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Agenda Item No 5

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Community Liaison Committee: 19th March 2014

 

Report of the Director of Development Services

 

The Planning (Wales) Bill 2014 - Place Plans

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To deal with a request for consideration by Penarth Town Council in respect of the Draft Planning (Wales) Bill 2014 as it affects Town and Community Councils.  Penarth Town Council has provided a reason for the request which indicates that Town and Community Councils are well placed to work with local planning authorities to produce locally relevant Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) or Place Plans.  The Town Council requests that this Council indicates how it intends to work with Town and Community Councils to produce locally relevant SPG.

2.         In addition, correspondence has been received from Barry Town Council in relation to potential for piloting a Place Plan within the Barry area.

Recommendations

1.         That this report be read in conjunction with the report of the Director of Development Services to the Planning Committee on 13th February 2014, that detail the Council's response to the consultation on the Draft Planning (Wales) Bill 2014 which is attached as Appendix A.

2.         That the content of the report be noted.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To fully apprise this Committee of the content of the Draft Planning (Wales) Bill 2014 and the Council's response to the same.

2.         This report is for noting.

Background

3.         The background to the Draft Planning (Wales) Bill 2014 is as included in the attached report to Planning Committee of 13th February 2014.  In terms of the element of the consultation that relates to the role of Community and Town Council's page 66 and 67 of the Consultation document entitled "Positive Planning - Proposals to Reform the Planning System in Wales" refers to community engagement and deals with the case for change (paragraphs 6.45 and 6.46) and Welsh Government's (WG) proposals (paragraphs 6.47 to 6.49).

4.         In essence, the case for change advises that Local Planning Authorities already have to prepare Community Involvement Schemes when preparing LDPs.  The case for change also advises that in Wales there is a history of "bottom up" plans as well as Design Statements that this "history" should be built upon to ensure that local communities have a greater say in local specific policies.

5.         In terms of WG proposals, the document clarifies that new structures or organisations are not the intention.  The document also indicates 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.

6.         The consultation paper sets out the intention to establish pilot projects which will 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 sets out that any Place Plan or SPG would have to be in conformity with the Adopted LDP.

Relevant Issues and Options

7.         The first relevant point to consider and bear in mind when considering the request for consideration is that the proposals are draft at this juncture.  It is envisaged that the Bill will be progressed over the next eighteen months.  Secondly, and with reference to timescales the Vale of Glamorgan Council's LDP is unlikely to be adopted until 2017.  Any proposal or suggestion that Place Plans can be in place before the adoption of the LDP will not be feasible.

8.         In terms of principle, it is difficult to argue against any proposal which sees Town and Community Councils and the local planning authority working in partnership to produce Place Plans or SPG.  SPG has traditionally been produced by the Vale of Glamorgan Council in support of Development Plan Policy.  Likewise, development briefs and master plans have also been progressed to support and provide guidance in respect of major allocations.  Good examples include development briefs for Barry Waterfront, land at Rhoose and the recent proposals for a Training College at St. Athan.  It has however, 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.

9.         This leads on to the issue of resources.  As stated above, it is difficult to argue against the principle.  However, the document is silent on resourcing the desire to see a series of Place Plans produced across Wales.  At the time of writing, there are significant budget pressures and the capacity of the local planning authority to progress Place Plans or a suite of SPG is not clear at present, particularly given that the emphasis will also be placed on keeping under review the LDP and working towards the evidence base for new LDPs, not to mention the added emphasis being placed on Strategic Development Plans at the regional level.

10.      In terms of the role of Place Plans and locally produced SPG, the position and status of such plans needs to be considered when assessing their value and purpose.  In the Vale of Glamorgan, the Bill proposes a tier of plan making.  At national level, a National Development Framework is proposed.  This will be a Statutory Plan which will need to be considered when producing LDPs.  In addition, and in the Cardiff City Region, it is proposed to prepare and adopt a Strategic Development Plan to look at Strategic and cross boundary issues.  This will, it is envisaged seek consensus and provide a policy framework in respect of housing, transport, employment and key infrastructure.  At the local level, LDPs in areas where a Strategic Development Plan exists may well be "light touch" given this new tier of Plan at the regional level.  LDPs will therefore have to be in conformity with Strategic Development Plans.

11.      The role of SPG or Place Plans will therefore sit firmly at a local level which will have to conform to the suite of other higher level plans.  The need for conformity results in Place Plans looking at finer detail and these plans will by definition have to work within set parameters, such as local land allocations.  Whilst this does not question their value, it merely seeks to clarify that these Place Plans or SPG will not formulate policy.  They will work within policy.

12.      In addition to Place Plans and SPG there are other initiatives and proposals that may impact or be of interest to Town and Community Councils.  The following is a summary:-

  • Proposed pre-application engagement in respect of major proposals.
  • Establishment of a national protocol for Planning Committee with set procedures (please note report to Cabinet - 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.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

13.      Responding to the consultation can be met from within the Directorate's resources.  Many of the proposals contained in the consultation will have resource implications particularly in terms of human resources and fee income.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

14.      Land use planning has a significant impact on sustainability, ranging from influencing the need to travel, the location of new development, the sustainability credentials of new development as well as energy efficiency.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

15.      Land use planning is a statutory process and the Bill contains numerous references to elements of that process including planning appeals, development planning and the rights of individuals.

Crime and Disorder Implications

16.      None specific to this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

17.      None specific to this report, although there are matters contained within the Bill to ensure that the planning service is delivered in a fair, consistent and equitable manner.

Corporate/Service Objectives

18.      The efficient handling of planning matters impacts on the corporate objectives relating to regeneration, the environment and housing.

Policy Framework and Budget

19.      This is a matter within the policy framework.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

20.      There has been no specific Ward Member consultation as this matter is not Ward specific.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

21.      Economy and Environment.

Background Papers

The Planning (Wales) Bill 2014 and associated documents.

 

Contact Officer

Rob Thomas, Director of Development Services - Tel. 01446 704630

 

Officers Consulted

Finance

Legal (Committee Reports)

 

Responsible Officer:

Rob Thomas - Director of Development Services

 

 

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