LRM Planning’s Exeter office had an application considered by Exeter City Council’s Planning Committee on Monday 4th May.
The meeting had been rescheduled from the previous week, when it was suspended due to technical issues outside of the Council’s control. The committee meeting was held virtually via a Skype call and streamed live on the Council’s Facebook page. The whole process ran very smoothly.
Ward councillors, the applicant and an objector were able to make representations and the Councillors were able to scrutinise the proposed development thoroughly, with a number of detailed questions posed to officers and the planning consultant.
Whilst not in any way wishing to underplay the amount of hard work that will undoubtedly gone on behind the scenes to make things work so well, the Council have adopted what appears to be a straightforward and simple approach. Most importantly, it works, and decision making is not being held up in the city.
We are conscious from our regular weekly review of the working arrangements being adopted by Local Planning Authorities across the South West and South Wales, that many Councils are yet to schedule virtual planning committees. This is causing a delay to the planning process, which could well impact upon the timely delivery of schemes in the future, and to the wider economy.
Based on our recent experience, we would certainly recommend that any Council that is experiencing difficulties adopting the technology required to host meetings during the ‘new normal’ would do well to contact Exeter City Council’s democratic services team for advice on how it can be done.