Councillor Briefing - Making Defensible Planning Decisions 

Making robust planning decisions that can be defended to the public and at appeal is challenging. Your Committee members should be regularly trained in the key elements of defensible decision making and both officers and councillors should reflect and learn from some of its past decisions. You can either carry out the training yourselves using the presentation below as your guide or alternatively experienced PAS consultants can facilitate a training session for you.

Support offer

  • Half-day session (3 hours), on-site at your council or virtually, with planning committee members (including substitutes) and other councillors, if interested
  • Involvement of a councillor peer, if appropriate
  • Tailor made to your Council to address areas of particular concern regarding reputational issues, quality or speed of decision making 
  • PAS will normally charge to undertake the training so please ask for a quote.  The price will vary depending on the trainers involved and whether the training is virtual or on site.


  • Improved decision making to deliver the Council's planning objectives, in line with policies
  • Safeguarding the reputation of the council as a responsible decision maker
  • Strengthening the processes and justification for making the decisions
  • Reducing vulnerability  on appeal
  • Minimising the chance of cost awards.

If you are interested in this support, please contact PAS:

Email: [email protected]

Tips for carrying out the training yourselves

  • There are a lot of slides in this presentation.  We suggest that you don't include every slide in your training but choose the ones that are most relevant to your training needs
  • The presentation is on Powerpoint that can be easily modified so that the slides you use are most relevant to your Council e.g. you may want to include a slide on your Local Plan position
  • Break up the presentation with discussions and quizzes e.g. you may want to test councillors' knowledge of material and non material considerations in the form of a quiz based on the slides in the presentation
  • Involve officers at different levels in the training.  This is an excellent opportunity for officers and councillors to discuss together Committee issues away from a formal meeting in public
  • Use the notes on the presentation slides to help you deliver the presentation
  • We suggest you add a few slides on your scheme of delegation and code
  • Make sure you leave plenty of time for questions so that the learning can be reinforced.  The last few slides are summaries to help with the learning so if you run out of time you can move through these slides quickly
  • Make sure you send the presentation to Members so that they can refer to the slides whenever they have an issue e.g. Members might find the slide on understanding the jargon particularly useful.
  • Don't let this be the only training the Committee receives during the year.  You may want to hold separate training on new issues (such as policy adoption or changes in legislation) or to reinforce areas of the training that need greater attention