Kirklees Council chiefs say 'no plans to abolish planning application processes'

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Council chiefs in Kirklees say there are no plans to weaken planning processes by abolishing committees for Dewsbury.

The contradictory pledge comes after a leading councillor revealed the authority was seeking to speed up the planning process by axing the number of committees where applications can be discussed.

Now Lib Dems challenged the Labour-run council to reveal proposals to shake up the planning system.

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They fear the public faces ‘a double hit’ over how it can feed into a meaningful planning process.

Coun Pandor said there are no plans to weaken or abolish any planning committeesCoun Pandor said there are no plans to weaken or abolish any planning committees
Coun Pandor said there are no plans to weaken or abolish any planning committees

In an open letter to Council Leader Shabir Pandor and Deputy Leader Peter McBride, the 10-member Lib Dem group outlined its concerns.

They said the strength of Kirklees’ planning decisions ‘relies heavily on public engagement’ not just in refusing inappropriate applications but in shaping development to be the best possible outcome in the given circumstances.

They said: “The planning process is dependent on the trust that’s built through the democratic functions of the sub-committees and the confidence the public has that their needs are listened to.”

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They spoke out after Coun McBride suggested sub-committees covering Dewsbury could be abolished in a ‘re-think’ of the system.

John Lawson, Lib DemJohn Lawson, Lib Dem
John Lawson, Lib Dem

Responding to the Lib Dems’ open letter Coun Pandor said: “We have no plans to weaken or abolish any planning committees. Public input into decision-making is an essential element of our democracy.”

John Lawson, the leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said: “We understand how vital planning is to the future of Kirklees but it has to be done properly for the whole range of applications.

“There’s a real risk that we’re facing a double hit in terms of public not being able to influence things that are happening on their doorstep.”

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Local Conservatives say they want the council to operate a planning system “in which residents have confidence”.

Group leader Coun David Hall said: “We’re not against reform, but any move to make planning decisions more remote from our communities must be resisted.”