Public planning meetings officially scrapped by council (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Public planning meetings officially scrapped by Redbridge council
Councillors will no longer decide on planning applications, with the new leadership of Redbridge council insisting they are not qualified to do the job.
All decisions will be made by planning officials, under the measure approved at a town hall meeting last night.
It is hoped the new arrangement will save the council £45,000 a year.
Council leader, Jas Athwal, claimed councillors are not qualified to make planning decisions.
He added: “These planning officers have a huge amount of education and it seems egotistic that councillors can overrule them, I don’t think they add anything to the process.
“We will review it in six months but this move provides more savings for the council for getting rid of an outdated system."
Concerns have been raised about accountability being undermined.
And some believe planning officials' workloads will be unworkable.
Councillors opposed to the move, set to save about £45,000, believe that the system is not workable due to the sheer amount of cases the officers would have to decide on.
Conservative group leader Cllr Paul Canal said: "There were 339 applications last year and this would mean that officers will have to decide on 34 applications a night.
"They will struggle to get through all these and it would no doubt lead to applications being rushed through and objectors not having time to have their say."
Lib Dem Cllr Hugh Cleaver said: “Local councillors have a better view of issues in their area, so I totally reject the notion that planning officers are more qualified to make decisions.
"People want an opportunity to discuss their planning applications and speak it through, but they will now only be able to send in a written submission, they will not be happy to say the least."