Robert Jenrick has responded to calls to relax regulations requiring elected members to be physically present in order for committee meetings to proceed. Given the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak many Councils have cancelled their planning committee meetings, leading to severe delays on the determination of planning applications. The Government has brought forward much needed legislation to allow committee meetings to take place via video-conferencing for a temporary period.
The use of video-conferencing by local authorities will assist officers in having the confidence to use their increased delegated authority. It will allow for the views of committee members to be made and accessed remotely by the officer, with appropriate weight given to the comments made and a decision whether to proceed with a delegated decision.
Equally important will be the ability for applicants and the public to be able to speak for or against planning applications at planning committees. An exclusion would surely not adhere with the Local Government Act and could equally lead to a Judicial Review challenge.
For more information, please contact a member of our team.