HELP Councilors Planning misconduct ?

3 Mar 2013
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United Kingdom
Hello again, just need some more advice now, my planning application got rejected in the sub commitee and we are going to appeal.

we thought we had 2 objections but actually the officer has told me a few days ago that there was 3, all neighbours yet one is our local councilor, the councilor also lives on the opposite side rear of the property.

The advice i require is can a councilor object to a neighbours planning application yet also visit on the site visit before the commitee as he is part of the planning sub commitee and influence there rest of there collegues, the councillor was ask to leave the commitee at time of the meeting for our application, is this misconduct?
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The councillor should declare an interest and not vote. There are clear conduct standards for this.
Hi, he did not vote but surely they should not be even there at the site visit if they have objected? We could see him pointing out issues to the rest of the councilors at the site visit seems like the rest of the councilors had made there verdict then and there and need not had gone back to the town hall.
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This would be a "prejudicial" interest, and as mentioned above the councillor must declare it and not vote

Its less clear about attending site visits, however as councillors must be seen to be acting with probity, then this could catch this and be deemed a conflict.

Your local council will have published standards which you can review, and then if need be make a complaint to the relevant person at the council
More to the point though, if you do find, or feel that, a conflict was present and this resulted in the unreasonable refusal of your application then you may have grounds for a claim against the council to recover your costs.

You would need to be able to demonstrate that the councillor acted within a conflict of interest and that as a result a decision was made that was not based on planning issues. Ask yourself how likely is it that the proposal would have been approved if it were not for the councillor... This is incredibly difficult to ascertain fully, but sometimes it can be clear.

For example, if the proposal was for an extension which meets with council guidelines and similar ones are commonly approved in like locations (with due regard to specific circumstances of course).

I don't think a legal representative would be necessary, it would likely be more cost effective to engage a planning consultant.

Who is sorting out your appeal?
If you have evidence that the councillor influenced the decision you can claim costs at appeal - i.e. on the grounds that the appeal was only necessary due to the councillors misconduct. So start gathering your evidence.
Hi, a consultant is doing the appeal for us, we recieved a letter from the council on the february 22 that the application is going in to the sub commitee, before that no notice or letters were recieved to us from the council. Hence we had built the extension to the councils verbal approval.
Hi, a consultant is doing the appeal for us, we recieved a letter from the council on the february 22 that the application is going in to the sub commitee, before that no notice or letters were recieved to us from the council. Hence we had built the extension to the councils verbal approval.

uh oh, there is no such thing as a verbal approval. the process of planning is such that the entire time of the application is for the full assessment of the issues and only after that time (which incudes lengths of time for open consultation prescribed by law) can a decision be made.

this doesnt put you in a great bargaining position because authorities tend to take a dim view on pepole who develop on assumptions.

nevertheless... if something has gone awry with the process then you can still get the decision overturned.

Can I ask what the exact proposal was and the reason(s) for refusal?
Hi, yes we know that now, the consultation end date was on the 3rd of january, no verbal complaint was made, the architecht called the case officer on the 17th jan, they said due to no one complaining up until then the application will be approved and the builders can carry on.

Hence we had commenced work, the neighbours went to the councilors on the end of jan to tell them they have a loss of light issue, the 2 local councilors happen to be the relatives of our neighbours so instead of coming to us they went directly to the head officer and stopped the application in getting signed off,

Our application is for a 2 storey rear and side extnsion with dormer, all our application is approved apart from the first floor 3 meter extension, as the ground floor 3 meter extension has previously been approved.
Okay, now this is information does help you.

What you have said is that the planning office were prepared to approve the application as of the close of the official consultation period.

it should be made clear to everyone that many councils will still accept objections even after the the official consultation has closed. So, even though the councillor objected late that is not an unusual occurance. More likely, he requested for it to be called in to the committee for his friends once he found out the planning department were going to approve it.

The point I'm trying to make is that the planning team will only normally be prepared to approve an application that meets with their policies and guidelines. I've seen this a lot... people lobby their councillors (or worse, a councillor lobbies his friends) and they overturn an otherwise acceptable application for some other reason. The trouble then is left with the poor planning officer, who often has to materialise some planning refusal reasoning behind the whimsical decision of the councillors...
Yes thats correct, so personally what do you think the best steps we should take next.

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