The law requires that local planning authorities (eg. South Oxfordshire District Council) notify parish councils of the existence of planning applications relating to the parish concerned. Parish councils are not strictly speaking statutory consultees on planning applications, but the District Council has, since 1974, supplied a copy of all relevant applications to parish councils, and invited their comments thereon. In return, the District Council expects parish councils to ensure that affected neighbours are aware of the contents of an application.
As the District Council requires comments of parish councils on applications within 21 days of their despatch to the parish councils, the Parish Council has, for the past 30+ years, relied upon a Plans Sub-Committee to consider applications, between meetings of the Council. This comprises at least one councillor from each of the 5 settlements – Cane End, Chalkhouse Green, Gallowstree Common, Kidmore End and Tokers Green.
In 1996, the Council adopted the following method of operation for the Plans Sub-Committee:
- The Clerk passes applications, as soon as possible after receipt, to the member of the Plans Sub-Committee for settlement concerned.
- That member of Sub-Committee, in consultation with other members of the Sub-Committee (if felt appropriate), inspects the site and seeks to show the application to neighbours of the site.
- If that member of the Sub-Committee feels it is appropriate, he/she requests the Clerk to refer the application to the full Council.
- That member of Sub-Committee submits appropriate comments to the Clerk for onward transmission to the District Council.
- The Clerk sends any subsequent invitation to address the Planning Committee of the District Council to the relevant member of the Sub-Committee.
- That member of the Sub-Committee decides, in consultation with the Chairman of Council, whether the opportunity to speak is to be taken.
- If the opportunity is to be taken, that member of the Sub-Committee acts as spokesperson, or arranges for another member of the Sub-Committee to perform that role.
Therefore, residents notified by the District Council of a planning application should contact the relevant member of the Plans Sub-Committee, although plans can be viewed on the District Council’s website.
Make sure you submit your views to the District Council, copying them to the Parish Council, if that is your wish, so that the Parish Council can take them into account in its own submission.