Lichfield District Council’s Cabinet to discuss proposals to have greater say over design of HS2 structures

Councillors will discuss proposals for Lichfield District Council to be classified as a HS2 qualifying authority.

An artist's impression of HS2

An artist’s impression of HS2

Local authorities which sign up will be given greater control over the design and appearance of structures along the route, such as tunnel portals and bridges.

A report by Cllr Ian Pritchard to a meeting of the Cabinet tonight (July 5) has recommended Lichfield District Council signs the HS2 Planning Memorandum to take up qualifying authority status.

The high speed rail line will cross through a number areas of Lichfield, including Whittington, Streethay, Fradley and Armitage.

Cllr Pritchard’s report says: “If the council decided to be a non-qualifying authority it would have a significantly reduced role, effectively losing control over the majority of buildings, structures and features being constructed within the district.

“Councils wishing to become qualifying authorities are required to sign the planning memorandum. This document sets out the rules of conduct and admistrative arrangements for both the local authorities and the nominated undertaker leading up to and during the construction of the railway.

“Importantly, it requires the council to commit to dealing with applications in an expeditious manner – ie, within eight weeks – and to being sufficiently resourced to do so.

“The applications are likley to be relatively minor works, but could be substantial in number and frequency.”

The volume of applications is expected to add significant strain to the council’s current planning process.

Cllr Pritchard’s report has recommended some applications are dealt with outside of the currrent committee setting – changes which would require some alterations to the council’s constitution.

“In view of the level of interest that is likely to be generated by the proposals that come forward and the need to ensure they are dealt with particularly expeditiously, there is a risk that the anticipated volume of work could have significant impact upon the capacity of the planning committee to consider these additional items within the required period,” Cllr Pritchard’s report continues.

“In order to address this issue, it is recommended that delegated authority be given to senior officers – as currently set out in the constitution to determine planning applications – to determine approvals.

“In addition, it is also recommended that the conditions in which such approvals will be reported to the planning committee should also be set out.

“This approach reflects that of the current process of determining planning applications, allowing members to ‘call in’ such approvals.

“Should this approach be agreed it will require a change to the constitution to be approved by the full council.”

Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.

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