Probity in planning
    … for councillors and officers



Probity in Planning guide reflects changes introduced by the Localism Act 2011. It clarifies how councillors can get involved in planning discussions on plan making and on applications, on behalf of their communities in a fair, impartial and transparent way.

This guide has been written for officers and councillors involved in planning. Councillors should also be familiar with their own codes of conduct and guidance.

This guide is not intended to nor does it constitute legal advice. Councillors and officers will need to obtain their own legal advice on any matters of a legal nature concerning matters of probity.


Planning has a positive and proactive role to play at the heart of local government. It helps councils to stimulate growth whilst looking after important environmental areas. It can help to translate goals into action. It balances social, economic and environmental needs to achieve sustainable development.

The planning system works best when officers and councillors involved in planning understand their roles and responsibilities, and the context and constraints in which they operate.

Planning decisions involve balancing many competing interests. In doing this, decision makers need an ethos of decision-making in the wider public interest on what can be controversial proposals.

It is recommended that councillors should receive regular training on code of conduct issues, interests and predetermination, as well as on planning matters.


In 1997, the Third Report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life (known as the Nolan Report) resulted in pressures on councilors to avoid contact with developers in the interests of ensuring probity. In today’s place- shaping context, early councillor engagement is encouraged to ensure that proposals for sustainable development can be harnessed to produce the settlements that communities need.

This guidance is intended to reinforce councillors’ community engagement roles whilst maintaining good standards of probity that minimizes the risk of legal challenges.

Planning decisions are based on balancing competing interests and making an informed judgement against a local and national policy framework.

Decisions can be controversial. The risk of controversy and conflict are heightened by the openness of a system which invites public opinion before taking decisions and the legal nature of the development plan and decision notices. Nevertheless, it is important that the decision-making process is open and transparent.

One of the key aims of the planning system is to balance private interests in the development of land against the wider public interest. In performing this role, planning necessarily affects land and property interests, particularly the financial value of landholdings and the quality of their settings. Opposing views are often strongly held by those involved.

Whilst councillors must take account of these views, they should not favour any person, company, group or locality, nor put themselves in a position where they may appear to be doing so. It is important, therefore, that planning authorities make planning decisions affecting these interests openly, impartially, with sound judgement and for justifiable reasons.

The process should leave no grounds for suggesting that those participating in the decision were biased or that the decision itself was unlawful, irrational or procedurally improper.

This guidance is not intended to be prescriptive. Local circumstances may provide reasons for local variations of policy and practice. Every council should regularly review the way in which it conducts its planning business.

This guidance refers mainly to the actions of a local authority planning committee as the principal decision-making forum on planning matters. It is recognised, however, that authorities have a range of forms of decision- making: officer delegations; area committees; planning boards, and full council.

This guidance applies equally to these alternative forms of decision-making. Indeed, it becomes very important if the full council is determining planning applications referred to it, or adopting local plans and other policy documents, that councillors taking those decisions understand the importance of this guidance. The guidance also applies to councillor involvement in planning enforcement cases or the making of compulsory purchase orders.

The general role and conduct of councillors and officers

Councillors and officers have different but complementary roles. Both serve the public but councillors are responsible to the electorate, whilst officers are responsible to the council as a whole. Officers advise councillors and the council and carry out the council’s work. They are employed by the council, not by individual councillors. A successful relationship between councillors and officers will be based upon mutual trust, understanding and respect of each other’s positions.

Both councillors and officers are guided by codes of conduct. The 2011 Act sets out a duty for each local authority to promote and maintain high standards of conduct by councillors and to adopt a local code of conduct. All councils had to adopt a local code by August 2012.

The adopted code should be consistent with the principles of selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.

It should embrace the standards central to the preservation of an ethical approach to council business, including the need to register and disclose interests, as well as appropriate relationships with other councillors, staff, and the public. Many local authorities have adopted their own, separate codes relating specifically to planning although these should be cross referenced with the substantive code of conduct for the council.

Staff who are chartered town planners are subject to the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Code of Professional Conduct, breaches of which may be subject to disciplinary action by the Institute. Many authorities will have adopted a code of conduct for employees and incorporated those or equivalent rules of conduct into the contracts of employment of employees.

In addition to these codes, a council’s standing orders set down rules which govern the conduct of council business.

