Statement regarding investigation into procedural irregularities during Babergh Planning Committee meeting
During a Planning Committee meeting on Wednesday 10 August, a document that was not part of the planning papers was seen to be passed between some members. The meeting was immediately adjourned so that we could investigate any procedural irregularities. Whilst we recognise the frustration this caused for all parties, we must - as the planning authority - ensure that any decision reached over the application for construction of 41 retirement living apartments at Belle Vue, Sudbury, and the conversion and restoration of Belle Vue House, is fair, transparent and legally sound.
The document shared between some members was a feasibility plan showing an earlier alternative layout for the site. The layout dates from 2020 and does not form any part of the application before the committee.
The Monitoring Officer has conducted a thorough investigation - including individual interviews with every member of the committee. We are now satisfied that the integrity of the committee has not been compromised and the committee members who saw the document accept that it is not material to the application before them. One committee member has, however, been removed from the committee until further training on the planning process can be provided.
This means the application can now be rescheduled to be heard by the committee in full. Because of the high level of public interest and our desire to be fully transparent, we propose the application is heard in the Council chamber at Endeavour House - where it can also be livestreamed. This livestream will also be recorded, for those who cannot attend in person or watch live. We expect this to take place as soon as possible in September.
As always, the meeting will be publicised and papers published in advance.