This page has been adapted from the planning committee’s terms of references, last updated May 2020.
Helping to make Birmingham better
The aim of the planning committee is to support the development of Birmingham for the people who live, work and visit the city through the provision of professional, fair and constructive advice.
We support sustainable development and promote high quality design, acting as a critical friend to developers, professions, the local authority and communities.
We engage with communities to provide support in planning matters which are a cause of concern. We welcome invitations from developers and land owners who wish to receive professional, fair and constructive advice at an early stage of design resolution, to reduce potential friction in the planning process and achieve the best overall result for the city.
In the first instance, policy will reflect international (e.g. ICOMOS), national (e.g. NPPF) and local (e.g. Birmingham Development Plan) planning guidance. Areas of interest include but are not limited to sustainability, historic environment and land use (amongst others).
We are a planning committee, rather than a conservation committee. Generally we will weigh the importance of conflicting areas of need to the same degree as they are considered within the wider planning system – for example the importance of historic buildings in comparison to sustainability.
The committee will however be critical where local needs are not appropriately served by existing guidance, and will seek to advise and have influence where policy is seen to be failing.
We work to engage with causes, buildings, spaces and communities which are otherwise overlooked or lack support.
Consultation and influence
The committee welcomes the opportunity to be consulted on;
- Planning applications (including listed building consents, etc)
- Planning policy
- Master plans (local authority led plans for land use)
- Third party proposals (developer led, or community led plans for land use)
- Ad-hoc proposals within the broad remit of its interest
Civic societies are not ‘statutory consultees’ and there is no duty for applicants to consult the committee nor for planning officers to seek our view. However, we do comment on applications and ad-hoc matters which are of interest, such as campaigns for the protection for non-designated assets.
What we wish to be consulted on
As a guide we are interested in being consulted upon proposals involving:
- Tall buildings
- Work affecting historic buildings, places or monuments (whether designated or not)
- Major applications (i.e. defined as major applications by the Local Planning Authority (LPA))
- Work which may have significant environmental impacts
- Work which may have significant impacts on communities
The committee is not a statuatory consultee but have played an historic role in the development of the city and pride ourselves on the professional value of our advice, fairness and formality.
Working with others
We informally engage with other groups with allied interests, for example amenity societies (such as The Victorian Society), Birmingham Conservation Trust, or local / special groups formed for a particular purpose.
To consultations on policy
We respond to consultations on policy, whether this is following formal invitation or an open invitation. This may take many different forms, including survey response, focus group or interview. Members of the committee are invited to show their interest in responding and, from those wishing to participate, a response will be formulated.
To formal consultations on planning applications
The committee chair collates and filters formal consultations from the LPA. Members are requested to respond within a timeframe to allow formal responses to be issued electronically to the planning officer (normally within 21 days of the consultation being made). They are also asked to declare any conflicts of interest. The chair or other delegated member collates and drafts the responses. Normally these are not shared to the whole committee, unless requested, or considered sensitive.
To invited consultations on planning applications
We welcome invited consultations, ideally at an early stage of development (say RIBA Stage 2 or earlier) where our input may have influence. Consulation, in agreement with the applicant, can take the form of written responses or meetings and site visits. A meeting may be more suitable at the early stage.
We strive to provide constructive, friendly and supportive advice.
Invited consultations are provided free of charge.
We welcome applicants publishing written correspondence in future applications.
Consultations that take place prior to a planning application are treated confidentially. We do not share advice given with third parties until that planning material is available to the public.
Discussions with local authority offices remain private and are considered ‘without prejudice’. We may share responses sent to planning officers or other formal responses, as these are in the public domain. Birmingham City Council does not publish these on their website but they have a right to do so.
Rewarding high quality design
In order to promote and reward high quality design, the committee awards two prizes:
- Renaissance Award – for reuse of a historic building (given anually).
- Haywood Award – for a development, group or work of an individual which has been completed over ten years ago and has had significant positive impact on the city (given bianually).
We will support developments which are of a high quality through formal comment.
Who is on our panel
The majority of members are experienced, practicing professionals, and all give their time to the committee free of charge. The panel changes regularly due to the commitments of its members, but is usually between 12 and 15 people. We strive to promote diversity in all respects within the panel, while favouring ability and relevance in the skills and experience of its constituents.
Our committee members are generally made of people from the following professions, or with these skillsets:
- Planning professionals
- Urban designers / Landscape architects
- Conservation architects or Historic building consultants
- Commercial surveyors / Quantity surveyors
- Building contractors / Buildability
- CDM / Health & safety
- Sustainability / M&E
- Environmental consultants (acoustic, contamination)
- Structural engineers
- Transport consultants
- Community engagement professionals
Historically the planning committee was composed in order to act as a fair and unconflicted party in development. Fairness remains a key strength, as does quality of advice. In order to maintain this tension, we will seek members who have suitable skills and experience to comment on consultations but do not hold a traditional construction profession. A key role of these members will be to question, and remain critical of the formal planning process and policy, and the ingrained assumptions of the ‘construction professional’ members.
The committee welcomes speculative applications, but will also seek or advertise for suitable parties. If you are interested in joining the planning committee, please email us.