Decision making on planning applications and planning policy in North West Leicestershire will be overhauled after councillors agreed to make changes recommended by an external review team.
As part of the work to make the planning process at North West Leicestershire District Council (NWLDC) clearer and more accessible, the authority’s Planning Committee will be reduced from 17 to 11 members amongst a host of other changes.
Ward members will be exempt from voting on planning matters within their own or neighbouring wards, allowing them to instead speak on behalf of the people they represent.
In addition, any member is now able to call a planning application to the committee, so long as it is on material planning grounds. Previously, only ward members were able to ask that Planning Committee saw planning applications within their own ward.
Other recommendations of the review have been agreed, including:
- Reducing the number of site visits to only those that require it.
Previously, Planning Committee members would visit every site where they were considering an application
- Only serving members’ and officers’ applications will be sent to committee.
Previously this extended to any member or officer who had left the authority within the last five years.
Local Plan Committee
A Local Plan Committee, with decision-making powers will be created to oversee planning policy decisions.
Previously, a Local Plan Advisory Committee was able to comment on planning policy matters, but didn’t have the authority to make decisions. The new committee will take over responsibility from Full Council for decisions on the council’s major planning policies, as well as guidance documents on particular planning matters and the council’s HS2 strategy.
Bev Smith, Chief Executive of NWLDC, said: “After receiving the report from the external review team we acknowledged where we could improve and set about making an action plan that addressed all of the recommendations made to us.
“We’re committed to improving our planning service as a whole. We still have some work to do, but these positive changes to committees, which will make the decision-making process much clearer, are the next step.
Councillor Trevor Pendleton, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration and Planning at NWLDC, added: “We’re working hard to make planning, which is a complex world, easier for customers to understand and get involved in. We’re committed to working together as a team of officers and councillors to de-mystify the planning process and I’m looking forward to seeing these improvements take shape.”