North Somerset Council

6.5

 
North Somerset Council

 

REPORT TO THE Planning AND Regulatory Committee

 

Date of Meeting: 25 july 2012

 

Subject of Report: 4th QUARTEr DEVELOPMENT MANAGEMENT 2011/12

 

Town or parish: ALL

 

Officer presenting: HEAD OF DEVELOPMENT MANAGEMENT

 

Key Decision: NO

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

 

That the report be NOTED.

 

        1.     SUMMARY OF REPORT

 

The service continues to monitor its performance. For the third quarter it exceeded most of its key performance targets. Performance management information on enforcement and detailed information on customer feedback is also included in this report.

 

2.       Policy

 

The service has a commitment to report the planning application and enforcement performance to the Planning and Regulatory Committee on a quarterly basis. This is in accordance with Corporate Plan Aim 6 “Maintaining high performance”.

 

For 2011/12, the Service Strategy focused on a wider range of performance indicators including, for the first time, a focus on key development sites. These are set out below and performance against these indicators is addressed in following report where the information is available.

 

Indicator

Target

% of all planning applications determined within target

80%

% of our applicants who return feedback who are satisfied with the service received

90%

% of enforcement cases brought to point of resolution* within 8 weeks

80%

% of appeals allowed

<30%

% of all planning applications for employment use (B1, B2, B8) approved

>70%

% of major applications submitted following pre-application advice

100%

 

The priority sites which have been identified in the Director’s Annual Statement are:

 

o                       Dolphin Square

o                       Weston Airfield (“Winterstoke Village” and business park) Phase 1

o                       Locking Parklands (“Parklands Village”)

o                       NSEA Business Support Centre

o                       Leisuredome

o                       Rotunda

o                       Tropicana

o                       Bristol Airport expansion

o                       Royal Pier Hotel Weston-super-Mare

o                       Royal Pier Hotel Clevedon

o                       Birnbeck Pier

 

Progress on these sites is measured by the stages that are reached in the development process as follows:

 

o                           Pre application discussions held;

o                           planning application submitted;

o                           planning permission granted in agreed timescale;

o                           planning conditions cleared within agreed timescale; and

o                           development commenced.

 

The target for successfully defending appeals is to win at least 72% in 2011/12.

 

3.        Details

 

2011/12 4th Quarter (Jan - Mar) Planning Performance

 

The report sets out year end performance against the various indicators.  It also sets out in more detail performance on appeals and enforcement.  A summary is given of other issues affecting the service.

 

The cumulative performance for the year 2011/12 is set out in table 1 below. Performance for the second and third quarters is shown in columns three and four. Performance for the comparable quarter of the previous financial year (2010/11) is shown in column two for comparison

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 1

 

Performance Indicator

Jan – Mar 2011

Oct – Dec 2011

Jan – Mar 2012

Target 2011/12

% Of all applications determined < 8 Weeks

88.07%

82.7%

82.6%

80%

% Of major applications determined in <13 Weeks

77.8%

46.7%

64.3%

71%

% Of minor applications determined in <8 Weeks

74.1%

77.5%

79.2%

78%

% Of other applications determined in <8 Weeks

76.3%

88.1%

86.3%

88%

% Of written enquiries receiving a substantive written response within 10 working days*

64.81%

100%

To follow

90%

% Of appeals that were allowed against a planning refusal

31.58%

20%

23.08%

<28%

% Of enforcement notices quashed on appeal

42.55%

 

42.55%

 

14.28%

 

<28%

 

% Of applications that are delegated to officers

96.6%

96.19%

95.19%

90%

Registration of Minor /Other planning applications within 5 working days of receipt

45.4%

90.22%

94.27%

90%

Registration of Major applications within 10 working days of receipt

76.5%

100%

100%

90%

% of all planning applications for employment use (B1, B2 & B8) approved

New indicator

90%

73.33%

70%

% of major applications submitted following pre-application advice

New indicator

75%

57.14%

100%

 

* 100% of letters that do not receive a substantive response in 10 working days nevertheless receive a written acknowledgement within the target time

 

The table shows that the service has managed to meet its targets in most areas.  Delays in the registration process for planning applications have been addressed and performance in this area has improved significantly.   Some major applications are taking longer than would normally be expected due to the need to draft S106 agreements.

  

Appeals

 

Table 2 shows the appeal success against the refusal of planning permissions (excluding enforcement appeals) broken down by committee area and includes performance against all appeals decided, regardless of whether the decision was under delegated powers or by committee 

 

Table 2 Planning appeals Decided 

 

Q4 Performance

(Planning Appeals)

South Area

North Area

Central Area

Q4 Total

Appeals received 

5

3

3

11

Appeals decided 

4

6

3

13

Appeals dismissed 

4

4

2

10

% of appeals dismissed from appeals decided (>72% dismissed)

100%

66.67%

66.67%

76.9%

 % of appeals allowed in cases where Committee refused permission contrary to officer recommendation to approve

0%

100%

(1/1)

0%

100%

 

Table 3 shows the number of appeals received by type. 

