The Parish Plan Survey carried out in 2010 revealed widespread dissatisfaction with the operation of planning controls within the village. People felt that the voice of the community was not always heard by the planning authority, Suffolk Coastal District Council, and that too often inappropriate or poorly considered development was approved, in spite of the objections of local residents and the Parish Council.

One suggestion, aimed at strengthening the Parish Council's response to planning applications, considered using in an informal, advisory capacity, the experience of residents of the village with professional knowledge of planning and architectural design. To that end, the Parish Plan Stage 2 Report, endorsed by the village in 2012, recommended the establishment of a Planning Advisory Group to assist the Council in its assessment of planning applications. The Council has now accepted the recommendation and asked the Planning Working Party to put forward a scheme for its consideration.

The suggested terms of the scheme are:

1 The Planning Advisory Group will comprise past and present members of the Planning Working Party, set up in 2013 to implement recommendations of the Stage 2 Report relating to planning. Members have a wide experience of architecture, planning and environmental design in the private and the public sectors. Last year, the Working Party submitted a comprehensive response to SCDC's draft Conservation Area Appraisal, which was subsequently incorporated into the approved document.

2 The team assessing an application will be drawn from the group according to members' availability. All teams will comprise a minimum of two members of the group. Members with an interest in an application, for example as adjoining owners, will not participate. Comments will be submitted in the name of the group as a whole.

3 With the authority of the Parish Council, the group will review all applications referred for consultation by SCDC. Applications will be assessed against national and local planning policy guidelines, including considerations of form, scale and quality of design, the relationship to the local planning context, in particular within the Conservation Area, the impact on trees and hedges, the means of access and other relevant factors.

4 The group's comments will be submitted to the Parish Council, to be used at the Council's discretion. The Council will remain responsible for its response to the Planning Authority. The group will publish its comments on the Parish Plan website after the Parish Council has responded formally to SCDC.

5 The timetable for review and comment will be agreed with the Parish Council. The group will register with the SCDC website for early notice of planning applications and to monitor progress. The group's comments will be submitted in time to allow the Parish Council to reach its decision and respond to SCDC within the three week consultation period.

6 The group will submit an annual report to the Parish Council, reviewing its work and making recommendations for the improvement of development control in the village.

The members of the Planning Advisory Group include Paul Bradley, Frank Duffy, Alan Gomm, Alvin Hunt, John Nichols and Bill Ungless

To see the comments of the group about a particular planning application, click here.

UPDATE November 2015

The Planning Advisory Group was established in 2014 at the request of the Parish Council, following a recommendation of the Parish Plan aimed at strengthening the Council's response to planning applications referred for consultation by Suffolk Coastal District Council. The group comprises members of the Planning Working Party with professional knowledge and experience of planning and architecture. The group's brief has been to assess planning applications against national and local planning policy and to report to the Parish Council. The reports are published as appendices to the Council minutes. In the period from September 2014 to the suspension of the Parish Council in June 2015, PAG examined eleven applications. In every case the group's comments were incorporated into the Council's response to SCDC. In addition, at the request of the Parish Council, PAG also participated in SCDC's Local Plan Review. Its reports can be found on the Council's website. The work of PAG ceased in June when the Council became inquorate. Since that date, 17 planning applications have been referred, including eight relating to buildings, which have been or will be determined without comment from the Parish Council. Nor, until the position is reversed, can the Council participate further in the Local Plan review or the intended review of the Conservation Area boundary in 2016.

J NICHOLS (Chairman Parish Plan Steering Committee)