Committee Report NSC

6.3

 
 


North Somerset Council

 

REPORT TO THE Planning AND Regulatory Committee

 

Date of Meeting: 25 JULY 2012

 

Subject of Report:  UPDATED Delegation Arrangements for Planning Applications

 

Town or parish: ALL

 

Officer/Member presenting: Head of Development Management

 

Key Decision: No

 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

 

That the proposed changes to the Protocol and Code of Practice as set out in Annex B to this report are AGREED with effect from 1 August.

 

SUMMARY OF REPORT

 

Following various organisational and operational changes, it is necessary to update the Protocol and Code as proposed in Annex B.  The Area Committees have been consulted on the proposed changes and their responses are summarised in the report.  The Protocol has been amended as appropriate to address comments made.

 

1.                Policy

 

Maintaining high performance is a key aim of the Corporate Plan.  Effective delegation is a fundamental element of efficient management systems.

 

2.                Details

 

This report should be read in conjunction with the report which went to the April meeting of this Committee which identified various issues and made suggested procedural changes.

 

At the April meeting, the Committee agreed to consult the Area Committees on the proposed changes.  All 3 Committees agreed the principle of the changes but made various comments as follows:

 

Committee

Resolution

Comments made by Committees

Officer response

North Area

17.5.12

 

 

No objections to the proposed changes to the protocol for delegating planning decisions to officers and the code of practice for referral of planning applications and enforcement cases by councillors to committee, subject to (the committee’s comments) being addressed:

Clarification of the wording and application of the proposed five day cut off period for member referral.

 

In view of the issues raised by the proposed cut off for member referral it is proposed to retain the existing arrangement but encourage members and case officers to speak to each other as early in the process as possible.. 

 

 

 

Confirmation of whether the first letter of objection can be e-mailed to the ward members.

This is possible but some members prefer to receive paper copies.

 

 

Confirmation that e-mails referring applications to committee should be cc’d to dccomments e-mail address as well as the case officer.

When e-mailing officers to call an application to committee, the e-mail should also be sent to dccomments.

 

 

Advice identifying the days on which part time officers are available.

 

A list of part time planning officers and their normal working hours will be circulated to members. Correspondence and e-mails from those officers will make more clear when they are available.

Central Area

17.5.12

Members generally welcomed the revised arrangements but made the following observations

The use of the term ‘applications’ included those for Listed Building consent;

for applications to be referred to the Area Committee.

 

Officer comment: this is a reference to the introductory statement which refers simply to “planning applications” and is unclear whether it refers to other applications such as Listed Building Consent.

The wording has been amended to make clear that the protocol applies also to applications for Listed Building, Conservation Area and Hazardous Substances Consents.

 

 

The definition of a staff ‘consultee’ required clarification;

 

 

Reference to “consultee” has been deleted. The procedure would work on the basis that if there is any doubt about the status of a member of staff, the application would be reported to committee.


 

 

 

The arbitrary choice of ten letters as the trigger for referring applications to an Area Committee.

 

 

There is no reason why there could not be a lower threshold but on the basis that any Councillor may refer any application to Committee, it is not considered that the proposed threshold of 10 is unreasonable.

 

 

The views of town and parish councils should carry more weight than representations made by individuals.

 

 

On the basis that it is open to the ward member to refer the application to committee, it is not considered that the current arrangements should be changed.

 

 

Clarification of the wording re requests for applications to be referred to the Area Committee.

See comments above

South Area Committee

24.5.12

Various queries were raised at the meeting

Could members ask for an application to be determined by the Area Committee even where the published target date had passed?

Yes.  The procedure allows for this.

 

Members should always copy their requests to the dccomments e-mail address especially where no case officer details were available.

 

 

When deciding whether or not they wished to call an application to Committee can a Members’ request be subject to ‘the case officer being minded to approve/refuse’?

Yes.  The procedure allows for this.

 

 

Conclusion

The Area Committees appear broadly satisfied with the changes agreed by this Committee at its last meeting.  A number of issues were raised through the consultation process which have been addressed and, where appropriate, changes made to the proposed Protocol.  To give opportunity for all Councillors to be advised of the final changes it is proposed that they come into effect from 1 August.

 

3.                Consultation

 

The Area Committees, Deputy Head of Legal and Democratic Services  and Deputy Monitoring Officer and relevant Development Management officers have been consulted on the proposed changes.


 

4.                Financial Implications

 

An efficient delegation system enables effective use to be made of resources and reduces costs involved in extending Committee time unnecessarily.

 

5.                RISK MANAGEMENT

 

An updated written procedure is required to ensure risk of legal challenge is minimised.

 

6.                Equality Implications

 

Decisions on planning applications are governed by published law and procedure.  Access issues are taken into account in all planning decisions.

 

7.                Corporate Implications

 

Article 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998 gives the right to a fair and public hearing.

 

8.                Options considered

 

Placing more applications before Committee for decision.

 

Author

 

Richard Kent   Head of Development Management.

