Jessica Bailey asked for confirmation on the publishing of pre-application advice.
In response, the Chief Executive advised that the Council had been waiting for a decision on this issue from the Information Commission. The decision notice had endorsed the Council’s approach and pre-application advice could now be published after an application had been submitted.
Pre-application advice - confidentiality (Overview and Scrutiny Committee minute 30)
In response to a question, the Chief Executive advised that the Committee had resolved to await the outcome of the Information Commission’s investigation before revisiting the issue of pre-application advice. The Council had now received that advice which upheld the Council’s stance - the appropriate time to publish pre-application advice was when a planning application had been submitted. The Committee Chairman, Tim Wood, confirmed that pre-application advice would be published at the appropriate time.
And later at the same Council meeting, a motion was carried:
Motion 2 – Probity in Planning report
The following motion (in the names of Councillors Claire Wright, Roger Giles,
Trevor Cope, Ben Ingham and Susie Bond), was proposed by Councillor Claire
Wirght and Seconded by Councillor Roger Giles:
"This Council acknowledges the importance and supports the principle of complete openness and transparency in local government. The Council therefore agrees to accept in full with immediate effect all the recommendations within the Probity in Planning report jointly produced by the Local Government Association and the Planning Advisory Service in April 2013.
In particular the Council will implement the guidance that pre-application advice issued should be publicly available."
The Leader proposed an amendment to reflect when pre application advice should be made public. This amendment was seconded by Councillor Andrew Moulding and accepted by Councillor Claire Wright.
RESOLVED that the motion be agreed as printed subject to the second paragraph now reading: ‘in particular the Council will implement the guidance that pre-application advice issued should be publicly available once an application is lodged.’
Futures Forum: Concerns about transparency continue in East Devon...
Futures Forum: Probity, accountability and transparency
And the immediate concerns about how trees were damaged at a Westhill development:
Futures Forum: Protecting trees in East Devon: District Council to debate
Futures Forum: District Council moves to set up forum to protect trees in East Devon... next year
However, in today's Express & Echo, it seems that the District Council wishes to 'review' how it issues pre-application advice:
Advice given to developers by East Devon District Council officials could be made public | Exeter Express and Echo
This intention to 'review' the advice seems to contradict the decision made at Council:
Claire Wright - Your Independent East Devon District Councillor for Ottery Rural
It is clear that there would be ramifications in making pre-application advice from planning officers publicly available once an application has been made:
EDDC and democracy: crunch time – developer secret cats out of the bag | Sidmouth Independent News