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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Community Liaison Committee: 23rd November, 2011

 

Report of the Director of Environmental and Economic Regeneration

 

Determination of Planning (and related Applications: Scheme of Delegation)

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To advise the Committee in respect of a request, as follows from Penarth Town Council:

"Planning Applications when Planning Officers decisions are at variance with observations submitted by Town and Community Councils.

Reason(s) for request:

The Town Council continues to be concerned that planning applications where the Planning Officers decision are at variance with the observations submitted by the Town and Community Council are not routinely put before the Vale of Glamorgan Planning Committee.  It is this Council's view that such applications should be determined by elected members."

Recommendation

1.             That the Committee note the reasons for the Scheme of delegation operated by the Council in respect of Planning and related applications.

Reason for the Recommendation

1.             To explain the reasons for decisions being delegated and why this process is central to the efficient and timely provision of services to the public in this regard.

Background

2.             The Vale of Glamorgan Council (VoG) as Local Planning Authority is required by the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to determine planning applications within 8 weeks of the date of the submission of a valid application to the Authority.  If this deadline is not met, in the case of all minor applications (householder extension, developments of less than 1000 sq. metres, developments of 1 - 9 dwellings and changes of use) the applicant has a right to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate of the Welsh Government (WG).

3.             In addition to the above, all Welsh Local Planning Authorities are monitored by the WG in respect of their performance in meeting the 8 week determination requirements.  This also applies to authorities in England and the Westminster Government.  The performance figures of all Councils are published and the performance monitored by the Welsh Government.

4.             Both the Westminster and Welsh Governments have been keen to encourage Councils to meet the above targets and speed up the planning process through streamlining the planning application process.  The Governments Planning Advisory Service advises that it is good practice to maximise the number of delegated planning decisions, and that authorities which can delegate more than 90% of planning decisions, gives their planning committees more time to focus on complex and controversial applications.  Similar advice is repeatedly given by the Welsh Government, particularly given recent research that has considered how the planning system can be made more efficient and responsive.

Relevant Issues and Options

5.             It is against this background that the VoG scheme of delegation has been developed.   The current scheme of delegation is attached at Appendix A.  The main features of this scheme are that the following types of minor applications are delegated to the Head of Planning and Transportation for determination ;-

  • All domestic extensions and alterations,
  • Developments of up to 2 dwellings on infill plots within settlement boundaries,
  • Developments of up to 10 dwellings where the sites are allocated within the local plan (UDP)
  • Changes of use,
  • Temporary buildings,
  • Extensions and alterations to shops, offices, industrial or commercial developments within established areas

6.             It is written into the Scheme that any Vale of Glamorgan Councillor can call for a planning application to be considered by the Planning Committee, as long as the request is made within 14 days of the application appearing on the weekly list of planning applications submitted and subject to the request being substantiated by a good planning reason or demonstration that strong local objections had been received.. This way any Councillor who is concerned about a specific proposal, can request that the application be considered by Planning Committee.

7.             In the last financial year the percentage of applications determined in the Vale of Glamorgan through delegated powers was 86% with some 162 planning applications being determined by the Planning Committee.  With specific regard to Penarth Town Council (PTC), some 178 relevant applications were determined through delegated powers and 12 relevant applications were presented to the Planning Committee for determination.

8.             Further to the above, an analysis of the last 6 months of determinations (1st March 2011  to 1st September 2011) has shown that  there were 98 Planning applications for full planning permission related to Penarth which were determined by the Vale of Glamorgan under delegated powers.  Of these decisions, all were made generally in accordance with the comments of Penarth Town Council save in respect of 3 where PTC recommended approval but with some concerns and those applications were ultimately refused permission by Vale of Glamorgan. In the case of 2 further applications, no responses were obtained from the Town Council at the time of the decision and in one case a formal no comment was made, as the Town Council's response.

9.             From the above research it is clear that it is only in a very limited number of cases that the decision made using delegated powers, is out of accordance with the representations from the Town Council. However in every case any comments made by a Community or Town Council are fully considered and assessed in the report which is always prepared by officers prior to any decision being made.  The Council has a duty to take into account any representations made following consultation and when a decision is made which does not accord with the representation of any Town or Community Council, the relevant report will explain the reasoning behind this decision.  There will be on occasion a difference of opinion between the Town or Community Council making comments and the Council, irrespective of the method of determination.  Two parties may be of differing views, but this does not make the final decision flawed or incorrect.

10.        Councils are under unceasing pressure from the WG to determine planning applications swiftly and the only way in which the required targets can be met is for robust and efficient delegation procedures to be in place.

11.        Finally it is again reiterated that a mechanism does exist for VoG Councillors to call any planning application which is initially due to be determined through the delegation procedures, to the Planning Committee, and this mechanism is regularly exercised. 

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment and Climate Change, if appropriate)

12.        Failure to identify and follow a procedure for delegating the determination of planning applications to officers of the Vale of Glamorgan would almost certainly mean that the Council would not meet the targets set for it by the WG and this could have consequences for funding the service in the future.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

13.        The process whereby planning applications are considered is governed by the Council's Constitution which provides a scheme of delegation for determination of relevant matters.

14.        Planning and related applications are determined having regard to the Development Plan and all material considerations.  The Council has a common law duty to conscientiously take into account any representations made following consultation. Representations made by Town and Community Councils may be a material consideration that must be considered alongside other material factors. Material considerations must be genuine planning considerations and must fairly and reasonably relate to the application concerned. The weight to be afforded to all material considerations will vary from application to application.

Crime and Disorder Implications

15.        None arising out of this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

16.        None arising out of this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

17.        The Scheme of delegation has direct links to the environment and regeneration.

Policy Framework and Budget

18.        This report is a matter for Executive decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

19.        No Ward Member consultation has been undertaken as the matter is Vale wide in nature.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

20.        Economy and Environment.

Background Papers

Council's Scheme of Delegation.

 

Contact Officer

Marcus Goldsworthy - Operational Manager Development and Building Control.

 

Officers Consulted

Legal Services - Committee Reports

Financial Services

 

Responsible Officer:

Rob Quick - Director of Environmental and Economic Regeneration.

 

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