Force LAs to publish comments on planning applications in full online

Compel LAs to publish all planning comments in full online. Our LA did this but then stopped citing various excuses such as use of officer time which was ridiculous.

 

Why the contribution is important

Residents now need to present in person to make an appointment, with a planning officer, to view them during office hours as they have also been removed from libraries. This means taking time off work which is a complete barrier to many residents. So instead of one officer doing the job in minutes online just once, on a major application dozens if not hundreds of hours are being squandered at huge cost. As the LA refuses to cost officer time stating they are employed there anyway, the true costs are hidden along with the comments and serves as a disencentive to public engagement.

by Dijit on January 28, 2016 at 11:13AM

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Based on : 11 votes

Comments

  • Posted by cheng January 29, 2016 at 16:17

    They should also be compelled to publish online all minutes of meetings with developers or their agents. This would avoid having to raise a FOI request to gain access to this information.
  • Posted by Stevep February 04, 2016 at 09:44

    cant see how seeing other people's comments makes any significant difference - if a person in a community has a comment to make then they should be able to do so, and it should be their own views. Simply repeating the views of another doesn't make that person's view any more correct nor doers it necessarily add any more weight.
  • Posted by DC February 05, 2016 at 10:39

    I agree with Stevep. Other people's comments are interesting sometimes but hardly critical to other submitters. While I don't work in Local Government myself I do know that while each letter or piece of paper might only take a few minutes to read, redact personal info and upload, Councils' get many pieces of correspondance and the cumulative amount of time spent doing this must be horrendous. I would rather planners and Planning Authorities spent their scarce time and resources doing more important things like considering the proposal timeously and well rather than uploading bits of paper.
  • Posted by cheng February 05, 2016 at 20:28

    What's this obsession with secrecy within the planning system? What do they want to hide?
    A full and open discussion with all views and opinions available to all is a fundamental requirement in a modern democracy.

  • Posted by BKerrSmith February 13, 2016 at 15:15

    It's interesting that Stevep and DC don't think that it's worth seeing other people's comments - when they are in fact responding to another person's comment as they do so. Comments often highlight additional aspects of information surrounding an application and, as such, ought to be made public to ensure a better-informed outcome.
  • Posted by cba1 February 14, 2016 at 20:39

    I don't just want to see what other people have written, I want to be sure that what I wrote has been 'received' correctly. Having seen the 'interpretation' summary made by officers about my own and other people's comments (which I got given independently) you realise that not all is necessarily what it may seem.

    It really is very galling to have your objection to something then cited by the council as supporting ...
  • Posted by BW February 16, 2016 at 19:09

    Certainly with Aberdeenshire, and I suspect other LAs there is a great deal of public distrust in the planning department and the all too obvious cosy relationship with developers, particularly wind turbine operators. There has been many, many examples of misinformation and even outright fraudulent data being submitted by developers, it is essential that all submissions by the developer are in the public domain and open to comment. I have certainly seen examples of developers failing to submit critical information until after the closure of the public comments window, and in complete disrespect to the principles of local democracy and accountability the council let them get away with it. If new documents, reports, correspondence or similar are submitted in support of an application they should be published into the public domain, not just hidden in the council office and the public should have the right to comment, and expect their comments to be seriously considered. All comments should be visible for the simple reason that one supporter or objector may raise issues that other members of the public are unaware of and should be informed of.
    The current system is totally biased in favour of developers and the process focussed on speeding up the processing and reducing cost. Planning departments see the general public as a nuisance. Quoting cost as a reason for not having open and fair local government is not a valid excuse, simply ensure that the fees charged to developers reflect the cost.
  • Posted by DC February 18, 2016 at 15:55

    All documents pertaining to a planning application are, I believe, available for the public to view. They just aren't always on a website. If Planning Authorities have the resources to put every bit of paper on the website then that is fine but pragmatically speaking, and reading in the news about funding cuts and shortfalls, I don't think this is a priority. Maybe planning fees or Council budgets need to be increased to cover these expenses if they are considered so vital but first it is important to be clear on priorities.
  • Posted by allanalstead February 20, 2016 at 10:25

    The Planning process needs to be open and available to everyone. By hiding behind excuses the LAs appear to be hiding information.
  • Posted by BW February 24, 2016 at 16:27

    Planning fees definitely need to be increased to cover the cost of processing the application, including complete and open publication of all documentation and correspondence. Only then will the public have any confidence that there are no shady deals and behind closed doors negotiations between planners and developers. Everything used in determining an application should be in the public domain. Wind turbine developers in Scotland pay a fraction of the planning fees that they would pay to submit the same application south of the border.
    I'm not talking about residential applications to change windows or build a conservatory I am specifically talking about wind turbine, solar panel farm developers and housing estate developers who make millions if their applications are consented but expect the tax payer to subsidise their repeat applications and appeals.
    All environmental reports should be performed by someone selected from a list of approved service providers by the council and the bill sent to the developers. At the moment the developers write their own assessments or use their own consultants. He who pays the piper.....
  • Posted by Monkstone February 24, 2016 at 16:52

    This might highlight how planning officials respond to reasonable questions from the public when they reply with obfuscating responses.
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