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Agenda Item No.

 

THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

CABINET: 28TH APRIL, 2014

 

REFERENCE FROM COMMUNITY LIAISON COMMITTEE: 19TH MARCH, 2014

 

 

982    THE PLANNING (WALES) BILL 2014 - PLACE PLANS (DDS) -

 

The Committee received a report which dealt with a Request for Consideration from Penarth Town Council in respect of the Draft Planning (Wales) Bill 2014 as it affected Town and Community Councils.

 

Penarth Town Council advised that the reason for the request was that Town and Community Councils were well placed to work with Local Planning Authorities to produce locally relevant Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) or Place Plans.  Furthermore, Penarth Town Council requested that the Vale of Glamorgan Council indicate how it intended to work with Town and Community Councils to produce the locally relevant SPG.  Correspondence had also been received from Barry Town Council in relation to the potential for running a pilot Place Plan within the Barry area.

 

The Committee was informed that the report should be read in conjunction with the report of the Director of Development Services submitted to Planning Committee from 13th February, 2014 and that the Council’s response to the consultation on the Draft Plan (Wales) Bill 2014 should also be noted.

 

The background to the Draft Planning (Wales) Bill 2014 was included in the attached report to the Planning Committee of 13th February 2014.  The role of Community and Town Councils with regard to consultation was detailed in the Consultation document entitled "Positive Planning - Proposals to Reform the Planning System in Wales" and referred to community engagement and dealt with the case for change and Welsh Government's (WG) proposals.

 

The case for change advised that Local Planning Authorities already had to prepare Community Involvement Schemes when they prepared Local Development Plans (LDPs).  The case for change also advised that in Wales there was a history of "bottom up" plans as well as Design Statements and that this "history" should be built upon to ensure that local communities had a greater say in local specific policies.

 

In terms of Welsh Government (WG) proposals, the document clarified that new structures or organisations were not the intention.  The document also indicated that Place Plans could fulfil a number of roles including:

 

·                Specifying the finer grain detail for development sites.

·                Ensuring development respects local distinctiveness.

·                Identifying priorities for investment in community infrastructure.

·                Ensuring best use is made of Community Infrastructure Levy receipts.

 

The consultation paper set out the intention to establish pilot projects which would draw on assistance from the Design Commissioner for Wales and Planning Aid Wales, with expressions of interest being sought from Local Planning Authorities and Town and Community Councils.  The document also set out that any Place Plan or SPG would have to be in conformity with the Adopted LDP.

 

The Committee was advised that when considering the request for consideration it should bear in mind that the proposals were draft at this juncture and it was envisaged that the Bill would be progressed over the next eighteen months and that the Vale of Glamorgan Council's LDP was unlikely to be adopted until 2017.  Any proposal or suggestion that Place Plans could be in place before the adoption of the LDP would not be feasible.

 

In principle, it was difficult to argue against any proposal which saw Town and Community Councils and the Local Planning Authority working in partnership to produce Place Plans or SPG.  SPG had traditionally been produced by the Council in support of Development Plan Policy and development briefs and master plans had also been progressed to support and provide guidance in respect of major allocations.  Good examples included development briefs for Barry Waterfront, land at Rhoose and the recent proposals for a Training College at St. Athan.  Members were informed that it had become increasingly common for such development briefs to be produced in partnership with developers, given the limited resources available to the Council to produce a suite of such documents in respect of all development sites.

 

With regard to the issue of resources, the document was silent on resourcing the desire to see a series of Place Plans produced across Wales.  At the time of writing, there were significant budget pressures and the capacity of the Local Planning Authority to progress Place Plans or a suite of SPG was not clear at present, particularly given that the emphasis would also be placed on keeping under review the LDP and working towards the evidence base for new LDPs, as well as the added emphasis being placed on Strategic Development Plans at the regional level.

 

In terms of the role of Place Plans and locally produced SPG, the position and status of such plans needed to be considered when assessing their value and purpose.  In the Vale of Glamorgan, the Bill proposed a tier of plan making, at national level a National Development Framework was proposed.  This would be a Statutory Plan which would need to be considered when producing LDPs.  In addition, and in the Cardiff City Region, it was proposed to prepare and adopt a Strategic Development Plan to look at Strategic and cross boundary issues.  This would, it was envisaged, seek consensus and provide a policy framework in respect of housing, transport, employment and key infrastructure.  At local level, LDPs in areas where a Strategic Development Plan existed might be "light touch" given the new tier of Plan at the regional level, LDPs would therefore have to be in conformity with Strategic Development Plans.  The role of SPG or Place Plans would therefore sit firmly at a local level which would have to conform to the suite of other higher level plans.  The need for conformity results in Place Plans looking at finer detail and those plans would by definition have to work within set parameters, such as local land allocations.  Whilst this did not question their value, it merely sought to clarify that Place Plans or SPG would not formulate policy, they would work within policy.

