Anna Rose, POS Junior Vice President, told a session at the National Planning Summit that the failure to involve members at an early enough stage in duty to cooperate activity led to a democratic deficit in some of the work, which is a legal requirement under the Localism Act 2011.
In a session on the opportunities and challenges councils face on meeting their duty-to-cooperate obligations, Rose said some authorities sought to present councillors with ready-made solutions rather than involve them from the beginning.
"The biggest mistake I see in the duty to cooperate is that councillors are left until the end of the process, even though they have the real democratic mandate," she said.
Rose, who is also the service director for planning and transportation at Milton Keynes Council, subsequently said that planners also sometimes failed to communicate duty to cooperate issues in simple enough language - alienating not only members but also to council chief executives.
She acknowledged that some authorities faced greater challenges than others in meeting their duty to cooperate obligations, with neighbouring councils which found themselves at odds over housing numbers under the previous Regional Spatial Strategy system likely to struggle the most.