 

Table 3 Planning Appeals Received

 

Appeal Types Received

(Planning Appeals)

Total 2006/7

Total 2007/8

 

Total 2008/9

 

Total 2009/10

Total for 2010/11

Q4 Total

Total for 2011/12

Public Inquiries 

2

11

4

3

2

2

5

Hearings 

16

16

7

3

5

0

1

Written Representations 

104

110

63

60

90

9

34

Totals 

122

137

74

66

97

11

40

 

Workloads

 

Apart from the speed of processing planning applications and defending appeals, there are also a number of other areas in which the volume of workload is measured.   The headline figures covering these areas of work are set in table 4. 

 

A significant amount of work is taking place to review existing procedures, prepare for a move of offices, and respond to legislative changes from Central Government which involves cross council working and co-ordination. 

 

Table 4 - Workloads 

 

Performance Target

Jan – Mar 2011

Oct – Dec 2011

Jan – Mar 2012

Total 2011/12

Total 2010/11

No. of applications received 

432

467

499

2049

1956

No. of planning and enforcement appeals received

49

21

12

61

119

Reported alleged breaches of planning control (Enforcement)

198

191

176

801

826

Letters received commenting on planning applications*

Not available

1885

1069

11255

3543

General enquiry letters received

Not available

191

168

849

1061

 

*This is the volume of letters received in relation to planning applications that are acknowledged, taken into account in dealing with an application, and advised in writing of the outcome of the application.  This figure does not include the large number of emails sent directly to our planning application service.   

 

Delivery and Enforcement Performance

 

Table 5 below indicates the performance against targets in terms of responding to alleged breaches of control. The council’s enforcement policy, reviewed and agreed by the Committee in March 2006 (and currently being updated), determines the priority accorded to each case.

 

In addition to the quarterly enforcement updates, Councillors receive weekly lists of new enforcement cases and cases where a breach of planning control has been identified.  The enforcement weekly list identifies sites at a very early stage of investigation, prior to the instigation of any formal action.

 

The team’s capacity has been reduced over the year due to vacancy management targets, staff illness and a member of staff retiring.  This has impacted on speed of response as can be seen from table 5 below.

 

Table 5 Enforcement Performance

 

Performance Indicator

Jan – Mar 2011

Oct – Dec 2011

Jan – Mar 2012

Total 2011/12

Target 2010/11

Cases brought to point of resolution* within 8 weeks

66.26%

73.13%

50.68%

67.03%

80%

High Priority

Same day site visit

100%

66.67%

20%

33.33%

80%

Medium Priority Site visit within 5 working days

66.67%

100%

33.33%

51.72%

80%

Low Priority Site visit within 15 working days

75.32%

78.83%

52.94%

68.43%

80%

 

*”Resolution” means that the initial phase of investigation is complete either because no breach of planning control has occurred; or the problem has been overcome by negotiation; or a planning application has been invited; or no action is warranted; or a decision has been taken to instigate formal enforcement action.

 

Table 6 sets out the number of notices served.

 

 Table 6 – Notices Served

 

 Notices Served

Jan – Mar 2011

Oct – Dec 2011

Jan – Mar 2012

Total Notices Issued 2011/12 to date

Total Notices Issued 2010/11 to date

Total Notices Issued 2009/10

Total Notices Issued 2008/9

*PCN’s and 330 Notices

31

34

19

106

32

63

191

**BCN’s

5

4

3

9

0

0

11

Enforcement Notices

19

16

8

54

11

8

29

Stop Notices

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Temporary Stop Notices

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Injunctions

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

***Section 215 Notices

0

0

0

3

1

0

0

 

*  Planning Contravention Notice

** Breach of Condition Notice

*** Notices that deal specifically with the visual amenity of land/buildings.

 

Table 7 sets out the outcomes of prosecution action instigated against those who do not comply with formal enforcement action. 

  

Table 7 - Prosecutions

 

Performance Target

 

2007/8

2008/9

 

2009/10

2010/11

2011/12 (April  -Dec)

Number of prosecution actions instigated*

8

3

6

2

6

% Of successful prosecutions

 

100%

100%

100%

100%

100%

Total amount of fines accrued by all prosecutions**

£26,850

£8,000

£11,910

£2,500

£5393

Cases in the Court system which have not been heard***

4

1

6

1

1

 

*The numbers of prosecutions are calculated by site, multiple defendants on the same site are therefore recorded as 1 prosecution.

