The Chelsea Society was concerned that when implementing the recent change in data-protection law, RBKC were making it difficult for the names of individual objectors to appear on the published record. The Society made representation and the matter has now been resolved as follows:
GDPR Briefing Note – Comments on planning applications
- The Council must comply with new General Data Protection Requirements. We also have a policy objective of maintaining as transparent a decision making system as possible for planning applications.
- For public comments this means ensuring that all comments are published on the Council’s website.
- To achieve this policy objective, the Council does not ask an individual for consent to publish their comment online. This would create a situation where most comments would be withheld from public view.
- To manage the risk of not obtaining explicit consent from an individual to publish their comment, the Council by default has adopted the below procedure:
- Comments are published anonymously (name and address of the person commentating are redacted).
- Comments are removed once a planning decision has been made.
- Comments are republished if an application is subject to an appeal and then removed once an appeal decision is made.
- Comments are retained for ten years, and then deleted.
- Decision makers (officers or councillors) are able to see the full details of the person commentating on an application (name and address of that person) as part of their deliberations when deciding an application.
- However, in response to community representations the Council is amending the public comment online form to include the options for an individual to:
- give consent for the Council to display their name and address.
- give consent for the Council not to delete their comment.
- Organisations are not subject to GDPR. As such, comments made by organisations are published online in full.
- The new comment form will enable organisations to notify the Council if they wish their comment to remain published after a decision has been issued.
The system is not however working as intended, as some objectors who wanted their names published have found them redacted.
Also, letters of objection are being deleted after the application has been decided or withdrawn. This should not be done, as it is useful to be able to refer to past objections when the same or a similar application is received.
Further work is required, which The Chelsea Society will discuss with RBKC.