Councillors and officers should be cautious about accepting gifts and hospitality and should exercise their discretion. Any councillor or officer receiving any such offers over and above an agreed nominal value should let the council’s monitoring officer know, in writing, and seek advice as to whether they should be accepted or declined. Guidance on these issues for both councillors and officers should be included in the local code of conduct

Employees must always act impartially and in a politically neutral manner. The Local Government and Housing Act 1989 enables restrictions to be set on the outside activities of senior officers, such as membership of political parties and serving on another council. Councils should carefully consider which of their officers are subject to such restrictions and review this regularly.

Officers and serving councillors must not act as agents for people pursuing planning matters within their authority even if they are not involved in the decision making on it.

Whilst the determination of a planning application is not a ‘quasi-judicial’ process (unlike, say, certain licensing functions carried out by the local authority), it is a formal administrative process involving the application of national and local policies, reference to legislation and case law as well as rules of procedure, rights of appeal and an expectation that people will act reasonably and fairly. All involved should remember the possibility that an aggrieved party may seek a Judicial Review and/or complain to the Ombudsman on grounds of maladministration or a breach of the authority’s code.

Finally, as planning can sometimes appear to be complex and as there are currently many changes in planning taking place, the LGA endorses the good practice of many councils which ensures that their councillors receive training on planning when first appointed to the planning committee or local plan steering group, and regularly thereafter. The Planning Advisory Service (PAS) can provide training to councillors (contact

Registration and disclosure of interests

Chapter 7 of the 2011 Act places requirements on councillors regarding the registration and disclosure of their pecuniary interests and the consequences for a councillor taking part in consideration of an issue in the light of those interests.

The definitions of disclosable pecuniary interests are set out in The Relevant Authorities (Disclosable Pecuniary Interests) Regulations 2012. A failure to register a disclosable pecuniary interest within 28 days of election or co-option or the provision of false or misleading information on registration, or participation in discussion or voting in a meeting on a matter in which a councillor or co-opted member has a disclosable pecuniary interest, are criminal offences.

For full guidance on interests, see Openness and transparency on personal interests: guidance for councillors, Department for Communities and Local Government, March 2013. (This guidance note does not seek to replicate the detailed information contained within the DCLG note). Advice should always be sought from the council’s monitoring officer. Ultimately, responsibility for fulfilling the requirements rests with each councillor.

The provisions of the Act seek to separate interests arising from the personal and private interests of the councillor from those arising from the councillor’s wider public life. Councillors should think about how a reasonable member of the public, with full knowledge of all the relevant facts, would view the matter when considering whether the councillor’s involvement would be appropriate.

Each council’s code of conduct should establish what interests need to be disclosed. All disclosable interests should be registered and a register maintained by the council’s monitoring officer and made available to the public. Councillors should also disclose that interest orally at the committee meeting when it relates to an item under discussion.

A councillor must provide the monitoring officer with written details of relevant interests within 28 days of their election or appointment to office. Any changes to those interests must similarly be notified within 28 days of the councillor becoming aware of such changes.

A disclosable pecuniary interest relating to an item under discussion requires the withdrawal of the councillor from the committee. In certain circumstances, a dispensation can be sought from the appropriate body or officer to take part in that particular item of business.

If a councillor has a (non-pecuniary) personal interest, he or she should disclose that interest, but then may speak and vote on that particular item. This includes being a member of an outside body; mere membership of another body does not constitute an interest requiring such a prohibition.

It is always best to identify a potential interest early on. If a councillor thinks that they may have an interest in a particular matter to be discussed at planning committee he or she should raise this with their monitoring officer as soon as possible.

See Appendix for a flowchart of how councillors’ interests should be handled.

Predisposition, predetermination, or bias

Members of a planning committee, Local Plan steering group (or full Council when the local plan is being considered) need to avoid any appearance of bias or of having predetermined their views before taking a decision on a planning application or on planning policies.

The courts have sought to distinguish between situations which involve predetermination or bias on the one hand and predisposition on the other. The former is indicative of a ‘closed mind’ approach and likely to leave the committee’s decision susceptible to challenge by Judicial Review.

Clearly expressing an intention to vote in a particular way before a meeting (predetermination) is different from where a councillor makes it clear they are willing to listen to all the considerations presented at the committee before deciding on how to vote (predisposition). The latter is alright, the former is not and may result in a Court quashing such planning decisions.

Section 25 of the Act also provides that a councillor should not be regarded as having a closed mind simply because they previously did or said something that, directly or indirectly, indicated what view they might take in relation to any particular matter.

This reflects the common law position that a councillor may be predisposed on a matter before it comes to Committee, provided they remain open to listening to all the arguments and changing their mind in light of all the information presented at the meeting.