 

**This does not include any costs awarded to the Council, which have been applied for through the Court to reimburse the Council for its expenditure incurred from the time an offence has been committed.

 

***These are cases that are waiting for hearings and court dates.

 

****These prosecution actions have been withdrawn as a result of either, compliance with a notice and the continuation with proceedings would not be in the public interest or as a result of legal advice.

  

As well as formal enforcement action being taken through the issuing of formal notices and the instigation of prosecution action the Enforcement and Compliance team has been active in resolving cases without the need for formal action.  This is done by negotiation and in liaison with its partners.

 

Economic Development

 

The Economic Development team works within the Development Management Group to support the growth of local businesses, help them find land and premises in the area, provide first point of contact for businesses with enquiries relating to council services, support people into work, and promote North Somerset as a prosperous location for investment.

 

Work over the year included:

 

  • completion of the Local Economic Assessment

 

  • consultation events on a new Economic Development and Regeneration Strategy (the “Local Economy Plan”)

 

  • developing links with business through work on the Local Enterprise Partnership and the reformed North Somerset Partnership Infrastructure and Local Economy Board

 

  • managing inward investment  inquiries from employers look for employment sites and hosting a high profile “Weston Showcase” event;

 

  • the creation of a Business Improvement District in Weston-super-Mare

 

  • support for small business continues to be provided and schemes such as Ready 4 Work and Weston Works are being used to help employability

 

  • a survey of all businesses in North Somerset;

 

  • successful work on a bid to bring Broadband to the rural areas of North Somerset as part of a regional bid;

 

  • organising a stakeholder workshop to promote tourism

 

  • quarterly liaison meetings meeting with major employers

 

  • promoting the local food and drink industry under the “Made in North Somerset” initiative

 

Customer Feedback on Planning Applications

 

The Planning Application service normally sends out its own customer feedback forms to every applicant who has received a planning application decision. For 2011/12 the aim is to achieve a target of at least 90% of our customers who return our feedback forms being satisfied with the service received.

 

During part of the first and second quarters of 2011/12 the service participated in a national customer survey exercise. During this period no North Somerset customer feedback forms were sent out resulting in a lower number of responses during these periods.


The responses this year are summarised in table 8 as follows:

Table 8 – Customer Feedback

 

Responses to customer questionnaire

Positive responses

 

Negative responses

% expressing positive response

Target 2011/12

Feedback forms received in Q4 (Jan – Mar)

80

69

11

86%

90%

Feedback forms received in Q3 (Oct – Dec)

79

72

5

91%

90%

Feedback forms received in Q2 of July – Sep)

87

77

10

88%

90%

Feedback forms received in Q1 (Apr – Jun)

100

90

10

90%

90%

During the fourth quarter we received 80 responses to the customer questionnaire, which is sent out with every planning application decision. 86% of these responses were positive.  Over the same period 2 justified formal complaints were received.  Table 9 below shows those formal complaints that were considered by investigating officer to be justified and summaries the response given.

 

Table 9 Complaints

 Subject of complaint

 

Response given

Incorrect advice was given on the need for planning permission

Apology given but submitted information did not appear to match initial enquiry

Documents missing from the website

 

The website was corrected 

Where necessary complainants are referred to the Local Government Ombudsman for independent investigation. During the fourth quarter one separate investigation was being undertaken but has not yet been concluded.

 

Staffing

 

As part of the ongoing budget control arrangements, at the end of quarter 4 there were 4.2 fte vacant posts in Development Management with temporary staff covering a further 1fte post which was not being filled on a permanent basis.   A further part time member of staff was on maternity leave and the post held vacant. Cover arrangements are being reviewed.

 

The council’s budget reduction strategy will require a number of changes in future service arrangements with greater reliance on web self serve, the contact centre and electronic document management.

 

4.        Consultation

 

All planning applications are the subject of consultation.  Regular liaison meetings take place with Town and Parish Councils and an Agents forum to discuss service issues.

 

5.        Financial Implications

 

The target for planning application fee income is not currently being achieved and therefore budget savings are being made primarily through vacancy management.

 

Appeal costs are being awarded against the council as a result of unjustifiable refusal of planning applications.  These costs are unbudgeted and may result in an overspend.

 

6.        Equality Implications

 

Equality issues are taken into account in all relevant development management decisions.

 

7.        Corporate Implications

 

The Group plays a role in meeting a number of corporate aims and performance indicators.

 

8.        Options considered

 

Options for service improvement are under constant consideration.

 

Author

 

Jason Beale, Performance and Customer Service Manager Tel No: 01934 426702 - E Mail: jason.beale@n-somerset.gov.uk

Richard Kent, Head of Development Management. Tel: 01275 884570

E Mail: richard.kent@n-somerset.gov.uk

 

Background Papers

Relevant Business Plans

Statistical returns.

Customer feedback forms