Sunday, 6 April 2014

District Council: to vote on restricting public speaking at planning meetings: Weds 9th April

There is a proposal to limit public speaking at District Council planning meetings:
Futures Forum: East Devon District Council proposes "to trial a change to the current public speaking arrangements and implement steps to reduce the length of planning committee meetings."

The DMC decided last week to send a proposal to the full council:

EDDC planning committee votes through public speaking clampdown

Tuesday, 01 April 2014 5 Comments by Claire

Councillors on East Devon District Council’s planning committee this morning voted through a series of public speaking restrictions, which will dramatically limit the number of people speaking on planning applications.

The proposals also rule that people must pre-register to speak, and only those who have objected to an application in writing will be permitted to address the committee.

The plans appear to hand an advantage to applicants as they are offered a slot of their own, in addition to the slots given to supporters.

The new rules are complicated, confusing and far too restrictive at a time of huge anxiety, with the pressure of major development on many communities.

Cllr Ray Bloxham, the author of a working group paper setting out the revised public speaking arrangements, spoke to councillors on the development management committee this morning. He referred to this blog and said it was wrong. The proposals were not restrictions, he insisted.

Cllr Roger Giles expressed his concerns about the proposals, and in particular, the new rule on not allowing people to speak on applications if they haven’t formally objected.

Just one councillor voted against the recommendations within the working party paper. Cllr Mike Allen, who agreed with Cllr Roger Giles that it was too restrictive.

We are told that the proposals are not permitted to be discussed at the overview and scrutiny or standards committees, so the debate will be had at full council in May.

One thing is for sure. If these plans are approved at full council next week (9 April), the efforts of local councillors, in terms of bringing important planning applications to the attention of residents, and then representing their views, will be absolutely paramount. Communities will need good councillors more than ever.

For more information on the proposals, see this earlier blog post - http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/eddc_set_to_clamp_down_hard_on_public_speaking_at_planning_committee_meetin

The FINAL decision on this issue will be made next week at full council, on Wednesday 9 May, starting at 6.30pm. Members of the public are welcome to speak for three minutes at the start of the meeting.


1. At 10:09 pm on 01th Apr Sandra Semple wrote:

Will we see restrictions imposed on developers? Three days notice of meetings and their questions put in writing for all to see in advance? No, thought not. More erosion of our rights. They haven’t yet stopped us voting them out - though they are probably working in it. Only developers will be allowed to vote perhaps? I’d like to think I was being sarcastic, but that’s the way things are going.

2. At 08:08 am on 02th Apr Roger Giles wrote:

The paper that went to EDDC`s Development Management Committee on 1 April said that there had been an increase in planning applications, which had “risen markedly”, because of the lack of an up to date Local Plan and a 5 year housing land supply. This resulted in longer planning meetings with more items.
It is because developers are taking advantage of EDDC`s situation, and the Government relaxation of planning guidance in the NPPF, that many members of the public want to exercise their democratic rights to speak on what they see as damaging planning applications.
It is quite bizarre that at a time when communities are under threat from rapacious developers like never before - EDDC wants to restrict public speaking rights about planning applications!
The 9-page report made much of “repetition of the same issues” by public speakers. What it did not even refer to - but should have done - was “repetition of the same issues” by planning committee members. A key element in reducing the length of planning meetings would be to avoid unecessarily lengthy and repetitive contributions by councillors when they all seem to have the same view of an application.

3. At 09:12 am on 02th Apr Graham Cooper wrote:

Another nail in the coffin of democracy in East Devon! It surely is the large number of planning applications which causes delay. In 2013 East Devon for some reason attracted over four times as many applications as West Devon and twice that of Mid Devon. Might it be the speculators see the EDDC DMC panel as an easy touch? See link http://eastdevonalliance.org/page/2/

4. At 08:39 pm on 02th Apr Jennie Elliott wrote:

Why not change the planning laws so that the same applicants don’t keep coming back time and time again when they have been refused on fundamental principles such as access, sustainability, being outside village boundaries. It ought to be that something has to have materially changed in the wider environment (not just a rehash) before an application can be submitted again.
We all know the games developers play; ask for 100 houses - get refused - come back 6 months later and ask for 50 houses.
Why is EDDC is helping to strengthen the position of developers and weaken the position of local residents?

5. At 12:01 pm on 03th Apr Val Jones wrote:

Re Jennie Elliott’s comment above, Wainhomes is a typical example of this at Feniton. Prior to their first application, they held an exhibition at the school with development for 150 and 50 houses. They then applied for 50 and were refused. They won their appeal, stating that they had listened to the people and village didn’t want large scale development. Despite our objections, saying that Wainhomes intended to expand their site, the Inspector said there was no evidence to support our claims. What happened next - they applied for a further 83 (not far short of the original 150). We’re now awaiting the result of the appeal but if they get it, they’ll no doubt apply for more.
Jennie is absolutely right - why is EDDC helping to strengthen the position of developers and weaken the position of local residents?

EDDC planning committee votes through public speaking clampdown - Claire Wright

This proposal will be heard by the full Council this coming Wednesday 9th April:
Public speaking restriction decision to be made NEXT Wednesday evening (9 April) - Claire Wright

And the East Devon Alliance is urging constituents to contact their representatives, asking people to email their councillors to petition them to vote against these changes, since there is already a perceived "democratic deficit" and this move will simply increase rather than allay those fears.

For your local councillors contact details, click on Email Contacts and click on the name.


If you are concerned by EDDC’s proposed changes to rules for public speaking, NOW is the time to let your representatives know, in writing.
A decision will be made next Wednesday evening, 9th April, when the Full Council meets (6.30pm at Knowle).
The letter copied below, which has been sent to the three Sidmouth town ward members, may be helpful as an example. EDA also understands that the author has also asked a councillor who did not agree with the new speaking rules plan outlined by Cllr Bloxham at a previous Development Management Committee meeting, to request a recorded vote.
Next Wednesday’s EDDC Council meeting is to have put before it a proposal to impose severe limits on the rights of the residents of the district to express their views about crucial planning applications which affect them personally or the community in which they live. These are the residents who elected you to represent them and as ward members you will retain the right to speak on their behalf. But only they can speak with the detailed knowledge and passion about the potential effects of particular planning applications on them as individuals and on their neighbours.
East Devon is experiencing a torrid time at the moment because of the lack of an approved Local Plan – a situation that will only be made worse by the LP Inspector’s rejection of the plan as presented – and this is not the time to be limiting, or making more difficult, public involvement in the planning process. The reason for the proposal is given as “to increase efficiency” at DMC meetings. What the process should be about is “increasing effectiveness” and that will not be achieved by limiting the rights of individuals to this extreme extent.
In the interests of democracy can I ask you to request a recorded vote on this matter of great public concern?
I look forward to seeing you represent this view on Wednesday evening on behalf of all Sidmouth Town ward residents and the town’s many visitors who would want us to defend it from inappropriate development.
Peter Whitfield’
Proposed new restrictions on public speaking: act quickly to have your say. | East Devon Alliance

No comments: