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0 votes
What are the rules on discussing planning applications in PC meetings? Specifically, we have previously had an issue with a contentious application connected to an existing Councillor. Whilst the Councillor was asked to leave the room whilst it was being discussed, several members of public directly connected with the Cllr remained. It made open discussion difficult. Can we ask all members of public to leave the room whilst it is being discussed?
by (300 points)

3 Answers

+2 votes
Whether the application is connected to a councillor or not, the public are entitled to attend your council meetings (or committee meetings if discussed in committee) and there is always a risk/chance that the applicant will attend and can hear your discussions.  Yes it can make open discussion difficult but that is part of the job and you should be considering planning applications in terms of valid planning considerations (planning law, your local plan, neighbourhood development plan if you have one, etc) rather than any personal considerations.   Your responses to the planning authority are public documents anyway.

A councillor with a disclosable interest in a planning application (or indeed any agenda item) should declare an interest and where appropriate leave the meeting for that item but you cannot require a member of the public to leave unless you consider the item in confidential session and I'd suggest embarrassment is not sufficient grounds for moving into confidential session.
by (19.1k points)
Fair points. Thanks.
0 votes
If members of your council find “open discussion difficult” there are probably greater potential problems than whether, or not, the apparently “connected” councillor stays or leaves the room.
What “connection” is it supposed that they have? Are they the applicant, the land owner or related to someone who is?  What is the “connection?”

What do you define as “open discussion?”  Is what you really mean subjective “opinion?”

Open discussion (of relevant planning factors) should be the cause of no concern to anyone that has objective reference to appropriate planning considerations. If it is subjective opinion then it should be noted as inappropriate anyway - regardless of whether the “connected councillor is present or not.
Whereas model orders “suggests” a councillor should leave the room if an interest is declared, it is patently obvious - and illustrated by the observation within the OP - that this is a doubly pointless exercise since any ally of the person leaving the room may remain, record and or video the exact part of the discussion, and, that part of the meeting may be livestream broadcast or recorded thus providing the temporarily absent individual the opportunity to review proceedings anyway.
Applied intelligence therefore makes it patently pointless, disruptive and disjointed to insist a person leaves a part of a meeting which they can view / hear later anyway.
Model orders are a “suggested” model not a mandated one  if the people making the suggestions haven’t kept pace with practical changes then their suggestions don’t have to be adopted
by (21.3k points)
0 votes
The answer is probably no because the discussion will probably not involve exempt or confidential information.  A parish council can only comment on planning applications, not determine them, and the resolved comment made by the council will be in the public domain. It isn't clear why the discussion that leads to that comment can be justified as being behind closed doors.
by (35.4k points)

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