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Can/should a Clerk respond to planning applications?

0 votes
We have a planning committee, which his currently looking into how often it meets, which is once a month at the moment. There is sometime a problem if applications are received but not able to go onto the forthcoming agenda as there is not 3 clear days. This can cause us to miss the deadline for reply unless we ask for an extension. But so far we are managing ok.

The Clerk has now submitted to the Governance Committee a Delegation list. Something we have not had before. On it she has delegated to herself the power to respond to planning applications due to the time limit.
Is this allowed? We have managed fine so far and are even debating meeting more often. I could possibly understand if we did not have a planning  committee as full council is only one a month and it would be difficult to do further meetings just for a couple of planning applications. But as planning has already been delegated to a committee should it be further delegated to a Clerk?
by (2.6k points)

2 Answers

+1 vote
First point: The Clerk should not have taken a decision to delegate anything at all, over and above any existing delegation duties to herself.  The Councillors must resolve by a majority to grant her the duty of delegation. She needs to be brought to task about that.   In theory, the Council could agree to resolve her the delegated responsibility to Planning Applications, but this would mean that the Principal Planning Authority would not be getting the views of all the Parish Councillors but somebody without any electoral mandate,  All in all she needs to be told off and informed that the Council do not want her to have delegated powers of respondng to Planning Appication.
by (31.8k points)
I totally agree with Mrs Abster. My apologies if I did not explain it clearly but I did say that she had a document submitted a document to the Governance Committee for their consideration. My question related to whether it is appropriate for the proposed delegation of planning applications to be a accepted. She does not deserve a telling off.

But thank you for your opinion about Councillors deciding about the applications. It's in line with my thinking.
0 votes
The Clerk has submitted a document to the Governance Committee for their approval - they have every power to say that the Clerk doesn't have delegated authority and to change the document before adopting it.  Far from the Clerk being a 'very naughty boy' and made to stand in the corner, it is what a Clerk should do - present policies and procedures for the council to confirm or reject.

A lot of councils give authority to the Clerk to comment on planning applications with clear guidance as to what the council considers acceptable for example, my council automatically rejects any TPOs to remove trees in the parish.  The Clerk knows what the views of the council are and responds accordingly.
My council's planning committee meets fortnightly to avoid missing deadlines - that is another alternative if the council are not happy with delegating to the clerk - they would just have to attend twice as often.

Don't slate the Clerk here, they are doing their job to get round a deadline issue.
by (19.7k points)
Thank you Mrs Abster. I am aware that the Clerk does not deserve any slating, she has done nothing more than but a proposed document before the Governance Committee, which is what she is there for. I was only checking if this is the correct thing to do. Your suggestions for alternatives have been very helpful.
Thank you Jann.  I was more responding to Graeme_r comments rather than yours :-)
Personally I find that the Planners are very flexible in my area on extensions . Its frustrating that Planning has a three week window and most Council meet Monthly. I will usually request an extension to the Monthly meeting - but failing that we will call a planning meeting - might only be 2 items and all over in 10 minutes - but it gives the Public and the Council the opportunity to debate.
It’s a bit of a tangent to the original question but:

“ council automatically rejects any TPOs to remove trees in the parish...”

Whilst the text is a bit misleading I’m assuming what it actually means is any application for work to, or removal of, a tree subject to a TPO is automatically rejected.
If that is what is meant, then it is a very poorly considered and ill informed default stance to have adopted.
Having ‘planning’ experience on a PC is rare enough. Having arboricultural experience is about as rare as unicorn tears!

Trees are living organisms with structural and physiological features which need to be understood and applied within the physical environment of the tree.
Any application for work on a tree subject to a TPO requires a supporting justification case - just like any planning application.
If the justification case is plausible it deserves the due consideration of a PC - it’s pretty easy for a competent arboricultural consultant to make, and present, a plausible case if the evidence is there.
I’m not sure if a TPO app objection from a PC generates a 5 day protocol (because I’ve never failed to demonstrate the justification) but if it does it’s a blatant waste of time and effort for all involved just because a PC has adopted a poorly considered blanket policy.
Rightly or wrongly, my council objects to the removal of a healthy tree that is being removed for the requirement of extensions and building works and that is that.  It is their right to have this stance and that is what they adopt as an initial basis for their decision.  Whether I agree to this stance or not, it is for the council to comment on planning matters.
Of course a PC can adopt whatever ‘policy position’ it chooses, within legal norms, but judging each case on its individual merits would be much more sensible.
No wonder folk have such poor regard for PCs - from what I see, they really are an anachronism.
I would suggest that what you see is a small sample of councils in this country.  There are many who are very dedicated, community minded and act correctly and legally.  Please don't tar us all with the same brush that you tar your council with (as seen from previous posts).
I would suggest the 'problem' (as frequently illustrated on this, and other forum) is rather more widespread than some might wish to acknowledge.
But there we are - just a couple of people with a couple of opinions.
I simply opined that a blanket policy of TPO rejection is a poor stance.  It is.
Whilst it might be that PC's 'choice', there simply isn't a credible argument to justify it.  Don't worry about it, just do your best to be dedicated, community minded and act correctly and legally, you'll be fine I'm sure....
you forgot to all 'little lady' to your last comment to make it truly patronising. Must try harder.
Well that’s odd.....

I meant for it mirror the patronising content of your previous post....

I’m certainly not going to assume your gender though.
What’s this ‘flag’ business then?
Is that what happens when a clerk makes a patronising comment and then gets all hissy about someone returning the compliment?

Is that straight out of the NALC playbook ):0)
The only problem I have with the TPO argument is that I thought the role of PCs in planning was to represent the electorates concerns.   As such I would have thought it was appropriate  to deal with each case on its merits

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