What is the role of elected members in the aggregates planning process?
Why is this important?
Understanding the role of elected members in the planning system and in planning for aggregates helps elected members, and others, to take part in, and influence decisions made by the authority, and other organisations; enables councillors to best represent the interests of their community; and ultimately helps deliver better decision making. At the same time, the role of elected members is subject to both statutory control and guidance that governs the conduct and responsibilities of elected members in carrying out their roles. An awareness of the key issues is relevant to the carrying out of these functions.
As elected representatives of the local community, councillors are entrusted with the responsibility of making decisions on local issues that affect their area. This includes providing for new development, protecting the environment and delivering social progress through the proper planning of their areas. This includes the full range of housing, employment, retail and leisure provision, and some less obvious but equally vital issues such as meeting the need for waste-management facilities and minerals development. Of all the minerals extracted and produced in the UK, aggregates are the most common and an understanding of the role of elected members in the minerals planning system is therefore important.
Elected members can be involved at three levels in the decision making process relevant to minerals planning:
Elected members represent their authorities at a regional level through the regional assembly.
At this level, spatial or strategic planning policies are determined through a statutory process that in turn sets the context in which all of the local planning authorities must work. This guides policy and individual decisions within each authority area. The Regional Assemblies also determine the subregional aggregates apportionment (or the level of aggregates provision to be identified by each mineral planning authority in their Local Development Frameworks. Elected members will also work on committees within their respective local authority, including the Planning Committee or other relevant committee to consider the policies that should apply at the local level provide for new development and protect the environment, including those for mineral extraction and related development.
This is now principally through the preparation of the mineral planning authority's Mineral Development Framework which is often prepared by officers and can include member's attendance on a steering or task group where a Council has a cabinet style of organisation.
As representatives of the community, members will also have a role in representing their wards when there are planning applications in their area. This may be as a ward councillor or, if they act as a member of the Planning Committee, they will need to consider applications in the context of their wider responsibility to the authority in excise of their functions on that committee in the determination of individual planning applications.
This section largely focuses on the probity of members in their role on the determination of individual planning applications. Member's involvement at the regional level and in the preparation of MDFs is dealt with elsewhere.
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