 

In addition to Place Plans and SPG there were other initiatives and proposals that might impact or be of interest to Town and Community Councils, in summary:

 

·                Proposed pre-application engagement in respect of major proposals.

·                Establishment of a national protocol for Planning Committee with set procedures (a report on this went to Cabinet on 27th January 2014).

·                A national programme of member training.

·                A national scheme of delegation.

·                A prescribed size of Planning Committee.

·                The power to refuse to determine retrospective applications and changes to appeal procedures relating to enforcement cases.

 

The Operational Manager informed the Committee that the report, at this stage, was just for noting as it was still in draft format and the LDP had not been adopted as yet.   The representative from Penarth Town Council informed the Committee that the report raised the same issues as had been raised by Welsh Government i.e. lack of capacity and resource issues, etc.  He advised the Committee that it provided opportunities for both Town and Community Councils to take advantage of Place Plans which were not the same as Neighbourhood Development Plans (NDPs) and could give local communities the opportunity to be more dynamic and positive with regards to Planning in their local area.  In addition, it could also provide impetus to encourage the Town and Community Councils to group together for joint working.  He also informed the Committee that the draft Planning Bill required positive engagement however a fresh set of regulations would be required in order to provide clarity for all the Town and Community Councils.  In response the Operational Manager advised that the main issue lay with the LDP which needed to be adopted first.  She informed the Committee that the preparation of LDPs needed to be carried out more swiftly.  The Vale of Glamorgan LDP would hopefully be adopted as scheduled but this would not be until late 2016 early 2017.

 

The representative from Barry Town Council stated that they agreed with the representative from Penarth Town Council and that they had written to the Vale of Glamorgan Council with regards to piloting a Place Plan in Barry; therefore he had been disappointed that the report was just for noting but understood that there were resource issues.  He proposed that the Council should write to Welsh Government to advise that the Vale of Glamorgan has interested parties that would be willing to take part in pilot Place Plans.  He stated that the pilots were about learning lessons as to what was suitable for the Vale of Glamorgan.  The Operational Manager stated that pilot money was likely to go to Councils with an adopted LDP, however, the Council was unable to provide assurance with regards to resourcing a Place Plan Pilots at this stage, however they would be happy to look at this again once the LDP had been adopted.  

 

A Member from the Vale of Glamorgan Council made reference to the size of the Vale of Glamorgan Planning Committee and stated that a membership of 21 out of 47 Councillors represented an even spread of membership.  In addition, he asked the Operational Manager whether they had to wait for the Planning Act to be passed before third party speaking rights were introduced.  The Principal Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officer, who was present at the meeting, informed the Committee that a new Model Constitution was currently being drafted and that another officer Working Party had met as well as a Member Working Group in order to consider related issues including public speaking.  A draft protocol had been prepared for consideration which set out draft proposals for public speaking at meetings of the Planning Committee et al.  Such meetings would be considered over the next few months by the Member Working Group and subject to that Group’s consent, would then need to be considered by the cabinet and Council for final approval. 

 

Another Member of the Vale of Glamorgan Council echoed these sentiments and stated that third party speaking rights were very important and they should not be delayed and any issues could be dealt with once they had been implemented. 

 

The Chairman informed the Committee that he was a Member of the Working Group and that he would relay the Committee’s concerns to the Group and advised that he agreed with the urgency of the matter.

 

The representative from Penarth Town Council referred to his recent attendance on behalf of OneVoice Wales at a Welsh Government pre-scrutiny hearing where the matter had been discussed, particularly the advantages of Place Plans and the potential opportunities which flowed from the same which could afford local communities, particularly in rural areas, to be more dynamic in shaping their future. 

 

Following consideration of the report the Committee

 

AGREED -

 

(1)       T H A T the Cabinet on behalf of the Council write to the Welsh Government to express an interest in Barry / Penarth Towns being considered as pilots for Place Plans and seeking appropriate resources to enable the pilots to be undertaken.

 

(2)       T H A T the content of the report be noted.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To propose that Barry and Penarth Town Councils be put forward for possible Place Plan pilots with regard to the draft Planning (Wales) Bill 2014.

 

(2)       To fully apprise the Committee of the content of the draft Planning (Wales) Bill 2014 and the Council’s response to the same.

 

 

 

Attached as Appendix - Report to Community Liaison Committee - 19th March
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