 

Background Papers

 

Scheme of Delegation set out in the Council’s Constitution

Reports to Planning and Regulatory Committee 14 March, 23 May and 4 July 2007

“Councillor Involvement in Planning Decisions” DCLG January 2007,

Ombudsman Report on an Investigation into Complaint no 05/B/05781 & 06/B/0037 dated 16 November 2006.

Reports and Minutes of Standards Committee 25 January 2007

Minutes of Council 20 February 2007.

“Policy Statement on Planning for Schools Development” Letter dated 15 August 2011 from Mr S.Quartermain Chief Planner at CLG to all LPAs

“National Planning Policy Framework” DCLG March 2012

Planning and Regulatory Committee report and minutes 25 April 2012

Minutes of North Area Committee 17 May 2012

Minutes of Central Area Committee 17 May 2012

Minutes of South Area 24 May 2012.


 

ANNEX A

 

THE CURRENT PROTOCOL AND CODE OF PRACTICE

Agreed by the Planning and Regulatory Committee 4 July 2007

 

 

THE PROTOCOL FOR DELEGATING PLANNING DECISIONS TO OFFICERS

 

All planning applications are delegated to the Director of Development and Environment to decide with the following exceptions which will be determined by the relevant Area Committee:

 

·                    Any application which any Councillor requests be decided by Committee in accordance with a code of practice.

 

·                    Applications submitted by or on behalf of the Chief Executive Officer, a Director or Assistant Director of any Directorate (or equivalent); or a Group Manager in Development and Environment other than applications made on behalf of the Council.

 

·                    Applications submitted by or on behalf of any elected member of North Somerset Council.

 

·                    Applications submitted by or on behalf of any member of staff whose normal place of work is either within Somerset House or the Town Hall in Weston-super-Mare.

 

·                    Applications submitted by or on behalf of any member of staff whose works within the Development and Environment Directorate and whose normal place of work is Kings Court, Nailsea or Weston Court, Weston-super-Mare.

 

·                    Applications submitted by or on behalf of North Somerset Council or on land owned or part owned by the Council where that application is either more than 1000sq.m in floor area; or where the total number of residential units proposed is 10 or more; or where a material planning objection has been received which is contrary to the officer’s recommendation.

 

·                    Any application where it is recommended that permission be granted contrary to the development plan.

 

·                    Any application which the Director of Development and Environment considers should be decided by Committee.

 

·                    Applications where the decision would conflict with an objection received from English Heritage, Natural England, the Environment Agency or the Highways Agency.

 

Notes

 

1.             For the avoidance of doubt, any application where it is recommended that permission be granted contrary to the development plan will be referred to the relevant Area Committee for decision regardless of the status or nature of the applicant.

 

2.             Applications submitted by the spouse or partner of a Councillor or staff member to whom the protocol applies will be treated as if they had been made by the Councillor or staff member personally.

 

3.             Should there, in any individual case, be a doubt over the interpretation or transparency of these arrangements, the Development Control Manager (in consultation with the relevant Area Committee Chairman if appropriate) will decide whether the application ought to be referred to a Committee for decision

 

4.             Under the Council Constitution, the following matters are reserved to the Planning and Regulatory Committee for decision:-

 

(a)          applications which are considered by the Director of Development and Environment to be inconsistent with the Council's planning policies;

 

(b)          applications which in the opinion of the Chairman of the Planning and Regulatory Committee (or in his absence the Vice-Chairman) or the Chairman of the Area Committee (or in his absence the Vice- Chairman) are controversial or inconsistent with the Council's planning policy;

 

(c)     revocation orders and planning applications related thereto, although the Area Committee has the right to make recommendations to the Planning and Regulatory Committee.

 

5.      The powers delegated to the Director are exercised on a day to day basis by the front line managers responsible for the running of the service.  These are the Group Manager, Team Leaders and nominated deputies

 

 

The Code of Practice for Referral of Planning Applications and Enforcement Cases by Councillors to Committee

 

·                    Ward Members are notified weekly in writing of all planning applications received in their ward.

 

·                    Ward Members are then advised of the first letter of objection received for each application in their ward.

 

·                    All letters of support and objection are displayed on the Council’s website.

 

·                    The Case Officer will, by appointment, be available to discuss any current planning application with the relevant Ward Member(s).

 

·                    Members may request that any application is referred to the relevant Area Committee so long so the request is made in writing before the Director of Development and Environment’s authorised representative countersigns the case officer’s written recommendation.

 

·                    The Member’s request must be made in writing by letter or e-mail to the case officer and/or Team Leader

 

·                    Members may qualify their request so that the application need only be referred to the Area Committee if the officer’s recommendation is contrary to the Member’s view.

 

·                    If the application involves an enforcement issue, it will be treated no differently from other planning applications.

 

·                    Enforcement cases may only be referred to a Committee by the Chairman of the Planning and Regulatory Committee, the relevant Area Committee Chairman or the Director of Development and Environment.

 

·                    All decisions made under delegated powers are reported monthly to the relevant Area Committee.

 

 


ANNEX B

 

 

 

THE PROPOSED PROTOCOL FOR DELEGATING PLANNING DECISIONS TO OFFICERS

 

(Proposed additions are shown in bold with deletions crossed through. Additions from the previous draft are highlighted))

 

 

All applications made under the Town and Country Planning Act (as amended) including applications for planning permission, listed building consent, consent to display and advertisement, Conservation Area Consent and Hazardous Substances Consent are delegated to the Director of Development and Environment to decide with the following exceptions which will be determined by the relevant Area Committee:

 

·                    Any application which any Councillor requests be decided by Committee in accordance with a code of practice.

 

·                    Applications submitted by or on behalf of the Chief Executive Officer, a Director, or Assistant Director of any Directorate (or equivalent); or a Group Manager Head of Service in Development and Environment other than applications (a) made on behalf of the Council or (b) applications for the enlargement, improvement or other alteration of a dwelling house where no objections have been received.

 

·                    Applications submitted by or on behalf of any elected member of North Somerset Council other than applications for the enlargement, improvement or other alteration of a dwelling house where no objections have been received.

 

·                    Applications (other than applications for the enlargement, improvement or other alteration of a dwelling house where no objections have been received) submitted by or on behalf of any member of staff whose normal place of work is either within Somerset House or the Town Hall in Weston-Super-Mare who works in either the Development Management or Planning Policy and Research Groups or who has advised the Development Management Group on planning applications within the 12 months preceding the application

 

·                    Applications submitted by or on behalf of any member of staff whose works within the Development and Environment Directorate and whose normal place of work is Kings Court Nailsea or Weston Court, Weston-super-Mare.

 

·                    Applications submitted by or on behalf of North Somerset Council or on land owned or part owned by the Council where that application is either more than 1000sq.m in floor area or site area; or where the total number of residential units proposed is 10 or more; or where 10 or more letters raising material planning objection has comments have been received where those comments which is are contrary to the officer’s recommendation.

 

·                    Any application where it is recommended that permission be granted contrary to the objectives of the development plan.

 

·                    Any application which the Director of Development and Environment considers should be decided by Committee.

 

·                    Applications where the decision would conflict with an objection received from English Heritage, Natural England, the Environment Agency or the Highways Agency.

 

Notes

 

1.      For the avoidance of doubt, any application where it is recommended that permission be granted contrary to the objectives of the development plan will be referred to the relevant Area Committee for decision regardless of the status or nature of the applicant.

 

2.      Applications submitted by the spouse or partner of a Councillor or staff member to whom the protocol applies will be treated as if they had been made by the Councillor or staff member personally.

 

3.      Should there, in any individual case, be a doubt over the interpretation or transparency of these arrangements, the Development Control Manager Head of Development Management or the relevant Service Manager in the Development Management Group (in consultation with the relevant Area Committee Chairman if appropriate) will decide whether the application ought to be referred to a Committee for decision.

 

4.      Under the Council Constitution, the following matters are reserved to the Planning and Regulatory Committee for decision:-

 

(a)     applications which are considered by the Director of Development and Environment to be inconsistent with the Council's planning policies;

 

(b)     applications which in the opinion of the Chairman of the Planning and Regulatory Committee (or in his absence the Vice-Chairman) or the Chairman of the Area Committee (or in his absence the Vice- Chairman) are controversial or inconsistent with the Council's planning policy;

 

(c)     revocation orders and planning applications related thereto, although the Area Committee has the right to make recommendations to the Planning and Regulatory Committee.

 

5.      The powers delegated to the Director are exercised on a day to day basis by the front line managers responsible for the running of the service.  These are the Group Manager, Team Leaders Head of Development Management, the Service Managers in the Development Management Group and their nominated deputies.

 

THE CODE OF PRACTICE FOR REFERRAL OF PLANNING APPLICATIONS AND ENFORCEMENT CASES BY COUNCILLORS TO COMMITTEE

 

·                    Ward Members are notified weekly in writing of all planning applications received in their ward.

 

·                    Ward Members are then advised of the first letter of objection received for each application in their ward.

 

·                    All letters of support and objection are displayed on the Council’s website.

 

·                    The Case Officer will, by appointment, be available to discuss any current planning application with the relevant Ward Member(s).

 

·                    Members may request that any application is referred to the relevant Area Committee so long so the request is made in writing and at least 5 calendar days before the published target date and provided Director of Development and Environment’s authorised representative has not already countersigned the case officer’s written recommendation.

 

·                    The Member’s request must be made in writing by letter or e-mail to the case officer, and/or Team Leader Service Manager and “DCcomments” e-mail address

 

·               Members may qualify their request so that the application need only be referred to the Area Committee if the officer’s recommendation is contrary to the Member’s view.

 

·                When members request an application which is not in their ward to be referred to an Area Committee, they are expected as a matter of courtesy to advise the relevant ward member(s).

 

·                    If the application involves an enforcement issue, it will be treated no differently from other planning applications.

 

·                    Enforcement cases may only be referred to a Committee by the Chairman of the Planning and Regulatory Committee, the relevant Area Committee Chairman, the Director of Development and Environment, the Head of Development Management or the Delivery and Enforcement Service Manager.

 

·                    All decisions made under delegated powers reported monthly to the relevant Area Committee. are circulated monthly to councillors.