Nevertheless, a councillor in this position will always be judged against an objective test of whether the reasonable onlooker, with knowledge of the relevant facts, would consider that the councillor was biased.

For example, a councillor who states “Windfarms are blots on the landscape and I will oppose each and every windfarm application that comes before the committee” will be perceived very differently from a councillor who states: “Many people find windfarms ugly and noisy and I will need a lot of persuading that any more windfarms should be allowed in our area.”

If a councillor has predetermined their position, they should withdraw from being a member of the decision-making body for that matter.

This would apply to any member of the planning committee who wanted to speak for or against a proposal, as a campaigner (for example on a proposal within their ward).

If the Council rules allow substitutes to the meeting, this could be an appropriate option.

Authorities will usually have a cabinet/ executive member responsible for development and planning. This councillor is able to be a member of the planning committee. Leading members of a local authority, who have participated in the development of planning policies and proposals, need not and should not, on that ground and in the interests of the good conduct of business, normally exclude themselves from decision making committees.

Development proposals submitted by councillors and officers, and council development

Proposals submitted by serving and former councillors, officers and their close associates and relatives can easily give rise to suspicions of impropriety. Proposals could be planning applications or local plan proposals.

Such proposals must be handled in a way that gives no grounds for accusations of favouritism. Any local planning protocol or code of good practice should address the following points in relation to proposals submitted by councillors and planning officers:

  • if they submit their own proposal to their authority they should play no part in its consideration
  • a system should be devised to identify and manage such proposals
  • the council’s monitoring officer should be informed of such proposals
  • such proposals should be reported to the planning committee and not dealt with by officers under delegated powers.

A councillor would undoubtedly have a disclosable pecuniary interest in their own application and should not participate in its consideration. They do have the same rights as any applicant in seeking to explain their proposal to an officer, but the councillor, as applicant, should also not seek to improperly influence the decision.

Proposals for a council’s own development should be treated with the same transparency and impartiality as those of private developers.

Lobbying of and by councillors

Lobbying is a normal part of the planning process. Those who may be affected by a planning decision, whether through an application, a site allocation in a development plan or an emerging policy, will often seek to influence it through an approach to their ward member or to a member of the planning committee.

As the Nolan Committee’s 1997 report stated: “It is essential for the proper operation of the planning system that local concerns are adequately ventilated. The most effective and suitable way that this can be done is through the local elected representatives, the councillors themselves”.

Lobbying, however, can lead to the impartiality and integrity of a councillor being called into question, unless care and common sense is exercised by all the parties involved.

As noted earlier in this guidance note, the common law permits predisposition but nevertheless it remains good practice that, when being lobbied, councillors (members of the planning committee in particular) should try to take care about expressing an opinion that may be taken as indicating that they have already made up their mind on the issue before they have been exposed to all the evidence and arguments.

In such situations, they could restrict themselves to giving advice about the process and what can and can’t be taken into account.

Councillors can raise issues which have been raised by their constituents, with officers. If councillors do express an opinion to objectors or supporters, it is good practice that they make it clear that they will only be in a position to take a final decision after having heard all the relevant arguments and taken into account all relevant material and planning considerations at committee.

If any councillor, whether or not a committee member, speaks on behalf of a lobby group at the decision-making committee, they would be well advised to withdraw once any public or ward member speaking opportunities had been completed in order to counter any suggestion that members of the committee may have been influenced by their continuing presence. This should be set out in the authority’s code of conduct for planning matters.

It is very difficult to find a form of words which conveys every nuance of these situations and which gets the balance right between the duty to be an active local representative and the requirement when taking decisions on planning matters to take account of all arguments in an open-minded way. It cannot be stressed too strongly, however, that the striking of this balance is, ultimately, the responsibility of the individual councillor.

A local code on planning should also address the following more specific issues about lobbying:

  • Planning decisions cannot be made on a party political basis in response to lobbying; the use of political whips to seek to influence the outcome of a planning application is likely to be regarded as maladministration.
  • Planning committee or local plan steering group members should in general avoid organising support for or against a planning application, and avoid lobbying other councillors.
  • Councillors should not put pressure on officers for a particular recommendation or decision, and should not do anything which compromises, or is likely to compromise, the officers’ impartiality or professional integrity.
  • Call-in procedures, whereby councillors can require a proposal that would normally be determined under the delegated authority to be called in for determination by the planning committee, should require the reasons for call-in to be recorded in writing and to refer solely to matters of material planning concern.

