Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Improving Planning Meetings

I didn't go to today's Planning Panel meeting at the Civic Centre. I am told by a colleague (Cllr Terry Matthews) that Council officers are now making use of technology to improve planning meetings.

Cumbersome maps and diagrams have been done away with and Officers are now presenting planning applications using presentations on lap tops and overhead projectors. I imagine this helps everyone, allowing Councillors and members of the public to see exactly what is being discussed.

This all sounds great, especially if you are a Council Officer making a particular recommendation to the panel or if you are a developer making a presentation arguing for planning permission.

However I wonder if this places residents, who may be arguing from the opposite position, at a comparative disadvantage. Residents won't have access to fancy technology, such as expensive projectors.

Terry pointed out (rightly in my view) that the Council could let residents put their case using the same technology. All they would need to do is bring in their presentation on a memory stick and plug it into the Council equipment.

This would then make it a level playing field for all and surely much fairer.

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