If Council Members wish to refuse an application against officer advice
Section 54A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 requires all planning applications to be determined by reference to the Development Plan, if material to the application, and any other material consideration. If the Development Plan is material to the application then the statutory position is that the application should be determined in accordance with the Development Plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise. The emphasis in determining applications is upon a plan led system. It’s recognised that Councillors have the right to weigh material planning matters in any way they can objectively justify. However, the weighting judgments they make should not be arbitrary or subjective. They should reflect expert views, such as an AONB consultative report, and be supported by objective information and reference to the NPPF and Local Plans.
In discussing, and then determining, a planning application or other planning matter Members will confine themselves to the planning merits of the case and the reasons for making a final decision should be clear and convincing, and supported by planning evidence. If members wish to refuse an application against officer advice, or impose additional conditions to a permission, the reasons for refusal or the additional conditions to be applied must be clearly stated at the time the propositions are moved at the meeting.
If a resolution is passed which is contrary to a recommendation of the Chief Planning Adviser (whether for approval or refusal) a detailed Minute of the Committee’s reasons will be made and a copy placed on the application file.
The debate on a planning application will be confined to the planning merits of a development proposal.
Departure from the development plan — where the local planning authority (LPA) does not intend to refuse the planning application, the Secretary of State (SOS) must be notified and sent details when:
• 150 + houses or flats are proposed
• 10 000 m2 + retail floor space is proposed
• the LPA has an interest (e.g. owns the land)
• the Development Plan will be prejudiced if SOS does not call in. The LPA can approve if SOS has not responded within 31 days.