Agenda item - Chair's Communications

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Agenda item

Chair's Communications


99.1      Planning Committee is a regulatory committee. It is a statutory requirement that members do not vote along Party lines. Currently, our committee is made up of 3 Green, 3 Labour, 2 Conservative, and 2 Independent councillors, and I am pleased to say that in my experience on this committee over many years, no-one, regardless of Party affiliations, breaks this statute.


The work of the planning committee is an extension of the role of the whole Local Planning Authority. Our job is to do our best to grant permission for those developments which enhance our city and refuse those which would damage it. Obviously, most, if not all, proposed developments have pros and cons; so, what we do is attempt to ascertain the planning balance. To determine whether a proposal do more harm than good, or not.


The trouble is that the legislative framework within which we have to operate often makes it hard for us to do this for the benefit of the city. Of late there have been an increasing number of changes coming out of Westminster, which are making our job more and more difficult. A few months ago, the Government decided it was going to bring in a system whereby a computer algorithm would determine the housing targets of Local Planning Authorities. This arbitrarily placed massive increases on authorities in the southeast. I’m pleased to say that the resultant consultation united Councils with Blue, Red, Green, and Yellow administrations in opposition. Sadly, the proceeding U-turn resulted in the Government introducing another arbitrary system, whereby all this extra housing burden would fall on the shoulders of the largest 20 urban authorities.


Unfortunately, slipping in under the wire at number 20 on that list, came Brighton & Hove. So, by the stroke of a pen, because we’re number 20, as opposed to number 21, come June, we will have 35% extra tacked on to our already overly-ambitious housing target. This will potentially have a devastating impact on our ability to determine the planning balance; as so much of that has to, by law, depend on our ability to meet our housing target.


In future then, when an application is approved either here, or, as in the vast majority of cases, by our fantastic team of dedicated planning officers, remember, were we to be looking at a policy which allowed for genuinely sustainable growth, we would be able to demand a much higher quality of development, with much greater social and environmental value embedded in it, than we are legally allowed to.


Nonetheless, I have absolutely confidence that my colleagues and I, irrespective of party loyalties, will continue to do whatever we can, under the law, to protect the city we all love, and encourage developments sympathetic to its unique character.



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