As previously outlined, councillors must always be mindful of their responsibilities and duties under their local codes of conduct. These responsibilities and duties apply equally to matters of lobbying as they do to the other issues of probity explored elsewhere in this guidance.

Pre-application discussions

Pre-application discussions between a potential applicant and a council can benefit both parties and are encouraged. However, it would be easy for such discussions to become, or be seen by objectors to become, part of a lobbying process on the part of the applicant.

Some councils have been concerned about probity issues raised by involving councillors in pre-application discussions, worried that councillors would be accused of predetermination when the subsequent application came in for consideration. Now, through the Localism Act and previously the Audit Commission, the LGA and PAS recognise that councillors have an important role to play in pre-application discussions, bringing their local knowledge and expertise, along with an understanding of community views. Involving councillors can help identify issues early on, helps councillors lead on community issues and helps to make sure that issues don’t come to light for the first time at committee. PAS recommends a ‘no shocks’ approach.

The Localism Act, particularly S25, by endorsing this approach, has given councillors much more freedom to engage in pre-application discussions. Nevertheless, in order to avoid perceptions that councillors might have fettered their discretion, such discussions should take place within clear, published guidelines.

Although the term ‘pre-application’ has been used, the same considerations should apply to any discussions which occur before a decision is taken. In addition to any specific local circumstances, guidelines should include the following:

  • Clarity at the outset that the discussions will not bind a council to making a particular decision and that any views expressed are personal and provisional. By the very nature of such meetings not all relevant information may be at hand, nor will formal consultations with interested parties have taken place.
  • An acknowledgement that consistent advice should be given by officers based upon the development plan and material planning considerations.
  • Officers should be present with councillors in pre-application meetings. Councillors should avoid giving separate advice on the development plan or material considerations as they may not be aware of all the issues at an early stage. Neither should they become drawn into any negotiations, which should be done by officers (keeping interested councillors up to date) to ensure that the authority’s position is co-ordinated.
  • Confirmation that a written note should be made of all meetings. An officer should make the arrangements for such meetings, attend and write notes. A note should also be taken of any phone conversations, and relevant emails recorded for the file. Notes should record issues raised and advice given. The note(s) should be placed on the file as a public record. If there is a legitimate reason for confidentiality regarding a proposal, a note of the non- confidential issues raised or advice given can still normally be placed on the file to reassure others not party to the discussion.
  • A commitment that care will be taken to ensure that advice is impartial, otherwise the subsequent report or recommendation to committee could appear to be advocacy.
  • The scale of proposals to which these guidelines would apply. Councillors talk regularly to constituents to gauge their views on matters of local concern. The Nolan Committee argued that keeping a register of these conversations would be impractical and unnecessary. Authorities should think about when, however, discussions should be registered and notes written.

Authorities have other mechanisms to involve councillors in pre-application discussions including:

  • committee information reports by officers of discussions to enable councillors to raise issues, identify items of interest and seek further information
  • developer presentations to committees which have the advantage of transparency if held in public as a committee would normally be (with notes taken)
  • ward councillor briefing by officers on pre-application discussions.

Similar arrangements can also be used when authorities are looking at new policy documents and particularly when making new site allocations in emerging development plans and wish to engage with different parties, including councillors, at an early stage in the process.

The Statement of Community Involvement will set out the council’s approach to involving communities and other consultees in pre-application discussions. Some authorities have public planning forums to explore major pre-application proposals with the developer outlining their ideas and invited speakers to represent differing interests and consultees. As well as being transparent, these forums allow councillors and consultees to seek information and identify important issues for the proposal to address, although still bearing in mind the need to avoid pre-determination.

Officer reports to committee

As a result of decisions made by the courts and ombudsman, officer reports on planning applications must have regard to the following:

  • Reports should be accurate and should include the substance of any objections and other responses received to the consultation.
  • Relevant information should include a clear assessment against the relevant development plan policies, relevant parts of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), any local finance considerations, and any other material planning considerations.
  • Reports should have a written recommendation for a decision to be made.
  • Reports should contain technical appraisals which clearly justify the recommendation.
  • If the report’s recommendation is contrary to the provisions of the development plan, the material considerations which justify the departure must be clearly stated. This is not only good practice, but also failure to do so may constitute maladministration or give rise to a Judicial Review challenge on the grounds that the decision was not taken in accordance with the provisions of the development plan and the council’s statutory duty under s38A of the Planning and Compensation Act 2004 and s70 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Any oral updates or changes to the report should be recorded.

