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Agenda Item No.6

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Council: 29th April, 2015

 

Report of the Monitoring Officer

 

Code of Conduct for Members and Officers Dealing with Planning Matters

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To apprise Members of amendments to the Code of Conduct for Members and Officers Dealing with Planning Matters (originally submitted to Council on 17th December, 2014), following consideration of the Code by the Planning Committee.

Recommendations

1.         T H A T the amended Code of Conduct for Members and Officers Dealing with Planning Matters ('the Code'), attached as Appendix A to the report, be noted and incorporated in the Council's Constitution.

2.         T H A T the Council Procedure Rules, so far as they relate to the Planning Committee, be amended to include the Procedural Motion detailed in paragraph 9 of the report.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To facilitate the incorporation of the amended Code within the Council's Constitution.

2.         To incorporate the relevant Procedural Motion within the Council Procedure Rules.

Background

2.         Council, on 17th December, 2014, considered a report regarding the introduction of arrangements to allow public speaking at the Planning Committee, together with a proposed Code of Conduct for Members and Officers Dealing with Planning Matters.  Council resolved :

(1)          T H A T the Guide to Public Speaking at Planning Committee ('the Guide'), attached as Appendix A to the report, be approved and take effect from 1st February, 2015.

(2)          T H A T 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 the report (which incorporates the Guide to Public Speaking at Planning Committee) be noted.

(3)          T H A T 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 the report.

(4)          T H A T the arrangements for public speaking at Planning Committee be reviewed 12 months after implementation.

Relevant Issues and Options

3.         The matter was deferred by Planning Committee on 15th January 2015 to enable Officers to provide further clarification to Members in respect of certain procedural matters.

4.         As a result of feedback received from Members in a meeting with Officers on 25th February 2015, certain draft amendments to the Code were suggested and an amended draft was circulated in advance of the Planning Committee meeting, with draft amendments shown by tracked changes.  A copy is attached as Appendix A to this report.

5.         Certain amendments were also considered to the original public speaking provisions and these have already been introduced.  Again, for clarification, they are shown as tracked changes in Appendix A.

6.         A specific recommendation of the Model Constitution Working Party, which had also considered the draft Code was to adopt the following procedure:

  • "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).'

7.         The purpose of a deferral in the circumstances detailed above would be 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. 

8.         Following a request by Members for clarification, further consultation took place ahead of the Planning Committee meeting in relation to the practical implementation of the requirement for the procedural motion in the circumstances set out in the Code, as well as certain other provisions in the Code.  The result of this further consultation was reflected in the proposed amendments to the original Code which were circulated in advance of the meeting.

9.         The Planning Committee resolved that the proposed Code of Conduct (as amended) be approved for use at future meetings of the Planning Committee.  Accordingly, the Council Procedure Rules, insofar as they relate to Planning Committee, need to be amended to reflect the following revised Procedural Motion:

  • "Prior to a substantive motion being voted upon which is contrary to Officer recommendation the following procedural motion will be voted upon – that Committee defer the consideration of the planning application to the next available Committee.  If the result of the procedural motion is that consideration of the application is  not deferred, the Chair should consider temporarily adjourning the meeting to afford Members time to consider and draft reasons for refusal or necessary conditions for consent with advice from Officers  in order that they can be considered by the Committee prior to a decision being made."   

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

10.      There are no direct implications arising from this report.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

11.      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)

12.      The Code of Conduct reflects current good practice and is designed to ensure a fair and consistent planning process.

Crime and Disorder Implications

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

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

14.      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

15.      The Code of Conduct includes provisions for public speaking. Corporate Plan Action CL6 contains a commitment to “the development of a protocol for the public to give evidence at Planning Committeesâ€.

Policy Framework and Budget

16.      Consideration of the draft Code of Conduct is a matter for Planning Committee.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

17.      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 and Members of Planning Committee have closely considered the Code.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

18.      Economy and Environment.

Background Papers

Planning Bill 2014.

Draft Code of Conduct for Members and Officers Dealing with Planning Matters

Report to Council: 17th December, 2014

Reports to Planning Committee: 15th January and 25th February, 2014.

 

Contact Officer

Jeff Wyatt, (Tel: 01446 709408)

 

Officers Consulted

Director of Development Services

Operational Manager (Development and Building Control)

Head of Legal Services

Operational Manager (Legal Services)

 

Responsible Officer:

Ms. D. Marles, Monitoring Officer

 

 

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