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Speaking at planning committees

Planning Committee meetings are currently being held virtually. 

Members of the public and interested parties are welcome to address the virtual committee. All parties who have registered to speak at a committee and have been granted a speaking slot will be sent instructions on how to attend the meeting virtually and make verbal submissions. This will include guides on how to download and set up the software and the meeting invites and passwords needed to attend.

Visit our coronavirus pages for the latest advice and information about how the planning service is affected.

Applying to speak

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

Applications to speak at the planning applications sub-committee 1 meeting on Tuesday 24 November 2020 will close at midday on Friday 20 November 2020.

Apply to speak

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

Temporary procedure rules for online committee meetings

Temporary procedure rules for virtual online committees are currently in place: planning committee procedure - remote committees  (PDF, 109KB)

Procedure rules for meetings at Westminster City Hall (currently suspended)

Planning applications sub-committee procedure rules (PDF, 467KB)

3. Video streaming and meeting minutes

Meetings are streamed online with video and audio. Read more about streaming of meetings.

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, the previous speakers who addressed the original committee meeting will be given priority to speak at the subsequent meeting, before any speaking slots (if available) are offered to new speakers.


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: 13 November 2020