Planning committee procedures
About 90% of planning applications are decided by the professional planning staff. These decisions are reported for information only to the planning and development committee. The committee has the responsibility to determine the most important or significant applications.
Chair of the committee
In the centre at the front sits the Chair – who is a Councillor appointed by the council for this role. To his/her side are officers employed by the council to advise on planning, legal and administrative matters.
The planning officers will usually include the head of planning services and other planning officers who will present individual cases.
Sometimes, specialist policy, legal or design officers will also attend.
Members of the Committee
Sit around the table facing the Chairman. They are all elected borough Councillors.
Members of the public and the applicant
Are entitled to be present but may not speak unless they have registered for the public speaking scheme.
The Chairman will announce each item. There is normally a comprehensive written report circulated with the agenda. (This report is available for viewing five working days prior to the committee date at the relevant planning office and on the website). The Chairman will then ask an officer to present the report, bringing it up to date if necessary. Any speakers will then be heard.
The chair invites questions and views from the members and the officer will reply whenever necessary.
Next, a motion will be proposed and seconded, debated if necessary, and a vote taken. In the event of a tie the Chair has a second or casting vote.
There are three possible decisions:
Approve: usually subject to conditions, which must be reasonable and may be challenged on appeal to the Secretary of State.
Refuse: sound planning reasons must be given which the authority may have to substantiate in the event of an appeal. A refusal may be agreed even though the principle of the development is acceptable. In these cases the applicant may wish to resubmit an amended application.
Defer: if all the information needed to make a decision is not available or to allow time for further action before the decision is finally made. Deferment is very rare.
There are strict rules about the declaration of interests, affecting both members and officers. Where the committee decision is different to the officer recommendation, the committee are required to give reasons and these are minuted.
Decisions must be based on planning issues, for example:
- Central government guidance
- Regional policy
- Local policy
- Highway safety
- Landscape impact
- Local amenity, noise, privacy
- Case law and previous decisions
- Conservation of buildings, trees etc
The following examples are not normally planning issues:
- Reduction in property values
- Ownership disputes
- Business competition
- Moral considerations
- Restrictive covenants
- Personal circumstances or private rights
- Matters controlled by other legislation (eg licensing)
- A retrospective application submitted after work has been carried out has to be determined on its planning merits like any other. Even if many people object, permission cannot be refused without good planning reasons
The applicant may appeal to the Secretary of State against refusal or the imposition of conditions. If at appeal either the appellant or the council is held to have behaved unreasonably, costs may be awarded to the other side.
A third party (eg a neighbour) has no right of appeal to the Secretary of State, but there are other options:
- The council’s internal complaints procedure (complaints about the conduct of members or officers)
- The Ombudsman (complaints about the way a matter has been handled – not about the decision itself)
- Judicial review in the High Court
Further information about the first two options is available from council offices, but the third requires expert advice from a solicitor.
The planning committee meet every three weeks at:
- The Town Hall, Town Hall Street, Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, DN31 1HU
The exact dates can be viewed on the planning committee meetings page.
How to request to speak at planning committee and what to expect when you get there
The public speaking procedure document (available in related documents below) sets out the process you should follow if you want to address the planning committee. This procedure applies to everyone including residents, applicants, agents, developers, parish/town councils and Councillors that do not sit on the planning committee.
If you wish to speak at a planning committee meeting, please complete our request to speak at a planning committee.
Find information on a planning committee site visit
At the planning committee, some applications where development is planned, are deferred for a site visit. An organised site visit protocol document (available from the related documents section below) provides information on planning committee site visits.