Leader Nickie Aiken reacts to Cabinet’s decision to shake up planning process

Nickie Aiken I am delighted that Westminster City Councils Cabinet has formally approved a major shake-up of the planning system in our City. This decision shows we are listening to the concerns of local people who have told us that they did not feel as involved under the current system. The shakeup will ensure that all stakeholders in Westminster; residents, businesses, amenity societies and councillors will have an earlier and bigger say on planning applications if they wish to do so.

To ensure that this is the case, Cabinet last night agreed that members of the public should be allowed to speak at planning sub-committee meetings as well as approving that steps should be taken to improve the way the Council explains planning decisions and outlines our planning policy.

Cabinet also outlined that that planning sub-committee meetings will be recorded, and live stream coverage made available when possible, to make engagement with the planning process easier whilst also agreeing to begin work on a new Place Shaping and Planning Directorate.

Having heard the views from a number of local Amenity Societies during the run up to the meeting, the Cabinet also asked the Council’s Chief Executive to do more work on scoping out of how the new system will work in practice. This means that over the next couple of weeks council officers will engage with these local societies  and local councillors to develop  the principles and protocols that will govern how the new system will work.

As Leader of the Council, I am very pleased with this progress. I have always been clear that I’m determined to ensure our Council listens to local community which makes our City such a fantastic place to live and work. That’s why Cabinet has also agreed that before these changes are fully implemented, we will now engage with residents to ensure the new system is clear and straight forward to understand and use.

I feel that its very important that all residents are involved with the changes that we are making. It’s my firm belief that engaging with you will ensure that our reforms will be as positive as they could possibly be for our whole City. I hope that this bottom up approach to change and the reforms we have outlined will usher in a new era of openness and transparency. We are firmly putting the needs of the local community at the centre of the planning process.