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Councillors to discuss tweaks to Powys planning protocols

Powys County Council

TWEAKS are set to be made to rules which govern the “call in procedure” which see planning applications brought in front of councillors for a decision.

At a meeting of Powys County Council’s Planning, Taxi Licensing and Rights of Way committee on Thursday, June 6 councillors will receive a report suggesting changes to the planning protocol.

Planning application can be roughly divided into two categories: those that are decided by planning officers, and those decided by councillors at a meeting of the Planning committee.

The vast majority of planning applications are decided by planning officers using delegated powers.

One of the ways that an application can land in front of the Planning committee is if the local county councillor has exercised their right to “call in” the application.

This is usually due to the perception that the application is controversial in nature to residents and town or community council who ask the county councillor to exercise their right to “call in” the scheme.

Under the current rules councillors have a 21 day period from when the application goes live when they have the ability of contacting the professional planning lead in writing through email, fax, or letter of their wish to call in the application.

Under the changes recommended to be made in the updated protocol, a section which stops “call in” on “re-submitted ” planning applications where no changes have been made and it was refused, will be deleted.

A section will be added to the rules which concerns historic call in requests made by councillors who are now longer members of the council.

This could be due to retirement or losing an election.

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Since the last local election in May 2022, several applications have ended up in front of committee because of call in by the previous councillor – which has caused concern for the new councillor who may disagree or did not know of their predecessors decision.

The new section says: “Where a councillor requests determination by the Planning committee and at an election is not re-elected, the new councillor for that ward shall be advised of the call-in and can either confirm or withdraw the call-in.”

Another suggested tweak clarifies that individuals speaking on an application should confine themselves to “verbally” referencing plans and documents that are included in the documents materials that are in front of the councillors.

Plans, photographs, and material that don’t form part of the planning application documents can’t be used.

Planning professional lead, Peter Morris will recommend that councillors agree all the changes.