A NEW rule has been put in place around who can submit comments that could lead to councillors having the final say on planning applications across the conurbation.

Councillors approved the proposal that resident representations must come from those within one mile of the application site’s boundary to count towards forcing a planning committee decision.

Previously if an application attracted 20 or more representations from any member of the public which contradicted the recommendation of officers on planning grounds, it went before the planning committee.

Cllr David Kelsey, chair of BCP Council’s planning committee, told a recent full council meeting he had asked audit and governance committee to look into changing the constitution.

He said: “One of the reasons I asked for this is because we did have a little spate in planning where we were getting 100, 150 objections to an application and none of those were from within the area.

Bournemouth Echo: Cllr David KelseyCllr David Kelsey

“They were from way outside or they were from applicant’s friends etc.

“That is not what it is about. It is about local residents being able to put their views across to an application that is going to affect them, so I fully support this.”

The meeting was told that the one-mile radius for valid representations could cross authority boundaries. For example, applications in the eastern edge of Highcliffe could have submissions from residents in part of the New Forest District Council area.

Statutory consultees, such as utilities companies, will not be restricted from making comments by the one-mile rule.

Another change which was backed by councillors was to limit representations to one per household unless additional submissions from people in the same residence were deemed to be raising different relevant planning issues.

Audit and governance committee chair Cllr John Beesley said: “What we are trying to do is enable residents to have a voice, a democratic voice when it comes to planning issues and in a way that doesn’t restrict them as the current rules do in some circumstances.

Bournemouth Echo: Cllr John BeesleyCllr John Beesley (Image: BCP Council)

“What it does mean is it will truly be about residents local to an application site. The people who come into contact with it potentially every day of the week.

“It doesn’t prevent ward councillors calling in, it doesn’t prevent the other mechanisms that are available, but in consultation with the head of planning and the chair of the planning committee this seems a logical and sensible way forward.”