What are the changes?
These changes are about making the process more efficient – by setting new guidance around which decisions need to be discussed at one of our planning committees, how those committees are structured, and how proposals need to be presented.
More decisions made outside committees
First, from November this year there will be a new ‘scheme of delegation’ around planning decisions. This means that the council’s planning officers will have more responsibility for work around planning decisions, meaning fewer will be taken forward to our planning committees.
Applications will only be decided at one of the committees if:
- They are a big departure from the overall Kirklees Local Plan
- Public opinion is strongly against the officer’s recommendation
- The planning application has been referred by a ward councillor
If an application is being decided at committee because it’s been referred by a ward councillor, that councillor will need to attend in person (or send a ward colleague representative) to help with the speedy decision-making process.
From February next year, the structure of our planning committees will also change.
Instead of three, going forward we’ll just have two:
- A Strategic Planning Committee, focusing on major planning applications
- A District-Wide Planning Committee, focusing on minor and other (household) applications
Each committee will meet in Huddersfield Town Hall every six weeks.
Why are these changes being made?
The changes will make our decision-making process more efficient and will save the council about £100k every year.
In the long-term, we also hope these changes will encourage more developers to consider sites within Kirklees for development – whilst still making sure local communities play a big part in the planning process.
Our strategy with these changes will support our review of the Kirklees Local Plan, which is currently underway.
Councillor Graham Turner, Cabinet Member for Finance & Regeneration, says:
“These changes sound small, but they will hopefully speed up our decision-making around planning applications of all sizes, simply by placing more responsibility with knowledgeable planning officers and by streamlining our committees. And, crucially, we’ll still be making sure that local communities are involved in that process when an application matters to them.
“To achieve our ambitious goals for regeneration across Kirklees, we need to be doing all we can to encourage new planning applications – without making any concessions where quality or public participation are concerned. There are so many reasons to develop in Kirklees, and we want to further improve our reputation as a good place to build and as a good local authority to partner with on development. “By streamlining our approach to the planning system, we’ll not only have a more modern approach, we’ll also see some cost savings which will help us deliver a balanced budget in 2024.”