|That the current Development Control Committee and its Area Development Control Committees be abandoned in favour of a Development Management Committee 1 and Development Management Committee 2||The Management of Development is a Borough wide responsibility and is not confined to local areas.|
The current system is not efficient and too slow. A Committee 1 and 2 system has been demonstrated to be more efficient in meeting BVPI targets.
|Membership of the Committees is drawn from across the Borough and in proportion to party representation.||To achieve balance between local and borough wide perspectives.|
|That there is between 15 and 20 Members on each Committee. ||This enables the wide interest of Members in planning matters to be retained.|
|That the substitution system be abandoned for Development Management Committees. ||With greater membership the need for member substitutes is reduced. |
|There should be a Development Management Committee every three weeks with each committee meeting every six weeks.||The three weekly cycle is the recommended minimum by ODPM evaluators.|
Charnwood found that two weekly cycles were too onerous.
With greater emphasis on Development Control Consultative Forums additional time needs to be created to manage these events.
|Committee site visits should take place in advance of the Committee meeting. It is suggested that this should occur the day before the meeting. ||This will reduce the delay in making decisions by avoiding deferrals for site visits.|
|Visual presentations of plans to be given at all Development Management Committee meetings.||Improve the quality of information to assist Member decision-making and avoid unnecessary site visits. |
|Where a decision is not in accordance with the Development Plan or where a decision in the opinion of officers is unsound it should be referred to the alternative committee for scrutiny. ||Decisions should be made in accordance with the Development Plan. Where there are departures from the plan it would be wise to have appropriate checks and balance in the system so that such decisions are properly scrutinised. Referral to the following committee would reduce delay.|
|Where a decision is of major importance, e.g. East Street Regeneration then the two Committees should come together as a Special Development Management Committee.||Applications of major significance or controversy have often resulted in a referral to Council. If the Membership of the Development Management Committees is between 15 and 20 then potentially up to 40 Members could be involved in the planning decision. In this case those members are likely to be those with both planning interests and experience. Such a system should avoid the need to refer matters to Council.|
|The officer report be reorganised into a more logical format.||The current format starts with consultation responses and objections. It would be logical to start with a description of the proposal and any background, then an outline of the. planning policies before reporting comments and concluding with an officer consideration|
|Remove the C Schedule from the agenda and make this information available to members outside of the committee system. ||To retain this information on the C schedule would either mean printing it twice so that each Committee has the same information or accepting that each Committee will have different information. This might mean members may find gaps in their information.|
The important point is that members should know what decisions are made under officer-delegated powers. This can best and most efficiently done by circulating a list on a regular basis
|Remove from the agenda enforcement updates but replace it with a quarterly performance report on enforcement.||The current system emphasises the failures of the service rather than our successes. Reporting successes would help to establish a more positive image of the enforcement service and this will assist in managing individual cases. The current reporting system because of the exempt status of cases, limits the information officers are able to give on individual case without prejudicing the Councils position. This often causes frustration to both members and officers. Such limits would not apply to information that Officers could circulate in confidence outside of the committee arena. |
|Committees to meet at The Council offices in Godalming and be available on web-cast. ||Agendas will include applications from across the Borough and Godalming is recognised as the administrative centre of the Borough. The technology exists at Godalming to provide visual presentations with minimal effort. Web casting facilities are available at Godalming, although there are plans for mobile web casting equipment. |
|Possible Solution ||Comment|
|1. Do Nothing||The service is unlikely to make the necessary improvements required. High and unsustainable workloads in time is likely to impact on staff morale and the ability to recruit and retain staff.|
|2. Recruit additional case officers ||It is unlikely in the current market that experienced planners could be recruited|
It is likely that 'raw' recruits would be available but this will place further burden on experienced officers regarding training and development .
Even if recruited further accommodation would be needed.
This option would require a further 3 case officers to meet the maximum 150 cases per officer as measured across the department. This cost would be in the range of £94,000 to £153,000 including all costs.
|3. More Resources from LDF work to Development Control||This would be at odds with the corporate plan to develop the planning function as a shaping and facilitating one.|
This would significantly prejudice the Council's ability to meet the statutory targets for LDF production.
It is the most important part of the planning system and without up to date policy and guidance the quality outcomes of development control decisions will suffer.
|PDG Revenue Proposed|
|PDG Capital Proposed|
|Capital Costs of new staff (PCs etc)|
|Development Control Staffing|
|Positional Accuracy Work - mapping|
|Planning Enquiry Team|
|Policy Staff - LDF and Urban Designer|
|Equipment and services for Image Processing|
|Consultant - Performance Improvement|
|Software - complaints/enforcement|
|High Hedges legislation|
|Web site |
|Section 106 work|
|TPO equipment and services|
|Other Staffing Costs (recruitment etc)|
|Section 106 consultants|