Agenda item

Agenda item

Outcome of Planning Peer Challenge - Update and Constitutional Changes

Report of the Strategic Director of Place

Presented by the Regeneration and Planning Portfolio Holder


Councillor T J Pendleton presented the report to members, providing an update on the progress made to implement the recommendations of the peer review.  He referred to the constitutional changes, the establishment of the Local Plan Committee, the changes to the call-in arrangements and planning committee procedures, all of which had been discussed and agreed through the cross-party working group which was chaired and supported by the Planning Advisory Service.  He added that discussions at the working group had been positive and fruitful and the recommendations in the report represented cross-party consensus.  He commended the working party for the progress made so far.  He highlighted the proposed constitutional and other changes set out in the report and referred members to the amendments in the update sheet which reflected the views of the Independent Remuneration Panel that the Chairman of the Local Plan Committee and the Planning Committee should not be the same person to avoid a conflict of interest.  He stated that the Local Plan Committee was likely to evolve and Council would receive a progress report in 12 months.  He moved the recommendations set out in the report.


The motion was seconded by Councillor J Bridges who reserved his comments.


Councillor N Smith emphasised the importance of providing the best possible planning service to the district and of being seen to be completely transparent.  He thanked the members of the working group and the Chief Executive and Leader for instigating the review. 


Councillor J Geary felt it was fair to say that over the last few months, planning had failed to deliver the excellent service members hoped for.  He added that behaviour and relationships required urgent attention and the general consensus of members of the public was that the Planning Committee was not fit for purpose.  He felt however that the peer challenge would go a long way towards addressing these problems.  He added that he was fortunate enough to have been offered a seat on the working group and with the positive input and from the Planning Advisory Service and the good will of officers, rapid progress was being made.  He expressed concerns regarding the proposals to prevent affected ward members from sitting on the committee and questioned how he could champion a case on behalf of residents being unable to enter into the debate and vote on the matter.  However he thanked members and officers for their joint working on these issues.


Councillor S Sheahan stated that he was pleased the planning system was being reformed.  He welcomed the proposals to extend the call-in process and the progress made so far. 


Councillor D Everitt expressed his opposition to the proposals, in particular the prevention of ward members from participating in the debate.  He stated that he had noticed the law becoming more controlling and the will of the people becoming more diminished.  He felt that the planning system worked for the establishment and not for the people, and the peer review would not make much difference to this. 


Councillor A C Saffell commented on the excellent co-operation at the working group meetings.  He reminded members that the intention was that ward members would have a much bigger involvement throughout the planning process and at a very early stage.


Councillor R Ashman echoed the comments made as a member of the working group and thanked Jack Hopkins for his time and good guidance.  He advised that the working group had agreed that the changes made would be under constant review. 


Councillor J Bridges stated that he agreed with most of the comments made and emphasised the importance of working together and taking action early on in the process.


Councillor T J Pendleton referred to the issue of public perception relating to the involvement of ward members in the planning process.  He advised members that they would be notified at an early stage that there was an application in their ward and would be given an opportunity to discuss the proposals.  He added that the time period for calling in applications was being extended to 28 days and ward members would be able to address the meeting for up to 5 minutes.  He explained that advice had been sought from the Planning Advisory Service on best practice drawing on their experience across the country. 


It was moved by Councillor T J Pendleton, seconded by Councillor and




a)    The Local Plan Committee be established on the terms set out in paragraph 3 and Appendix 3.


b)    The working group’s proposals in respect of call-in to Planning Committee as set out in paragraph 4 be approved.


c)    The working group’s proposals in respect of Planning Committee procedures as set out in paragraph 5 be approved.


d)    The proposals to reform the Planning Committee procedures as set out in paragraph 2 be noted.


e)    The progress made against the action plan be noted.


The Monitoring Officer be authorised to make any consequential changes to the Constitution arising from this report. 


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