(Link to Council Priorities: Character and Environment P2)
Members were reminded that on 11 June 2019 the Planning Committee had deferred consideration of the revised Scheme of Delegation and Public Speaking Procedure to ensure all Members were given the opportunity to comment on the proposals. It was agreed that information would be issued to all Members of the Council by 17 June 2019 with Members being given the opportunity to submit comments by 28 June 2019. It was also agreed that the proposal should include a revised proposed implementation date of
1 September 2019.
The Head of Planning Services had circulated the following documents for consultation with Members:
· the report considered by the Planning Committee Chairs and Vice Chairs on 23 April 2019;
· the report considered by the Planning Committee on 10 June 2019; and
· an updated presentation summarising the two papers listed above.
Eight representations had been received from Members on the proposed revisions to the Scheme of Delegation and a summary of comments received together with the officer response was provided to the Committee as Appendix A to the report.
The Head of Planning Services explained the rationale for the proposed changes to delegations. The Council needed to achieve a stronger delivery focus and improve performance, and it was important to maintain the primary role of Members of the Planning Committee which was to take planning decisions based on the Development Plan unless material planning considerations indicated otherwise (including the National Planning Policy Framework).
During her introduction, the Head of Planning Services advised Members that a Petition opposing the proposals and signed by 372 people had been received, as well as 26 individual letters of objection. She also advised Members that Paragraph 19 of the Protocol within Appendix B was no longer required and therefore should be deleted from the report.
In respect of the submission of the Petition, the Law Practice Manager provided clarification that it was in order for the Petition to be considered by the Planning Committee. The Committee was advised that in accordance with Paragraph 4.6 of the Petitions Scheme within the Council’s Constitution, Petitions would be considered at the meeting with responsibility for taking the relevant decision. However, whilst the representations of the Petitioners could be taken into account, it would not be in order to refer the proposals under consideration to the Cabinet (a step called for by the Petitioners if the proposals were accepted). Functions relating to Town and Country Planning and Development Control were prohibited from being the responsibility of the Executive by virtue of Regulation 2 and Schedule 1 of the Local Authorities (Functions and Responsibilities) (England) Regulations 2000. That meant delegating to the Planning Committee the necessary powers to provide and maintain an effective system of development control. Discharging that responsibility was not just about determining planning applications but also settling arrangements for how they would be determined and by which Committee / Sub-committee / Officer. ?It would, therefore, not ?be in order for arrangements for determining planning applications ?to be referred to the Cabinet for decision.
Members considered and amended the Proposed Scheme of Delegation as set out within Appendix B of the report on a point by point basis as follows:
Decisions Referred to the Area Planning Sub-Committees
It was noted that point 1. of the delegations had been updated following the Member consultation to remove the need to provide a planning referral reason. Members supported this change.
It was agreed that Point
number 2. of the Scheme of Delegation
s be amended to
‘2. Minor applications (1-9 homes or non-residential development less than 1000sqm) which are recommended for approval by Officers and there are objections from 15 or more households or from Claygate Parish Council (if a petition, or an objection letter is received from an organisation such as a residents’ association, political party or Conservation Area Advisory Committee each shall be treated in the same way as an objection from 1 household).’
Some Members commented that the objection threshold of 15 was too high and the Committee took votes on proposed amendments to reduce this figure to 5 or 10. However, both amendments were not carried and the majority of Members agreed with the recommendation requiring 15 or more objections as they considered it to be an acceptable number given the relative ease with which representations could often now be communicated, e.g. by way of electronic mail.
Arising from consideration of point number 2, it was agreed that the Head of Planning Services be requested to provide a report to the next meeting on the Conservation Area Advisory Committee representations and whether representations from these advisory committees should be given a greater weight than being treated the same as an objection from one household.
Members considered that the number of objections should be consistent and therefore agreed that point 3. of the Scheme of Delegations be amended to read:
‘3. Applications for Permission in Principle which are recommended for approval by Officers and there are objections from 15 or more households.’
Points 4 and 5 were agreed unamended.
Decisions Referred to the Planning Committee
A Member proposed an amendment that major applications should continue to be submitted to the Area Planning Sub-Committees in the first instance, however the amendment was not supported and a majority of Members were ?in support of the proposed revised delegations in this regard.
Points 6. and 7. were agreed unamended.
Members agreed that point 8. be amended so that the number of objections were consistent, and therefore the delegation should read:
‘8. Major applications (10+ dwellings or 1000sqm+ non-residential floorspace) which are recommended for approval by Officers where there are objections from 15 or more households or from Claygate Parish Council (if a petition, or an objection letter is received from an organisation such as a residents’ association, political party or Conservation Area Advisory Committee each shall be treated in the same way as an objection from 1 household).’
[Reference to the weight to be given to any representations from the Conservation Area Advisory Committees would be the subject of a further report, as detailed above.]
Point 9. was agreed unamended.
Protocol for operating the system set out in the Scheme of Officer Delegations
Points 10.-18. were agreed unamended. It was noted that point 19. had been removed by officers from the report. Point 20. was also agreed, subject to it now being renumbered 19.
As a result of the above changes, the Committee also considered a proposed updated Public Speaking Procedure. It was proposed that the public speaking procedure be extended to the Planning Committee and that therefore any application on a Sub-Committee or Planning Committee agenda would be eligible for public speaking. The Committee agreed the proposed Public Speaking Procedure, as set out within Appendix C of the report.
The Committee also agreed that the updated Scheme of Delegations should commence with effect from 1 September 2019 following a vote on a motion to implement the updated Scheme from May 2020 which was not carried.
Discussion was held with regard to whether the Planning Committee could be increased in size. However a number of Members considered that with a minimum size of 16 seats, subject to proportionality, and with the effective use of the substitution arrangements, as well as Political Groups appointing their Members from different Wards, appropriate representation from across Wards could be achieved?. Therefore any potential recommendation to increase in the Committee’s size was not ?supported by Members. A Member also commented that consideration would need to be given to scheduling more Planning Committee meetings. It was noted that this would be considered as required.
Mindful of the comprehensive revisions that had been made to the Scheme of Delegations, it was agreed that Officers report back to the Planning Committee at the end of 2020 with an analysis of the previous 15 months of operation of the new arrangements.
(a) the revised Scheme of Delegation, as set out in Appendix B to the report, subject to the amendments detailed above, be agreed;
(b) the revised Public Speaking Procedure as set out in Appendix C to the report be agreed;
(c) the revised Scheme of Delegation and the revised Public Speaking Procedure be implemented from 1 September 2019;
(d) the Head of Planning Services report back to the Committee’s next meeting on an analysis of whether representations from the Conservation Area Advisory Committees should be afforded a greater weight; and
(e) the Head of Planning Services report back to the Planning Committee at the end of 2020 with analysis of the previous 15 months of operation of the new arrangements to enable any refinements to the arrangements to become effective in the subsequent new Municipal Year.