Planning Committee procedures

Covid-19 Response - Interim Planning Committee Procedure

Currently over 90% of decisions on planning applications are delegated to officers, in line with the Council’s adopted scheme of delegation. Decision-making on applications falling under the scheme of delegation continues unaffected, with the requisite technology generally performing well whilst the entire Planning Service is working remotely.

Current circumstances mean that the Council’s Planning and Development Committee cannot meet in its usual form. 
An extended hiatus on decision making would not be beneficial for the local economy, and may slow the economic recovery of the area. Furthermore the decisions taken by the local planning authority have the potential to be the subject of third party appeal and/or legal challenge, the latter in particular being able to focus on the mechanics of any decision made. Applicants also have the potential to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate if delays to decision making take an application beyond its deadline for determination. Hence it is essential that a robust and timely decision making process is at the very heart of any alternative mechanisms put in place.
Until further notice, all Planning and Development Committee meetings will be carried out using Zoom, and broadcast on the Borough Council's YouTube site

Third parties are still able to participate in committee, in line with current practice. For all planning applications considered by committee there is an opportunity for one person to address the committee in favour and one against each application, along with a representative of a town or parish council. Such addresses must be no longer than three minutes. Ward councillors can address the committee for an unlimited time.

Any participant must register to speak no later than 5pm two working days before the committee meeting. An invitation to the Zoom meeting will be provided via email, with instructions for use.  This invitation should not be shared, and the opportunity to speak cannot be passed on to another party without the prior agreement of the Council.

Participants are advised to provide (by email) a written version of their intended address (max 400 words) at least 24 hours before the committee meeting. This will be read out to members by a council officer should the participant be unable to access the virtual meeting or if they encounter connectivity issues whilst delivering their address.

Please click here for further information regarding the Planning and Development Committee, including meetings, agendas, reports and minutes.


Our Pre-Covid 19 Procedures:

About 90% of planning applications are decided by the professional planning staff.  These decisions are reported for information only to the Planning and Development Committee.  The committee has the responsibility to determine the most important or significant applications. 

Who are the people at the committee?

In the centre at the front sits the Chair, who is a Councillor appointed by the Council for this role. To his/her side are Officers employed by the Council to advise on Planning, Legal and Administrative matters.

The Planning Officers will usually includeThe Head of Planning Services and other Planning Officers who will present individual cases.

Sometimes, specialist Policy, Legal or Design Officers will also attend.

Members of the Committee sit around the table facing the Chairman. They are all elected Borough Councillors.

Members of the public and the Applicant are entitled to be present but may not speak unless they have registered for the Public Speaking Scheme.

How is business dealt with?

The Chairman will announce each item. There is normally a comprehensive written report circulated with the agenda. (This report is available for viewing 5 working days prior to the committee date at the relevant Planning Office and on the web site). The Chairman will then ask an Officer to present the report, bringing it up to date if necessary.  Any speakers will then be heard.

The chair invites questions and views from the Members and the Officer will reply whenever necessary.

Next, a motion will be proposed and seconded, debated if necessary, and a vote taken. In the event of a tie the Chair has a second or casting vote.

There are three possible decisions:

Approve: usually subject to conditions, which must be reasonable and may be challenged on appeal to the Secretary of State.
Refuse: sound planning reasons must be given which the authority may have to substantiate in the event of an appeal.  A refusal may be agreed even though the principle of the development is acceptable.  In these cases the applicant may wish to resubmit an amended application.
Defer: if all the information needed to make a decision is not available or to allow time for further action before the decision is finally made.  Deferment is very rare.
There are strict rules about the declaration of interests, affecting both Members and Officers.  Where the Committee decision is different to the officer recommendation, the Committee are required to give reasons and these are minuted.

What is the basis for a decision?

Decisions must be based on planning issues, for example:
  • Central Government guidance
  • Regional Policy
  • Local Policy
  • Highway safety
  • Landscape impact
  • Local amenity, noise, privacy
  • Case law and previous decisions
  • Conservation of buildings, trees etc
  • Appearance
The following examples are not normally planning issues:
  • Reduction in property values
  • Ownership disputes
  • Business competition
  • Moral considerations
  • Restrictive covenants
  • Personal circumstances or private rights
  • Matters controlled by other legislation (eg licensing)
A retrospective application submitted after work has been carried out has to be determined on its planning merits like any other. Even if many people object, permission cannot be refused without good planning reasons.

What if I don't like the decision?

The applicant may appeal to the Secretary of State against refusal or the imposition of conditions. If at appeal either the Appellant or the Council is held to have behaved unreasonably, costs may be awarded to the other side.
third party (eg a neighbour) has no right of appeal to the Secretary of State, but there are other options:
  • The Council’s internal complaints procedure (complaints about the conduct of Members or Officers)
  • The Ombudsman (complaints about the way a matter has been handled – not about the decision itself)
  • Judicial review in the High Court
Further information about the first two options is available from Council Offices, but the third requires expert advice from a solicitor.
The Planning and Development Committee meets every 3 weeks at The Town Hall, St Nicholas Street, Scarborough.  The exact dates can be viewed on the Planning Committee meetings page.