North Somerset Council

6.3

 
North Somerset Council

 

REPORT TO THE Planning AND Regulatory Committee

 

Date of Meeting: 30 january 2013

 

Subject of Report: 2nd 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 which has been maintained in a range of key areas although it temporarily dropped in others due to some operational issues. 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 in table 1 below and performance against these indicators is addressed in following report where the information is available

 

Table 1 Performance indicators

 

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

>80%

% of major applications submitted following pre-application advice

>90%

 

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

  • J21 Enterprise Area
  • Weston Gateway Business Park
  • Weston Gateway South and Central
  • Weston Airfield (“Winterstoke Village
  • Locking Parklands (“Parklands Village”)
  • Strategic flood solution
  • Weston town centre
  • Dolphin Square
  • Rotunda
  • Royal Pier Hotel WsM
  • Royal Pier Hotel Clevedon
  • Birnbeck Pier
  • Avoncrest
  • Bristol Airport

 

Progress on these sites is monitored through Directorate and Corporate monitoring reports.

 

3.                Details

 

2012/13 2nd Quarter (Jul - Sep) Planning Performance

 

The report sets out our performance during the second 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 second quarter of 2012/13 is set out in table 2 below. Performance for the comparable quarter of the previous financial year (2011/12) is shown in column two for comparison.

 

Table 2

 

Performance Indicator

Q2 -  11/12

Q1 -  12/13

Q2 -  12/13

Target 12/13

% Of all applications determined < 8 Weeks

88.6%

87.13%

77.5%

80%

% Of major applications determined in <13 Weeks

84.6%

70.00%

63.6%

71%

% Of minor applications determined in <8 Weeks

80.5%

79.41%

72.0%

78%

% Of other applications determined in <8 Weeks

92.8%

91.19%

80.7%

88%

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

unavailable

100%

93%

90%

% Of appeals that were allowed against a planning refusal

37.5%

22.22%

25%

<30%

% Of enforcement notices quashed on appeal

0%

0%

0%

<28%

% Of applications that are delegated to officers

95.82%

94.64%

96.33%

90%

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

82.96%

89.76%

74.40%

90%

Registration of Major applications within 10 working days of receipt

100%

92.86%

91.67%

90%

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

77.78%

87.50%

72.73%

80%

% of major applications submitted following pre-application advice

90.9%

 

62.50%

83.33%

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 five of its targets.  However, during the second quarter the time taken to determine planning application was under target. This was due to a number of factors including disruption from office moves and delays in the scanning and registration of new applications. The process for new applications being registered has been altered and performance is now improving significantly in this area. The Group is now settling into its new office accommodation and work is also on going in relation to reducing delays in scanning.   Some major applications are taking longer than would normally be expected due to the need to draft S106 agreements.

 

 Appeals

 

Table 3 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 3 Appeals Decided 

 

Q2 Performance

(Planning Appeals)

South Area

North Area

Central Area

Q1 & Q2 Total

Appeals received 

6

4

3

16

Appeals decided 

4

2

1

16

Appeals dismissed 

3

1

1

12

% of appeals dismissed from appeals decided (target >70% dismissed)

75%

50%

100%

75%

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

0%

0%

0%

0%

 

Table 4 shows the total number of appeals and the totals for the various types of appeal processes.

 

Table 4 Appeals Received

 

Appeal Types Received

(Planning Appeals)

Total 08/09

Total 09/10

Total 10/11

Total 11/ 12

Q2 Total

Total 12/13

Public Inquiries 

4

3

2

5

0

0

Hearings 

7

3

5

1

0

0

Written Representations 

63

60

90

34

13

16

Totals 

74

66

97

40

13

16

 

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 5 Appeal Cost Awards

 

Appeal Cost Awards

Q1 Total (Apr- June)

Q2 Total (Jul- Sep)

Total for 2012/13

Awarded to the appellant

0

0

0

Awarded to the council

0

0

0

 

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 6. 

 

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

 

Table 6 - Workloads 

 

Performance Target

Q2 –  11/12

Q1 – 12/13

Q2 -12/13

Total 12/ 13

Total 11/12

No. of applications received 

528

488

504

992

2,049

No. of planning and enforcement appeals received

18

5

14

19

61

Reported alleged breaches of planning control (Enforcement)

204

173

185

173

801

Letters received commenting on planning applications*

1,744

2,006

2,159

4,165

11,255

General enquiry letters received

286

214

146

360

849

 

*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 7 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 July 2012, 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.

