Agenda Item No. 4
THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
PLANNING COMMITTEE: 15TH JANUARY, 2015
REFERENCE FROM COUNCIL: 17TH DECEMBER, 2014
' PUBLIC SPEAKING AT PLANNING COMMITTEE (MO) –
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.
There were elements within the consultation that the Council had already implemented, such as an effective scheme of delegation, customer care initiatives and Member Development. However, a key element currently not in place related to public speaking at Planning Committee. The Council's Corporate Plan included an action for "the development of a protocol for the public to give evidence at Planning Committees" (Action CL6).
Following the issuing of a new draft Welsh Model Constitution, an elected Member Working Party had been established to draw up a revised Constitution for consideration by Council. The Working Party had met on a number of occasions and had already agreed certain revisions to the existing Constitution, which had, in turn, been approved by Full Council.
The Working Party recently considered the Guide which was attached as Appendix A to the report to Council, together with the Code, which was attached as Appendix B to the report (which incorporated the arrangements for public speaking at Planning Committee). The Code was due to be considered by the Planning Committee.
The proposed arrangements for public speaking did not apply to Planning Committee site visits.
A specific recommendation of the Working Party concerning the Code was 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).
The purpose of a deferral in the circumstances detailed in the paragraph above was 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 related to Planning Committee, would require to be amended to reflect the above-mentioned procedural motion.
Resource implications arising from the introduction of third party involvement would be monitored. Any costs would need to be met from within existing budgets, but the changes were likely to result in longer Committee meetings and the need to consider adequate staff cover for Committees to ensure the process ran efficiently.
(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.'
Attached as Appendix – Report to Council: 17th December, 2014