Planning department accused of “undermining democracy”

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Thursday, February 6th, 2020 9:32pm

By Emily Gill - Local Democracy Reporter

A town and county councillor has accused Monmouthshire council’s planning department of “undermining democracy” and has questioned the point of the town council’s planning committee.

Addressing the committee he said: “Monmouth Town Council planning committee met last night (February 3) to discuss the application and noted that a week before our meeting to discuss it that county council planning had made a recommendation to approve the proposed development.

“It appears the county council planning does not consider our views. Our perspective is they would fail to be consolidated into the officers report.

“Secondly, the chair and members of Monmouthshire Town Council’s planning committee are there to represent our residents.

“The question has been asked as to whether there’s any point to having a Monmouth Town Council planning committee if our views are not provided in good time for members of the county council planning committee to consider.

“It also feels as if the process has been rushed. We normally have 21 days in which to respond and in this case only 14 days.

“If I understand correctly, we are unable to approve the application today, only recommend approval due to the consultation end date being Friday 7 February.

“Unfortunately, as the planning portal has been down for a considerable time I am unable to verify this.

“The Monmouth Town councillors feel that the process has undermined local democracy and the current thoughts are that the committee may disband.”

A spokesman for the county council said: “Monmouthshire County Council planning seek to ensure positive engagement with communities and value the contribution of Monmouth Town Council (MTC) in the planning application decision making process.

“The planning application was submitted to the council in June 2019 and MTC were consulted on the proposals as normal, the town council recommended that the application should be refused.

“Planning officers subsequently worked with the applicant to amend the scheme to address the concerns of the MTC and local residents.

“The amended scheme reduced the scale of the development.  We provided the amended plans to MTC and local residents for further comment prior to the planning committee meeting.

“This is not a legal requirement however we consider it to be good practice to keep communities informed with proposed development.

“MTC views on the proposed development were fully considered by the planning committee when considering the proposals.

“We have been working with MTC to ensure that material planning considerations are fully considered when they provide comments on proposals and we will certainly continue to work with them in the future to provide them with support through the planning process.”

The application in question was approved by the planning committee.

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