New (Oct 2016) - Please note that Puriton Parish Council no longer operates a Planning Committee. All planning matters are addressed at the full council meeting from 7:30pm, towards the beginning of the agenda.
The planning process
Puriton Parish Council is entitled to be notified by Sedgemoor District Council of planning applications affecting the council's area and to comment on those applications. Any views expressed by Puriton Parish Council will be taken into account by Sedgemoor District Council before a decision is made, providing the points made are relevant to the determination of a planning application. The Parish Council plays an active part in the decision making process for planning applications affecting Puriton, but the final decision is made by Sedgemoor District Council as the local planning authority, not the Parish Council.
Every planning application that relates to land and buildings in the parish of Puriton is considered at a meeting of the Parish Council, which the public are welcome to attend. There is a period near the start of every meeting where members of the public, including those supporting or opposing a planning application, can make statements. Councillors will then discuss and vote on the comments to be made by the Parish Council on each application.
Once the Parish Council has taken into consideration the views of the parish it sends its comments to Sedgemoor District Council. Members of the public are encouraged to submit comments to Sedgemoor Distict Council, but please do note that anonymous comments will not be considered. Information on planning applications can be found through Sedgemoor District Council's planning portal.
Puriton Parish Council's regular meetings are held in the village hall from 7:30pm on every second Tuesday of the month. Additional meetings are sometimes called should a planning matter need to be dealt with prior to the next regular scheduled meeting.
You can access and download the meeting papers for all meetings here.
The Local Plan
The Parish Council responded to the Local Plan Consultation held by Sedgemoor District Council in December 2015 and its comments to question 48 (Puriton) can be viewed on the SDC consultation wesbite:
In terms of representation individual parish councillors do not represent specific areas of the village. However, in respect of planning matters, specific councillors have certain locations allocated to them, which they might visit before reporting back to the parish council. A list of councillors and their designated streets can be found here: Councillors' areas for planning purposes.
If you wish to raise an issue with the council you can do so by contacting the clerk or any of the councillors listed on the Your Council page.
The future of planning and localism.
Puriton is one of many Sedgemoor parishes to have written a parish plan. The plan is a document that tackles important issues influencing the neighbourhood and covering the areas of Puriton, Downend and Dunball. The plan deals with all manner of topics from considering what is valued in the community, future development proposals in and around the parish, the formulation of action plans to protect/preserve the community amenities and other such matters. The development of the plan was led by the Puriton Parish Plan Steering Group along with the Parish Council. It takes into account the views of the whole community and was published in 2012. The plan can be accessed here.
The Localism Act 2011 has introduced the concept of the neighbourhood plan. This builds on the work of the parish plan, but takes it further in that it carries statutory weight and will allow communities, including residents, employees and businesses, to come together through the Parish Council and say where they think new houses, businesses and shops should go and what they should look like. At a time when the Government is calling for more development some communities consider a neighbourhood plan a good way of getting ahead of the game in that the community can have a greater say in when and where development happens.
Neighbourhood plans can be very simple and concise or go into considerable detail, depending on the need. Local communities will be able to use neighbourhood planning to grant full or outline planning permission in areas where they most want to see new homes and businesses, making it easier and quicker for development to go ahead. Provided a neighbourhood development plan is in line with legal requirements as well as government and district policies, local people will be able to vote on it in a referendum. If the plan is approved by a majority of those who vote, then Sedgemoor District Council will bring it into force.
Should Puriton Parish Council decide to consult with the community to write a vision for the area by way of a neighbourhood plan there is a vast amount of help available. The local planning authority is required to provide technical advice and support as proposals are drawn up and there is a huge bank of resources available online and through government initiatives. There would be cost implications to such a significant document, but there are financial incentives and grants available to offset many of those costs. The overall cost depends on the complexity of the plan, the number of policies included and the availability of expertise in the community.