The role of West Wratting Parish Council in planning applications
The Parish Council considers planning matters at each of its meetings and welcomes your views on planning applications for the village. Your views help the Parish Council in its discussion of planning matters and to form its view in respect of any comments it may wish to make on an individual application.
Town and parish councils are statutory consultees in the planning process. This means that they only have the right to be informed of planning applications within the parish. They cannot approve or reject planning applications.
Most local planning authorities treat Parish Councils as a single individual (just as you or any other individual person) when it comes to assessing public interest in planning applications – irrespective of how many people they actually represent. This appears to be the case for SCDC [see ref 4].
Whilst the representations of the Parish Councils are important and appreciated they are not necessarily entitled to any more weight than any other representations (e.g., neighbors), and indeed will be given less weight than the observations of statutory consultees (e.g., Highways).
Parish Councils (unlike individual councilors) can only agree to comment on planning applications in properly called council or committee meetings that the public can attend.
- The comments agreed upon in the council meeting are submitted in writing by the parish clerk to the relevant planning authority.
- The process is exactly the same as that of an individual wishing to comment on a planning application.
Parish Councils can only comment on what are known as “material considerations”. These are listed below, together with matters which do not amount to ‘material planning considerations’ and so cannot be taken into account in considering a planning applications.
Valid reasons for comment on a Planning Application
When planning applications are considered, the following matters can all be relevant. These are sometimes referred to as ‘material planning considerations’ .
- Central government policy and guidance – Acts, Circulars, Planning Policy Guidance Notes (PPGs) etc.
- The Development Plan – and any review of the Development Plan which is underway.
- Adopted supplementary guidance – for example, village design statements, conservation area appraisals, car parking standards.
- Replies from statutory and non-statutory agencies (e.g. Environment Agency, Highways Authority).
- Representations from others – neighbours, amenity groups and other interested parties so long as they relate to land use matters.
- Effects on an area – this includes the character of an area, availability of infrastructure, density, over-development, layout, position, design and external appearance of buildings and landscaping .
- The need to safeguard valuable resources such as good farmland or mineral reserves.
- Highway safety issues – such as traffic generation, road capacity, means of access, visibility, car parking and effects on pedestrians and cyclists.
- Public services – such as drainage and water supply.
- Public proposals for using the same land.
- Effects on individual buildings – such as overlooking, loss of light, overshadowing, visual intrusion, noise, disturbance and smell.
- Effects on a specially designated area or building – such as green belt, conservation areas, listed buildings, ancient monuments and areas of special scientific interest.
- Effects on existing tree cover and hedgerows.
- Nature conservation interests – such as protection of badgers, great crested newts etc.
- Public rights of way.
- Flooding or pollution.
- Planning history of the site – including existing permissions and appeal decisions.
- A desire to retain or promote certain uses – such as playing fields, village shops and pubs.
- Need for the development – such as a petrol station.
- Prevention of crime and disorder.
- Presence of a hazardous substance directly associated with a development.
- Human Rights Act.
- Precedent – but only where it can be shown there would be a real danger that a proposal would inevitably lead to other inappropriate development (for example, isolated housing in the countryside)
Irrelevant reasons for objection
There are certain matters which do not amount to ‘material planning considerations’ under current legislation and guidance. These matters cannot be taken into account in considering a planning application and should not be included in objections as they weaken your case:
- Speculation over future use
- The identity of the applicant or occupant
- Unfair competition
- Boundary disputes
- Breach of covenants and personal property rights, including personal (not Public) rights of way
- Loss of a private view
- Devaluation of property
- Other financial matters
- Matters controlled by other legislation – such as internal space standards for dwellings or fire prevention
- Religious or moral issues – such as betting shops and amusement arcades
- The fact that the applicant does not own the land to which the application relates
- The fact that an objector is a tenant of land where the development is proposed
- The fact that the development has already been carried out and the applicant is seeking to regularise the situation. People can carry out development at their own risk before getting planning permission)
- The developer’s motives, record or reputation
What powers does West Wratting Parish Council have with respect to planning applications?
West Wratting Parish Council is consulted by the relevant Planning Authority (which is usually South Cambridge District Council) on all planning applications. Any views expressed by the Parish Council will be taken into account by the Planning Authority before a decision is made, providing the points made are relevant to the determination of a planning application (see above).
The final decision is made by the Planning Authority, not the Parish Council.
There are some useful online documents from other parish councils that have seriously considered their role and responsibility in planning matters.
-  Parish Councils & Planning Applications – from Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council
-  The Role of a Parish Council on Planning Matters, from Long Whatton and Diseworth Parish Council.
-  The Roles and Responsibilities of Willington Parish Council in relation to Planning Matters.
-  Q&A SCDC Parish Planning Forum – October 2015