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Public Speaking at Development Management

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council allows people to speak about planning applications at the Council's Development Management Committee meetings. Most applications at Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council are decided by officers, under delegated powers. However, some applications are looked at by the Development Management Committee (around 5-10% each year).

All planning applications, whether determined under delegated powers or by the Development Management Committee, are the subject of a written report. This includes the views of the applicant, objectors, supporters, Parish/Town Councils, other amenity societies and consultees, which have been received prior to the report being drafted. All written views on an application are considered before a decision is made.

Who decides what is delegated and what is a committee decision?

The council has a Constitution which sets out which applications should fall within delegated powers and which should be determined by the committee.

How do I find out if an application is going to be considered by the Development Management?

The online database of applications will show whether the application is going to Development Management Committee. Once the committee date is agreed, this can be seen on the database. 

Five days before the meeting the committee agenda will be published containing the planning officer's report and recommendation.

Can I see the Officer's report to the Development Management Committee before the meeting?

Yes.

The Agenda and the officer's report are available five working days before the day of the Development Management Committee meeting. They can be inspected in the Council Offices and can be viewed on this Website at least five days before the meeting and sometimes earlier.

Who can speak at Development Management Committee Meetings?

A person can address the committee as:-

  • The applicant or their agent
  • A member of the local Parish Council
  • An objector of the application
  • A supporter of the application

Only one person in each category may speak. If more than one objector notifies the Committee Section of their wish to speak, then the council will arrange to put them in touch with the other interested people so that they can agree between them who should speak on behalf of all the objectors or supporters.

Any councillor who is not a member of the committee may also address the committee.

How do I arrange to speak?

Please telephone the council's Committee Services section by 5pm the day before the meeting to register your wish to speak - telephone 01707 357349. If you register an intention to speak, your name and telephone number will be taken and entered on a list. If more than one person phones to register to speak about the same application, the Committee officers will provide contact details so that they can arrange who will speak at the meeting.

How long can I speak for

You will be allowed to speak for three minutes.

We strongly recommend that you prepare your speech in advance so that you are able to make all your points in the time available.

Where and when are the meetings held?

Development Management Committee meetings are held every four weeks on Thursday evenings.  The front page of the agenda for the meetings will confirm the location, but they are usually held in the Council Chamber in Welwyn Garden City.

What will I be able to speak about?

Before deciding whether or not you wish to speak to the Committee, we strongly advise you to read the officers' report on the application.  This is available at least five days before the meeting.  Background papers used to prepare the reports (including the application forma and plans) are public documents and can be inspected online. http://planning.welhat.gov.uk/.

Planning permission can be refused only if there are sound planning reasons for doing so.  Your views are important and assist the Council in focusing on those aspects of an application that are not satisfactory. Please make sure that your comments are confined to relevant planning decision, for example:

  • Local, regional and national planning policies and guidance
  • External design, layout and appearance
  • Impact on residential amenity including potential loss of light, overlooking, noise disturbance, smell or nuisance
  • Impact on highway safety or traffic

The Development Management Committee is not allowed to take account of matters which are irrelevant to planning such as:

  • Loss of property value
  • Boundary disputes
  • Loss of view over other land
  • Matters covered by other laws, for example - alcohol licences
  • The applicant's personality, character or motives

PLEASE NOTE: The Chairman will not allow any comments which are abusive, indecent, discriminatory, frivolous or otherwise unacceptable. Please be aware of the laws of slander. If you say something in public about a person which is not true, you may be sued and have to pay compensation. You need to be very careful about any criticism you make of other people.

What will happen at the meeting if I have asked to speak?

If you have arranged to speak, you will be met by one of the council officers who will explain where to sit and where you should go when you are called to speak.

Each application will be introduced and explained to the Committee by a planning officer.

The Chairman will then call on those intending to speak in the following order:

  1. The applicant or agent
  2. Parish Council member
  3. The objector
  4. A Welwyn Hatfield ward councillor who is not a member of the Development Management Committee

The Committee will then debate the proposal. Members of the Committee will be able to ask questions of the officers for further clarification of any points made in the debate.

Speakers will not be allowed to engage in discussion with members or officers.

Will a decision be made at the meeting?

Most applications are decided at their first hearing by the Committee. However, occasionally, some decisions may be deferred for a site visit by councillors or for more information to be obtained.

If the decision is deferred, you will be able to attend and ask to speak again when the matter is reconsidered. You must, however, phone the council's committee section by 5pm the day before the meeting to register that you wish to speak again.

Notes:

  • speakers will not be allowed to ask questions and Councillors will not be able to ask questions of the speaker
  • speakers will not be allowed to circulate any written information or photographs during the meeting. Any documents received by the council sufficiently in advance will be circulated to members of the Committee before the meeting
  • consideration of a planning application will not be delayed because a speaker is not able to attend the meeting or is not present when the item is introduced.

The Chairman may change the order in which items on the agenda are considered.

Who do I ask if I have any queries concerning this procedure?

If you have any queries concerning public speaking at Development Management meetings, please contact us.

 

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