Commenting on planning applications is one of the more difficult and time-consuming tasks we carry out as we tend to focus on the less straightforward or more contentious applications. This Planning page explains the basics of the planning process and how we fit into that.
The Parish Council (PC) is our local statutory consultee for all planning applications in the Parish (and for any other application outside the Parish boundary which might have a significant impact on the Parish eg a solar farm or a wind turbine). In other words, the PC is the official representative of the community.
All planning applications are discussed by the PC in committee and so you are able to listen to the discussion by attending the relevant meeting. Every PC agenda lists the applications to be discussed.
However, under PC rules, you are not permitted to contribute to the discussion. If you wish to influence their discussion, you can either to write to the Council before they discuss the application or address them during the Open Forum which takes place before every Council meeting.
Apart from large infrastructure projects such as major roads, power stations etc, all planning applications in the South Hams are determined by South Hams District Council (SHDC). Every application is determined in one of 2 ways:
1.Officer Delegated Decisions. If the application is considered to be minor and/or straightforward, the determination of the application can be delegated to the planning officer, but only if the relevant elected District Councillor agrees to the delegation and to the proposed resolution.
2.Decision taken by Committee. This is now called the Development Management Committee although still sometimes loosely referred to as the Planning Committee. The Development Management Committee (DMC) is made up of 12 District Councillors and so in this way planning decisions are made by elected councillors but as advised by professional planning officers.
Any member of the public has the right to comment on any planning application, whether that is in support of the application, against it or just to make a neutral comment or observation. Guidance on how to comment and what you are able to comment on - called material planning considerations – can be found on the SHDC website at: https://www.southhams.gov.uk/article/3222/Commenting-on-a-Planning-Application
If you wish to see any planning application on-line, you can find it at: http://apps.southhams.gov.uk/PlanningSearchMVC/ If you do not know the address or planning reference number, you can go to the Advanced Search and select ‘Newton and Noss’ with appropriate ‘From’ and ‘To’ dates, and all planning applications in the Parish within those dates will be listed.
Although the Parish Council is the official voice of the entire community with regard to planning applications, the RYDA has an important part to play both in commenting on planning applications and offering an informed view to the PC.
There are about 100 planning applications each year within the Parish and so being a statutory consultee places a considerable burden on the PC. It is therefore not possible for them to consult widely within the community in any formal sense. The RYDA is fortunate that we can be far more selective as to which planning applications we choose to comment on and which we do not. Our procedure is as follows:
•The Committee decides whether an application is significant enough to alert you. You would not thank us if we sought your opinion on every single one.
•Because we only have 28 days to comment under normal circumstances, we can only ever consult those members who have given us their email address. It is impractical to consult the entire membership by snail mail. The message for our members is: if you want to be kept informed by us of planning applications, join our email register.
•If the membership is not to be consulted, we take no further action.
•If the membership is to be consulted, a summary of the application is drafted and agreed by the Committee. Once agreed, the summary is included in the next Newsletter. Comments from our membership are invited.
•Depending on the responses we receive, on the letters from our members that go directly to SHDC and on other discussions, the Committee then decides whether the overall response warrants a formal response to SHDC from the RYDA.
•If we are commenting to SHDC, a letter goes under the Chairman’s signature to show that it is a collective decision. A copy also goes to the Parish Council.
•Our final involvement in the application may be at the Development Management Committee. When an application goes to the DMC, the objectors and supporters of the application each have a 3 minute speaking slot. It is up to each group to select their own speaker. The RYDA may try to coordinate this if it is appropriate.
The role that our members play is extremely important. For a start, we need your opinions in order to help us shape the RYDA response.
Even more importantly, any RYDA response is counted by SHDC as a single letter regardless of the number of comments we get from members. Therefore if you feel sufficiently strongly about an application, it is more important that you comment to SHDC.
Best of all though is to copy your comments to us so that we get early notice of your views, and to the PC so that they can take your views into account as well.