This page explains Henstridge Parish Council’s responsibilities with regard to planning applications.
There often appears to be confusion around the village as to “who does what” regarding planning applications. We hope the following information will clarify the Henstridge Parish Council’s responsibility in this regard.
South Somerset District Council is the Planning Authority for most matters but Somerset County Council deals with applications regarding minerals, waste, and developments such as schools, libraries, social care and new roads.
Parish councils have no authority to approve or refuse any planning application.
Henstridge Parish Council is a statutory consultee and is consulted on all planning applications within the Parish during the ‘consultation stage’. The Parish Council’s role is either to ‘support’ or ‘object’ to an application and provide reasons, if necessary, to support their decision.
If the Parish Council wishes to object to any application, it must highlight matters that are of “Material Planning Consideration” (see below). If the Parish Council makes objections that are non-material it risks its comments being ignored for individual applications and its viewpoint not being taken seriously by South Somerset District Council’s planning department in the long term.
For the majority of planning applications the impact to the Parish as a whole is such that this consultation process is contained within the Parish Council Meetings. Where applications that could have a much larger impact on the Parish are brought to the Parish Council then more extensive consultation including engaging fully with the Parish would be appropriate to ensure that the electorate has the opportunity to make their views known. Examples of when this has happened are the heated village meetings around the Furge Lane development and more recently in 2017 relating to the plans to build 130 houses. Additionally, on these two occasions many villagers attended the formal South Somerset planning committee meeting.
In all cases there could be non-material considerations, worthy of highlighting, that should be documented and shared with the planning authority.
The Parish Council has, therefore, to consider what it believes to be in the best interests of the Parish as a whole, recognising that change is part of the fabric of life and the concept of a rural idyll is unsustainable – in the same way that living without telephone, internet and modern transportation systems is not practical. By the same token, it must recognise that many residents have chosen to live here because of its character as a village, not a town.
The Parish Council may also acknowledge in its response to planning applications, any strong feelings to an application brought to it by Parishioners. The Parish Council would always encourage those Parishioners to also make personal representation directly to the District Council.
Material Planning Considerations
Planning Material considerations include:
- Design and appearance of the structure being considered
- Visual Impact of the development
- Conservation impact
- Highways issues – including safety, traffic, parking
- Adverse effect on neighbouring properties – e.g. Privacy, Overlooking, Noise, Overshadowing
- Drainage and Flood risk
- Adverse impact on Nature, Biodiversity or Trees
However, issues such as loss of view or negative effect on property values are not material considerations.
Further information on Planning Material Considerations can be found at https://www.planningportal.co.uk/faqs/faq/4/what_are_material_considerations
Five-year housing supply
Most contention with regards to planning comes from planning applications to build new houses. The district council is charged by central government to provide a forward plan for housing needs in the area and tries to ensure that this supply is met. When the large development to the south of the village was being considered, the five-year housing supply was not being met and consequently the application was allowed at appeal. If the housing supply is not being met the District Council is predisposed to allow applications unless there are strong material considerations against individual applications.
Further information can be found at https://www.southsomerset.gov.uk/services/planning/
It should be noted that the Parish Councillor role is voluntary and Councillors are elected by the public to serve for four years. Councillors give up their valuable time to work for the good of their electorate.