Planning committee meetings

When and where does the committee meet?

It meets every three weeks on a Wednesday at 6:30pm at The Beacon, Portway, Wantage, OX12 9BY.    Sometimes it meets at other venues so please check before you set out.  The Beacon is fully accessible, has an induction loop, and disabled parking close by.  There is a cafe on the ground floor.  The meetings are open to the public.

Meeting dates and venues are on the calendar of meetings.

What applications does the committee consider?

The committee considers a range of planning applications depending upon the scale, degree of complexity and level of community interest.  If there are several applications for one site, the committee may consider these together, but vote on each recommendation.

The Head of Planning makes decisions on approximately 90 per cent of applications under delegated powers.   The planning committee considers most applications for large developments, which are applications for 200 or more houses or where the site is 2 hectares or more in size.   Smaller applications can be considered by the committee if the chairman agrees to the local district councillor request to call in an application. 

How do I find out what the committee will consider?

  • The agenda and reports for each meeting are open to the public. Agendas are published five working days before a meeting and can be viewed online.  If you sign up to our email alerts you will be notified of an item going to the planning committee.
  • Agendas and officers’ reports can be found by clicking on the relevant meeting on the calendar of meetings.
  • To find all the published information about the application, type the application number into the search box on the council’s website and follow the suggested links.

Can I speak about an application?

You can only speak at the planning committee about an application if:

  • you have made an application, or have commented in writing on an application and the application is on the agenda; and
  • you have registered to speak before the meeting; and
  • you register each time the committee considers the application; and
  • the report covers the planning merits of the application, not just legal matters.

How do I arrange to speak at the meeting?

Planning services will write to or email you a week before the meeting when an application you have made or commented on will be considered.

If you want to speak, you must inform Planning Services at the council in writing (post, email or online registration) before noon on the day before the meeting.  If you miss the deadline, you will not be allowed to speak.  Send requests to speak to:

We cannot accept telephone requests to speak.  Planning services may not be aware of requests sent to other council email addresses and you may find you have not been registered.

You should tell us which application(s) you are speaking about; whether you are objecting to or supporting the application; if you are an agent or representing a parish/town council/meeting; and give your name, address and a contact telephone number/email address.  With your permission, we will share your contact details with other registered speakers so that you can co-ordinate your presentations within the three minutes allowed.

What happens at the meeting?

The committee, led by the chairman, considers only items on the published agenda.  Items may be heard in a different order to that published.  A planning officer introduces the application, referring to the report which recommends whether the application should be approved or refused.  Plans and photos are usually displayed.

The committee hears presentations from people registered to speak and from the local ward councillor(s). The committee may ask questions of clarification.  The committee votes whether to approve the application (with conditions), refuse it, or defer it for more information.  After the vote, you may leave the meeting quietly before the committee moves on to the next item.  If you do leave the meeting, please move away from the committee room so that your conversations cannot be overheard by those in the room.

The committee may decide to defer consideration of an application at the start of the meeting and not discuss it that evening.  If this happens, you may leave the meeting. You will need to re-register if you wish to speak when the application comes to the committee again.  We will write to you again a week before the meeting when the application will be considered.

Who speaks when and what do I do?

The chairman invites registered speakers in order:

  1. town or parish councils (each parish/town council/meeting in whose area the application site lies);
  2. objectors and/or their representatives (all together as one group);
  3. applicant and/or their agent and/or supporters (all together as one group); then
  4. district councillor(s) for that ward (each speaks separately: three minutes shared equally for councillors not on the committee; no restriction for committee members).

You will be asked to sit at the speakers’ table and use the microphone.  When your time is finished the committee may ask you questions of clarification.  You only have one opportunity to speak to the committee during the meeting.  You cannot take part in the debate, interrupt, or speak to the councillors or officers during the meeting.  You must not attempt to engage with other speakers (objectors or supporters) while you are addressing the committee.

How long can I speak?

Each speaker or group of speakers can speak for up to three minutes on each application site (even if there are several applications for the site).

A group of speakers may appoint one person to speak on their behalf.  Otherwise speakers share the three minutes, speaking in the order they registered.  They do not have to share the time equally.  It is up to the individual speakers to decide how to allocate the time allowed.  If speakers cannot agree, the chairman will decide on the time allowed for each person.

How do I best use my time?

This will depend on the particular application, but the committee can only consider relevant planning issues.  Examples of these are:

  • whether the site is suitable for development;
  • design, appearance and layout;
  • loss of light or other amenity;
  • highway safety and traffic;
  • loss of privacy;
  • noise, disturbance and smell;
  • local and national planning policy and government guidance.

Can I show pictures or hand written statements?

If you want to display photographs or drawings during your speech, you must email them to planning@whitehorsedc.govuk or send them on a clearly identifiable CD to the planning department at the address below by noon on the day before the meeting.

Please do not bring electronic copies or printed papers to the meeting as we are unable to distribute or display these at the last minute.

The committee cannot accept new material at the meeting because this does not give everyone time to read and comment on the contents.

You should discuss any new information you think relates to the decision with the planning officer well before the meeting.

Council officers cannot circulate information to committee members on your behalf. Committee members’ contact details are available on our website should you wish to send information to them directly. Please copy any such correspondence to the planning officer.

Last reviewed: 31 - 01 - 2017

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