A MAN has claimed there is a lack of transparency in the planning process in Swansea because comments by consultees as well as the public are no longer shown on the council’s website before decisions are made on applications.
He said he accepted there could be case for not publishing public comments but he objected to the likes of highways, ecology and conservation officer comments being withheld.
Both types of comments used to be published on the planning website before the authority reached a decision on an application. Most decisions are made by planning officers under delegated powers – and in these cases both types of comments are now only published as part of an officer’s decision report, but not beforehand.
Referring to the change, the concerned resident, who asked not to be named, said: “I don’t honestly see any justification that the council can’t provide consultee comments so we can see their points of view on an application.”
He felt the previous system was more accountable, and said that neighbouring Carmarthenshire Council still published comments on its planning website before decisions were made.
A much smaller proportion of applications are determined by Swansea Council’s planning committee, which is made up of councillors, and in these cases the planning report, which is published a few days before the meeting, does include public and consultee comments.
A council spokesman said people could get in touch to request to see public and consultee comments before decisions were made, and that it encouraged the public to take part on the planning process.
“But in line with some other local authorities in Wales and to protect people’s privacy, the council no longer publishes planning application comments on our online planning portal,” said a council spokesman. “All the information the council is legally required to include on our planning portal is included.
“As well as the planning applications themselves, this includes submitted plans, documents supporting the applications, decision notices and any associated legal agreements.”