Disruption expected 6 to 20 October due to Extinction Rebellion protests – read more about the possible impact.

Speaking at planning committees

Members of the public are welcome to speak about specific applications at planning committee meetings.

Meetings are held every Tuesday at 6.30pm at Westminster City Hall, 64 Victoria Street, London SW1E 6QP.

View committee calendar for agendas, times, dates and locations of meetings.

Each speaker will be allowed 3 minutes. The number of speakers per application is:

Major applications sub-committee 4 speakers (2 for and 2 against)
Minor and householder applications sub-committee 2 speakers (1 for and 1 against)

If the number of requests to speak exceeds the number of slots, we will (with your consent) share  your name and contact details with other like-minded speakers. It will then be up to you as a group to decide who will speak on your behalf, or share the time between you. The deadline for responding with your decision is midday on Monday, the day before the meeting.

If no decision is made the speakers will be chosen via ballot.

Interested councillors and amenity societies will also be allowed to speak on applications in addition to the above limits.

Applications will open just over 1 week before the meeting. 

Apply to speak

Applications to speak at planning applications sub-committee 1 on Tuesday 22 October 2019 at 6.30pm will close at midday on Friday 18 October 2019.

1. Hints and tips for speaking

  1. Remember that any written comments previously submitted are already available to the committee.
  2. Use the time to focus on 2 or 3 compelling issues which might inform the committee's decision making.
  3. Focus on issues that the committee can take into account (see below for a guide).
  4. Write down what to say and practice how long it takes - at the committee meeting it will normally take slightly longer, so take this into account.
  5. Do not waste time thanking the committee or on introducing speakers and their backgrounds – it will reduce speaking time.
  6. If speaking in support of an application, the committee will find it helpful to address the concerns of objectors.

Things you can speak about

Factors that can be taken into account to decide on planning applications are known as 'material planning considerations'. They might include:

  • council planning policy and central government advice in the National Planning Policy Framework
  • land use suitability
  • overlooking or sense of enclosure resulting from a building or structure
  • loss of light or overshadowing
  • parking
  • traffic
  • nuisance caused by noise disturbance or smells from a completed development
  • effect on listed building and conservation area
  • layout and density of buildings
  • design appearance and materials
  • disabled persons access
  • nature conservation, including effects on trees
  • meeting housing needs, including affordable housing levels
  • town and local centre vitality
  • environmental quality

Generally, planning decisions weigh up all the relevant material considerations, apply the level of importance to each factor and assess the cumulative impacts. The list above does not indicate the extent of an issue, eg the major or minor degree of overlooking and that will be highly relevant to decision making.

Things that cannot be taken into account

  • disagreements between neighbours about boundary lines or access
  • landlord and tenant disputes
  • detailed construction issues which should be addressed through the Party Wall Act or other legislation
  • loss of a private view
  • the applicant’s morals or motives
  • affect on property value or easements, including rights to light

2. Guidelines

  • if you wish to register to speak, you must do so via the online application form
  • we are not able to rearrange committee meetings if you are unable to make the date. However, you can nominate someone to speak on your behalf.
  • you will not be allowed to present any additional documentation (photographs, letters, etc) - only verbal representations are allowed
  • the committee meeting is not a question/answer session but an opportunity for you to present your views
  • no speaking from the gallery
  • no passing notes to the committee table
  • people causing a disturbance will be required to leave

Download the full version of the planning applications sub-committee procedure rules (PDF, 467KB)

3. Recording the meeting

Minutes will be taken and will record the names of speakers, which applications they relate to and whether they spoke for or against the proposal.

The minutes will be published in the meeting notes which you can find via the meetings calendar.

4. Deferred applications

The committee might sometimes decide to put-off making a decision. This is known as ‘deferring the application’. They may do this if they need more information to make a decision.

Relevant parties will be informed when the application has been rescheduled for a future date. If an application is deferred and there has already been public speaking at a meeting, there will be no further public speaking when it is discussed again, unless new issues are raised.


5. Defamation

The laws of libel and slander are very strict. If you say something about a person in public which is not true, even if you believe it to be true, you may be sued and have to pay compensation. You are strongly advised to avoid making such comments. 

6. Data protection

The council is under a duty to protect all personal data under General Data Protection Regulations. Planning committee meetings will be recorded and any party wishing to make representations at committee should note:

  • by electing to speak at committee you understand and consent to the fact that your presentation will be recorded
  • you will not refer to or disclose any third party personal data which could identify an individual without that individual’s express consent

The committee may intervene or terminate a presentation if it considers that there has been a personal data breach. You are therefore reminded to carefully consider the contents of your presentation before public speaking.

Examples of personal data include:

  • names
  • addresses or location of an individual
  • racial or ethnic origin
  • political opinions
  • religious or philosophical beliefs
  • trade union membership
  • genetic data
  • biometric data

7. Contact

If you have any questions in addition to those already answered in this guide, please contact a committee and governance officer.  Their contact details are listed in the meeting agenda which you can find via the meeting calendar.

Last updated: 11 October 2019