To consider the attached report to review current arrangements for public speaking at District Development Management Committee.
A planning application for land to the north of Dowding Way in Waltham Abbey was to have been determined at the District Development Management Committee (DDMC) meeting of 22 January 2020, but was deferred to a future meeting of the Committee. The application had generated much local opposition and numerous representations had been made by the public to the District Council. A District Councillor had also wanted to be allowed to register to speak and address the Committee for three minutes on this application.
Currently the relevant provisions of the Constitution in this regard were:
· Article 10, District Development Management Committee and Area Plans Sub-Committees, Appendix 1 (1) that allows for the following speakers to register:
(a) one objector;
(b) one representative of any relevant Parish or Town Council for the purpose of explaining the views of that Council on the matter in question;
(c) one representative of any other authority consulted on the application or as a statutory consultee where they have so requested;
(d) the applicant (or one nominated agent or representative); and
· Council Procedure Rules (Rule P2) (Planning Applications)
(a) Any planning application submitted to a meeting of the Council shall be subject to the procedure for public participation by applicants, objectors and town/parish councils in the same way as those applied to the District Development Management Committee and/or an Area Plans Sub-Committee; and
(b) That, pursuant to the scheme of delegation on planning applications set out in Part 3 of this constitution, where a local council have indicated, during the course of planning consultations, of their intention to attend and speak at the Area Plans Sub-Committee meeting where the proposal will be considered and then subsequently fail to register and attend, the application be referred (without any consideration of the merits of the development proposal) to the Service Director (Planning Services) for determination.
Currently the only provision for additional speakers was covered by Article 10, Appendix 1 (4) where ‘the Chairman of the Area Plans Sub-Committee or the District Development Management Committee or the Council may allow additional speakers in exceptional circumstances’.
The Democratic and Electoral Services Officer, G Woodhall, explained that he had spoken to the Chairman of DDMC who had agreed in advance to let this District Councillor speak at the meeting. However, the Chairman had not allowed other District Councillors or a County Councillor to individually register to speak, but had asked that they contact the District Councillor due to speak with their comments.
The Planning Services Director, N Richardson, said that this application could potentially be going to DDMC in May 2020.
Councillor D Dorrell said that when he had previously spoken at DDMC, he had just asked the Chairman beforehand and it had not been a problem.
Councillor S Jones commented that currently the ad hoc situation was at the discretion of the Chairman and seemed to work satisfactorily.
Councillor J Philip said that he had also previously spoken at DDMC as a councillor. He could not recall an occasion when the Chairman had refused to allow a member to speak, and it was not significantly different to other committees. He did not think this proposal was a good idea because for a lot of areas there could be several councillors interested in that area. It was unnecessary to amend the Constitution, and could potentially cause more problems. If a member registered to speak for three minutes at DDMC, what would his position be at full Council as he would not be able to take part in any debate, otherwise he would fetter his discretion.
Councillor J H Whitehouse could not see why this was an issue either.
That a report be made to Council, recommending:
(1) That existing arrangements for public speaking in respect of planning applications remained the same for District Development Management Committee.