Have your say at Council meetings
Speaking at Planning Committee
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What is Public Participation?
Members of the public can ask to speak to East Sussex County Council’s Planning Committee to stress the importance of points they have made and to satisfy themselves that Councillors have all the information they need to decide planning applications or whether objections to traffic regulation orders should be upheld. Usually up to 6 people will be invited to speak on each proposal, (3 in support and 3 against, one of which can be the applicants or their agent). Typically each speaker will be given up to 3 minutes. The total time allocated for presentations will be the same for both sides of the argument up to a maximum of 9 minutes per side.
Who can speak to the Committee?
As a member of the public or organisation, if you wish to speak to the Committee, you must have already sent in a written comment about the application or traffic regulation order. The County Council must have received written representations from you on the planning application or proposed traffic order at least 7 days in advance of the meeting. Written representations in relation to a planning application must have been made to the relevant case officer in the Planning Policy and Development Management team.
If that pre-requisite has been met, residents’ associations, local businesses and other people who live in the county can ask the Democratic Services Officer for the opportunity to speak to the Committee (1). Contact that officer as soon as you know you wish to be considered to speak so that they can tell you when the application is likely to be considered. Only those residents or organisations that have submitted views will be allowed to speak and, therefore, you will not be allowed to be represented by solicitors or other professional agents. Your local County Councillor can always speak on your behalf. Generally, only one representative for the applicant will be invited to speak.
(1) Planning applications will generally fall to be determined by the Planning Committee when 2 or more written representations are received which raise objections to the proposal on planning grounds. If you wish to know whether any particular application will be determined by the Planning Committee, please contact the case officer. The Council’s Scheme of Delegation, which details the delegation arrangements in full, is available on the Council’s website.
How will I know when the item I am interested in is going to Committee?
The Democratic Services Team – 01273 337495 – has details of Committee dates and 8 days before the Committee will know which items are on the agenda. Details of dates and agenda can also be found on www.eastsussex.gov.uk. Applications can attract many letters; it is not possible for us to alert you individually to Committee dates.
Copies of the officer’s report will be on the website after 5.00pm on the Tuesday prior to the meeting or can be obtained from the Democratic Services Officer.
Please read the report carefully before deciding what you want to say. The Committee members will have read the report. What you can add is information on points you have submitted or a particular emphasis you feel is not being made.
How do I register my interest in speaking?
You will need to telephone the Democratic Services Officer on 01273 337495 no later than 12 noon on the Friday before the meeting.
When you ring please be prepared to give:
- your name, address and daytime telephone number
- the application number and proposed development to which it refers or details of the traffic regulation order you wish to speak about
- confirmation that you have made a written representation to the Council on the planning application or traffic regulation order (checks will be made as necessary)
- whether you wish to speak in support of, or against and whether you also represent anyone else
- confirmation that you are prepared to have your details passed onto other callers with similar views so that you can also speak on their behalf
- details of any special access arrangements you may require
What if I am unable to turn up on the day?
You may nominate a substitute that fulfils all the necessary criteria for speaking at Committee. You must give details to the Democratic Services Officer no later than 4:00pm on the day before the meeting.
What happens on the day?
If you are invited to speak to the Committee, you should aim to arrive at County Hall, Lewes, at least a quarter of an hour before the meeting begins (usually by 10:15am). A member of staff will meet you and explain the procedures.
What will happen in the meeting?
The Chair will ask the appropriate officer to introduce the report and explain the reason for any recommendations.
Each member of the public who has registered to speak will then be invited to speak.
It is, of course, up to you what you decide to say, but it might be useful to bear in mind:
- the Committee will listen to what you say but will not debate the merit of your opinions with you
- your allotted time will be timed using a coloured lighting system - the Chair will invite you to start speaking when the green light comes on, the amber light comes on when you have one minute left (which you should use as a warning) and you should complete your speech before the red light comes on
- concentrate on explaining the points that you (or the group you are representing) have already made in writing. You should not attempt to surprise the Committee with new information, photographs or additional written material. Any such information should have already been given to the planning
- officers in time for them to evaluate it professionally
The Committee can only consider a planning application on planning grounds. You should not discuss the applicant's past behaviour nor speculate about what you think their possible future intentions may be. You may not discuss boundary disputes, covenants, reduction in property values or matters dealt with by other laws (for example, licensing). Consideration of the traffic regulation orders is related to the representations received.
Proceedings of the Planning Committee are broadcast live by webcast and are recorded on DVD and duly archived on our website for a period of 6 months for future reference.
Who are the people that may speak?
- up to 3 individuals or group representatives, including any parish or town council representative, who are opposing the planning application or traffic regulation order
- up to 3 individuals or group representatives, including any parish or town council representative and the applicant, who are supporting the planning application or traffic regulation order
- local County Councillors
If more than 3 individuals or representatives wish to raise similar points, the Democratic Services Officer will ask them to agree amongst themselves who should speak for them. If necessary, the Chair of the Committee will decide which members of the public may speak on the issue.
What happens after I have spoken?
After the speeches by the public, applicants and local county councillors, the Committee will consider the application or traffic regulation order. Although this will be done in public, there will be no further opportunities for non-committee members to speak.
Useful telephone numbers and addresses
Individual planning officers will normally ask you to write to them personally. The address for general purposes is:
Planning Policy and Development Management
Communities Economy and Transport
County Hall, St. Anne's Crescent
Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 1UE
Tel: 01273 481846
For further information and advice about the public speaking arrangements please contact the Democratic Services Officer:
County Hall, St. Anne's Crescent
Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 1UE
Tel: 01273 337495
All meetings are scheduled to start at 10.30 am.
Please check the East Sussex County Council Website at www.eastsussex.gov.uk or telephone the Democratic Services Team on 01273 337495 for information regarding committees.
Link to Web-Cast Live and Recordings of recent meetings
Updated: June 2022