Public speaking at planning committees

Whether to allow public speaking at a planning committee or not is up to each local authority. Most authorities do allow it. As a result, public confidence is generally enhanced and direct lobbying may be reduced. The disadvantage is that it can make the meetings longer and sometimes harder to manage.

Where public speaking is allowed, clear protocols should be established about who is allowed to speak, including provisions for applicants, supporters, ward councillors, parish councils and third party objectors.

In the interests of equity, the time allowed for presentations for and against the development should be the same, and those speaking should be asked to direct their presentation to reinforcing or amplifying representations already made to the council in writing.

New documents should not be circulated to the committee; councillors may not be able to give proper consideration to the new information and officers may not be able to check for accuracy or provide considered advice on any material considerations arising. This should be made clear to those who intend to speak.

Messages should never be passed to individual committee members, either from other councillors or from the public. This could be seen as seeking to influence that member improperly and will create a perception of bias that will be difficult to overcome.

Decisions which differ from a recommendation

The law requires that decisions should be taken in accordance with the development plan, unless material considerations (which specifically include the NPPF) indicate otherwise (s38A Planning & Compensation Act 2004 and s70 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990).

This applies to all planning decisions. Any reasons for refusal must be justified against the development plan and other material considerations.

The courts have expressed the view that the committee’s reasons should be clear and convincing. The personal circumstances of an applicant or any other material or non- material planning considerations which might cause local controversy will rarely satisfy the relevant tests.

Planning committees can, and often do, make a decision which is different from the officer recommendation. Sometimes this will relate to conditions or terms of a S106 obligation. Sometimes it will change the outcome, from an approval to a refusal or vice versa. This will usually reflect a difference in the assessment of how a policy has been complied with, or different weight ascribed to material considerations.

Planning committees are advised to take the following steps before making a decision which differs from the officer recommendation:

  • if a councillor is concerned about an officer recommendation they should discuss their areas of difference and the reasons for that with officers in advance of the committee meeting
  • recording the detailed reasons as part of the mover’s motion
  • adjourning for a few minutes for those reasons to be discussed and then agreed by the committee
  • where there is concern about the validity of reasons, considering deferring to another meeting to have the putative reasons tested and discussed.

If the planning committee makes a decision contrary to the officers’ recommendation (whether for approval or refusal or changes to conditions or S106 obligations), a detailed minute of the committee’s reasons should be made and a copy placed on the application file. Councillors should be prepared to explain in full their planning reasons for not agreeing with the officer’s recommendation. Pressure should never be put on officers to ‘go away and sort out the planning reasons’.

The officer should also be given an opportunity to explain the implications of the contrary decision, including an assessment of a likely appeal outcome, and chances of a successful award of costs against the council, should one be made.

All applications that are clearly contrary to the development plan must be advertised as such, and are known as ‘departure’ applications. If it is intended to approve such an application, the material considerations leading to this conclusion must be clearly identified, and how these considerations justify overriding the development plan must be clearly demonstrated.

The application may then have to be referred to the relevant secretary of state, depending upon the type and scale of the development proposed (s77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990). If the officers’ report recommends approval of such a departure, the justification for this should be included, in full, in that report.

Committee site visits

National standards and local codes also apply to site visits. Councils should have a clear and consistent approach on when and why to hold a site visit and how to conduct it. This should avoid accusations that visits are arbitrary, unfair or a covert lobbying device. The following points may be helpful:

  • visits should only be used where the benefit is clear and substantial; officers will have visited the site and assessed the scheme against policies and material considerations already
  • the purpose, format and conduct should be clear at the outset and adhered to throughout the visit
  • where a site visit can be ‘triggered’ by a request from the ward councillor, the ‘substantial benefit’ test should still apply.
  • keep a record of the reasons why a site visit is called.

A site visit is only likely to be necessary if:

  • the impact of the proposed development is difficult to visualise from the plans and any supporting material, including photographs taken by officers
  • the comments of the applicant and objectors cannot be expressed adequately in writing or
  • the proposal is particularly contentious.

Site visits are for observing the site and gaining a better understanding of the issues. Visits made by committee members, with officer assistance, are normally the most fair and equitable approach. They should not be used as a lobbying opportunity by objectors or supporters.

This should be made clear to any members of the public who are there.

Once a councillor becomes aware of a proposal they may be tempted to visit the site alone. In such a situation, a councillor is only entitled to view the site from public vantage points and they have no individual rights to enter private property. Whilst a councillor might be invited to enter the site by the owner, it is not good practice to do so on their own, as this can lead to the perception that the councillor is no longer impartial.

