Objection? Parishes will have to make sure they attend planning meetings

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Parish councils can no longer object against planning applications unless they attend the committee meetings in a decision that has been slammed as undemocratic.

Aylesbury Vale District Council passed the recommendation in a bid to cut costs and time spent on development and control committee meetings.

Under the new stipulations, which are on a trial period for six months, for someone to object they must attend the meeting, which take place on afternoons during the week, making it difficult for parishes to attend.

Liberal Democrat Corry Cashman said: “To do this without consultation is profoundly undemocratic. It disempowers parishes.”

Conservative councillor Pearl Lewis, who sits on the committee, brought up the idea of introducing Skype or phone calls so people can still put across their opinions and objections.

The council argued that of the 195 planning applications that went to the committee between May 2011 to April 2012, 184 were decided by the officer’s original recommendation.

Parishes will still be able to write letters of objection which will be assessed by officers if they cannot attend meetings.

Wendover Parish Council planning chairman Oliver Statham said: “Planning is the most emotive issue that the general public are involved in.

“Even if councillors don’t turn up that’s not a valid reason for them not to have the opportunity.”