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Planning and Development for Town or Parish Councils

Town and Parish councils have no planning powers. They are statutory consultees with the same rights as a member of the public. They may comment on planning applications whether within in the parish or not.

Do Town or Parish Councils have any planning powers?

Many Town or Parish council minutes state that a planning application has been approved or rejected. Town and parish councils are not planning authorities. They have no powers to approve or reject planning applications. They are merely statutory consultees.

As a statutory consultee they must be notified of all planning applications within the parish. This is so that they may comment on the application. They may as can any individual comment on planning applications outside of the parish.

A Parish council is responsible for the production of the neighbourhood plan. This is NOT the same as a parish plan or village design statement.

Can a parish council reject a planning application?

No - parish councils have no special planning powers. They are statutory consultees with the same rights as a member of the public. They have no powers to approve or reject a planning application.

This is very poor practice and whilst it may make the parish councillors feel good it may result is unnecessary distress to residents,

Sadly the minutes are incorrect, they should say words to the effect of either No Comments or Comments.

Do parish councils grant planning permission?

Town and parish councils are not Planning Authorities. Town and parish councils are only 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. They can only comment on planning applications in the same way that individuals can comment.

Consequently the length of time taken to determine a planning application is governed by the local planning authority not the parish council. A parish council can request that it be given extra time to comment on an application. The decision whether this is granted rests solely with the planning authority and it's own deadlines for decision making.

What happens if a planning application is received after the notice has been posted?

Schedule the item for the next Planning Committee meeting. The response time for planning is 21 days and councils' with a high frequency of planning applications should be scheduling planning committee meetings every two weeks.

This is becoming the norm in areas with significant development. In the event that no applications arrive the meeting can be cancelled.

The Chairman should call an extra-ordinary meeting of the parish council with this item on the agenda.

How do parish councils comment on planning applications?

Parish councils can only agree to comment on planning applications in properly called council or committee meetings which the public can attend. The comments agreed 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 are statutory consultees and have no powers to approve or reject planning applications, they can only comment or not on applications.

Can parish councils decide on planning applications by email?

Town and Parish council decision making is defined in law. Council decisions can only be made in properly constituted council, committee or sub committee meetings. This means that notice of the meeting must be correctly given and that the press and public can attend.

The practice of writing comments on the planning application itself, discussing by phone or email and the parish clerk then submitting the comments to the planning authority invalidates any comments the council may wish to make.

The planning application must be formally discussed by the parish council or a valid committee of the council. The planning application for comment must be on the agenda which has been correctly sent to parish councillors as part of the business to be transacted at a council meeting.

The parish council minutes should record whether the council has any comments and if so record them together with any recommendations to the planning authority.

Failing to follow the correct legal procedures denies residents the chance to comment. Letters submitted to planning authorities are public documents. Residents can check that any such documents and comments submitted are in accordance with the minutes of the parish council. Where they are not approved in the councils minutes a resident should draw this matter to the planning authorities attention.

Do planning officers listen to parish councils?

A: It depends upon where you live and how your Town or Parish council responds to planning applications from the local planning authority. Parish councils have no special planning powers even under the Localism Act 2012. Despite what some councils minutes suggest they have no greater powers than any resident in a community.

A parish council is a statutory planning consultee i.e. they must be notified of planning applications and the outcome of any applications.

Parish councils cannot accept or reject planning applications. The issue is that planning officers must follow the law. Parish councils frequently object to applications on completely invalid and erroneous grounds

Click here to view valid objections to a planning application...

Should a parish council respond to local plans?

Yes, if they do not who will respond on behalf of your community? Individuals can and should respond to these major planning documents as part of the consultation process.

A parish council should respond taking a broader view of any potential impact on the whole community. Where there are significant potential impacts a good parish council will arrange a consultation with their community. As a minimum the parish council should advise the community of the local plan, it's potential impact and seek responses from residents whom they represent.

A poor parish council will ignore the whole process yet continue to complain that they are ignored by the local planning authority.

Does the Localism Act gives parish councils more planning power?

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For more information about neighbourhood plans Click Here...

A CPALC 60 Second Guide (16) to Neighbourhood Planning