MAIDSTONE BOROUGH COUNCIL
†6 DECEMBER 2017
REPORT OF THE DEMOCRACY COMMITTEE 15 NOVEMBER 2017
PLANNING REFERRAL PROCESS REVIEW
Issue for Decision
On 15 November 2017 the Democracy Committee considered the report of the Working Group that had been reviewing the Planning Referral Process. The working group had considered the options of replacing the Planning Referrals Committee with a variety of other bodies. The Working Group recommended that the Planning Referrals Committee be abolished, and that a Planning Referrals process be maintained with applications referred to the Policy and Resources Committee.
At the meeting itself, the Committee made an amendment to the recommendation and decided that applications should be referred to Council instead of Policy and Resources Committee.
Reasons for Recommendation
The reasons behind abolishing the Planning Referrals Committee and replacing it with another, pre-existing committee, are fully outlined in the report attached as Appendix 1.
The Committee debated the various options, and instead of agreeing with the working groupís recommendation for the Policy and Resources Committee to be the Planning Referrals body, it recommended that Council should fulfil this function. The reasons given for this were that it was more democratic. Whilst it would be easier to manage the training requirements for Policy and Resources Committee, the Committee felt that a logistical consideration should not preclude a more democratic way of taking a decision. An extract from the minutes explaining the reason for making the decision can be found below:
ĎThe Committee debated the recommendation of the working group and considered that although the working group had recommended that Policy and Resources Committee replace the Planning Referrals Committee, taking a controversial application to Full Council would be more democratic. It was noted that the main reason that the working group had recommended Policy and Resources Committee was logistical, due to the need for training all Councillors in planning matters before the Council meets to discharge this function. The Committee was of the view that a logistical consideration should not preclude a more democratic way of determining a controversial planning application.í
Alternatives Considered and Why Not Recommended
The Council could choose to retain the Planning Referrals Committee in its current form. However when it last met, members expressed their dissatisfaction with the process and the effect it had on the three councillors on the Committee.
Benefits and drawbacks of the other proposals suggested to replace the Planning Referrals Committee are contained in Appendix 1 to this report.
Appendix 1: Planning Referral Process Review Report to Democracy Committee 15 November 2017