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‘Call-in’ called back

Created on 03/07/2020 @ 11:21
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By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

Councillors will once again be able to “call-in” controversial planning applications in their areas to be decided by the planning committee.

Powys County Council’s planning committee, holding its first e-meeting since before the March lockdown, discussed the six-month call-in suspension.

During the last couple of months, controversial applications that would have been decided by committee have been approved by planning officers under delegated powers.

Committee chairman, Councillor Karl Lewis, said: “My concern is, are all members comfortable of making decision on applications in this format? I’m not overly keen in using this system. If the majority are, I would be happy to lift it.”

Councillor Iain McIntosh, said: “I’m certainly in favour, it’s important that if we have an issue in our ward that we are able to raise that and bring it to committee if need be.”

Cllr McIntosh was willing to propose the reinstatement.

Councillor Elwyn Vaughan, pointed out that people are concerned at the lack of information on planning applications in their neighbourhood.

He added that not being able to see their councillor calling-in controversial applications to be discussed at committee was adding to this sense of injustice.

Cllr Vaughan, said: “They feel left out of the democratic process and that’s why we should reinstate the call in option and I am willing to second the proposal.”

Welshpool Councillor Phil Pritchard wanted to go a step further and reinstate face-to-face meetings, back at the council chamber in Llandrindod Wells.

Cllr Pritchard believed that because the Welsh Parliament is moving to hybrid meetings with 20 members in the Senedd chamber and 40 attending remotely, an announcement would be made imminently by the Welsh Government on local authority meetings.

He told councillors he believed that face to face council meetings, if social distancing rules can be satisfied, would be reinstated in the next round of Welsh Government announcements.

Cllr Lewis, added: “I totally agree with you, there’s nothing better than face to face discussion.

“I have contacted Clive Pinney (Head of Legal Service) to request if we could meet back in the chamber as soon as possible.”

Councillors voted unanimously to quash the suspension and Cllr Lewis has now lifted it. New applications can now be called in.

The planning department will work through the backlog to find out how many applications need to be “called-in”.

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