East Hampshire District Council has amended the terms of reference of its planning committee to remove the need for applications recommended for approval, attracting little or no public objection and supported by the local parish or town council to go before members.

At the full council meeting last Thursday, councillors approved the recommendation with no objections and one abstention.

The amendment excluded from the scope of the planning committee the determination of ‘major applications’ that do not trigger any other grounds for promotion to the committee.

The officers’ report said: “It has been suggested these applications could be determined by officers under delegated powers with a saving of time and resource but without any loss of the democratic and representational safeguards which presently apply.

“Importantly the removal of this blanket and ‘catch all’ requirement would still leave intact two existing rules under which applications must be referred to planning committee.

“The constitution will still require any applications with five or more objections to go through the delegated procedure and allow a local ward councillor to request promotion of an application to the committee.

“The head of planning will retain the power to refer any planning application to planning committee for decision including ‘those developments that are particularly controversial, likely to be of significant public interest, or which may have a significant impact on the environment’.”

The change was strongly supported by Cllr Angela Glass and Cllr Sally Pond, planning portfolio holder and planning committee chairman respectively.

Planning officers said streamlining the process in this way would generate both time and cost savings.