Christchurch councillors welcome proposal by BCP Council to split its planning committee into eastern and western areas
Plans to split BCP’s planning committee in two have been welcomed by Christchurch councillors, including the town mayor
If the proposal goes ahead, eastern and western committees would replace the single existing one.
A spokesperson for BCP Council said this would “allow for more localised planning decisions”.
The two committees would be formed using ward boundaries and would have 11 members on each.
Cllr Vikki Slade, leader of BCP Council, said: “The creation of a Western BCP and an Eastern BCP Planning Committee would allow for a more localised decision-making process with both committees meeting regularly to ensure consistency in the decisions being made.
“By introducing two committees we will encourage more community involvement and representation, with residents and ward councillors able to attend meetings that may have an impact on the area in which they live.”
The idea, which is due to be discussed at a full meeting of BCP Council on 9th January, has been welcomed by Christchurch mayor Vivienne Charrett who said: “This is something that we in Christchurch are very supportive of, as it gives more voice to people who are likely to know more about our town and make sensible decisions based on more local knowledge.
“Obviously in an ideal world we would have liked a specifically Christchurch committee, but we understand this would be difficult and appreciate the new administration at BCP making this change which we hope will enable better decisions to be made for Christchurch.”
Lib Dem Christchurch town and BCP Councillor Michael Tarling, who sits on BCP’s planning committee, agreed: “This will benefit Christchurch residents because it means Christchurch and East Boscombe councillors will be sitting on the committee covering our area.
“Having a more locally based planning process was a key election promise of the Lib Dem party, and I am glad we are delivering on our promise to ensure that important decisions are made by those who know their community.
“It will result in residents having more representation in the planning process and decision making.
“During the run-up to the election we heard from numerous residents who felt that all BCP wanted to do was “build on our car parks”.
“This is actually not true, but the fact that there will be a more locally based committee should help remove this fear.”
As reported in the A&T, in 2021 a bid by five town and parish councils to have a planning committee dedicated to Christchurch failed.
They claimed having only one planning committee put their area at a disadvantage.
But an audit and governance committee which set up a working group on the issue rejected the idea.
However, in announcing the two-committee plan, BCP Council said it had been introduced following “discussions from the Constitution Review Working Group and the subsequent Audit and Governance Committee at the end of November.”
Mr Tarling said he would “have liked” to have seen three separate planning committees for Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch but added: “I understand there was not enough work to justify that.
“It is also important to remember that a planning committee is just one part of the planning process.
“We have the Local Plan and the Neighbourhood Plan coming along soon, which will be new ground for us all.”
If, as expected, the two committees are given the go-ahead, they are set to be formed in May this year.