Group Discussions > Objections to planning applications and freedom of speech

In the latest issue of Garden Square News I highlighted the fact that people who wrote in to comment on the RBK&C planning web page about the proposal to build two massive high-rise towers on Ashburn Gardens were having their names removed from their objections or letters of support. Council officials said this needed to be done to comply with the new General Data Protection Regulation rules.

Other London local authorities have not seen the need to make comments from individuals anonymous, so I sought clarification from the Information Commissioner's Office, which oversees the implementation of GDPR.

In the answer that arrived on Nov. 29 an ICO spokesperson said: “The General Data Protection Regulation does not prevent a planning authority from publishing names where it is necessary and justified to do so. Planning authorities must judge for themselves how much personal data related to planning applications to publish, but must always be mindful of their data protection obligations.

"FOR BACKGROUND ONLY: The Planning Advisory Service (PAS) is currently in the process of developing new guidance for planning authorities. Their detailed GDPR guidance is still being developed, but they have published some interim guidance, which they have consulted with the ICO about. That guidance is here

"The interim PAS guidance states that 'Decisions on what information is published online are a matter for individual planning authorities. In making these decisions LPAs need to balance their data protection obligations under the GDPR with their other legislative requirements' ".