Councils considering ‘executive powers’ as measures to avoid planning gridlock if committees cancelled

Councils are reported to be considering taking up rarely-used executive powers to keep the planning and development system moving during the coronavirus pandemic, the Planning Officers Society reports, as officials may use executive powers to take decisions if committees are cancelled.

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Housing Today writes:

… The moves are in response to reports of councils cancelling planning committees following government advice that people avoid all non-essential social contact.

Planning committees are where elected councillors decide whether or not to permit planning applications, and widespread cancellations raise the prospect of gridlock in the system…

Mike Kiely, chairman of the Planning Officers Society, which represents local authority planners, told Housing Today that he was aware that a number of authorities were considering permitting the chief executive to take planning decisions under delegated powers.

Kiely, a former director of planning at Croydon council and currently adviser to several London boroughs, said: “Councils are now asking ‘can we take decisions under delegated powers?”

…The idea is likely to cause considerable concern among anti-development campaigners, who view the involvement of elected officials in planning decisions as vital to ensuring democratic accountability…

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