Tonight the Council have a full meeting, and probably the focus of the night will be the planning application to redevelop the Cattle Market site near the railway station. This is unusual for several reasons.
Firstly, most applications are dealt with directly by the planning officers, being quite straightforward. The rest go to the regular committee meetings, where a group of councillors have to vote. This is usually reserved for the ones which are going to be rejected, or where there are a large number of objections, or there is a policy effect. The committee will in most cases be able to come to a decision on the night. Sometimes they will defer it for a site visit or more information. In this case, they have decided to refer it up to the Full Council instead, meaning that all Borough Councillors vote, rather than a subset.
Secondly, the councillors on the committee have decided to recommend refusal, but the officers have said that it can be approved. This makes the decision pretty tight – if the Council refuse, there is a very good chance of an appeal, which the officers would be duty-bound to fight (even though they originally agreed with the application), and if the Council lose will cost them (sorry – us taxpayers) thousands of pounds while the application gets approved – possibly without all the conditions that a local council would have wanted to apply.
Lastly, it’ll be one of those rare council meetings where suddenly dozens (perhaps even scores) of people will be going to watch – most of whom will probably not been to see one before. This can be a charged, and confusing, atmosphere.
As a neutral (as far as the application is concerned), it will be fascinating to watch…