Saturday, 14 March 2009

Saturday 14th March 09

Quite an early start when I'd have really liked a later one... as up til after 2am last night following the Climate Change Plan meeting. But, I got up before 8 and used my new beard trimmer for the first time so I was perhaps a bit more presentable, and maybe a bit less like Pete Postlethwaite who is looking really quite unkempt in some of the recent pictures of him.

I headed off soon after 8.30 to The Guildhall to the Development Control seminar which was led by Councillor Richard Moore, who sits on one of the Council's planning committees. This training was for members of Parish Councils, Planning Panels and other interested members of the public, so that responses to Planning Applications are more relevant and focused, and respondents understand some of the complexities of the planning process.

So, at 9 I was at the Guildhall and it was good to see George the 'front of house' chap who's been there ever since I can remember, and was ushered upstairs to The Smoke Room (now unimaginatively renamed 'Room 4') which overlooks the River Ouse. One coffee and several chats later, we were ushered into the main Council Chamber, where I unintentionally sat in Cllr Dave Taylor's seat. The course covered what is and isn't 'development', and which legislation and guidance covers the processes. We learned about 'Permitted Development', which does not need planning permission, and the different classes of land or building use, and the different types of planning applications. We were told the difference between Development Control and Building Control. Then we looked at how the application is submitted, who can be consulted, the levels of determination, which means whether an officer can decide, or the Area Sub Committee, or the full Planning Committee, or even another authority such as the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Highways Agency or the Ministry of Defence. Decisions must be made on Material Considerations, and things which aren't Material Considerations must be ignored. Then we looked at how City of York Council runs its Committee meetings and how public involvement is provided. Finally we found out about the different types of decision made, appeals and 'Section 106' Agreements which in some cases can be seen as 'planning gain', such as a house builder providing a play area for residents to use. In one local example, all of the first residents from a group of new houses were provided with a 6 month bus pass so that they had the opportunity to get used to using public transport.

Then we had some real life cases which the Council has had to decide over the past year or two. Some of them were far from clear cut, and we were asked to vote whether or not to approve the application. I only got two out of the five correct, but sometimes the Committee doesn't agree, and it has been known for almost half of them vote to reject with the others voting to approve.

This finished at 12.30 and I went straight to the National Railway Museum to go to the Science Week event, and the York Rotters stall at this. I was pleased to see Robin and Jo, and of course our enthusiastic paid worker Catherine. I had my sandwiches and then started speaking to members of the public, asking them, when they were looking at our displays, if they wanted any help with their compost heap? If they replied that they had a heap, I asked them if they'd like to tell me about it. This then leads to me being able to ask if they put cardboard and paper on the pile, and the conversation continues. I often ask experienced composters if they put cooked food on the heap (and we have a plate with fake food on it!) and this allows the subjects of wormeries and Bokashi bins to be discussed.

John the Rotter talking to a member of the public.

Gill and the boys appeared and Gill had her camera, which is why these photos are on the blog.

Members of the York Rotters team at the National Railway Museum.

I left when it all quietened down towards 4pm, and came home via Country Fresh where Martin offered me just one compact box of recyclables, and I got home some time before the rest of the family who were on the bus. I lit the stove and had done one batch of washing up by the time they got in.

A happy evening, with me looking forward to tomorrow's big Premiere all over the UK... I'll be attending the York Premiere of AGE OF STUPID, at Vue, Clifton Moor, at 5pm.

See you there!

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