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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting 18 March 2013

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transport

 

Options for the Delivery of Local Authority Historic Environment Conservation Services in Wales

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             This report outlines the Cadw consultation relating to ‘Options for the Delivery of Local Authority Historic Environment Conservation Services in Wales’. A copy of the report has been placed in the Member's Room and is available electronicallyhere.

2.             The report seeks Cabinet approval of the Council’s formal response to the consultation document as attached at Appendix A.

Recommendations

1.             That Cabinet approve the response to Cadw attached at Appendix A as the Council’s formal response to the consultation.

2.             That a copy of this report be presented to Planning Committee for information.

3.             That concern is expressed to Cadw and the Welsh Government that the consultation deadline offers insufficient time to for Councils to effectively comment on these important changes.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.             To advise Cadw of the views of Cabinet on the Options for the Delivery of Local Authority Historic Environment Conservation Services in Wales.

2.             To ensure Planning Committee is apprised of the publication of the consultation document.

3.             To express concern at the short opportunity for consultation, that was only three weeks from 4th February 2013 to 28 February 2013.

 

Background

3.             In 2007 the Welsh Government, together with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, published a White Paper ‘Heritage Protection for the 21st Century’. This was followed in 2008 by the publication of a draft ‘Heritage Protection Bill’. Although the Bill was included in the draft Legislative Programme for 2008/09, the economic situation at the time meant the Bill was dropped.

4.             Following a referendum in March 2011, the National Assembly gained direct law making powers in the subject areas for which it has devolved responsibility. These include planning and the historic environment.

5.             In July 2011, the First Minister announced the Welsh Government’s Legislative Programme. This programme includes a provision to introduce a Heritage Bill. This will be in the fourth year of the programme, i.e. 2014-15.

6.             The merits and feasibility of greater collaborative working between local authorities is high on the Welsh Government's agenda and this theme has arisen in early stakeholder engagement undertaken by Cadw.

7.             This theme has also been informed by the working group established to review one of the commitments made in the ‘Simpson Compact’ relating to increased collaboration in the delivery of conservation services. This working group reported to the Organisation Development and Simpson Implementation (ODSI) Board in September 2012.

8.             The ODSI report identified potential options including: the establishment of independent regional services; the establishment of regional hubs within local government; and retaining the status quo but with increased collaboration in selected areas.

9.             Evidence is being gathered by consultants, Hyder Consulting, commissioned by Cadw to review the existing delivery of conservation services in Wales and an assessment made of potential options for increased collaboration between local authorities.

10.        It is noted that in the wider context of planning legislation reform the 'City-Region' model has been identified as a potential option for South-East Wales with a new tier of statutory planning recommended to deal with strategic planning at a regional level. This recommendation (Recommendation 06) was made in the Welsh Government's 'City Regions' report of July 2012.

 

Relevant Issues and Options

11.        On 4th February 2013 an email was sent by Hyder Consulting to stakeholders enclosing the consultation document. Local authorities have been asked to respond to the consultation by 28th February 2013 to enable the report to be finalised for Cadw to prepare its recommendations to the Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage, in time for the issue of the White Paper on the Heritage Bill for Wales in late Spring 2013. Attached at Appendix A is the Council's detailed response to the consultation exercise which was sent on 28th February 2012 to meet the deadline for responses.

12.        The Hyder report considers, as defined in the consultation document, the core and wider functions of conservation officers along with the strengths of weaknesses of the three principal conservation service providers in Wales - local planning authorities; Cadw; and the Welsh Archaeological Trusts.

13.        The Hyder report also considers a number of options for the future delivery of conservation services in Wales. These six options can be considered under the three broad headings of regional collaboration, regional hubs and independent models of delivery.

14.        Each option is appraised with costs and benefits for the Council, the Region and Wales identified. It should be noted that the financial costs identified for each option are described in a range from "low" to "high" with no indication of what figures might be involved in the establishment of the organisations envisaged in each option or costs to local authorities for the ongoing running of each option.

15.        The six options put forward in the consultation document offer a diverse choice of future conservation service provision in Wales and it is clear that there are advantages and disadvantages to each of the options being put forward.

16.        It also becomes clear that the option that might be best for the Council’s customers may not be the best for the region, or for Wales as a whole. Conversely, the best option for the region may see a dilution of service provision within the Council's area.

17.        This consultation should also be seen in the wider context of the Simpson Compact which has previously been considered by Cabinet (Min C1590 refers) and current thinking relating to City Regions.

18.        Page 2, paragraph 3 of the Simpson Compact states "There may be occasions when the case for change may be less strong or broadly neutral for one partner in collaboration than another.  Relative scale of benefits should not be a reason to avoid working together where the outcome for public services will meet the criteria above". In the Council's response to the Compact it was resolved to express concerns regarding the above.

19.        There is no indication of how a regional model of conservation service provision will fit within a City Region should such an approach be adopted in South East Wales. One of the recommendations of the Welsh Government's report relating to City Regions was for a Regional tier of strategic planning. This, conceivably, could include conservation service provision but the report is silent on this issue.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

20.        None arising as a result of this report, however, each of the options will have its own particular resource implications. The consultation document does not provide enough detail to allow for full consideration of the resource implications of each option at this stage.

21.        The response to this consultation has been prepared within the Planning and Transportation Policy budget.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

22.        None arising as a result of this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

23.        None arising as a result of this report, however, each of the options will have some implications ranging from the preparation of memoranda of understanding and service level agreements to the transfer of staff to an independent organisation.

Crime and Disorder Implications

24.        None arising as a result of this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

25.        None.

Corporate/Service Objectives

26.        The consultation is of relevance to the delivery of the Council’s corporate commitment “to ensure that development takes place in a way that will benefit future generations as well as the present”.

Policy Framework and Budget

27.        This report is a matter for executive decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

28.        No Ward Member consultation has been undertaken on this report as the matters contained within have implications for the provision of historic environment services across the Vale of Glamorgan rather than specific wards.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

29.        Economy and Environment

Background Papers

Historic Environment Local Delivery Project (April 2006)

Local, Regional, National: What services are best delivered where? (March 2011)

Compact for Change between Welsh Government and Welsh Local Government (December 2011)

City Regions - Final Report (July 2012)

 

Contact Officer

Peter Thomas, Senior Planner (Conservation and Design)

 

Officers Consulted

Operational Manager, Development Management and Building Control

Operational Manager - Countryside and Economic Projects

Operational Manager - Property

 

Responsible Officer:

Rob Thomas, Director of Development Services

 

 

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