutes.
Every Member has one vote when a matter before the meeting requires a decision. In the event of an equality of votes, the Chairman may exercise a casting vote and that vote may be cast in any way he wishes.
A Member may abstain from voting, or vote differently from how they may have indicated during the debate, without further explanation. The way each Member voted will not be recorded in the minutes, unless a motion to have a Recorded Vote has been passed.
After the meeting
After the meeting, the minutes will be available on the Council’s website and a decision notice will be sent to the applicant/agent. Applicants have a right of appeal against a Committee decision to refuse planning permission, or conditions imposed on permission, and any appeal will be considered by an Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State. Where an application has been permitted, there is no opportunity for objectors to appeal, other than to the Court by way of judicial review on a point of law.
Further information about planning matters
A public access area is available on the Council’s website that allows you to view details of planning applications being considered by the Council. You can also come to the Council’s offices in Colebrook Street, Winchester to view plans by arrangement with the case officer.
In addition, many parish councils have sub-committees which meet publicly to view planning applications and decide on whether to object or support an application. Information about this is available from the relevant Parish Clerk.
Disabled access to the meeting room is available. Please contact the Public Speaking Co-ordinator in advance so that any necessary arrangements can be made.
Useful Contacts and Links:
The Public Speaking Co-ordinator – 01962 848 339 email firstname.lastname@example.org
Democratic Services (for clarification of any of the above) – 01962 848 438 email email@example.com
Current Committee Members
Councillor Laurence Ruffell
Councillor Michael Read
Councillor Therese Evans BA, MCIL
Councillor Richard Izard
Councillor Ernest Jeffs
Councillor Brian Laming
Councillor David McLean
Councillor Jamie Scott
Councillor Ian Tait
Councillor Eleanor Bell
Councillor Eileen Berry
Councillor Angela Clear
Councillor Susan Cook
Councillor Frank Pearson
Position: Senior Democratic Services Officer
Telephone: 01962 848 438
Position: Principal Democratic Services Officer
Telephone: 01962 848221
|Title||Description||Where on this site?|
|Parish Councils||A full list of Parish Councils and their contact details, in the Winchester District.|
|winchester.gov.uk||For live updates on the Committee's decisions:|
|winchester.gov.uk||The Planning Public Access Areas to view application documents:|
|southdowns.gov.uk||South Downs National Park Authority|
|winchester.gov.uk||The Council's Constitution (Part 3, Section 6, C. Head of Planning Management, page 46 refers)|