Training for Parish and Town Councils

During October and November 2015, the Development Management team ran workshops for Parish and Town Councils on Development Management, Planning Enforcement and Planning Policy.  Copies of the presentations are available here.

Electronic Working Announcement

From 1 April 2016 Parish & Town councils will be advised about planning consultations from B&NES by email.  Councils will no longer receive a paper copy of planning applications, plans and associated documents but will be sent a link to each application on our Public Access website here:

Receiving and reviewing planning information electronically may present some challenges for some Parish and Town Councils but the experience of our neighbouring local authorities shows that even the remotest communities can successfully work electronically.  The information on this page is designed to give you everything you need to get started and you may also find it useful to talk to the other councils that already work this way: Cameley, Corston, Dunkerton, Farrington Gurney, Hinton Blewett, Keynsham Town Council, Peasedown St John, Priston, Wellow, & Westfield. 

Benefits of Electronic Working for Parish and Town Council

• No need to store files in your homes or collect and deliver them from each other
• Save the clerk time by emailing links to applications around to councillors and residents rather than handling the paper files
•  The paper files could be out of date as soon as they are printed whereas the B&NES Public Access web page has the most up to date information about all current applications, including contributions from other interested parties, planning history back to 2005 and planning constraints
• Quicker for consultation and re-consultation
• Will enable compliance with the Data Protection Act by not keeping paper copies of applications, including applicant's personal information, in councillors / clerks homes
• Can insert links on the parish council website to B&NES planning applications for easy access
• More people will come to parish/town council meetings
• Opportunity for everyone to view the drawings and plans online before the meeting and be better prepared
• Compatible with other business, council departments, local authorities where digital is the default
• Transparency of the Parish / Town council meetings, planning processes, contributions and decisions
• Encourages people to talk at parish meetings because they can all easily see the proposal on the screen at the same time
• For relatively little cost there are potential income generation opportunities to be had

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Sources of Funding

• Avon Local Council’s Association offers Transparency Grant funding for smaller councils to set up websites and purchase IT equipment see the Latest News section of their webpage
• The National Lottery - The Awards for All scheme funds projects that improve communities and the lives of people within them.  Funding to enable Councils to eConsult falls within the scope of this scheme in some areas of the country, checkout
• Refurbished PCs and laptops can be purchased for £65-£100 with Windows 7 and sometimes even Office loaded plus a 6-12 month warranty from ByteBack in Bristol on
• Parish meetings in church premises can access funds from the community funding section
• Government community funding ‘Our Place’ - provided to empower neighbourhoods to implement ground breaking initiatives, it may apply to larger Town Councils, who, as part of a larger initiative could include funding for IT equipment.
• Wesaywepay – group or crowd funding – raise money locally
• Local Round Table also fund community initiatives

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Barriers and Possible Solutions

Barriers to working electronically

Possible solutions discussed

Do not have broadband connections in the places where the meetings are held


·         If parish own premises, and broadband is available, install

·         If don’t own, collaborate with owner to share cost and install

·         Could move meetings to venue that has broadband

·         Could download documents prior to meeting and work offline

·         Could purchase a mobile accessible dongle so that internet can be accessed during the meetings as / when required

·         See funding sources below


Cost of purchasing PC/laptop, screen, projector and broadband connection


·         See funding sources below and CIL may provide additional funding

·         The case is based on how much can be saved in admin, printing, postage & storage costs (Dunkerton saved just over £400.00 in 1st year & paid for the equipment in 2 years)

·         Parish & town councils could collaboration to jointly purchase equipment in bulk

·         Neighbouring parishes could share equipment, hold meetings on different days


On-going cost of maintaining the equipment and broadband rental


·         Could hire out the equipment

·         Could share the facilities and equipment with neighbouring parish


Some parish clerks and councillors lack the IT skills to process the information into a parish meeting format / down load the documents / know what is the best way

·         Could request help from Development Management team

·         Could request help from any of the electronic parishes listed above

·         Could request training from any IT literate local residents

·         Could buy in training (see funding sources below)

·         Could buy in training with neighbouring parishes to share cost

·         Could use YouTube tutorials for information and training

·         Could work out a way that is best for each individual parish depending upon issues


Some parish councillors don’t have access to broadband at home

·         Could use the parish equipment

·         Could use the public library

·         Could use neighbours' / friends' / other councillors' computer


Some parishes only have meetings every 2 months and could then miss the deadline for comment


·         Could move the meetings times to fit with application consultation periods

·         Could have additional meetings just for planning


Broadband speed can be slow in some parishes, some locations


·         Could set up parish meetings to work off-line

·         Could allow plenty of time for downloading documents

·         Could only download some of the documents (not all)


May want a paper copy of the plans on site visits

Note - parishes will continue to receive paper plans of major applications as these are supplied by the developer


·         If someone has a tablet device, could take that on site

·         Could do site visits paperless but review plans online beforehand

·         Could use Google Earth/Streetview instead of doing site visit

·         Print paper copy of key plans yourselves


Having to set up the equipment for the meetings at the venue


·         Should only take 5 mins to set up

·         Use YouTube tutorial & Google for instructions

For further help or if you have any more queries about working electronically, please email

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Useful Links

In March 2014 the Government launched a revised and updated Planning Practice Guidance web-based resource. Important information for any user of the planning system previously only published in separate documents can now be found quickly and simply. You can link easily between the National Planning Policy Framework and relevant planning practice guidance, as well as between different categories of guidance – both are available at the following web address:

The Council now has its own Listed Buildings map layer, which links up with the full statutory listing description on the Historic England website. It can be accessed from the below web address:

Searching for Planning Applications -  If you would like information on a particular planning application, just search our online planning register (see link below) where you can search by planning reference number, address, or ‘Advance Search’ by parish, ward, etc. using drop-down lists. You can also view a map of applications, a weekly list of applications, or applications of special interest:

Planning Committee - For information regarding committee dates/agendas please see our Development Control Committee details page:

Material Considerations - When a decision is made on a planning application, only certain issues are taken into account; these are often referred to as 'material planning considerations'.  An example list of can be viewed here -

Use Classes - You can find all the definitions in the Use Classes Order on the Planning Portal website:

Scheme of Delegation - For your reference, you can read the development management scheme of delegation on the below web page:

Enforcement protocol - The Local Enforcement Plan sets out how alleged cases of unauthorised development will be investigated and outlines the Council’s discretionary powers in relation to planning enforcement. You can read the enforcement policy on the below web page:

Planning Policies

Adopted Bath & North East Somerset Local Plan

Definition of Major planning applications

Major applications are developments of 10 or more dwellings, residential sites of 0.5 ha or more, and other buildings with a floor space of 1,000m sq or on sites of 1 ha or more, and all waste applications.

Information on Conservation Areas or Tree Preservation Orders - You can check if a property falls within a conservation area or if a tree is covered by a tree preservation order using the Council’s TPO and conservation area maps:

Conservation Areas map:

Tree Preservation Orders map:

Community Infrastructure Levy -

Further information and guidance can be found on our website.


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Last updated: 8 March 2016

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