New committees set up for planning applications

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Changes are being made to the way planning applications are decided by councillors.

From September two committees will be scrapped and replaced by new ones.

Mid Sussex District Council says the change will ensure local accountability and making better use of its resources.

The council will drop its South West Area and North East Area planning committees and replace them with two new District wide planning committees. The new committees will consider all small scale planning applications, no matter where they are in the district.

Under the current system, planning applications are split by location between the South West Area and North East Area planning committees.

However, the council says this can lead to more applications being submitted for one area of the District than the other, something which puts extra pressure on the planning committees and can limit the amount of time that is available to discuss each application.

The council says moving to two district-wide planning committees will allow it to balance the

workload of planning applications, spreading them equally between the two committees and offering a greater choice of dates for a planning application to be considered by committee, which will speed up some decisions.

Under the new set-up local councillors will continue to be able to speak on applications in their ward at committee meetings, to represent the views of the local community. Each new committee will have 12 members drawn from across Mid Sussex to ensure that there is still plenty of local knowledge to guide decision making.

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Bigger planning applications for schemes more than 2000 square feet or for more than 50 homes will continue to be decided by the District Planning committee that was established in 2008.

Councillor Gary Marsh, Cabinet Member for Planning said: “Over the past two years we have used the latest planning guidance to improve the quality and efficiency of our planning meetings,”

“This change to district wide planning committees is the latest step in modernising our planning structure.”

“Our new planning committees will give us greater flexibility when it comes to determining planning applications, which will speed up the time applicants have to wait for a decision. Dealing with applications from across Mid Sussex will also lead to more balanced, impartial and consistent decision making because members will have more time to consider each application in a professional and knowledgeable manner, and to listen to local Councillors’ representations.” All meetings will continue to be at 7pm.