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Speaking at Planning Committee

Please note that any member of the press and public may watch and listen to proceedings at this meeting via a web link which will be publicised on the homepage of our website about 24 hours before the meeting.

View upcoming Planning Committee meetings.

Can I make my comments known at the Planning Committee?

Yes you can. For each application on the agenda:

  • One person may speak to object
  • One to support, and
  • One representative of an affected town, community or parish council or community forum may speak.

Requests to speak are managed on a first come, first served basis.

For some large or complex applications the Chairman of the committee may allow additional speakers but this will not be the normal approach.

How can I speak at the meeting?

To help matters run smoothly there a few simple rules to follow:

Before the meeting – request to speak

You must give written notice by 3pm on the second working day before the meeting. The best way to do this is using the online Application to Speak form. You can also let us know well in advance that you would like to speak if the application is decided by the committee by emailing Member Services or write to us giving the application reference number and your details at:

Member Services,
Ashford Borough Council
Civic Centre
Tannery Lane
Kent TN23 1PL

Request to speak deadline

Written notice is required by 3pm on the second working day before the meeting. For example, for meetings of the Planning Committee on Wednesdays:

  • If there is no Bank Holiday on the Monday preceding the meeting, written notice must be given by 3pm on the Monday.
  • If there is a Bank Holiday on the Monday preceding the meeting, written notice must be given by 3pm on the Friday before.
  • If the meeting immediately follows the Easter weekend, written notice must be given by 3pm on Maundy Thursday.

If you are registered to speak at a meeting, it will be as follows:

  • On a first-come, first-served basis, one speech in support of, and one speech against, an item for decision, or;
  • As a duly-authorised representative of a Parish Council (or Town Council/Community Council) or Community Forum affected by an item for decision.


Speakers can choose to either speak in person  for up to three minutes, or submit a speech of up to 400 words to be read by a competent Officer of the Council who is not part of the Planning department.

Speakers who attend do not need to submit their speech in advance, but should be aware the speech duration will be timed to three minutes.

Speakers may opt to have an Officer read their speech on their behalf.  Such a speech must be submitted by 10am on the morning of the meeting, to membersservices@ashford.org.uk and must be no longer than 400 words, in English and in a 12-point non-italic sans-serif font (e.g Arial). Any text over 400 words will not be read out.

An Officer reading any speech on behalf of any speaker shall have discretion to omit/edit out any inappropriate language, information or statements.

If any defamation, insult, personal or confidential information, etc. is contained in any speech received from any speaker, and/or is read to a meeting by an Officer, each speaker accepts by submitting their speech to be fully responsible for all consequences thereof and to indemnify the Officer and the council accordingly.

At the meeting

  1. Please keep your speech to the subject of the application
  2. You may not ask questions of the Committee or try and take part in the debate
  3. You must confine your comments to Planning issues only. For some information on what constitutes a Planning issue, please see material planning considerations
  4. During your speech, you are not permitted to refer to the conduct of officers or councillors or to the manner in which an application has been dealt with. The Council has a separate Complaints Procedure in place to deal with these issues
  5. You are also not permitted to make personal comments about individual applicants, objectors, supporters or others involved in an application.
  6. You are not allowed to request that the Committee visits the application site
  7. If the application you wish to comment on is an “Exempt” item, i.e. an item which will be discussed in private, the Chairman may allow you to speak before the public are asked to leave the meeting. If this happens we will explain why you are being asked to leave
  8. The Chairman of the Planning Committee has sole discretion on whether a person can speak or not and retains overall responsibility for the smooth running of the meeting. His/her decision on procedural matters must be adhered to.

The Laws of Slander

These laws are very strict.

If in public you say something about a person which is not true, even if you believe it to be true, you may be sued and have to pay compensation. Therefore, you need to be very careful about any criticism you wish to make of people.

Councillors are able to speak more freely and bluntly while in Council or Committee meetings than members of the public.

You, as a member of the public, do not have the same protection.

What will happen at the meeting?

Planning Committee meetings usually start at 7pm and are held in the Council Chamber at the Civic Centre, Ashford.

Planning Committee meetings will start at the time advertised. You'll find a link to access the meeting from the homepage of our website shortly before the meeting takes place.

Each application is considered in turn with the following procedure:

  1. The chairman reads out which item is to be discussed next
  2. One of the planning officers may give an introduction or some factual updates about the application
  3. The speeches of the registered speakers will be heard in turn
  4. The relevant ward member(s) will be asked for their comments if they are present
  5. Members of the committee will debate the application and make proposals (motions) on how the application should be dealt with. Each motion must be proposed and seconded before a vote can be taken
  6. Motions are voted on in the order of which one was proposed and seconded first
  7. If a motion is carried i.e. the majority of the councillors voting support the motion, then the committee will move on to the next item on the agenda
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