Why I am campaigning against the SCDC Scheme of Delegation
Since 2019, I have been supporting a compromise proposal following strong opposition to a new scheme of delegation proposed by South Cambs District Council’s (SCDC).
The controlling Liberal Democrat group put forward new proposals stating that the Joint Director of Planning and Economic Development will have the final responsibility to decide which applications are to be determined by the planning committee. This takes decision making out of the hands of councillors in some circumstances, and runs against the s[pirit of a letter sent by the Leader of SCDC, who contacted all parishes stating that the Chairman of the Planning Committee would have a say in which applications came to their committee
Instead of these plans, I am supporting an automatic call-in process that would ensure any planning application rejected by the local Parish Council or 'called in' by Councillors would go to the Planning Committee for final approval. This offers a sensible compromise, allowing the views of local people to be represented through their parish and district councillors, alongside expert planning guidance from council officers
While I understand the need for changes to the Scheme of Delegation, democracy must be preserved at the heart of the planning system. The scale and scope of development in South Cambridgeshire is a matter of great interest and concern to local residents and planning decision-makers should be willing to face public scrutiny and accountability. Elected representatives must, therefore, have the ultimate say about which planning applications should be determined by the planning committee. The idea has not been welcomed by residents, who have told me of significant concerns around openness and transparency as well as taking decisions out of the hands of elected representatives. The move has also concerned many parish councils.
What is a Scheme of Delegation?
A scheme of delegation is a reference document showing what authority the board has delegated to committees, other volunteers or staff under the powers of the Constitution of a local authority. In practice, this means it is a document showing who can make decisions about planning applications in South Cambridgeshire, and what process those decisions go through. I believe there should be as much democratic involvement in planning policy as possible.
So far, I have
- Supported the campaign by Conservative Councillors to have the plans thrown out
- Written to the Leader of SCDC to ask for clarity around plans
- Discussed the plans in Parliament
- Raised concerns around the local voice in the planning process through questions to Ministers
- Forced the Government to make a statement confirming that SCDC is entirely in control of local planning, in response to misinformation around government involvement.
So far, with the support of the Conservative Opposition Group at SCDC, I have been able to promote a public debate on this issue and prompt caution from SCDC around how such decision-making is taken. I will continue to push for more clarity, so residents can have faith that their voices will be heard in a meaningful way.