Community Councils and a Guide to Planning
Planning Advice Note 47 is specifically for community councils and planning and a copy can be viewed here (PAN 47 – highlighted)
NATIONAL POLICY AND ADVCE
The Government's policy guidance for development management (including pointers to relevant material considerations and the weight to be given to development plans) is set out in Scottish Planning Policy (SPP). Other NPPGs give guidance on particular issues like housing, business, minerals and archaeology. Suggestions for good practice are given in a series of Planning Advice Notes available on the Scottish Government’s website.
LOCAL AUTHORITY AND COMMUNITY COUNCIL RESPONSIBILITIES
Community councils are as individual as the areas they cover, so their approach to consultations and their capacity for response does vary a good deal. We have a Community Liaison Officer and by having contact through this role we ensure that we maintain a good working knowledge of our community councils. We have recently produced a local guidance note.
Each community council has one appointed person as their point of contact for the planning authority on all planning matters. accordingly. Internal arrangements for considering applications will be for each community council to decide. A regular contact person in the authority's planning department should also be clearly identified for each community council and this is our Planning Technical Assistant. Any contact regarding a specific planning application should be directed to the Planning Officer who has been assigned to deal with the planning application.
Article 12(9) of the General Development Procedure Order (GDPO) requires that community councils be sent a weekly list of all planning applications as a matter of course. This is a sure baseline for all consultation arrangements and is an approach which Moray Council have adopted.
APPROACHES TO CONSULTATION
After reviewing the weekly list, community councils may wish to view particular applications in detail. Accordingly, article 15(1 )(n) of the GDPO provides for them to request formal consultation within 7 working days of the issuing date of the weekly list. Community councils are consulted on all major planning applications. In all cases, community councils are advised to limit their attention to proposals which raise issues of genuine community interest: householder applications will rarely involve issues of this kind. It is important that consultation does not cause delay in the processing of planning applications. Community councils should therefore ensure that their method of working allows them to respond within the consultation period. Any request for an extension will be considered by the Development Management & Building Standards Manager.
Under article 15(3) of the GDPO, where the community council is being consulted, it must be given 14 days to make its comments on an application. This 14 days begins on the issuing date of details of the application. All consultations are sent electronically.
MINOR CHANGES TO APPLICATIONS
Community councils should not expect to be consulted on very minor changes which are sometimes made to applications either while they are being considered or after they have been approved. These 'non-material' amendments and variations carry no statutory provision for consultation. But where an application is to be amended in any material or substantial way it will normally be submitted afresh and a new opportunity for consultation will arise.
As part of our commitment to the effective and efficient operation of consultation arrangements we will continue to provide occasional training sessions for community councillors in our area. This will help councils to make informed comments and gain a better understanding of how the planning system works.
The Moray Council
PO Box 6760, Elgin