Annual review of decisions

It is good practice for councillors to visit a sample of implemented planning permissions to assess the quality of the decisions and the development. This should improve the quality and consistency of decision-making, strengthen public confidence in the planning system, and can help with reviews of planning policy.

Reviews should include visits to a range of developments such as major and minor schemes; upheld appeals; listed building works and enforcement cases. Briefing notes should be prepared on each case. The planning committee should formally consider the review and decide whether it gives rise to the need to reconsider any policies or practices.

Scrutiny or standards committees may be able to assist in this process but the essential purpose of these reviews is to assist planning committee members to refine their understanding of the impact of their decisions. Planning committee members should be fully engaged in such reviews.

Complaints and record keeping

All councils should have a complaints procedure which may apply to all council activities. A council should also consider how planning-related complaints will be handled, in relation to the code of conduct adopted by the authority.

So that complaints may be fully investigated and as general good practice, record keeping should be complete and accurate. Every planning application file should contain an accurate account of events throughout its life. It should be possible for someone not involved in that application to understand what the decision was, and why and how it had been reached. This applies to decisions taken by committee and under delegated powers, and to applications, enforcement and development plan matters.

List of references

Please note: Many of the web links shown below are no longer available. In the first instance check out the following website. Government Publications

Probity in planning: the role of councillors and officers – revised guidance note on good planning practice for councillors and officers dealing with planning matters Local Government Association, May 2009 guest/publications/-/journal_ content/56/10171/3378249/PUBLICATION- TEMPLATE

The Localism Act 2011 contents/enacted

National Planning Policy Framework Department for Communities and Local Government, March 2012 system/uploads/attachment_data/ file/6077/2116950.pdf

Committee on Standards in Public Life (1997) Third Report: Standards of Conduct in Local Government in England, Scotland and Wales, Volume 1 Report Cm 3702-1: work/inquiries/previous-reports/third-report- standards-of-conduct-of-local-government-in- england-scotland-and-wales/

Royal Town Planning Institute Code of Professional Conduct: professional-standards/

The Relevant Authorities (Disclosable Pecuniary Interests) Regulations 2012 contents/made

Openness and transparency on personal interests: guidance for councillors, Department for Communities and Local Government, March 2013 openness-and-transparency-on-personal- interests-guidance-for-councillors

The Planning System – matching expectations to capacity Audit Commission, February 2006 auditcommission/sitecollectiondocuments/ AuditCommissionReports/NationalStudies/ Planning_FINAL.pdf

‘Standards Matter’ Kelly Committee Jan 2013 document/cm85/8519/8519.pdf

Flowchart of councillors’ interests
Enter Personal Interests into Register
Also include those Pecuniary Interests that need to be disclosed.

Disclosable Pecuniary Interests include business, trade, profession, contract and wider financial interests such as land, payments, securities, shares etc.

If a spouse or civil partner of a councillor has interests which would be considered Disclosable Pecuniary Interests then these must also be recorded in the Register under the councillor’s name.

A Disclosable Pecuniary Interest should also be disclosed at a meeting if it becomes relevant and the monitoring Officer informed within 28 days of the disclosure.

Councillor is a member of the Planning Committee

Councillor has a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest which relates to an item at the Planning Committee.

Councillor has a personal interest which relates to an item at the Planning Committee.

Councillor cannot participate (either as a councillor or member of the public) in the discussion or take part in any vote.

A councillor can make written representations and can arrange for someone else to attend the meeting to represent the constituents’ views.

Councillor must decide if this interest is likely to be seen as prejudicing their impartiality or ability to meet the principles of public life.


The councillor is free to take part in the debate and any subsequent vote on the item in question.

Councillor must leave the room if Council’s Standing Orders require with the Council’s code of conduct or it would contravene.


  1. This flowchart is for illustration purposes only.
  2. It is a criminal offence not to follow the rules on Disclosable Pecuniary Interest.
  3. If in doubt, a councillor should always consult the council’s Monitoring Officer.

This publication was prepared by Trevor Roberts Associates for the Planning Advisory Service.
It also includes contributions from officers from various councils. April 2013

Probity in planning for councillors and officers

Local Government Association
Local Government House Smith Square
London SW1P 3HZ

Telephone 020 7664 3000
Fax 020 7664 3030

© Local Government Association, November 2013

For a copy in Braille, larger print or audio, please contact us on 020 7664 3000.
We consider requests on an individual basis.