Campaigning to curb supermarket power

How does my Council make a decision about a supermarket?

The local authority must consider all the relevant issues (see below) and come to a decision about whether to approve the supermarket planning application. The application will initially be considered by paid planning officers working for the council who will be qualified and experienced planners. They should put together a report on the application based on an assessment of the supporting documents submitted, a comparison with local regional and national planning documents, and a summary of submissions received from third parties (including your objection).
The officers will then report to the council, normally with a recommendation for approval or refusal, and with what conditions to impose on the development. The decision will ultimately be made by those councillors (elected representatives) who sit on the planning committee (sometimes called the development control committee). The decision rests with the elected councillors but they should use the report and recommendations of the planners.

Normally, they adhere to what the planners suggest. However sometimes, including in controversial supermarket applications, the councillors will come to their own conclusions based on the report and vote against the recommendation. They may take into account the fact that there is substantial local opposition. Remember, these people are elected representatives so know it is wise to listen to what local people have to say. It is worth talking to councillors about your concerns with the development as well as submitting a formal objection letter. Click here to see how to lobby the Councillors on the committee.

Whether they go with or against the recommendation of the case officer, the councillors' decision must be based on sound planning reasons and the application's compliance with national, regional and local planning policy. The developer may appeal against the refusal so the council should be able to show that it voted against the development for the correct reasons. Click here for further information on appeals.

To see decision notices from previous decisions against supermarkets, see Tescopoly's guide and Friends of the Earth's parallel briefing.