This leaflet explains the procedures to be followed if you are interested in speaking at a meeting of the Development Committee. The arrangements explained here apply to applicants or their agent and to objectors or supporters of a proposed scheme. Separate arrangements are in place for Parish/Town Council representatives to address the Committee.
The right to address the Committee is in addition to representations received in writing, which will continue to be summarised by officers and reported to Members. The opportunity to speak to the Committee is to enable you to reinforce the comments you have previously made in a written representation.
Deciding whether to speak
Members of the public in whatever capacity are welcome to attend meetings of the Development Committee to listen to the determination of planning applications. There is no automatic right for the public to speak and ad hoc presentations to the Committee will not be accepted at the meeting. Speaking will only be allowed when the procedure outlined in this leaflet is followed.
Copies of the officers’ reports will be available at least five days in advance of the meeting. For each report, officers will make a recommendation to the Committee on how it is considered the application should be determined. When you see the recommendation, you may decide there is no need to address the Committee, though you do need to be aware that final decisions do not always follow the officers’ recommendations. It is also important to bear in mind that many applications are determined under delegated powers and are not reported to the Development Committee. Only major and more controversial applications are automatically reported to the Committee.
To speak at the Committee either against or in support of an application you must first have submitted a written representation in response to the application consultation procedure. Assuming you have made formal representations, you must then register your intention to speak with the Principal Democratic & Corporate Services Officer by 5.00 pm on the day prior to the meeting at the latest by emailing email@example.com and at the same time provide a short summary of the points you intend to make to the Committee. No exceptions will be made to allow registration after the deadline. When contacting the Principal Democratic & Corporate Services Officer, you must provide details of your interest in the application, for example, neighbour or agent acting for the applicant and indicate whether you wish to speak in support of, or in objection, to the application.
In deciding whether to speak, you must also bear in mind that you will not be able to ask questions of either the Members of the Committee, the applicant or other speakers. Equally, Councillors will not ask you or others questions about the application or seek any clarification of your views.
Finally, please also note that meetings of the Development Committee are audio recorded, and any addresses by members of the public will be included in such recordings. In addition, public speakers address the Committee from a fixed position in the Council Chamber. As such, it is possible that speakers may be filmed by other members of the public in attendance. If you have any concerns in relation to the recording of meetings it is important that you inform the Principal Democratic & Corporate Services Officer at the time of registration.
At the Committee
You must arrive at the Committee by 7.00 pm on the evening of the meeting, that is 30 minutes before the meeting is due to commence, and identify yourself to the Principal Democratic & Corporate Services Officer (please check the Council website for venue details). You will then be shown where to sit and the speaking arrangements confirmed.
You will be allowed up to five minutes to make your statement. One person will be allowed to speak for and one against the proposal, that is a maximum of two speakers in all.
You will be called to speak after the Planning Officer has been allowed an opportunity to update the Committee on additional letters of objection or support or other matters pertinent to the case. You should bear in mind that additional information about late consultations, for example, may be presented to the Committee in the form of a printed addendum to the report.
This will be available from the Principal Democratic & Corporate Services Officer immediately prior to the start of the meeting.
Do please bear in mind that the Committee will not answer questions about your statement. If present, the Parish/Town Council representative will first be called to make their statement. Once all statements have been made, it is likely that the Planning Officer will make some further comments prior to the Committee then determining the application. The Committee may proceed to debate the proposal before making a decision, though it may also be that a decision will be taken immediately.
If more than two people want to speak either for or against an application, it will be necessary to select someone to act as a spokesperson. In any event, this may be a sensible arrangement to follow where a petition has been submitted by a number of people. The applicant or their agent if they register will be counted as the speaker in support. When registering to speak against an application, the order of registration with the Principal Democratic & Corporate Services Officer will be the determining factor on whether you will be allowed to speak; effectively the arrangement is ‘first come-first served’. It is acceptable, following registration, for a different person to be nominated as spokesperson to speak to the Committee, but the change should be notified to the Principal Democratic & Corporate Services Officer by no later than 1.00 pm on the day of the meeting.
When you speak, please remember to say who you are, where you live, and whether you are representing a person, a firm or an organisation. You must address your comments directly to the Chairman of the Committee.
In making your statement it is important to bear in mind that there are strict guidelines set by Central Government within which planning authorities may decide applications. Therefore there are limits on the matters that the Committee can take into account in reaching a decision. These matters, usually called ‘material planning considerations’, are fully explained in a free leaflet published by the Council and available from the receptions in Rochford and Rayleigh and on the Council’s website.
Finally, it is worth bearing in mind that where a decision has been reached to refuse an application, this may not be the end of the matter since applicants have the right to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) for an independent assessment of the application.
If you require further information about the arrangements for public speaking at the Development Committee please call or email.
Phone: 01702 318141/01702 963311/01702 318074
Director of Place
Rochford District Council