Trudi Elliott, Chief Executive of the Royal Town Planning
Institute, said: "The RTPI's view is planning advice is always best
provided by Chartered Town Planners who are quality controlled for
professional competence, bound by an ethical code of conduct and
stringent requirements to keep their knowledge up to date.
Proper planning is about the transparent balancing the planning
issues and not who you know.
Planning committees themselves are rightly seen to be one of the
most open and accountable parts of our democratic process. They are
held in public with all parties knowing what evidence is relied
upon, who made what representation, what the officer recommended
and which way councillors voted. The appeal system is equally
Nearly 500,000 planning applications were made in England alone
last year, and government rules clearly state that councillors
should not participate in discussions or votes where they have a
None of the councillors mentioned by the Telegraph on the 11
March are members of the Institute or of our Politicians in
Planning network (PIPA).
Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis said: "This Government
has increased accountability and transparency over councillors'
interests, to accompany greater power and freedoms for local
"Councils should adopt a code of conduct that reflects the Nolan
principles on conduct in public life, with councillors declaring
any private interest that relates to their public duties, and
councillors must take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a
way that protects the public interest.
In addition, it is now a criminal offence to fail to declare or
register disclosable pecuniary interests - which includes any
employment or trade carried for profit or gain. The register of
councillors' interests must be published online by the council.
Councillors should act in an open and transparent way, to avoid
conflicts of interest on issues such as planning applications or
benefiting financially from the issuing of council contracts."