To report on the review and to consider the findings (report of the Executive Director Place enclosed).
Consideration was given to the report of the Executive Director Place which reported on the recent review of implemented planning decisions and requested that the Panel consider the findings.
The Probity in Planning guidance, issued by the Local Government Association, highlighted that the report of the Audit Commission ‘Building in Quality’ recommended that councillors revisit a sample of implemented planning permissions to assess the quality of the decisions. Such a review should improve the quality and consistency of decision-making, strengthening public confidence in the planning system, and could also help with review of planning policy. It further stated that review by the Panel should include examples of a broad range of categories, such as major and minor development, permitted departures, upheld appeals, listed building works and enforcement cases.
In order to revisit a number of implemented planning permissions, the Performance Monitoring Panel undertook a tour on 15 September 2016, visiting a number of different sites throughout the district. Sites were chosen to represent a range of types and sizes of development and decisions, in accordance with the Protocol. It included a range of large and small-scale residential developments, at differing stages of completion, as well as a completed solar farm and single wind turbine. Following the tour, a debriefing session was held to review the day and draw conclusions, and these were detailed at section 3.2 of the report.
All Panel members that had attended agreed that it had been a very worthwhile exercise, well-structured, and that there had been a good variety of applications to consider. It was felt that the review should continue on a bi-ennial basis.
One common issue that had arisen whilst visiting some of the new developments was with regard to the finishing off of footpaths. It was understood that it was not possible to do this with roads, but footpaths should be finished off as quickly as possible. The Place Manager advised that this consideration could be picked up within the second and fourth recommendations detailed within the report. The Panel was advised that the conditions were imposed by LCC and that in its review of conditions, the Authority needed to make these changes. It was necessary for conditions to be worded correctly.
Members were advised that the Policy Development Panel were aware of the Panel’s Review of Implemented Planning Decisions, and that they were keen that both Panels work together to assist with good design. It was agreed that this could happen, with the Policy Development Panel’s consent, in the following way:
· That two members of the Performance Monitoring Panel join a Task Group set up by the Policy Development Panel to review public open spaces (Councillor Alcock and Councillor Newton volunteered to do this if required);
· That alongside the issues already agreed by the Policy Development Panel for consideration by the Review of Public Open Spaces Task Group, recommendations made following the Tour also be addressed, particularly those relating to open space and the finishing off of pavements in new developments.
a) That the following actions, arising from issues considered during the tour, be recommended to the Planning Committee
i. That consideration of evidence on viability of housing schemes is more transparent and robustly challenged to ensure the delivery of schemes as originally approved. It is suggested that the District Valuer (or equivalent) is contacted with a view to exploring member training on viability;
ii. That greater consideration is given to the design and layout of housing development through the exploration of the potential for a specific Supplementary Planning Document to be produced as part of the emerging Local Plan. This should also seek to address design responses to increase floor levels on the basis of flood risk;
iii. That consideration is given to effective long-term open space management and the mechanisms for successfully delivering of site contributions in lieu of on-site provision. This could be achieved through a revised Supplementary Planning Document on Open Space, as part of the emerging Local Plan, as well as through the Council’s commercialisation agenda;
iv. That planning conditions are reviewed to ensure that they are precise and enforceable. For example, there is concern as to at what point developers should complete the finished surfacing of roads that serve development;
v. That an up-to-date ‘Enforcement Plan’ is produced with a view to supporting effective and timely enforcement;
vi. That members are encouraged to undertake their own, or exceptionally, request Committee undertake site visits, where there is considered to be a significant impact, for example wind and solar farms.
b) That it be recommended to the Planning Committee that the Review of Implemented Planning Decisions tour continue on a biennial basis;
c) That the Performance Monitoring and Policy Development Panels work together in order to promote design, and that with the Policy Development Panel’s consent, this be undertaken as follows:
i. That two members of the Performance Monitoring Panel join a Task Group already set up by the Policy Development Panel to review public open spaces
ii. That Councillor Alcock and Councillor Newton be members of this joint Task Group;
iii. That alongside the issues already agreed by the Policy Development Panel for consideration by the Review of Public Open Spaces Task Group, recommendations made by the Performance Monitoring Panel following the review of implemented planning decisions also be addressed, particularly those relating to open space and the finishing off of pavements in new developments.