Parish Councils and Planning

What powers does Westbury-Sub-Mendip Parish Council have with respect to planning applications?

Westbury-Sub-Mendip Parish Council is consulted by the relevant Planning Authority (Somerset Council) on all planning applications. Any views expressed by the Parish Council will be taken into account by the Planning Authority before a decision is made, providing the points made are relevant to the determination of a planning application.

It is important to remember that the final decision is made by the Planning Authority, not the Parish Council.

Westbury-Sub-Mendip Parish Council will only comment on what are known as “material considerations” – issues, for example, such as boundary disputes between neighbours or loss of private views will not be considered.

Do parish councils grant planning permission?

  • Town and parish councils are not Planning Authorities.  They are only statutory consultees in the planning process.
  • This means that they only have the right to be informed of planning applications within the parish.
  • They cannot approve or reject planning applications.
  • They can only comment on planning applications in the same way that individuals can comment.
  • Consequently the length of time taken to determine a planning application is governed by the local planning authority not the parish council.
  • A parish council can request that it be given extra time to comment on an application.
  • The decision whether this is granted rests solely with the planning authority and it’s own deadlines for decision making.

How do parish councils comment on planning applications?

  • Parish councils can only agree to comment on planning applications in properly called council or committee meetings which the public can attend.
  • The comments agreed in the council meeting are submitted in writing by the parish clerk to the relevant planning authority.
  • The process is exactly the same as that of an individual wishing to comment on a planning application.
  • Parish councils are statutory consultees and have no powers to approve or reject planning applications, they can only comment or not on applications.

Valid reasons for comment on a Planning Application

Comments that are clear, concise and accurate stand more chance of being accepted than those that are not. When planning applications are considered, the following matters can all be relevant. These are sometimes referred to as ‘material planning considerations’

Irrelevant reasons for objection

There are certain matters which do not amount to ‘material planning considerations’ under current legislation and guidance. These matters cannot be taken into account in considering a planning application and should not be included in objections as they weaken your case.

Other Matters – “concerns and issues”

The person making a planning application has to provide enough information for the application to be determined. They do not have to provide every single detail before an application can be approved because certain matters can be resolved by way of conditions included as part of the permission.

Because of this, certain issues may not be considered as ‘objections’ but it is entirely reasonable for you to raise concerns on such issues and to ask to be kept informed before they are approved. These include:

  • The proposed type and colour of the materials to be used
  • The exact nature of any proposed planting or boundary treatment

Parish and Town Council Guidance Spring 2023

Planning Committee Guidance 2023

National Planning Policy Framework – The revised National Planning Policy Framework sets out government’s planning policies for England and how these are expected to be applied.

When is Permission required? – Sets out when planning permission is required and different types of planning permission which may be granted.

Commenting on a Planning Application

Somerset Council’s Public Access website allows you to view details of planning applications currently being considered by the Council as well as some planning history.

To follow the link for the Planning Portal at Somerset Council  Link for the Planning Portal at Somerset Council

Any comments made in response to applications should address only the planning merits of the application.

Somerset Council will not post comments submitted anonymously. If you wish your comments to be taken into consideration you must provide your name and either a valid address or personal email address.

Somerset Council dissociates itself and reserves the right not to post comments received which it considers contains libellous, discriminatory or otherwise offensive comments. Such comments will not be taken into account in assessing planning or related applications and will be returned to the author.
Should you prefer not to make your comments online, they can be emailed to the Consultation Team via the link on the Somerset Council website. You must provide your name and either a valid address or personal email address. Please ensure you quote the application number.

Comments should not be sent directly to the Case Officer.

Comments submitted online or by email will be acknowledged and displayed online in full. Comments received by post will not be acknowledged and a summary of these comments will appear online. You have 21 days to comment on planning applications. A decision could be made at any time after the consultation period ends so comments received after this deadline may not be taken into account.

How to Respond to Planning Applications – This booklet offers a brief introduction to the planning system and the planning application process. Its aim is to help you present your views on planning applications in your area appropriately, effectively, and to the right people. The guide offers information on how different planning applications is assessed, also providing sample letters and emails of support and objection to planning applications.