Slough Express

Keep planning panels separate

RBWM: Councillor­s reject borough-wide recommenda­tion

- By Kieran Bell kieranb@baylismedi­ @KieranB_BM

Councillor­s were heavily against the creation of a borough-wide planning panel as concerns were raised over whether members from outside an area would have necessary knowledge on planning applicatio­ns there.

Royal Borough planning officers wanted to amend the council constituti­on and form a single Royal Borough Developmen­t Management Committee, saying the existing two panels were having a ‘significan­t impact’ on their resources.

This was backed by lead member for planning, Cllr Phil Haseler (Con, Cox Green), who told this week’s full council meeting that his experience of chairing a single panel worked ‘incredibly well’.

The Royal Borough implemente­d one panel during the pandemic as fewer applicatio­ns came forward for determinat­ion.

“Members sitting on the planning committee are representi­ng the local planning authority, not their ward, village or town,” he added.

“There is no evidence to suggest that a single

committee are incapable of making planning decisions.”

In November – after two panels had returned– councillor­s voted to amend the constituti­on to allow Windsor members to be named as substitute­s on Maidenhead panels, and vice versa.

This followed controvers­y at previous meetings in which members from outside their ward were sitting on another panel to determine applicatio­ns.

Despite receiving support from party colleagues Cllr David Hilton (Ascot and Sunninghil­l) and Cllr David Coppinger (Bray), the proposal to create one panel was shot down by 35 councillor­s, including several Conservati­ves, at the Maidenhead Town Hall meeting on Tuesday.

Cllr Leo Walters (Con, Bray) said: “I am afraid I can’t agree with this. Residents like to have someone who at least knows the area.”

Cllr David Cannon (Con, Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury), who chairs the Windsor planning panel, added he can see ‘no benefit’ to creating one panel.

“I understand officers time, but we are elected to represent our residents and deliver for them, and I cannot support this paper.”

Leader of the council, Cllr Andrew Johnson (Con, Hurley and Walthams), also voted against the proposal, saying he ‘fully understand­s the merits’ of having two panels, which he claimed have worked ‘very well’.

Cllr Lynne Jones (OWRA, Old Windsor) alluded to councillor­s’ busy private lives and families, adding that one panel would make the workload intolerabl­e.

“Staffing should not stop democratic process,” she said. “There is nothing more [in this paper] that will make me change my view.”

Councillor­s voted three for and 35 against the recommenda­tion to create a single panel.

 ?? ?? The merged panel proposal was rejected at a full council meeting at Maidenhead Town Hall.
The merged panel proposal was rejected at a full council meeting at Maidenhead Town Hall.

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