Day in the life of being a councillor: Planning Committee

Before I became a councillor I didn’t know much about planning. Since being elected I’ve now got almost three years of experience on the Planning Committee. Basic uncontentious decisions are taken by officers under what is known as delegated powers – this often leaves the tricky cases for the elected councillors to deliberate and vote on. In most cases there are no right or wrong decisions it’s just a matter of weighing up which case is strongest. Yesterday we had to wrestle with a planning decision in St Johns where an HMO was being extended from five to six beds. We need more accommodation – so approve? Problem is that the roads in the area are packed with cars meaning that many park on the pavements and this obstructs the pavements for push chairs, mobility scooters etc. I was particularly vexed with this case because we have a county council standard that calls for all new accommodation to have cycle storage that is covered, secure and easily accessible. Yet this developer was not able to convince me that this was at all possible to achieve – they had not even bothered to put any details for the proposed cycle storage on their submitted plans. If we want to reduce traffic and congestion in the city we need good public transport, good pavements and cycle paths but we also need to make sure that cycling is built into all new homes by having good covered, secure and easily accessible cycle storage. Can you imagine a developer submitting a house plan and not showing where the cars are to be parked? Why the complacency on cycle infrastructure?

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