Monmouth Town Council Planning Matters
Monmouthshire County Council is the local planning authority with powers to grant planning permissions, to which Monmouth Town Council make recommendations only.
This section aims to provide information on the Town Council’s Planning Committee’s role in the planning process with advice for applicants, those wishing to comment of applications and councillors.
The planning committee meets every 2 weeks or more often if required. Meetings normally start at 6pm but occasionally start earlier. Meetings are normally held in the Council Chamber of the Shire Hall, Monmouth.
Currently 10 councillors sit on the planning committee and may debate and vote on every issue except when they declare a personal and prejudicial interest.
Each planning application will be considered on its own merits.
Planning is not a popularity contest, its job is simply to decide whether a particular development is acceptable or not under the current planning framework, set by the Welsh Government and Monmouthshire County Council (MCC).
Planning is concerned with material planning considerations only. It is not a public inquiry into the rights and wrongs of a proposed scheme, nor is it concerned with such matters as whether a scheme will be successful or not, or land ownership issues.
At a planning meeting we look at the information available on the planning portal as well as hard copies and use Google earth and street view for site identification and familiarisation when necessary.
As well as planning applications the planning committee concerns itself with general planning matters including recommendations on section 106 monies, proposed changes to the Local Development Plan and correspondence relating to planning issues.
The ‘Shaping our future’ document sets out the strategic objectives of the planning committee.
Presentations on draft proposals, prior to the submission of a formal planning application are welcomed. Persons wishing to make a presentation should first contact the Town Clerk. The Town Clerk in conjunction with the Chair of the planning committee and the applicant will agree a mutually convenient date. Presentations will normally be made at the start of the meeting for a maximum of ten minutes. The meeting will be open to the public and the public and councillors may ask questions in accordance with the town council’s standing order procedures. The meeting will be advertised in the normal way and councillors are welcome to further advertise if they wish to do so.
Commenting on planning applications
Once an application is made, MCC will normally post a planning notice in the vicinity of the proposed development and/or inform nearby residents of the application. However individuals may wish to set up planning alerts via MCC’s website. This can be done by going onto the homepage of that website, putting in your postcode in the ‘My Monmouthshire’ box on the left hand side, press ‘Go’ and follow the instructions.
When an application is made and once MCC has registered it, letters of objections or support can be made. They can be sent in hard copy to MCC planning department or via the MCC website on which full plans and other relevant information can be seen. Objections or correspondence in support should be made by individuals and refer to current planning policy. Current planning policy of the county council is the UDP (Unitary Development Plan) but during 2014 will be replaced with the LDP (Local Development Plan). You should check with the planning office of MCC which development plan is relevant at the time of application. They can be contacted on 01633 644 644 and ask for planning.
MCC should (although it may take longer) make its decision in 8 weeks of the application first being registered (12 weeks for larger schemes). If it fails to determine the application within this timescale, the applicant can, if he/she wishes, go straight to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate and bypass the county council (though as planning appeals often take months this tends not to happen).
During the first 8 weeks that MCC has to make its decision, it will put the application out for 21 days of consultation. It is within that time that members of the public should make their position to the MCC clear and it is in that time that Monmouth Town Council (MTC) will be asked for its recommendation, either approval or refusal with reasons. The planning committee meeting will be advertised in the normal way and councillors are free to additionally advertise if they so wish.
Monmouth Town Council is obligated to make its recommendations within the 21 days. Thus correspondence towards the end of this period may not be made available the town council planning committee. If members of the public are unable to attend the meeting, then they should make their correspondence available to MCC and if they so wish to the town council as soon as possible. Correspondence to MCC will be put on the planning portal for members of the public and town council members to see.
Following Monmouth Town Council’s recommendations to MCC no further correspondence should be sent to the town council concerning that particular application and the planning committee will not alter its decision. The planning committee may only discuss the application when MCC has made its decision and or if an appeal is made.
Advice for Councillors
Members have a personal responsibility to comply with the Members’ Code of Conduct.
Members have an obligation under paragraph 8 of the code to make decisions solely on the basis of the merits of the circumstances involved and in the public interest. Members must also approach all decision making with an open mind. They must not predetermine decisions.
Members will not be considered to have predetermined just because they have either directly or indirectly previously indicated a point of view they would or might take in relation to a matter relevant to the decision. (Localism Act, Part 1, Chapter 6, Section 25)
Members wishing to express a view prior to the decision making meeting should indicate that any such view is based on information thus far received and that they remain open to consider the views of others and the advice of officers, before casting their vote.
Members should not take part in the decision making process if they are unable to comply with these guidelines.