EFFORTS to speed up the planning process has resulted in a change in the number of objections needed for a planning application to be heard by Redditch Borough Council.
At a full council meeting on Monday, November 16, the controlling Conservative group voted to increase the number of letters of objection required from two to 11 for domestic applications, despite opposition from Labour members.
Council Leader Coun Matt Dormer (Con, West) said it was the right thing to do particularly as all planning applications had to be heard within 12 weeks.
“At the moment a simple neighbourly dispute can drag out a planning application where it needs to wait for weeks until it can be heard by the planning committee.
“People want to get on with their lives.
“Now anything over ten objections will go to the chair of planning, Coun Gemma Monaco, who has a planning background, and the head of planning, and we should trust their judgement.
“We have been accused of putting too much in the hands of officers, but any councillor at any point can bring any planning application to committee.”
However Coun Bill Hartnett, Leader of the Labour group, said it was the wrong thing to do: “The number of letters of objection needed has been at two for as long as I can remember and it should remain at two.
“There is already a lot of delegation to officers and with this it has gone too far. It should be something for democratically elected members to decide.”
For domestic applications, the trigger is now 11 to be heard by the chair of planning and 21 for it to be heard by the planning committee.
For non-domestic planning applications the trigger is five, when it will go to Coun Monaco, and 11 for it to go to committee.