Agenda and minutes

Venue: The Conference Room, Herefordshire Council Offices, Plough Lane, Hereford, HR4 0LE

Contact: Ben Baugh, Democratic services officer 

Link: Watch the meeting on the Herefordshire Council YouTube channel

No. Item


Apologies for absence

To receive apologies for absence.



Councillor William Wilding was unable to attend the meeting in person but participated via remote attendance.


Named substitutes

To receive details of members nominated to attend the meeting in place of a member of the committee.


There were no substitutes present.


Declarations of interest

To receive declarations of interests in respect of Schedule 1, Schedule 2 or Other Interests from members of the committee in respect of items on the agenda.


There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 223 KB

To receive the minutes of the meeting held on 27 January 2022.


The minutes of the previous meeting were received.


RESOLVED:       That the minutes of the meeting held on 27 January 2022 be approved 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 members of the Council.


Update on the planning service pdf icon PDF 101 KB

This item will feature:

·             An introduction by Ross Cook (Corporate director, economy and environment)

·             A presentation by Florence Churchill (Interim service director economy and regulatory services)

A related paper will be published in a supplement to the agenda, in advance of the meeting.


The Cabinet Member - Finance, Corporate Services and Planning commented that: there had been issues with the Core Strategy before the formation of the administration; it had taken time to make management and policy changes, especially in the context of flooding events and the Covid pandemic; interim appointments had been made to provide leadership and direction; there was at least another year of work to undertake on the transformation journey; and the interest of the scrutiny committee was welcomed.


The Corporate Director, Economy and Environment explained that: a review of the service had been undertaken and an action plan had been developed; and, in addition to the Local Plan, work was being undertaken on the Economic Plan and the Hereford City Centre Masterplan.  An apology was given for the absence of a formal report for the committee to consider.


The Interim Service Director, Economy and Regulatory Services delivered the presentation ‘Planning Services Improvement Plan’ which included the headings: Peer Review; Short Term Recommendations; Medium Term Recommendations; Planning Service Metrics; Current Issues; S106 – Training and Other Aspects; Planning Policy; Development Management; Enforcement; Planning Committee; Planning Recovery Plan; Proposed Training Programme; and Next Steps.


The principal points of the discussion included:


1.           In response to a question from the Vice-Chairperson, the Interim Service Director acknowledged that there had been issues with: the timeliness and completeness of communications from officers; the backlog of validated but unallocated planning applications (this had reduced from nearly 400 to around 100 applications); the redirection arrangements; the structure of the service, particularly in view of anticipated changes to the planning system; and the treatment of Section 106 and other developer contributions.


2.           A recommendation was proposed in relation to the management of the Section 106 process (recommendation a) below).


3.           In response to points made by a committee member about their own experiences, the Interim Service Director commented on: the Infrastructure Funding Statement which detailed the use of developer contributions; the development of a Communications Protocol to outline how member enquires would be prioritised and approached; and the Enforcement Local Plan would set out priorities for enforcement action and associated timescales.


For the purposes of clarity, the Chairperson emphasised that planning enforcement was not a discretionary service and there was a duty to investigate, whereas ‘Enforcement action is discretionary’ (National Planning Policy Framework, Section 59).


4.           A recommendation was proposed in relation to the additional costs incurred to address the planning backlog (recommendation b) below).


5.           On matters relating to repeat breaches of planning controls, reference was made to a recent Parliamentary Private Members’ Bill, Planning (Enforcement) Bill.


Later in the discussion, the Interim Service Director clarified that the local planning authority could not use its powers to determine applications in a punitive manner based on the previous behaviours of certain applicants.


6.           Assurance was sought about the capacity of the planning service to meet demand, and about the quality assurance process to ensure consistency in terms of reports and decisions.  Related recommendations were proposed (recommendations  ...  view the full minutes text for item 61.


Work programme pdf icon PDF 238 KB

To consider potential items for future scrutiny activity.

Additional documents:


It was noted that the Council had recently approved a revised constitution (minute 47 of 4 March 2022 refers) that would result in the reorganisation of the current three scrutiny committees into five scrutiny committees from 20 May 2022; this being the last meeting of the General Scrutiny Committee.  Therefore, it was decided that consideration of potential agenda items be deferred to a future, informal work programming workshop.