North Somerset Council

6.2

 
  North Somerset Council

 

REPORT TO THE Planning & Regulatory Committee

 

Date of Meeting:  31 October 2012

 

Subject of Report: 1st QUARTEr DEVELOPMENT MANAGEMENT 2012/13

 

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 first 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 2012/13, the Service Strategy focused on a wider range of performance indicators including 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 within target

>80%

% of major applications submitted following pre-application advice

>90%

 

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 2012/13.

 

3.                Details

 

2012/13 1st Quarter (April - June) Planning Performance

 

The report sets out our performance during the first quarter 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 performance for the first quarter of 2012/13 is set out in table 1 below. Performance for the comparable quarter of the previous financial year (2011/12) is shown in column two for comparison.

 

Table 1

 

Performance Indicator

Apr – Jun 2011

Jan – Mar 2012

Apr – Jun 2012

Target 2012/13

% Of all applications determined < 8 Weeks

82.2%

82.6%

87.13%

80%

% Of major applications determined in <13 Weeks

77.8%

64.3%

70.00%

71%

% Of minor applications determined in <8 Weeks

74.1%

79.2%

79.41%

78%

% Of other applications determined in <8 Weeks

76.3%

86.3%

91.19%

88%

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

64.81%

99.17%

100%

90%

% Of appeals that were allowed against a planning refusal

31.58%

23.08%

22.22%

<30%

% Of enforcement notices quashed on appeal

0%

0%

0%

<28%

% Of applications that are delegated to officers

96.6%

95.19%

94.64%

 90%

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

45.4%

94.27%

89.76%

90%

Registration of Major applications within 10 working days of receipt

76.5%

100%

92.86%

90%

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

No data available

73.33%

87.50%

80%

% of major applications submitted following pre-application advice

No data available

57.14%

62.50%

90%

 

* 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 Appeals Decided 

 

Q1 Performance

(Planning Appeals)

South Area

North Area

Central Area

Q1 Total

Appeals received 

1

2

0

3

Appeals decided 

3

2

4

9

Appeals dismissed 

2

2

3

7

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

66.67%

100%

75%

77.78%

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

0%

0%

0%

0%

 

Table 3 shows the number of appeals received by type. 

 

Table 3 Appeals Received

 

Appeal Types Received

(Planning Appeals)

Total 2007/ 2008

Total 2008/ 2009

Total 2009/ 2010

Total for 2010/ 2011

Total for 2011/ 2012

Q1 Total

Total for 2012/ 2013

Public Inquiries 

11

4

3

2

5

0

0

Hearings 

16

7

3

5

1

0

0

Written Representations 

110

63

60

90

34

3

3

Totals 

137

74

66

97

40

3

3

 

Appeal Costs

 

Previously restricted to Public Inquiries and Hearings only, costs can now be claimed in Written Representation appeals and this has resulted in a marked increase in claims and awards.

 

Table 4 Appeal Cost Awards

 

Appeal Cost Awards

Q1 Total (Apr- June)

Total for 2012/13

Awarded to the appellant

0

0

Awarded to the council

0

0

 

During the first quarter no costs were awarded.

 

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 5. 

 

A significant amount of work was undertaken 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 5 - Workloads 

 

Performance Target

Apr – June 2011

Jan – Mar 2012

Apr – Jun 2012

Total 2012/ 13 to end of  quarter

Total 2011/

12

No. of applications received 

555

499

488

488

2049

No. of planning and enforcement appeals received

22

12

5

5

61

Reported alleged breaches of planning control (Enforcement)

230

176

173

173

801

Letters received commenting on planning applications*

1976

1885

2006

2006

5605

General enquiry letters received

204

191

214

214

681

 

*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 Local Enforcement Plan determines the priority accorded to each case and was reviewed and agreed by the Committee in July 2012,

 

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.

 

 


Table 6 Enforcement Performance

 

Performance Indicator

Apr – June 2011

Jan – Mar 2012

Apr – June 2012

Total 2012/13

Target 2012/13

Cases brought to point of resolution* within 8 weeks

70.00%

50.68%

70.87%

70.87%

80%

High Priority

Same day site visit

25.00%

20%

100%

100%

80%

Medium Priority Site visit within 5 working days

66.67%

33.33%

0%

0%

80%

Low Priority Site visit within 15 working days

70.91%

52.94%

65.03%

65.03%

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 7 sets out the number of notices served.

 

Table 7

 

 Notices Served

Apr – Jun 2011

Jan – Mar 2012

Apr – Jun 2012

Total Notices issued 2012/13 to date

Total Notices Issued 2011/12

Total Notices Issued 2010/11

Total Notices Issued 2009/10

*PCN’s and 330 Notices

22

19

10

10

106

32

63

**BCN’s

2

3

1

1

9

0

0

Enforcement Notices

15

8

4

4

54

11

8

Stop Notices

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Temporary Stop Notices

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Injunctions

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

***Section 215 Notices

2

0

0

0

3

1

0

 

*  Planning Contravention Notice

** Breach of Condition Notice

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

 

Table 8 sets out the outcomes of prosecution action instigated against those who do not comply with formal enforcement action. 

  

 

 

 

Table 8 – Prosecutions

 

Performance Target

 

2008/9

 

2009/10

2010/11

2011/12

2012/13

Number of prosecution actions instigated*

3

6

2

8

1

% Of successful prosecutions

100%

100%

100%

100%

n/a

% Of unsuccessful prosecutions

0%

0%

0%

0%

n/a

Total amount of fines accrued by all prosecutions**

£8,000

£11,910

£2,500

£1450

-

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

1

6

1

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 quarter includes:

 

  • final drafting of 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 including setting up a West of England Inward Investment service

 

  • developing joint marketing initiatives for the promotion of the Junction 21 Enterprise Area

 

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

 

  • 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 2012/13 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.

 

The responses this year are summarised in table 9 as follows:

 

Table 9 – Customer Feedback

 

Responses to customer questionnaire

Positive responses

 

Negative responses

% expressing positive response

Target 2012/13

Feedback forms received in Q1 (Apr – Jun)

76

72

4

95%

> 90%

 

During the first quarter we received 76 responses to the customer questionnaire, which is sent out with every planning application decision. 95% of these responses were positive, complimenting the officers handling the applications for being helpful, informative and efficient. The 4 negative responses received identified communication and delays in items being displayed on the council website as issues.

 

During the first quarter 11 complaints were received. Table 10 below shows those complaints that were considered by investigating officer to be justified and summaries the response given. 

 

Table 10 Complaints

 

Subject of complaint

 

Response given

Informal advice given over the telephone about the need for planning permission was incorrect

An apology was given and council staff reminded to use caution when giving advice over the phone. The complainant was advised of our written advice service.

 

Where necessary complainants are referred to the Local Government Ombudsman for independent investigation. During the first quarter no cases reported to the Ombudsman were concluded and no new cases were received.

 

Staffing

 

As part of the ongoing budget control arrangements, at the end of quarter 1 there were 4.4 fte vacant posts in Development Management with temporary staff covering a further 0.5 fte post which is not being filled on a permanent basis.

 

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: 01934 426732

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

 

Background Papers

 

Relevant Business Plans

Statistical returns.

Customer feedback forms