 

Table 7 Enforcement Performance

 

Performance Indicator

Q2 -  11/12

Q1 – 12/13

Q2 – 12/13

Total 12/13

Target 12/13

Cases brought to point of resolution* within 8 weeks

73.15%

70.87%

78.57%

70.87%

80%

High Priority

Same day site visit

100%

100%

100%

100%

80%

Medium Priority Site visit within 5 working days

80%

0%

100%

100%

80%

Low Priority Site visit within 15 working days

n/a

65.03%

70.97%

70.92%

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 8 sets out the number of notices served.

 

Table 8

 

 Notices Served

Q2 -  11/12

Q1 -  12/13

Q2 - 12/13

Total Q1-Q2

12/13

Total Notices Issued 11/12

Total Notices Issued 10/11

Total Notices Issued 09/10

*PCN’s and 330 Notices

31

7

23

33

106

32

63

**BCN’s

2

0

1

2

9

0

0

Enforcement Notices

15

2

5

9

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

0

0

3

3

3

1

0

 

*  Planning Contravention Notice

** Breach of Condition Notice

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

 

Table 9 sets out the outcomes of prosecution action instigated against those who do not comply with formal enforcement action. 

  

Table 9 – 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, to 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 included:

 

·        Re-Launched North Somerset Young Enterprise Programme with businesses and schools.

·        Supported business start ups through courses and wider support, working with North Somerset Enterprise Agency.

·        Quarterly liaison meetings with major employers including Smurfit Kappa, Thatchers, Santander, Yeo Valley.

·        Continued work with BT to secure superfast broadband across the area and for business.    Further liaison with Somerset and Devon on BDUK Rural Superfast Broadband funding.

·        Supported people into work through Westonworks and Ready4Work, including direct work placement, training and job searches.

·        Promotion of area through 'Made in North Somerset' including open doors for public to see how local businesses operate, including Butcombe Brewery 600 visitors, Lye Cross 700 visitors and Chew Moos 700 visitors, major event at Tyntesfield with 45 producers.

·        Involvement on Business Forum and employment opportunities for North Somerset relating to Hinkley Point C proposal.

·        Developing shared Inward Investment Service with neighbouring authorities as part of the City Deal work.

·        Set up the North Somerset Infrastructure and Economy Board to support work of North Somerset Partnership.

·        Continued efforts to promote the area as a filming location, included negotiations with film production companies including new ITV murder mystery 'Broadchurch'.

·        Further promotions of the area as a business location covering regional and local property press, working with marketing group of J21 Enterprise Area Board.

 

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.

 

The responses this year are summarised in table 10 as follows:

 

Table 10 – Customer Feedback received during Q2

Responses to customer questionnaire

Positive responses

 

Negative responses

% expressing positive response

Target 2012/13

62

53

9

85.5%

90%

 

During the second quarter we received 62 responses to the customer questionnaire, which is sent out with every planning application decision. 85.5% of these responses were positive, complimenting the officers handling the applications for being helpful, informative and efficient. Five respondents were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with the service given. The nine negative responses received identified delays and problems contacting case officers as issues.

 

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

 

Table 11 Complaints

 

Subject of complaint

 

Response given

Documents not available to view on website

An apology was given and the documents were made available.

 

Complainants are referred to the Local Government Ombudsman for independent investigation where necessary. During the second quarter two separate investigations were decided.

 

In one case, relating to a decision not to undertake enforcement action against unauthorised aerials, the Ombudsman decided not to investigate on the basis that no injustice had be caused. On the second case, where inaccurate advice about the need for planning permission was given, the Ombudsman decided to discontinue the investigation on the basis that the council had agreed a remedy with the complainant.

 

Staffing

 

As part of the ongoing budget control arrangements, at the end of quarter 2 there were 4.5 fte vacant posts in Development Management with temporary arrangements covering a further 2.5 fte posts which are 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 426 702

E Mail: jason.beale@n-somerset.gov.uk

 

Richard Kent, Head of Development Management. Tel: 01275 884 570

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

 

Background Papers

 

Relevant Business Plans

Statistical returns.

Customer feedback forms