Parish councillors receive training on planning

Parish council members are receiving specialist training to help them carry out their roles more effectively.

Officers from West Norfolk Council met with 50 parish councillors to update them on planning matters including the development of neighbourhood plans, the role of planning enforcement, street naming and numbering teams.

The training was designed to help parish councillors carry out their role, which is a vital part of the planning process.

West Norfolk Council deputy leader Jim Moriarty
West Norfolk Council deputy leader Jim Moriarty

Cllr Jim Moriarty, council deputy leader and cabinet member for development and regeneration, said: “Many people become parish councillors because of planning issues which are a key element of parish council meetings. With many more neighbourhood plans being developed, it is really important that councillors understand the process, what they can and can’t influence or comment on, and how best to do that.

“This training takes place annually and is something we are keen to develop further, to help improve our engagement with parishes. If parish councils have thoughts on other areas of training that would be useful, I would urge them to get in touch through our planning team.”

Cllr Francis Bone, chair of the planning committee, said: “I am pleased that parish councillors have been given the opportunity to take part in planning training sessions. The contributions parish councils make to the planning process help planning committee members when considering applications.

“Over recent years, we have seen more and more neighbourhood plans developed by parishes. These allow local communities to have a greater influence on how development happens in their area. I hope that this training will encourage even more parishes to develop their own neighbourhood plans.”

Cllr Richard Blunt, borough councillor for Walsoken, West Walton and Walpole Ward, said: “Being a parish councillor as well as a borough councillor, I know one of the biggest issues at most parish council meetings is making planning decisions. It is therefore very important, to keep parish councillors up to date with changes to planning regulations and processes.

“The decisions that parish councils make in respect of local planning applications must be made with the latest regulations in mind, hence the need to keep their understanding of the process and planning knowledge at the highest level.”