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Agenda Item No. 9

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Council Meeting: 14th December 2016

 

Report of the Monitoring Officer

 

Code of Conduct for Members and Officers Dealing with Planning Matters

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. To place before Members the Code of Conduct for Members and Officers Dealing with Planning Matters ("the Code") (originally submitted to the Council on 29th April 2015) further to its approval by the Planning Committee and the ongoing discussions at a national level regarding a voluntary Planning Committee Protocol for Wales.

Recommendations

  1. That the 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. That the Council Procedure Rules, so far as they relate to the Planning Committee, be amended to include the Procedural Motion detailed in paragraph 4 of the Report.

Reasons for the Recommendations

  1. To facilitate the incorporation of the Code within the Council's Constitution.
  2. To incorporate the relevant Procedural Motion within the Council Procedure Rules.

Background

  1. Council, on 17th December 2014, considered a report which included a proposed Code of Conduct for Members and Officers Dealing with Planning Matters. Council resolved:

(1)                ……..

(2) That the submission in due course to the Planning Committee of the Code of Conduct for Members and Officers Dealing with Planning Matters [("the Initial Draft Code")] which was attached as Appendix B to the Report (….) be noted

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

(i) .....

(ii) Subject to the Planning Committee's approval of the [Initial Draft Code] to incorporate the additional procedural motion referred to at paragraph 7 of the report

  1. The matter was considered by the Planning Committee on 15th January 2015 and was deferred to enable Officers to provide further clarification to Members in respect of certain procedural matters.
  2. Following the deferment above further amendments were made to the Initial Draft Code and the Planning Committee resolved that the Code be approved for use at the future meetings of the Planning Committee. Accordingly, the Council Procedure Rules insofar as they relate to Planning Committee, needed to be amended to reflect the following revised Procedural Motion:

"Prior to a substantive motion being voted upon which is contrary to Officer recommendations 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."

  1. Council, on 25th April 2015 considered a report regarding these proposals. Council resolved:

(1) That the Code including the revised procedural motion (…….) be not approved.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. There is an ongoing process being undertaken, at the request of Welsh Government, by the Welsh Local Government Association to agree a 'Voluntary Planning Committee Protocol' in an attempt to find a greater consistency in the operation of planning committees across Wales.
  2. An initial draft Protocol was produced and a consultation process was run in respect of the draft Protocol which included provisions for a "cooling off period" similar to that proposed by the revised Procedural Motion specified in paragraph 4 above. The wording of the "cooling off period" in the WLGA draft requires a mandatory deferment where Members are considering a substantive motion to be voted on which is contrary to Officer recommendations as opposed to the wording proposed in paragraph 4 above which provides for a procedural motion to allow Members to vote on whether to defer the decision or not.
  3. The consultation process concluded in June 2016 and in respect of the "cooling off period" the majority of Welsh council's approved its inclusion, however there was a suggestion that the mandatory nature of the "cooling off period" as drafted was too restrictive and that greater flexibility should be allowed when deciding if to defer or not. The proposed procedural motion in paragraph 4 provides for such flexibility.
  4. Consideration will be given to the Voluntary Planning Committee Protocol following its conclusion; in the interim the Code is recommended for adoption to assist with clarifying the Planning Committee's role, processes and procedures.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

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

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. Land use planning and decision 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)

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

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. Planning decisions can impact positively on the reducing crime and disorder.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

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

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1.  The Code will assist in the delivery of sustainable development.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. This is a matter for approval by Council.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. No ward Members have been consulted as this is not a ward specific issue. However, the Member Working Party reviewing the draft Welsh Model Constitution and Members of Planning Committee closely considered the Code in 2014/15.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Environment and Regeneration.

Background Papers

Planning (Wales) Act 2015 - Explanatory Memorandum

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

Reports to Council: 17th December 2014 and 29th April 2015

Reports to Planning Committee: 15th January and 12th March 2015

Contact Officer

James Docherty

Officers Consulted

Head of Regeneration and Planning

Operational Manager for Development Management

Responsible Officer:

Debbie Marles, Monitoring Officer

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