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Agenda Item No. 8

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Council: 17th December, 2014

 

Report of the Monitoring Officer

 

Public Speaking at Planning Committee and Proposed Future Working Arrangements of Planning Committee

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To seek approval of arrangements to allow public speaking at the Planning Committee, to note the proposed Code of Conduct for Members and Officers Dealing With Planning Matters (which is to be submitted to the Planning Committee in due course0 and to agree the associated amendments to the Council's Constitution.

Recommendations

1.         That the Guide to Public Speaking at Planning Committee ('the Guide'), attached as Appendix A to this report, be approved and take effect from 1st February, 2015.

2.         That Council note the submission in due course to Planning Committee of the Code of Conduct for Members and Officers Dealing with Planning Matters ('the Code') attached as Appendix B to this report (which incorporates the Guide to Public Speaking at Planning Committee).

3.         That the Council Procedure Rules, insofar as they relate to Planning Committee,  be amended to take effect from 1st February 2015:

·         To permit public speaking in line with the Guide; and

·         Subject to the Planning Committee's approval of the Code to incorporate the additional procedural motion referred to at paragraph 7 of this report.

4.         That the arrangements for public speaking at Planning Committee be reviewed 12 months after implementation.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To facilitate the introduction of public speaking at the Planning Committee.

2.         For Members' information.

3.         To incorporate within the Council's Constitution additional Procedure Rules for the Planning Committee.

4.         To monitor the effectiveness of the arrangements.

Background

2.         In December 2013, the Welsh Government (WG) published a draft Planning Bill entitled 'Positive Planning for a Better Wales'.  An important part of the evidence gathering for the Bill was an Independent Advisory Group (IAG) report published in September 2012.  Amongst its many findings, the report recognised the critical role of Planning Committees in the land use planning system and recommended that the workings of Planning Committees be made as efficient and effective as possible.  In response to the IAG report, WG invited the Royal Town Planning Institute in Wales (RTPI Cymru) to draw together expertise to oversee a study into the operation of Planning Committees.  The recommendations were considered by WG and incorporated into the consultation paper on the draft Planning Bill with the Planning Bill introduced in October 2014. 

Relevant Issues and Options

3.         There are elements within the consultation that this Council has already implemented, such as an effective scheme of delegation, customer care initiatives and Member Development.  However, a key element currently not in place relates to public speaking at Planning Committee.  The Council's Corporate Plan includes an action for "the development of a protocol for the public to give evidence at Planning Committees" (Action CL6).  

4.         As Members will be aware, following the issuing of a new draft Welsh Model Constitution, an elected Member Working Party was established to draw up a revised Constitution for consideration by Council.  The Working Party has met on a number of occasions and has already agreed certain revisions to the existing Constitution, which have, in turn, been approved by Full Council.

5.         The Working Party recently considered the Guide which is attached as Appendix A to this report, together with the Code, which is attached as Appendix B to this report (which incorporates the arrangements for public speaking at Planning Committee). The Code is due to be considered by the Planning Committee. 

6.         Members will note that the proposed arrangements for public speaking do not apply to Planning Committee site visits.

7.         A specific recommendation of the Working Party concerning the Code is to adopt the following:

If the Planning Committee is minded to refuse or grant an application contrary to Officer recommendation, it should consider whether to defer the application to the next available Planning Committee, before making the final decision. Prior to a substantive motion being voted upon which is contrary to Officer recommendation the following procedural motion will be voted upon - that Planning Committee defer the consideration of the planning application to the next available Planning Committee. If a matter is not deferred which is contrary to Officer recommendation the Chair should consider temporarily adjourning the meeting to afford Officers the opportunity to draft the reasons for refusal for consideration by the Planning Committee. (Paragraph 1.2.10 of the Code refers).

 

8.         The purpose of a deferral in the circumstances detailed in paragraph 7 above is to allow Members of the Planning Committee to obtain further legal and planning advice on the proposed reasons for acting contrary to the planning officer's recommendation.  Accordingly, with effect from 1st February 2015 (and subject to the Code being adopted by the Planning Committee) the Council's Procedure Rules insofar as they relate to Planning Committee will require to be amended to reflect the above-mentioned procedural motion.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

9.         Resource implications arising from the introduction of third party involvement will be monitored.  Any costs will need to be met from within existing budgets, but the changes are likely to result in longer Committee meetings and the need to consider adequate staff cover for Committees to ensure the process runs efficiently.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

10.      Land use planning and decisions made in relation to new developments have clear links with the sustainability and climate change agenda, and range from reducing the need to travel to ensuring energy efficient construction and the building of sustainable communities.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

11.      The Code of Conduct, to be submitted to Planning Committee, reflects current good practice and is designed to ensure a fair and consistent planning process. 

Crime and Disorder Implications

12.      Planning decisions can impact positively on reducing crime and disorder.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

13.      The introduction of third party speaking rights in the Planning System will allow equality of opportunity for all involved in the Planning system. 

Corporate/Service Objectives

14.      Corporate Plan Action CL6 contains a commitment to "the development of a protocol for the public to give evidence at Planning Committees".

Policy Framework and Budget

15.      Changes to the Council Procedure Rules, set out in the Council's Constitution, are for Full Council to consider / determine.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

16.      No Ward Members have been consulted as this is not a ward specific issue, however the Member Working Party reviewing the new draft Welsh Model Constitution have closely considered both the Guide and the Code.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

17.      Economy and Environment.

Background Papers

Planning Bill 2014

Draft Code of Conduct for Members and Officers Dealing With Planning Matters.

 

Contact Officer

Jeff Wyatt, Operational Manager (Democratic Services) - 01446-709408

 

Officers Consulted

Managing Director

Director of Development Services

Operational Manager (Development and Building Control)

Operational Manager (Legal services)

 

Responsible Officer:

Ms. D. Marles, Monitoring Officer