Planning decisions in Berkswell Parish are taken by the planning authority which is Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council. The parish council is a “statutory consultee”. That is to say that by law the PC must be consulted. However, the PC does not have the power to take decisions on planning matters it can only give its opinion to the planning authority. Its opinion carries no more weight than provided by a resident but the parish councillor often know the planning rules better than the average resident.
How to Influence a planning decision
By all means if a planning application concerns or interests you, please come to the parish council meeting to express your view. However, if you wish to strongly influence the planning process you must let the planning authority know your view on firstname.lastname@example.org
Full details of a planning application can be found on the Solihull web site on https://publicaccess.solihull.gov.uk/online-applications/
You can search for a planning application either by entering the planning application number which will get you straight to it or by typing in the road name and the system will give you details of all applications in that road including historical ones. You can select the one that you are interested in.
You are not on your own
Whilst weight of numbers is not important to the Council officers making the decision on planning applications large numbers expressing concern can help influence a decision in the following manner.
Six objections received by the planning department normally require the application to be considered by the planning committee if the officers support approval of the planning application. A Borough Councillor can also “call in” a planning application so that the Planning Committee consider it. The planning committee is composed of elected Borough Councillors. They are sensitive to local views and will sometimes exercise their discretion on issues such as amenity and very special circumstances (a greenbelt term) in a different way to officials.
Your local Borough Councillor has the right to address the planning committee for 4 minutes. They are known to the Councillors sitting on the Planning Committee and sometimes bring credibility to an issue which is otherwise is hard to explain.
The planning committee will allow one resident the opportunity to address the planning committee for 3 minutes. It is important that you have objected and then apply to speak before the meeting as indicated in the letter you will receive advising you of the date of the planning committee. Whilst only one resident can speak, if it is obvious that a large number of people support that resident, naturally the planning committee will understand that you are not just a lone objector. Any number of people can attend a planning committee meeting to watch but it is very important that they are polite. Intimidating the planning committee members is only likely to make them react against you.
If you plan to speak at the planning committee, then the parish council will almost always exercise its right to speak. Like the Ward Borough Councillor, the PC can also speak for 4 minutes.
It is best that if addressing the planning committee, the ward Borough Councillor, resident and parish council co-ordinate to make best use of the time allowed (which is not much).
The planning rules for new planning applications
Planning decisions should be made within the context of planning policies established by government, Solihull Council and the Berkswell NDP (after the referendum planned for mid-2019). Your parish councillors can often help you frame letters.
There ae two important documents and if you frame support or objection to a planning application with specific reference to those rules you stand more chance of success. Those two documents are
- The National Planning Policy Framework (currently 2019) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-planning-policy-framework--2
- The Solihull Local Plan (Currently 2013) http://www.solihull.gov.uk/Portals/0/Planning/LDF/Local_Plan_Final.pdf
- These will be joined by the Berkswell NDP once it has passed its referendum. That has important local planning policies
Other important documents worth reading are:
The Planning Committee Handbook The Planning Committee Handbook
Neighbour Letter which explains valid planning considerations – a must to read if you plan to object Neighbour Letter
The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order, England 2015 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1995/418/contents/made
House extension guidelines House extension guide
Breaches of planning Rules
If you see something that you thing has been done without planning permission you should notify Solihull Council by email or in writing. Attach photos and other evidence to make it clear that which concerns you. Also make sure that you clearly specify where the building etc is located. Road name and house number and post code. Adding a grid reference in a country area can be helpful. The email address is email@example.com
There is no legal duty on a Council to enforce planning rules. Most do and most have a ;policy of what they will do if there is a planning infringement. The Solihull enforcement policy is here Enforcement Policy
Planning applications 2017/18, 2018/19 & 2019/20
The applications and Parish Council's responses to each can be viewed in the following document: