Concerns over 'lopsided' planning committee with five members from one Gloucestershire village

Concerns have been raised that a Gloucestershire council’s planning committee is “lopsided” as five of its members are from just one village. Tewkesbury Borough Council reduced the number of councillors that sit on the committee from 19 to 13 last year.

Those members are tasked with deciding which developments get the go-ahead and which are rejected across the whole borough. But at last night’s (May 15) full council meeting Cllr Robert Vines (C, Badgeworth) expressed concerns over the current setup and asked Council Leader Richard Stanley (LD, Cleeve West) if he would consider reverting back to the previous committee numbers.

He told the meeting that currently five of the 13 councillors live in one parish - Churchdown. While there are 51 parishes in total in Tewkesbury Borough. Cllr Stanley explained the committee is quasi judicial and that where the members come from is irrelevant.

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He told the council he absolutely believes the planning committee members are impartial. Cllr Vines, who sits on the committee, said he did not think it was working quite as well as before.

“I wondered if you would consider increasing the number of planning members from 13 back up to 19," he said. “It seems a little bit lopsided.

"Currently, of the 13 members, five of them live in the same parish. That means the other 50 parishes in the Borough are represented by eight members.

“It seems a little lopsided. I know every small parish can’t have representation.

“But your own parish, Bishop’s Cleeve, is the largest parish in the borough and has no representation at all on the planning committee.”

Councillor Robert Vines speaking at last night's Tewkesbury Borough Council meeting
Councillor Robert Vines speaking at last night's Tewkesbury Borough Council meeting -Credit:Carmelo Garcia

Cllr Stanley said the decision to reduce the number of members on the planning committee was taken after seeking expert advice to make it more efficient and it is in line with best practice. “To your point regarding whether we need members from one or another village, that isn’t how planning works”

“They aren’t there to say I’m from this village so I don’t want this piece of planning. That isn’t how the planning committee works.

“They should be working impartially and I absolutely believe the planning members are.”