Speaking at Planning Committee
Every year we receive around 1,600 planning applications. Each application is important and we want you to be involved in the planning process. You can have your say on applications considered at Planning Committee meetings. You do not have to speak to have your views taken into account as letters carry equal weight and will always be considered carefully. However, you may feel that speaking at the meeting gives you the chance to reinforce the points you have already made in writing.
How public speaking works
Registering your interest
If you would like to speak about an application please use our application form:
Request to Speak at Planning Committee »
You can find out if an application will be discussed about 10 days before the date of the meeting. Details are shown on our applications system. The Planning Committee meets around every four weeks and an agenda with reports for each meeting is usually available seven days before the meeting.
The right to speak
To make sure that the Committee can deal with all of its business, only one person will be allowed to speak for, and one against, any particular planning application. Interests will be registered on a first come, first served basis, but if there is more than one speaker in support of an application preference will be given to the applicant or their agent.
However, an additional speaker will be permitted where a District Councillor has registered to speak for or against an application since they have an automatic right to speak. In exceptional circumstances, further speaking slots may be allocated at the discretion of the Planning Committee Chairman.
The first person who is registered may defer to another speaker at the discretion of the Chairman. It is requested that you notify this change in writing (email firstname.lastname@example.org) by no later than 12 noon on the day of the Committee. This is an opportunity for you or your substitute to address the Committee. If the designated speaker decides on the night that they would prefer not to address the Committee directly, then please note that submissions cannot be read out on their behalf by a Council Officer.
Speaking against an application
The applicant or their agent will be informed if someone registers to speak against their application.
Making the most of the opportunity
You will be able to speak for up to three minutes.
We hope the following points will help you make the best of this opportunity.
Procedure at the meeting
- Meetings of the Planning Committee take place in the Council Chamber of the Council Offices at the White Cliffs Business Park, Dover. They start promptly at 6pm. If you are going to speak, please arrive by 5.45 pm and introduce yourself to the Democratic Services Officer who is clerking the meeting.
- The Clerk will ask you to sit at the back of the Council Chamber.
- Planning applications are dealt with in agenda order and it is impossible to predict how long it will take to debate each application. It may therefore be some time before the Committee reaches the item on which you have asked to speak.
- The Chairman will announce the application on which you wish to speak and invite you to go to the place set aside for public speaking. All desks in the Council Chamber have a microphone so you should have no difficulty in making yourself heard.
- Once any additional information has been reported, the objector will be invited to speak first, followed by the supporter. You will be invited to speak for up to three minutes. This will only be varied in the interest of balance when District Councillors not on the Planning Committee wish to speak on an application. The time limit will be strictly enforced and the Committee Clerk will warn you when you have only 30 seconds left.
- After you have finished speaking, you will be asked to return to your seat. You are welcome to sit and listen to the debate, but will not be able to take part in the discussion.
- After the public has spoken, the Planning Officer will offer any necessary factual clarification and then the Committee will debate the application and move to a vote.
- This usually means that a decision has been reached upon the application, but in a small number of cases, consideration may be deferred for the Committee to visit the site or to receive further information.
- Once a vote has been taken, you need not stay, but you are welcome to remain for some or the rest of the meeting if you so wish.
- The Chairman has responsibility for the smooth running of the meeting. His/her decision on procedural matters is final.
The laws of slander
These laws are very strict. If in public you say something about a person which is not true, even if you believe it to be true, you may be sued and have to pay compensation.
Therefore, you need to be very careful about any criticism you wish to make of people. Councillors are able to speak more freely and bluntly in Committee or Council than members of the public. You, as a member of the public, do not have the same protection.
Matters that CANNOT be taken into account
Planning powers are exercised in the public interest and objections to a planning application on grounds which reflect the writer’s personal and private interests would normally not be applicable. Examples would be:-
- Loss of a view
- Infringement of rights of light
- A breach of covenant attaching to land
- A fear that property may be devalued
- A fear that trade may be lost to a competitor
- Rights of way
Matters that CAN be taken into account
- The Structure and Local Plan policies and proposals for the area
- National Planning Guidance
- The density of development proposed for a site
- The effect of an application on highway safety. Is there a safe access? Would traffic from the development be significantly hazardous to drivers or pedestrians?
- The impact of a proposal on local amenities and the character of the neighbourhood
- The design of the development
- Potential for a building or use to cause unacceptable disturbance or pollution to neighbours or the locality
- Impact upon neighbours in terms of noise, overlooking, overshadowing or overbearing impact
- Impact of the proposal on the character of an area including nature conservation, or a conservation area or a listed building
- The planning history of the site
This is not an exhaustive list - for further guidance, please call our Customer Services team on 01304 821199
Who to contact
Finally, if you wish to question or comment on the conduct of individual Officers or Councillors, or upon procedural matters, this should not be done at Planning Committee. There is a separate process via our complaints procedure.
Telephone: 01304 872486