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Planning & Democracy during Covid-19

Tuesday, 28 April 2020 13:23

CPRE Oxfordshire has written to all chairs of Planning Committees across Oxfordshire's six local authorities following the introduction of regulations allowing Council meetings to take place virtually during the coronavirus lockdown through to April 2021. The Government is allowing each local authority to decide how they conduct meetings, how voting procedures are implemented and ensure public access.

CPRE Oxfordshire would expect that:

All planning decisions that would normally come to a planning committee should continue to do so (and not be delegated to officers) – including major applications, but also those where Parish and officer disagree or where local councillors call for it to do so.

Members of the public should have the right to address the committee for the normal permitted length of time.

There should be facility for members of the public to listen in to (and preferably view) the planning committee discussions and decision-making.

If possible, a recording (audio or audio-visual) should subsequently be made available via the Council website.

Other than for genuinely urgent applications, for example directly related to tackling Covid 19, these systems should be in place prior to any Planning Committee taking place. If necessary, committee meetings should be delayed to ensure there is no gap in the transparent operation of a democratic planning system.

CPRE Oxfordshire appreciates that these are very difficult times and Council staff and resources are under enormous pressure. We have asked local authorities to confirm what arrangements are being put in place to meet the requirements of the regulations, and will help communicate this information to our members and the public. 


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