The parish council is consulted on planning applications in Collyweston – but the final decision is made by East Northants Council for houses and businesses, and by Northamptonshire County Council for minerals, waste and highways.
Normally parish councillors will check over the applications online, as any member of the public can do, and where possible will agree in between the monthly meetings whether to object or not. If that’s not possible, they will either go over the plans at the next meeting – or call a special Planning Committee meeting in between times, for which there must be at least 3 councillors present for any decision they make to be valid.
Usually the parish clerk puts their comments into a letter to send to the planning authority, but sometimes one of the councillors does it.
If a councillor is likely to be affected personally, or professionally, by the proposals, he or she ‘declares an interest’ and doesn’t take part in the council discussion. (He or she can still object or not as a private individual.) So, for instance, if a councillor owns the property, or has a spouse who is involved in the application, that councillor would declare an interest and step back from that discussion. Under new rules for parish councils, being a neighbour is no longer considered an automatic ‘interest’ so councillors could, technically, be allowed to remain – however at Collyweston we like to be thorough, and we tend to declare it anyway.
Members of the public have the right to explain to the parish council any concerns they might have about a planning application – or indeed to support it. However the deadlines for the council to respond to applications is very tight, so if you do wish to approach them, email the parish clerk Mrs Hemingway or call her on (01780) 444311 right away. She will probably ask you to put it in writing anyway – email is fine – because the parish council must be able to show evidence that you really did say what you said to them!