Kensington and Chelsea 'to host England's first fully virtual planning committee meeting'

A London council is to this week hold what it claims is likely to be England's first "fully virtual" planning committee meeting since the government legislated to allow such events to be held remotely in response to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Kensington and Chelsea Council: authority claims first 'fully virtual' planning meeting

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is to host its planning committee tomorrow (Thursday 9 April) at 6.30pm using remote video conferencing.

The move comes after the government introduced measures to allow meetings to be held in such a way to ease the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on local authority decision-making. The new rules came into force over the weekend.

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Previously, legislation had stipulated that such meetings had to be held with members being in the same room.

According to a statement from the council, Thursday's meeting is "believed to be England's first fully virtual meeting" to take place since the change was made.

It added that "councillors, officers and members of the public who have asked to speak at the meeting will dial into the virtual call which will be broadcast via the council's website for the wider public".

Applications up for consideration include a side extension; landscaping and the removal of trees within a rear garden; and the erection of a "garden studio".

Councillor James Husband, chairman of the planning applications committee, said: "It was good to see government publishing regulations so quickly and recognising how important it is to keep local democracy moving.

"In Kensington and Chelsea, planning committees are regularly among the council's best-attended meetings. Getting member decisions up and running again is really important to us and our residents so we have wasted no time in preparing for our first meeting."

Several authorities, including Luton and Waltham Forest, have held partly-virtual planning committee meetings in advance of the new rules coming into force.