3. Lobbying

3.1 Lobbying, or seeking to influence a decision, is part of the political process. Those potentially affected by a planning decision or their agents will often seek to influence the decision by approaching Council Members. Whilst there is nothing improper in this, such lobbying can call into question the impartiality and integrity of individual Members if they give the impression of support or opposition, or declare their voting intention prior to formal consideration of the matter. To declare a voting intention without having all the relevant information, views and advice before them would be unfair. Thus, Members are advised:
  • To take care in expressing any opinion on a planning proposal until they have received a formal report from officers at Planning Committee or Cabinet. Prior to that it is best to offer only general procedural advice and refer lobbyists to professional officers. Representations made to officers can then be included in any formal report.
  • Officers may give an indication of their likely recommendation to Committee based upon policy contained in statutory plans and Government advice etc.
  • During any discussion with lobbyists Members should make clear that their comments are not those of the Council and are provisional pending other evidence and officer advice.
  • Members may visit sites before Committee but they should have regard to the principles set out above. They should avoid situations where they could be subject to undue pressure by an applicant, agent or objectors.
  • Councillors should not debate or negotiate detailed planning issues with lobbyists.
  • Councillors should not lobby other Members.
  • Councillors should not put any officer under pressure to make a particular recommendation.
  • Given that the point at which a planning decision is made cannot occur before the Committee meeting when a formal report is presented, political group meetings prior to the Committee meeting should not influence how Councillors sitting on the Planning Committee should vote.
  • It is appropriate for Ward Members or any Member having detailed knowledge of a particular matter to address the Committee but those Members should not organise support or opposition or lobby other Members.
  • Councillors should not act as advocates or agents for planning applications or other planning matters to be determined by the Council.
  • Instances of lobbying should be declared on the appropriate form which will be placed on the relevant case file.
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2. The roles of Officers and Members
4. Pre-application discussions and protocol
Local Guidance for Councillors and Officers Dealing with Planning Matters
Local Guidance for Councillors and Officers Dealing with Planning Matters