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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 07/02/2005
Review of Public Speaking Scheme at Development Control and Area Development Control Sub-Committees

Summary & Purpose
The purpose of the report is to review the pilot Public Speaking Scheme at Development Control and Area Sub-Committees that commenced in April 2004. The report highlights successes and issues that need further consideration and suggested amendments to improve the scheme. The Modernising Planning Special Interest Group and the Development Control Committee have reviewed the Scheme and recommend minor adjustments to the scheme.

Quality of Life Implications
Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe Communities
Local Economy
Resource Use
Prevention and Control
and Nature
Safe, Healthy
and Active

E-Government implications:

The use of the new SX3 Planning System and e-government tools will be central to managing the Public Speaking Scheme.

Resource and legal implications:

The scheme has mainly been managed within the Planning Enquiry Team, which is reliant upon future support from Planning Delivery Grant. However, Members will be aware that these posts have only been agreed as a pilot for three years and if the public speaking is successful then longer term funding will need to be found. The Modernising Planning SIG considered that since the Planning Advice Team had not been established and that it will have other tasks that it should not be overburdened whilst it was being established. For that reason the SIG recommended and the Executive agreed that the initial pilot scheme should only relate to applications where there are five or more objections from the public. It was agreed that when the public speaking scheme was reviewed that a more detailed assessment of budget and resources could be made at that time, including consideration as to whether the scheme should be expanded to include all applications for determination at a Committee.

The Development Control Committee is recommending no change to the "5 objections" trigger. This, together with other adjustments, results in no changes to the resource demands of the scheme, which largely relies on the continuation of the Planning Inquiry Team.

The national scheme for making planning decisions under the Town and Country Planning Acts has been judicially recognised as administration by local planning authorities of central government planning policy. Article 6 rights (to a fair hearing) under the Human Rights Act 1998 are not engaged. Nevertheless, the decision-making processes of the Council are required to reflect a reasonable and fair decision-making process so that the public speaking scheme must treat applicants and objectors fairly and equally. Failure to meet a reasonable standard for conducting the Council’s business may result in claims for maladministration or judicial review.


1. The pilot Public Speaking Scheme agreed by the Executive Committee commenced in April 2004. Overall Officers are generally pleased with the way the scheme has operated with few teething troubles. It appears to have been well received by the public with 94% of participants responding to the questionnaire considering the scheme as beneficial.

2. The pilot scheme essentially embodied the following standards:-

One objector, one supporter and one representative from the Town and Parish Council could speak on an application.
Those speakers to address a committee only once.
Each speaker to have a maximum of three minutes
No public speaking on site visits but questions could be asked through the Chairman.
That the scheme would be pilot and reviewed after six months.
The basic Committee framework was to remain.
No changes to the delegation scheme.
There should be a cut off time for receipt of notifications to speak.
5 or more objection letters to trigger public speaking
Town or Parish Council only to speak once public speaking scheme has been triggered
Town or Parish Council to make clear when confirming a speaker who would be attending the meeting to speak
Preferable that person speaking on behalf of Town or Parish Council is not also a Waverley member
First person to confirm their wish to speak to be appointed spokesperson and invited to coordinate other objectors. First person able to appoint a different objector to act as the spokesperson.
Leaflet and notification letter to set out clearly co-ordination process for objectors

3. The leaflet explaining the pilot scheme is attached at Annexe 1.

4. At Annexe 2 are the responses from the participants to the scheme with the comments of the SIG shown in italics.

5. At Annexe 3 are issues identified by officers and suggestions for improvement. The SIG’s comments are shown in italics.

6. At Annexe 4 is a statistical analysis of the application of the scheme by Committee. It shows that on average 69% of people take up the opportunity to speak whilst only 36% of the time Town and Parish Council’s take the opportunity to put their view to the Committee.

7. A revised information leaflet incorporating recommended changes is attached at Annexe 5.

8. The main change proposed is to allow people to speak not only at the first meeting at which an application is discussed but also at any subsequent meeting. The remainder of the scheme is largely unchanged apart from some administration and information improvements.



Name: John Anderson Telephone: 01483 523298

E-mail: janderson@waverley.gov.uk