How to get involved in Planning Committee Meetings
Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council encourages you to get involved in the planning process at a local level. We believe that there should be more public involvement in determining certain planning applications. The following notes are designed to help you to decide if you are eligible to speak and if so how to go about it.
The Planning Committee of the Council meets once a month with the exception of July and December. A full meeting schedule is available at the link below:
Currently, meetings are held using a hybrid format, with some officers, members and members of the public attending in person at the Council Offices, Cloonavin, 66 Portstewart Road, Coleraine, BT52 1EY and others by the online communications platform MS Teams App. Meetings commence at 10.30am (unless otherwise stated).
What applications are decided by the Planning Committee
- Applications which fall within the Major category of development.
- An application for planning permission where the application is made by the Council or an elected member of the Council, and
- The application relates to land in which the Council has an interest.
- Applications attracting more than 5 objections from separate postal addresses, or, a petition from more than 5 separate postal addresses raising material planning considerations, where the officer’s recommendation is to approve. The objection must include the postal address for the objector to be considered under this exception.
- Applications where the Head of Planning considers that the proposal merits consideration by the Planning Committee.
- Applications included on the ‘Contentious* Delegated Decisions to Issue’ list where an Elected Member of Council has requested the application be referred to the Planning Committee. The request must be accompanied with a statement outlining the material planning reasons for the referral and be received prior to 10am on the Monday following the issue of the weekly list on which the application is listed. This contentious application list and referral process excludes Pre-Application Notices, Applications for Works to Trees, Discharge of Conditions, Non-Material Changes, Certificates of Lawful Development and those applications where the refusal relates to road safety, flooding, or where additional information or amendments have been requested but not submitted in full within the timeframe provided.
*A contentious application is one where the decision is to refuse permission or consent exluding the above applications. An authorised officer will liaise with the Chairperson and/or Vice Chairperson of the Planning Committee to determine whether the reasons which have been provided constitute material planning reasons so as to merit referral to Planning Committee. The requesting Member will be advised if the request has been successful or rejected.
- Applications submitted by or on behalf of the Chief Executive, a chief officer, a planning officer or elected member of the Council, or their immediate families (spouse, partner, children).
- A legal agreement is required.
How do I know if an application is going to Planning Committee
The applications to be determined by the Planning Committee are published one week prior to the Planning Committee meeting. The schedule is available at the link below:
The agenda and Planning Committee Reports (recommendation of the Planning Department) are published one week prior the Planning Committee meeting on the Council’s website at:
The Planning Committee Report is also available on the Northern Ireland Planning Portal (NIPP) one week prior to the Planning Committee meeting at the link below:
Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council has 40 elected members representing 7 district electoral areas. Of these 16 members comprise the Planning Committee You may wish to contact a member to discuss a planning application. However, it is advised that you do not approach a member of the Planning Committee as they cannot commit themselves to a decision before hearing all the evidence at the Planning Committee meeting. This is to avoid them compromising their position which could lead to them not being able to take part in the determination of that application at the meeting.
Members not on the Planning Committee can attend the Planning Committee meetings and speak for or against an application on your behalf. Members of the public and their advisors are reminded that Members of the Planning Committee are not permitted to advocate for or against or lobby for or against a planning application before the Planning Committee when they are part of the Committee. This is mandated by the Northern Ireland Local Government Code of Conduct for Councillors and binds the Members of the Planning Committee.
A List of all Causeway Coast and Glens members is available at the link below:
A list of Causeway Coast and Glens members who are on the Planning Committee is available at the link below:
How can I register my desire to speak?
All parties wishing to address the Committee on a planning application must register their wish to do so with the Planning Department either in writing to Planning Department, Cloonavin, 66 Portstewart Road, Coleraine BT52 1EY or by emailing email@example.com, preferably by completing the Speaking Rights Template. All requests to address the Committee on a planning application must be received by 10am on the Monday immediately prior to the Planning Committee meeting and must provide their name, whether they are speaking in support or objecting to the application and the planning reference number of the application on which they wish to speak. Only those registered to speak within the timeframe will be allowed to address the Committee either to speak or answer questions.
It is important to note the following:
Speakers cannot circulate any documentation, including the use of PowerPoint presentation, at the meeting.
Speakers will have a total of 5 minutes for those objecting to the proposal
The applicant/agent/supporters for the application will also have a total of 5 minutes speaking rights
On occasion where the consideration of an application is deferred by Members to a subsequent Committee meeting, those who have previously registered to speak on that application will be allowed to address the Committee at the subsequent meeting without the need to register to speak again. Those who have not registered to speak previously can register to speak at any subsequent meeting that the application is being determined at, provided they register to speak within the timeframe for the subsequent committee meetings.
The attached pro forma should be completed
How long can I speak?
The total time allowed for representations from objectors and those speaking will be a maximum of 5 minutes. Therefore if 2 objectors or more wish to address the Committee the 5 minutes will be divided between those speakers. The Chair will ask speakers if they have agreed the allocation of the speaking time. If no agreement is reached, the time will be allocated equally against each speaker. A spokesperson for the objectors may address the Committee on behalf of all objectors. The Chair of the Committee may decide on the day of the meeting to extend the time allowed due to unusual or exceptional circumstances. The maximum time allowed will be an additional 3 minutes. The same provisions will apply to those wishing to speak in support of the application.
The total time allowed for representations by Elected Members of Council, MLA and/or MP will be 5 minutes in support and in objection to an application. Therefore, if 2 elected member speakers or more wish to address the Committee one in support and one in objection to the application, they will each have 5 minutes. If 2 or more Elected Members wish to address the Committee in support of the application, or 2 or more in objection to the application, the 5 minutes shall be divided between those speakers.
What happens at the meeting?
The order in which the applications are considered is set down in the agenda. At the discretion of the Committee, a particular application may be brought forward early, especially if there are many members of the public present for that item. The application shall be presented by the Planning Department and then you will be invited to speak in the following order:
Supporters including the Applicant or their Agent
Elected Members of Council, MLA and/or MP
Can I use visual aids or hand anything to Members?
No, your comments must be made orally.
What arguments can I use?
Only those relating to planning matters, e.g., appearance of the proposed development, effect on the amenity of the area or your property, access, landscaping, materials, etc. Matters relating to the applicant's personal motives or financial status, views, boundary disputes etc., are not relevant.
You are advised that anything you say should not contain abuse or defamatory opinions. If you do so you may be asked to leave the meeting. Please do not interrupt or ask questions of other speakers or make any comments unless invited to speak.
When is the decision made?
A decision by the Planning Committee is usually made immediately after the discussion by a majority vote of the Planning Committee Members. Sometimes a decision is deferred for further information, revised plans or a Planning Committee site visit. Deferred cases are brought back to a future meeting and, as set out above, your previous speaking rights request carries forward to the next meeting. You do not need to register to speak again. Please be aware that the members balance different factors and come to an objective decision based on planning considerations. If the Planning Committee refuses an application contrary to the Officers’ recommendation, that decision will need supported on appeal should this situation arise.
Can I appeal against the decision?
Only the applicant can appeal against the decision, if the application has been refused, or against conditions, to the Planning Appeals Commission (PAC).
If you wish to challenge the lawfulness of a decision, you can apply for a judicial review of the decision in the High Court. Details of judicial review procedures are available on the Judiciary NI website:
What happens once a decision is made?
Persons who have written to the Council shall be notified of the outcome in writing. The Council acknowledges that on some occasions the outcome of an application may be different to what you had hoped for. However, you should be aware that the Planning Committee balances a range of factors and determines applications on what it considers to be in the public interest.