4. Pre-application discussions and protocol

4.1 Pre-application negotiations between applicants, their agents and the Council are encouraged in order to achieve the best planning outcome for all. These negotiations may continue after determination of an application if there are reserved or outstanding matters or amendments to be dealt with.

4.2 These negotiations should always be undertaken by officers who should make it clear that they are expressing a professional officer opinion and thus the discussions are held without prejudice.

4.3 However, in December 2008 the Council introduced on a trial basis, arrangements for selected developers to be allowed when appropriate, to present their development proposals prior to the application being submitted to Cabinet, Chair and Vice Chair of Planning Committee, the Member Design and Historic Environment Champion and Ward Members at a formal meeting convened for the purpose. The types of development likely to be selected are those of major strategic importance, which will represent a major contribution to delivery of the Local Development Framework (LDF). Schemes will be selected by the Director of Regeneration and Head of Planning Services in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Highways, Transportation and Planning. The agreement of the developer will always be necessary.

4.4 The meeting will be conducted as follows:
  • A senior officer usually the Director of Regeneration, Head of Planning Services or Development Manager will introduce the purpose of the meeting and advise how it will be conducted. Members will be advised as to the confidentiality status of the proposal. The Leader of the Council will then Chair the meeting.
  • Introductions will then be made.
  • The developer will present their proposal (the presentation having first been viewed by a senior planning officer and if necessary a legal officer, to ensure that it will not lead Members into negotiations and to check for accuracy).
  • Members will then have the opportunity to ask questions and seek clarification, but care will need to be taken that personal views are not expressed. They may alert the developer to what they perceive as the likely view of their constituents, but this must be in the context of the LDF.
  • The Chair will then conclude the meeting. Members may advise officers of any concern they have with the proposal and any elements which they feel would benefit from negotiation with the developer. They will then be guided by professional officers as to what negotiations would be reasonable and align with LDF policy. Negotiations will be undertaken by professional officers only.
  • A planning officer will record the meeting and take a note of all present, plus any issues identified. Officers will take appropriate follow up action. The note of the meeting will be placed on the public file at the earliest opportunity (taking account of the need for commercial confidentiality). The involvement of Members will be recorded in any subsequent Committee Report.

4.5 Guidelines for Members attending pre application presentations:
  • Members should only attend those meetings organised in accordance with this protocol and not arrange private meetings with developers.
  • Councillors should promote community aspirations through the LDF process, thus any requirements of the development proposed should align with LDF policies and guidance.
  • Members are at the meeting to learn about an emerging proposal, to help identify issues to be dealt with by further submission and negotiation but not to express any initial view on the proposal which might pre-determine their view on the formal application. Their role is an important listening one.
  • Any Planning Committee Councillor who elects to support a view for or against the proposed development will pre determine their position to the extent that they will be advised to declare a prejudicial interest and thus be free to present their views to Committee in the event of the Committee considering the subsequent application, but they will not be able to vote on the application.
  • All Members attending such pre application meetings will undertake appropriate training.
  • Once an application has been submitted the development cannot be subject to discussion with Members ahead of the Planning Committee meeting.

4.6 For developments not selected for the approach described in paras 4.3-4.5 above the following guidelines should be adhered to:
  • Pre-application discussions should always be conducted at appropriate officer level. However, it should be made clear that the views expressed may be subject to review at a more senior level or by Members at Committee
  • Advice should be consistent with Statutory Plans, Government Planning Policy Guidance and Statements and any other material considerations.
  • Officers should make a detailed written note of any pre-application meetings as soon as practicable.
  • Confirmation of the advice given should always be supplied in writing when requested by or on behalf of the applicant or when deemed appropriate by the Section Manager.
  • The involvement of Members should be recorded in any subsequent Committee report.
  • In the case of potentially contentious meetings, 2 or more officers will attend.
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Last updated:
02/08/2016

Assigned review date:
01/04/2017

Awaiting page content review by the allocated team


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