BOROUGH councillors have expressed their “disagreement” after it has been decided that Test Valley Borough Council’s planning committee is set to change

The news comes after Test Valley Borough Council had an advisory body assess the way the council manage planning.

After the review deemed the way the council manages planning as “atypical” it has since been decided that as of May 9 there will a single tier planning committee system will be introduced, with a northern area and southern area committee each comprising 13 elected councillors.

This will replace the current two tier system where all councillors sit on either the northern area planning Committee or southern area planning committee depending on their ward.

The planning control committee, which provides a second stage review for applications where there is a risk of costs being awarded against the council at appeal will be dissolved.

As of May 9 all decisions will be made at the respective area committees.

The Northern Area Committee will cover the area to the north of the newly formed Mid Test ward and the Southern Area Committee will include the Mid Test ward and all other wards to the south

Councillor Celia Dowden who represents the North Baddesley ward said: “Anyone not on the planning committee will be at a disadvantage.

“I think the new councillors elected in May need the experience of the current planning committee to get the training they need.

“Also those councillors not on the committee will now not be able to contribute to decisions made.”

Alison Finlay who represents the Chilworth ward described the decision as a “controversial point.”

She said: “I don’t want any councillor to be restricted

“I think this should be reviewed in six months time.”

Councillor Nick Adams-King who is the planning portfolio holder said that although not all councillors will be part of the committee under this decision “anyone can receive the planning training the council have in place.”

He added: “Those who aren’t on the committee can have a more free conservation and be an advocate.

“I think this new system is a lot more transparent and understandable.”

Head of planning and building services, Paul Jackson, said: “The council has followed the independent recommendations of the Planning Advisory Service, the LGA Peer Review and current councillors.

“The proposed reforms to the planning committee structure will make the process more efficient and effective and most importantly more transparent and understandable for members of the public and applicants.

“All councillors will still be able to voice their opinions about applications at planning committee meetings and those not sitting on the planning committees will be able to undertake their role as community advocates by representing the views of their local constituents in relation to applications referred to committee.”

A review of the new structure will take place before the annual council in 2020.