Changes to be made to Glasgow’s planning appeals process

The changes are being made to improve the process. The changes are being made to improve the process.
The changes are being made to improve the process.
Changes will be made to Glasgow’s planning appeals process in a bid to “improve” decision-making.

The city’s planning local review committee considers appeals by developers against refusal of planning permission, but only three councillors currently sit on the panel.

There are concerns that not enough people have been involved in decisions which can be “controversial”.

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In recent months, applications rejected by council planners and then overturned by the local review committee include the conversion of the former Bridgeton Job Centre into flats and the transformation of a townhouse next to music venue King Tut’s into 14 short-term lets.

At a meeting today (Thursday), councillors voted in favour of raising the minimum number of members required on the committee from three to five.

The 18 councillors on the planning applications committee (PAC) will be able to attend the meeting.

Another option, put forward by the Labour group, which lost out in the vote, would have seen two panels of nine councillors sitting for alternative local review meetings.

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During a review of how the committee operates, key issues highlighted included the “need for an increased level of scrutiny from a wider group of elected members”.

There were also concerns over the “onerous responsibility” placed on three members, particularly during “contentious” applications.

The review found “seeking ‘volunteers’ from among the PAC membership to sit on the panel has also been highlighted as a potential concern” as often the “burden of meetings falls on a small group of members”.

A spokesman for the SNP group said: “Widening the pool of councillors available to take decisions of such magnitude will improve the democratic process and address the suboptimal situation where, sometimes controversial, planning decisions are made by a very small number of councillors.

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“The review process has brought forward several options which we believe will improve the overall planning process of the council.”

Other changes will include additional council officers at the meetings and the development of guidance notes for members.

There is also set to be a period of adjournment to allow councillors to take advice in private before making decisions.

New measures will be trialled initially, providing an opportunity to review and then refine the changes before council elections in May.

Training provided to councillors on dealing with appeals will also be reviewed by senior council officers.

A further report will be produced on how the city’s planning applications committee operates.

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