Planning for Housing: Planning committees in line with officers 'nine out of ten times'

Planning committees make decisions consistent with officer recommendations 'nine out of ten times', according to a council leader speaking at the Planning for Housing conference today.

Barry Wood speaking earlier today
Barry Wood speaking earlier today

Cllr Barry Wood, leader of Cherwell District Council, told a conference seminar that, in his experience, the vast majority of applications are made in accordance with officer advice.

"Planning committee members know that they pay officers a good living to produce good quality professional advice and they rely on that nine out of ten times," he said.

"If you find yourself on the wrong end of the other one out of ten, they you are swimming against the tide. So there is a lot to be said for making sure that an application is presented with the support of officer advice."

Wood said planning committee members typically look for schemes’ compliance with policies as part of the process of assessing applications, and added that planning committee decisions are "rarely party political". Members tend to make decisions more on the basis of geographical or local knowledge, he said.

Cllr Peter Marland, leader of Milton Keynes Council, advised applicants to "do your homework" in advance of planning committees, by engaging early and becoming familiar with the local area and the community aspirations.

He also advised applicants to know the wants and needs of planning committee members. "Planning committees are groups of individuals that have their own interests," Marland said.

"If you have done well, then planning committee is easy. If you have got a packed committee and you don’t know which way the vote is going to go, then somebody somewhere hasn’t done their job, and you should have engaged a lot earlier."

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