How the parish council is involved in the planning process.
The Parish Council has no executive powers in deciding planning applications - this is the prerogative of East Hampshire District Council, which is the Planning Authority. However, it is mandatory for the Planning Authority to consult the Parish Council on all applications in its area. The Parish Council can then comment as it sees fit on any application; however, the Planning Authority can disregard these comments if it considers them to be inappropriate.
In order for the Parish Council to make an informed response to the District Council, once an application is received by the clerk details are sent to all councillors so that they can go on-line at http://www.easthants.gov.uk/ and look at the application in detail together with all the site plans, elevations, block plans, design statement etc..
A date is then set for a planning meeting in order to allow councillors to consider the application. Sometimes a site visit is needed prior to this meeting for the councillors to better understand the application. The planning meeting is a public meeting and is advertised at least three days before on the parish notice boards so that members of the public can attend if they wish.
At the meeting councillors will consider all aspects of the application including its position in relation to the existing and neighbouring buildings, its design, whether it creates a loss of privacy or light to nearby properties, its appearance in the streetscene, whether it affects local drainage or parking and the overall needs and requirements of the village. The basis for this information all comes from the Local Plan Second Review which is the EHDC policy guide for planning. This is currently in the process of being replaced by the Local Development Framework.
The Parish Council is completely objective and any councillor who lives close to an application will refrain from passing comment upon it as they may have either a personal or prejudicial interest in the outcome of that application. Councillors take objections to planning applications very seriously and they are not made without good cause which must be grounded in planning law. Applicants have a basic right to expect that when they submit a planning application that it will be approved unless there is justifiable grounds to refuse it ( not the other way round) Whether councillors like an application or not is irrelevant. A common misconception that councillors often hear from neighbouring residents is that you can object to an application if it blocks your view. No one is entitles to a view but you are entitled to privacy.
What the Parish Council can bring to the planning department at EHDC is local knowledge which can help the planning officer when determining the application. Increasingly the village is faced with applications to infill large plots and also people deciding to extend their current property to meet their needs as there is not the housing stock or finances to move within the village.
Once the Parish Council has decided its response, the clerk sends the Parish Council's submission to the case officer at EHDC. If the Parish Council has objected to an application the case officer is asked to only grant permission if the objections can be overcome. Sometimes it is something simple such as some additional rendering, or obscured glass on an upstairs window, sometimes it is more fundamental such as the design of a building or the access to it, in which case if the case officer deems it to be a legitimate material planning objection it is generally refused or the applicant is entitles to withdraw the application and resubmit with amended plans. 90% of planning applications are determined by the case officer for each application. There are occasions though if an application is contentious that the case office might refer the application to committee. This means that the case officer will recommend a decision but the application will be determined by a committee of EHDC made up of district councillors who meet once a month. They will consider all the representation made by both statutory consultees and local residents and and will then vote on whether to grant permission or not.
LOCAL PLAN SECOND REVIEW - All planning applications for development have to be judged against the policies of the local plan. It is very important in setting out the overall distribution of land uses but is also central to every planning application which is submitted in the district.
CONSERVATION AREA - much of the parish of Bentley is designated as a conservation Area. This is defined in law as “an area of special architectural or historic interest the character of which it is desirable to preserve and enhance”. If you own a property in the Conservation Area you will need to apply for permission or give notification to do certain work to your building and to trees. This work includes:
- New development
- Change of use
- Works to listed buildings.