At the Hackney Unites public meeting on Weds 13th July, quite a few questions were asked about the role and influence of councillors over the proposed Wilmer Place development.
We thought it would be helpful to clarify this and clear up a few myths!
- councillors who are NOT on the planning committee are able to work with residents and represent their concerns over planning applications.
- You may have heard about ‘the group whip’ and councillors in a political party voting together on policy issues. This does not apply to planning (this is enshrined in law) and it does not apply to individual local ward issues.
- Louisa and Rita are not on the planning committee. Susan is a substitute member of the committee (so only sits on the committee when there are not enough members which is rare)
- As ward councillors for Stoke Newington Central, we can support and represent residents in their objections over the Wilmer Place development and actively campaign around this.
- This is why we were at the meeting on Wednesday, previous Stokey Local meetings and have been publishing our concerns on this blog. We don’t support the current development and like you, we care passionately about the future of our local area.
- We want to work with the existing community campaign as it is important to all stick together rather than replicating campaigns.
Although it is important to remember at this point that no application has been submitted, there were a number of questions at the meeting about the role of the Planning Committee:
- the planning committee is a quasi-judicial process. Councillors on the planning committee are not representing their political parties or their wards. This means that planning committee members cannot get involved in campaigns or give a view on applications. They have to approach their decision with an open mind and without prejudicial interest. Again – this is planning law, and not unique to Hackney
- Councillors on the planning committee may decide not to sit on the committee hearing a particular application – this could be because the application is in their ward and they’ve been in correspondence and involved with residents over it, and therefore could be accused of having a prejudicial interest if they were to sit on the committee. Again – this is not uncommon and part of the Code of Conduct for all councillors.
- There is a fuller explanation of this in front of every planning sub committee agenda – see here for a recent one.
- The list of Planning committee members is here
- Once a planning application has gone in, we will work with you and provide advice to residents on how to make representations (as well as making our own!). There is also a detailed leaflet about having your say on planning applications here
- We have a formal role at the actual planning committee meeting (should this application get that far) and can speak on behalf of residents who are objecting. We have done this on previous applications in our ward, and it is a common role that councillors undertake as part of their ward work.