Your Councillors

Agenda item

Planning Services Improvement Project (PSIP)

Minutes:

Mr William Cornall, the Director of Regeneration and Place, presented the Planning Services Improvement Project (PSIP) to the Committee.

 

The Chairman reminded the Committee that there was an urgent update which included a further recommendation.

 

Councillors Boughton and Hastie addressed the Committee on this item.

 

It was noted that:

 

·  The Planning Review was concluded by this Committee at its meeting held on 13 November 2017. The next stage in the process was the implementation of the selected recommendations.

 

·  The recommendations relating to Members and Committee were considered at a working group consisting of the Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of Planning and this Committee, Councillor Munford and Officers.

 

The Committee raised the following concerns:

 

·  Afternoon meetings of Planning Committee would mean that both Members who worked full time and members of the public would be precluded from attending. On the other hand, it was suggested that members of the public with young families would be precluded from attending during the evening.

 

·  Decision making was not always of the best quality late into the evening.

 

·  Reducing the size of Planning Committee would mean that there would be less representation from the smaller political parties on the Committee.

 

·  Allowing only one Visiting Member to speak at Planning Committee on each application would not enable the views of opposing political parties to be heard.

 

·  On some planning applications it would be necessary for Officers to spend more time introducing the report and therefore a time restriction on this would not be practical.

 

·  On some planning applications Members of Planning Committee would require more than three minutes to speak on an application, especially when trying to formulate grounds for refusal, and therefore a time restriction on this would not be practical.

 

·  Some planning applications affected several Parish Councils (and sometimes in different ways) and so allowing only one Parish Council to speak would not be reasonable.

 

·  Limiting reports to 10 pages was too restrictive.

 

In response to questions from the Committee, the Head of Planning and Development responded that:

 

·  There were a relatively small number of applications being held up because of the decision making abilities of the Planning Committee. But, there was a backlog of applications waiting to go to Planning Committee.

 

·  In the next financial year (2018/19) it was likely that there would be less outline applications coming to Planning Committee, but more reserved matters.

 

The Committee suggested that consideration be given to recognising neighbourhood forums (where they are recognised as such under the Localism Act) in the same way as Parish Councils in relation to the rules for public speaking.

 

The Committee noted the assurance that paperless working for parishes would not be introduced as part of the PSIP.

 

The Committee queried whether it should state ‘This already exists in the form of the Parish Charter’ in Appendix 2, on page 58 of the agenda, rather than the ‘Parish Service Scheme’.

 

The Committee considered the report and recommendations and requested that the following amendments be made to the recommendations in Appendix 1 before submission to Council:

 

·  Recommendation 2: That greater use of e-learning modules be included in the Member induction programme and training for Planning Committee to ensure that key elements and responsibilities are covered and embedded. This would save time and be accessible for all Members.

 

·  Recommendation 3: That the line of enquiry relating to the parish call-in process is not implemented.

 

·  Recommendation 5A: That the speaking arrangements proposed are not implemented, but that the slot for the parish or residents association go to any other concerned resident if no parish or residents association registers to speak, with the Chairman’s discretion.

 

·  Recommendation 5B: The recommendation was supported by the Committee. However, the Committee did not support an absolute restriction of 5 minutes. In order to keep Officer Introductions concise, the Committee raised the possibility of including a caveat at the top of each agenda which stated that it was assumed that all Members had read the papers.

 

·  Recommendation 5C: That the Committee Member Debate should not be restricted by time.

 

·  Recommendation 5E: That the Planning Committee should not be reduced to 11 Members.

 

·  Recommendation 5F: That the Planning Committee should not be held in the afternoon rather than the evening.

 

·  Recommendation 7: That the idea of concise reports be supported but the Committee did not want arbitrary restriction on the number of pages.

 

RESOLVED:

 

1.  That the 27 recommendations from IESE that do not relate to Members and Committee, specifically those that Officers are taking forward, be noted.

 

Voting: Unanimous

 

2.  That the proposed amendments be made to Appendix 1.

 

3.  To RECOMMEND to Council:

 

That the Monitoring Officer be instructed to amend the Constitution to reflect the changes agreed by this Committee, effective from the new municipal year (2018/19).

 

Voting: Unanimous

 

Note: Councillor English left the meeting at 8.52 p.m. during consideration of this item and the meeting was adjourned between 8.52 p.m. and 8.59 p.m.

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