I find this an interesting and multi dimensional question…
It would be useful to know where / who the OP is in relation to the question.
Are you the planning applicant, a member of the public or a parish councillor?
The reason for asking is that there are distinct nuances for each category and to provide as comprehensive an answer as possible, it will be necessary to consider them all in turn.
Would you be prepared to post the planning application number and the LA name so that we can review the source documents and consultee submissions? They are open source already. That would be useful - but not essential.
“The local Parish Council submitted their views”
How is this actually possible?
- It is possible that the clerk has a delegation to submit a comment on behalf of the PC. Possible but inappropriate.
- It is also possible that the clerk (or a Cllr) arranged a ‘round-robin’ of emails to gather Cllr opinion on the application and then drafted a response which was then circulated for agreement before being submitted. Possible but inappropriate.
- It is also possible that an individual Cllr or the clerk has submitted a comment from the PC which is actually NOT from the PC but from an individual. Possible but inappropriate.
Of note - the planning consultee process generally facilitates the person submitting the comment to declare whether they are a private individual, a parish councillor or ‘the’ parish council (ie, the formal response of the PC.)
Either of those above options are ‘possible’ - none are ‘appropriate.’
The first is not appropriate because it is the role of Cllrs to consider the electorate in forming their opinion on any given matter which is then subjected to a vote. This process should (unless exempt - not applicable for a planning application) be conducted at a properly notified and convened open public meeting where any interested party may make a submission. How can Cllrs consider public opinion if there is no public meeting?
So - how can a PC form a democratic policy position if there was no open meeting, no opportunity for public input, no opportunity for Cllrs to consider public input prior to the policy position being formulated.
IF the timings of PC meetings don’t allow for the submission in line with the planning case officer deadline, then the PC should make no comment. There is no obligation to submit a corporate comment and if the process to arrive at a corporate comment is deficient, then it naturally follows that that comment is subject to challenge.
If the planning application is of such gravity as to REQUIRE a PC comment - convene an extraordinary PC meeting to deal with it (not appropriate for Mrs Miggins side porch or rear extension, but would be appropriate for a major development)
Does a PC comment make a difference in a planning officer’s consideration of the case. There is a statement below which affirms that:
“…parish council comments carry no more weight than comments by a member of the public…”
This is incorrect.
A planning case officer ought to consider all comments submitted - public, PC, other consultees and arrive at a decision based upon that consideration.
The key difference with a PC submission is that if the case officer arrives at a conclusion which is counter to the PC recommendation, then the 5 day protocol is initiated whereby the PC has to either, agree with the case officer and change their previous position, or agree to disagree, or submit qualifying further comments which support maintaining the PC position and potentially engage the ward Cllr for a ‘call-in’ to the LPA planning committee.
So it is quite wrong to imply that PC consultee comments have no more or less weight than public comments. It is quite understandable that it might be ‘thought’ that PC comments are the same as any other comment since they are usually based upon emotion, lack of knowledge and absence of awareness of the planning process. Hence they are often empty, misguided, meaningless and disregarded - but that is NOT to say they have no relevance or influence because they DO. It is just so often bad influence.
The reference below to PCs being unable to meet in line with planning application deadlines is also somewhat misleading but with elements of credibility.
It may be that PCs do not meet with sufficient frequency to achieve deadlines for planning application submissions. If that is the case it naturally follows that NO SUBMISSION should be the default rather than one which is open to challenge and potential reclaim for damages. This comment below also seems to lack the awareness that, whilst planning case officers will notify a deadline for all consultee and neighbour / public comments, it is also true that any comment submitted prior to the determination deadline will be included in the consideration of the case so whilst a deadline is published, it is not the case that it must be adhered to rigidly. It might be wise for a PC that is not meeting with sufficient frequency to achieve routine business to reexamine their meeting schedule - or adopt a policy of ‘no comment’ for all planning applications. Again, it would be inappropriate for a PC to comment on some, but not on others (based on nothing other than a meeting schedule) because that will infer advantage / disadvantage on successive planning applicants.
If the OP is the planning applicant in this question, and it can be shown, or reasonably expected that the PC input has influenced the case officer decision, and the decision is damaging (costs, time, deprivation of opportunity etc) to the applicant, and if the planning decision is refusal, the maladministration stepping stones to a PINS appeal are lined up.
It would be interesting to know more about who the OP is in relation to the question.