Agenda and minutes
Venue: The Conference Room, Herefordshire Council Offices, Plough Lane, Hereford, HR4 0LE
Contact: Ben Baugh, Democratic Services Officer
Apologies for absence
To receive apologies for absence.
Apologies for absence had been received from Councillors Paul Andrews, Toni Fagan and Kath Hey.
To receive details of members nominated to attend the meeting in place of a member of the committee.
Councillor David Summers was present in the meeting room as the substitute for Councillor Paul Andrews. Councillor Jeremy Milln participated via remote attendance on behalf of Councillor Toni Fagan.
Declarations of interest
To receive declarations of interests members of the committee in respect of items on the agenda.
No declarations of interest were made.
To approve and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 14 October 2022.
The minutes of the previous meeting were received.
That the minutes of the meeting held on 14 October 2022 be confirmed as a correct record and be signed by the Chairperson.
Questions from members of the public
To receive any written questions from members of the public.
No questions had been received from members of the public.
Questions from members of the council
To receive any written questions from members of the council.
No questions had been received from councillors.
To provide the response to the Connected Communities Scrutiny Committee, the successor committee to the General Scrutiny Committee (GSC), on the executive response to the recommendations made by the GSC on 21 March 2022. The recommendations made by the committee followed the Planning Advisory Service (PAS) Peer Review on the Planning Service in November/December 2020.
[Note: the papers for this agenda item are the same as those published previously for the 9 September 2022 meeting that was postponed]
The committee received executive responses to recommendations in relation to the planning service made by the former General Scrutiny Committee on 21 March 2022 (minute 62 of 2021/22 refers).
The Cabinet Member - Finance, Corporate Services and Planning welcomed the continued interest of scrutiny on planning matters and any further constructive suggestions.
The Interim Service Director Planning and Regulatory Services acknowledged that commitments made by previous interim post holders had not been delivered and due process had to be followed in terms of the transformation of the service, including consultation with staff members. The Lead Development Manager added that, with the support of the current Interim Service Director, the service was moving forward.
The principal points of the discussion included:
1. In response to questions about the executive response to recommendation b) [on the topic of the costs of additional resources brought in to address the planning backlog], the Lead Development Manager advised that no planning consultants were engaged currently, the planning backlog had been cleared by planning consultants and existing staff members, and there were delays but not a backlog at the present time.
2. In response to a question about references to delays on the Planning Search webpage, the Lead Development Manager commented on current staffing issues which had an impact on registering and processing applications, and considered that the webpage text articulated the situation.
3. The Interim Service Director confirmed that the service was looking to improve processes, procedures and ways of working, including the use of IT systems.
4. In response to a question about opportunities to enhance relationships, the Interim Service Director outlined the scope of the planning improvement plan; this included a review of the expectations, roles, and cultural behaviours of Planning Committee members, ward members, and officers in order to build trust and confidence. The need to review the way that the service communicated with all parties was recognised, and interviews would be undertaken with stakeholders to understand the issues to prioritise.
5. A committee member commented that the executive response to recommendation d) [on the topic of the measures to ensure consistency in the production of planning reports and decisions] should reference paragraph 56 (rather than paragraph 55) of the National Planning Policy Framework.
6. The Chairperson noted the statement that the ‘Framework makes it clear that planning conditions should be kept to a minimum…’ and said that some parish councils questioned the inclusion of certain planning conditions if these were not monitored subsequently. The Interim Service Director advised that planning conditions should be reasonable, necessary and enforceable but there were issues with the quality and content of some of the planning applications being received. The Interim Service Director said that the appointment of a Development Monitoring Officer was one of their recommendations.
The Cabinet Member commented that conditions informed applicants of what was expected in the course of undertaking development and, making a comparison with speeding offences, the enforcement policy should ensure that applicants were alert to the potential for ... view the full minutes text for item 16.