Link to homepage

Agenda item

Planning Scheme of Delegation

To agree an amendment to the Planning Scheme of Delegation as set out in Paragraph 2.3 of the report. 

Minutes:

47.1          The report of the Head of Democratic Services, circulated at Pages No. 39-55, proposed an amendment to the Scheme of Delegation, with a full review of the Scheme planned to take place in the medium term (12-18 months), which Members were asked to approve.

47.2          The Borough Solicitor advised that this followed on from the Executive Committee’s approval of the action plan which had resulted from an external review of the Development Management service. The review had found that Tewkesbury Borough Council’s Planning Committee considered significantly more minor applications than other authorities of a similar size. The consultants had indicated that to take an application to Committee cost approximately ten times as much as if it was delegated to Officers, so it had been agreed as a priority within the action plan to address this through the Scheme of Delegation. The suggested amendment, which would remove safeguard 5(i) in relation to objections from Town and Parish Councils being automatically referred to Committee, would help to ensure there were resources available within the Development Management team to improve the service. The Planning Scheme of Delegation had last been reviewed in 2015 with a majority of applications delegated to the Head of Development Services, subject to safeguards. Parish and Town Councils were not statutory consultees to planning applications but could be notified of applications within their areas, therefore their comments carried no more weight than any other third party. As with any person that made comments, if material planning considerations were raised those would be fully taken into account by the decision-maker.

47.3          A Member proposed that the matter be deferred to the next Council meeting in order to allow the Council to communicate with Parish and Town Councils and explain its reasons and the implications behind the amendment to the Scheme of Delegation. The proposal was seconded and the Mayor welcomed questions on the deferral. A Member asked for confirmation that, under the current scheme, all Parishes were aware that if they objected the application would go to Committee; whether Parishes had been informed of the costs of taking applications to Committee; of the applications that went to Committee how many had provided valid planning reasons; and whether Parishes were informed of the date that an application would go to Committee. In response, the Borough Solicitor advised that she did not know the level of awareness of Parish Councils about the Borough Council’s process for any application to which a Parish Council had objected. In terms of the cost of taking applications to Committee, this was not something Parishes were advised of. No application would go before the Planning Committee if there were no material planning reasons to do so as that was part of the Scheme of Delegation already. A Member indicated that he did not currently receive notification of planning applications made within the three Parishes he represented, and the Head of Development Services explained that for Members to receive this information automatically they had to request it; however, it was agreed that it made sense for all Members to receive details of applications in their area. Another Member requested that, as part of the deferral, Members be provided with a breakdown of the costs of taking an application to Committee versus Officer delegated decisions. The Head of Development Services explained that broadly this would include the resources required for Planning Officers to prepare the Committee reports and presentations as well as input from One Legal and Democratic Services in the process.

47.4          Referring to the consultant’s report, the Chief Executive explained that this was a management report about the operation of the service. It had been considered by the Executive Committee which had approved the action plan that was available to Members. The issue was that everyone wanted the most efficient and effective planning service possible and the action plan was aimed at providing the best service within the resources available. The report now before Members had been prepared to assist in achieving that aim. He understood the views expressed about communicating with Parishes and, if the report was deferred, the comments made in that respect would be taken into account as it was important to explain the background to the suggested amendment.

47.5          A Member indicated that she had read the report and action plan thoroughly and agreed that it covered a lot of issues that were part of bigger concerns about the service. She felt that the deferral based on communication with Parishes was the correct thing to do as it meant those who were affected would be able to have a say. A Member questioned whether deferral until the next Council meeting in January would allow time for Parishes to discuss the matter. It was felt it would be better to defer without a timescale as there would be planning required to properly communicate. In offering clarification, the proposer of the motion indicated that her proposal was to speak to Parishes and provide the reasons and implications behind the amendment rather than to undertake formal consultation. Another Member proposed an amendment to include the word ‘consultation’ rather than ‘communication’ as follows: that the matter be deferred in order to allow consultation with all Parish and Town Councils and to explain its reasons and the implications behind the amendment to the Scheme of Delegation.

47.6          A recorded vote was requested and, upon receiving the appropriate level of support, voting was recorded as follows: 

For

Against

Abstain

Absent

K Berliner

R A Bird

C M Cody

M Dean

G F Blackwell

J H Evetts

M A Gore

R D East

G J Bocking

E J MacTiernan

C E Mills

C L J Carter

J R Mason

 

K J Cromwell

R J E Vines

 

P A Godwin

 

D W Gray

 

D J Harwood

 

 

M L Jordan

 

 

H C McLain

 

 

P D McLain

 

 

H S Munro

 

 

 

J W Murphy

 

 

 

P W Ockelton

 

 

 

A S Reece

 

 

 

C Reid

 

 

 

J K Smith

 

 

P E Smith

 

 

 

R J G Smith

 

 

 

V D Smith

 

 

 

C Softley

 

 

 

R J Stanley

 

 

 

P D Surman

 

 

 

M G Sztymiak

 

 

 

S Thomson

 

 

 

M J Williams

 

 

 

P N Workman

 

 

 

47.7          With 27 votes in favour, five against and three abstentions, this became the substantive motion. Accordingly, upon being put to the vote, it was

RESOLVED           That the matter be deferred in order to allow consultation with all Parish and Town Councils and for the Council to explain its reasons and the implications behind the amendment to the Scheme of Delegation. 

Supporting documents: