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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Development Control Committee held on 05/09/2005
A New Development Management Committee System



Summary & Purpose
This reports sets out the considerations and conclusions so far of the Modernising Planning Special Interest Group in relation to the review of the Development Control Committee and its Sub-Committees.

This report builds upon the model presented to Council and makes suggestions to manage or incorporate features in relation to the number of detailed points raised by Members and the Town/Parish Councils during the first phase of the review process.

The Modernising Planning SIG is interested to hear the comments of the Development Control Committee as part of the review process.

Quality of Life Implications
Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe Communities
Local Economy
Natural
Resource Use
Pollution
Prevention and Control
Biodiversity
and Nature
Local
Environment
Social
Inclusion
Safe, Healthy
and Active
Communities
Local
Economy
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive


APPENDIX A
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

DEVELOPMENT CONTROL COMMITTEE
5TH SEPTEMBER 2005

Title:
A NEW DEVELOPMENT MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE SYSTEM

[Wards Affected: All]

Summary and purpose:

This reports sets out the considerations and conclusions so far of the Modernising Planning Special Interest Group in relation to the review of the Development Control Committee and its Sub-Committees.

This report builds upon the model presented to Council and makes suggestions to manage or incorporate features in relation to the number of detailed points raised by Members and the Town/Parish Councils during the first phase of the review process.

The Modernising Planning SIG is interested to hear the comments of the Development Control Committee as part of the review process.

Quality of life implications – social, environmental & economic (sustainable development):

E-Government implications:

There are no direct e-government implications.

Resource and legal implications:

There are no direct resource or legal implications arising from this report. Resource implications are set out in the report.

Introduction

1. The key areas for further development of the model are as follows, The time table for the review process is set out at Annexe 1.

The terms of reference as set out by the Council
The names of the Committees
The Membership of the Committees
The delegated powers of the Committees
Officer delegated powers.
The role of the Town and Parish Councils.
Public Speaking.
Officer presentations
Site Visit arrangements
Reporting of Enforcement Information and progress
Reporting of delegated decisions made by officers.
Impacts on resources
Impacts on speed of decision making
Implementation timetable.

Terms of reference

2. There are three specific tasks that the Modernising Planning SIG has been asked by the Executive to consider and reach conclusions on with a view to making recommendations to the Executive.

These were:

1. Consider the operation of the Development Control Committee and its Area Committees and make recommendations for change. 2. Consider and make recommendations for service improvements or actions arising from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister evaluation or from the Best Value re inspection of the Planning Service; and 3. Consider the utilisation of the additional Planning Delivery Grant allocated to the Council to deliver service improvements.

3. At its meeting on the 29th June 2005 the Modernising Planning SIG considered a proposed model of Committees to replace the current Area Sub Committee structure. It was agreed to take the principles of that model forward and the Town and Parish Councils, the Executive, the Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee gave subsequent consideration to it. Council endorsed the principles of the model on the 19th July and this was subject to a number of matters that it considered important to be taken into account in developing the detail of the model. A copy of the report to Council setting out the model is attached at Annexe 2 for information.

4. The Council resolved

Findings of the Modernising Planning Special Interest Group

It was moved and seconded that recommendation 24 be amended by replacing the whole recommendation with the following:

“That the matter of changes in the current Committee system be referred back to the Executive for further study”.

Upon being put to the vote, the amendment was LOST.

It was then moved and seconded that recommendation 25 be amended by adding the following words:

“In addition, the Executive be requested to task the Modernising Planning SIG with bringing forward to ELOS, the Development Control Committee and subsequently Executive and Council - with a target of Council of 25th October 2005 - proposals to effect the following. In undertaking their task, the SIG should consult with Members and Town/Parish Councils, and be assisted by Officers:-

(i) A review of the procedure by which Members may require a particular application to be brought to a Committee, including in any scheme consultation with Parish and Town Councils to ensure that their input into whether an application should go before a Committee is given proper weight.

(ii) A review of the Scheme of Delegation to ensure that Local Members are made aware in advance of a pending delegated decision, and the reasons for that decision, in order to assist them with any discussions on taking an application to Committee.

(iii) A review of the public speaking scheme with a view to extending this to all applications that go before Committee.

(iv) To ensure, by an appropriate change to the Constitution, that a local Member not a Member of a Committee, may participate as of right fully in any debate (but not vote) on a particular application in his/her Ward at a Committee.

(v) A critical review of the input of the Highways Authority with a view to ensuring Members are aware of and understand the reasoning behind important Highways observations.

(vi) A look at how to extend pre-application discussions to a greater number of applications."

Upon being put to the vote, the amendment was CARRIED.

Possible ways forward

5. Officers fully recognise and acknowledge the matters to be considered as part of any new decision system. However some matters are more central to the decisions to be made on the details of the Committee structures and systems then others.
Officers would comment on the Council resolution as follows:- (i) This relates to the operation of the delegation scheme and the role of Members and Town and Parish Councils to influence the decision path to a Committee. This does not in itself impact on the principles of the committee model proposed. Officers are open to including appropriate triggers within the delegation scheme the implications of which would be to potentially increase the Committee business, an initial estimate on current practice and comments would suggest that this would be in the order of 7%. It is understood that Members are placing significant priority on this matter and if so the implications of any changes should be considered now as part of the review. 6. Members have placed significant weight on improving the role of the Parish and Town Councils in the decision making process. Whilst they already have a unique position in terms of the consultation arrangements and public speaking it is understood that Members and the Parishes would wish to see a strong role for Parishes in being able to trigger a committee consideration. 7. This could be simply be done by including within the delegation scheme a condition that any delegated decision must not be exercised in conflict with the views of the Town or Parish Council. There are examples of other authorities that use such a trigger. The implications of such a trigger would be to place an obligation on Parish Councils to improve their response times and the quality of their comments. A key objective is to maintain speed in the system and not to create any unnecessary delay in decision-making. If Members wish to introduce such a trigger then it is recommended that it should be on the following conditions

1. Parish Councils should endeavour to report their comments within the 21-day consultation period. 2. Officers will not determine applications within the consultation periods however in the in the event that no comments are before a decision is made then officers will be free to determine the application under delegated scheme. 3. Parish and Town Councils are requested to make their observations clear as to whether they are objecting or not to an application. As an illustration some parish Councils comments say that they do not object provided the neighbours do not object. Some express concerns about an element of the scheme, e.g. a dormer window design but it not always clear whether they consider this so bad it should be refused or whether they are expressing a preference.

8. The implication of such a trigger would be to increase the committee business by an estimated 7%.

9. It was agreed by the Modernising Planning SIG at its meeting on 23rd August 2005 that Town/ Parish Councils should not be able to act as a trigger to bringing an application to Committee. The SIG agreed that improved communication between Waverley and the Town/Parish Councils was important. Members agreed that Town/Parish Clerks should receive training to assist them with their role. The SIG acknowledged the important role of the Borough Ward Member in giving a local view. The role of the Borough Member should be stressed as the appropriate line of communication for the Parish Council on planning applications that they consider ought to have some Member input. (ii) This also relates to the scheme of delegation and suggests that Members wish to have advance notice of a delegated recommendation before a decision is made on an application. Again this does not impact upon the proposed model directly but may have three main consequences. The first is to build into the application process a second consultation stage with Members in the later part of the application process which may impact on performance targets for applications determined under delegated powers. The second implication is that there would be additional administration and time costs. The third implication would be that more applications would be reported to committee over and above the 7% increase estimated as a result of introducing a Parish Council trigger.

10. It was agreed by the Modernising Planning SIG that the scheme of delegation should not be amended to allow local Members to refer to Committee a pending delegated decision. The SIG agreed that there should not be an additional procedure which gives local Members an early indication of which decisions were likely to be delegated. Officers informed the SIG that the reports of delegated decisions would soon be available on the website along with the decisions and reasons, which are currently available. The SIG agreed that the existing weekly list of applications was adequate as a trigger to enable a Member to decide if they wished to ask Officers to bring an application to Committee. Officers confirmed that the list should include the details of the Council's agents dealing with outsourced applications so that Members could contact the appropriate Case Officer to discuss applications that they felt should go to Committee.

11. The Council wished to consider expanding public speaking to all applications reported to committee. If on the assumption agendas will range between 10 and 15 applications per meeting and say 7 to 10 might be subject to public speaking and allowing 7 minutes per item for speaking then 49 to 70 minutes of the Committee business would involve listening to speakers. Assuming a three hour Committee starting at 7 pm and finishing at 10.00pm then this would leave a minimum 11 minutes of debating time per application.

12. The roll out of public speaking to all applications reported to committee is not an operational difficulty but Members need to be comfortable upon the impacts on the Committee business. At this time your officers are recommending that this decision be deferred to see the impacts of the new Committee system together with the Parish Council trigger impacts.

13. It was agreed by the SIG that the Public Speaking Scheme should not be amended at this present time but kept under review.
14. It was agreed by the SIG that Members should also have a right of reply when they give notice to speak on development control issues, but that they should not have a right to join in any debate or vote. A ward Member should be allowed to open and close the discussion on an application reported to a Development Management Committee.

15. This was highlighted by the SIG as a particular area of concern. It was agreed that a more robust stance should be encouraged from Surrey Highways department. It was agreed that there needed to be both improved quality and clarity of advice from them. It was confirmed that these comments would be fed through to the Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee which was currently undertaking an in-depth review into Surrey County Council Highways Department input into development control decisions. Members suggested that the input of the Surrey Local Government Association input in these matters might be helpful and that this should be looked at further.

16. It was however agreed that the Chairman of the SIG should consult with the Chairman of the ELOS Committee and ask that SIG Members be invited to attend meetings of ELOS Committee when it conducts its review.
17. The SIG strongly felt that Members should not be involved with any pre-application discussions on other and most minor applications as this would bring into question issues of probity. It was agreed that PARSOL was an excellent system and members of public including residents associations should be informed about its existence. It was agreed that officers should report further on the systems for pre application discussions at a later time but not to confuse this issue with the Committee review process.

The names of the Committees

18. The report to Council suggested renaming the Committees to reflect the new emphasis in the Planning and Compensation Act 2004 to Development Management rather than Development Control. If this was considered appropriate then the Council could have a Development Management Committee replacing the current Development Control Committee and Development Management Sub-Committee 1 or 2 (or A and B) replacing the four Development Control Area Sub Committees, but both covering the whole Borough. 19. Alternatively the Council could continue with the terms Development Control Committee and Sub Committees or may wish to consider entirely different names from that currently suggested.

Membership of the Committees

20. For administrative reasons there will need to be a main Committee, which then delegates powers to the two committees charged with determining planning applications. It is suggested at this stage that this could consist of a combination of the two Committees making 44 Members in total. This configuration would make some sense in the context that referrals to it should be rare and that consideration of major issues such as East Street may avoid involvement of Council. The Membership of course could be less if Members considered 44 members to be too unwieldy.

21. Members have expressed a number of views about the size of the Committees but there was a strong desire to strike the right balance with regard to geographical representation. Officers have given this further thought and suggest that in order to achieve this the following membership allocation be considered. This table should be considered an indicative draft only and nothing should be read into the fact that individual Members have been identified at this time to assist the discussion. Where there are one Member wards these have been balanced by attempting to ensure representation from an adjoining ward. Members will also note the proposal for any Member to be able to address a committee.

Unless the Council decides otherwise, membership will be based on political proportionality and group secretaries invited to supply names for the main Committee and Sub-Committee.

AB
Mrs P N MitchellElsteadMr R C Terry Elstead
Mr M W ByhamBramleyMr R J GatesBramley
Mr L C BateFrenshamMrs P HibbertFrensham
Mrs E CableWitleyMr A E B Taylor-SmithWitley
Mr M J BlowerWeybourneMr S D EdgeWeybourne
Mr M A ClarkFarnham FirgroveMr R D FrostFarnham Firgrove
Mrs C CockburnFarnham BourneCapt. P G BurdenFarnham Bourne
Mrs P M FrostWreccleshamDr M G LaneWrecclesham
Miss G B W FergusonFarnham CastleDr P M MarriottFarnham Castle
Mr B Grainger-JonesCharterhouseMr P S RiversCharterhouse
Mrs M E ForyszewskiHaslemere EastMr J C S MackieHaslemere East
Mr P D HarmerHindheadMr P B IsherwoodHindhead
Mrs J R KeenCritchmereMr P J NicholsonCritchmere
Mrs M V M HuntUpper HaleMr W M MarshallUpper Hale
Mr K T ReedCranleigh EastMrs C E SavageCranleigh East
Mr J R SandyMilfordMr K WebsterMilford
Mrs A E MansellFarnham Moor ParkMr V K ScrivensFarnham Moor Park
Mr V DuckettUpper HaleMrs S R JacobsFarnham Shortheath
Mr M H W BandShamley GreenMr P BetlemBlackheath
Mr M A EdgingtonBinscombeMr A RaynerGodalming Central
Mr B A EllisCranleigh WestMr R H WorbyEwhurst
Mr D C InmanChiddingfoldMr D R GallacherAlfold
22 Members11 Conservative22 Members12 Conservative
10 Lib Dem9 Lib Dem
1 Independent1 Independent
22. Members will note from a record of apologies given to Committees over the last 12 meetings there is a 26% absence rate. This suggests that if the substitute system were abandoned then Committees would generally consist of around 16 Members, which would be manageable.

23. Members expressed some concern about being able to bring a local Member perspective to the Committee debate. In this respect it is suggested that as now any Member may ask to address a Committee and this opportunity should be incorporated into the new system.

24. The SIG considered:-

Whether the above table provides a basis for the Membership of the Committees and whether this should be referred to the Constitution SIG for consideration?
Should be the Member substitution system continue in the above context?
Does the ability of a Member to address a committee together with the possible Membership of the Committees as illustrated in the table deal with the democratic deficit issue?

25. It was agreed by the Modernising Planning SIG that the Constitution SIG be advised that it proposes that membership of the two Sub-Committees would be 22 and that the committees remain politically proportional and the 3 Group Leaders would be contacted as to the membership. The Development Control Committee would consist of the two Sub-Commitees and would therefore consist of 44 members.

26. The SIG agreed that it was important that the Members received training on the new Committee structure.

27. Members agreed that it was desirable not to have a substitution system. The SIG also proposed that there should be no referrals to Council from the main Committee and the Constitution amended accordingly.

28. An alternative model has also been presented by Councillor Ellis and this will be considered by the Constitution SIG.

29. This proposal suggests a reasonable geographic distribution between the two proposed committees so that wards currently represented on Area Sub-Committees are, as far as possible, represented on both new committees. Given our recommendation that Ward Members not on either of the new committees should be permitted to address the committee before the debate and respond to questions or statements after the debate before the decision is taken, there is no need to try to ensure that all wards are represented on the new committees.

Delegated Powers

30.
Committee
Membership
Functions
Delegation of functions
Development Management Committee?44? members of the authority, Relevant functions relating to town and country planning and development control as specified in Schedule 1 to the Local Authorities (Functions and Responsibilities) (England) Regulations2000 (the Functions Regulations)
(For fuller list refer to Annexe 1 attached)
Delegation to two Development Management Control Sub-Committees and to officers in accordance with the delegation scheme

Conditions of Delegation

31. The following conditions currently exist in relation to Committee delegation. (a) Where any Committee (excluding the Executive) has reached a decision under delegated powers, five members of that Committee, present at the meeting, may immediately require that the decision shall operate as a recommendation to the Council. The recommendation will then be submitted to the next following ordinary meeting of the Council. (nb see paragraph 27) (b) This refers to licensing committees and is not relevant

(c) In the case of any Sub-Committee, three members present at the meeting may require that a decision shall operate as a recommendation to the parent committee. The recommendation will then be submitted to the next ordinary meeting of the parent committee.

Members should consider that in the context of the proposed Membership of the Sub-Committees should condition be increased to say 5 or more members? Development Control Committee

PowerMain Committee Sub Committee
To make decisions on the administrative and procedural issues affecting the determination of applications. YesNo
Power to determine planning applicationsYesYes
Power to determine applications to develop land without compliance with conditions previously attachedYesYes
Power to grant planning permission for development already carried outYesYes
Power to decline to determine planning applications for planning permissionYesYes
Duties relating to the making of determinations of planning applicationsYesYes
Power to determine applications for planning permission made by the CouncilYesYes
Power to make determinations, give approvals and agree certain other matters relating to the exercise of permitted development rights, including Article 4 Directions removing such rights, including Article 4 Directions removing such rights YesYes
Power to enter into or vary or discharge agreements relating to development or use of landYesYes
Power to issue certificates of lawfulness of existing or proposed use or developmentYesYes
Power to serve a completion noticeYesYes
Power to grant consent for the display of advertisementsYesYes
Power to authorise entry onto landYesYes
Power to authorise applications for warrants to enter landYesYes
Power to require the discontinuance of a use of landYesYes
Power to require proper maintenance of land YesYes
Power to serve a Planning Contravention Notice, Breach of Condition Notice or Stop Notice (including temporary stop notice)YesYes
Power to issue an enforcement notice and power to require proper maintenance of landYesYes
Power to apply for an injunction restraining breach of planning control, or in relation to a listed buildingYesYes
Power to determine applications for hazardous substances consent and related powersYesYes
Power to determine applications for listed building consent and related powers and duties relating to applications for listed building consentYesYes
Power to determine applications for Conservation Area Consents and to issue an enforcement notice in relation to demolition of an unlisted building in a Conservation AreaYesYes
Power to serve a Building Preservation Notice and related powers including the power to execute urgent worksYesYes
Powers relating to the preservation of trees and protection of important hedgerowsYesYes

32. The proposed role of the main Committee distinct from the sub committees would be to consider applications or issues referred to it for the following reasons

1. Make decisions on the administrative and procedural matters affecting the processing of applications. E.g. report formats, information specifications etc.

2. Most major schemes, which are of strategic importance to the Council. E.g. East Street

3. Matters that have been referred as a result of paragraph c of the conditions above.

4. Decisions where officers are convinced that the grounds for doing so would be unjustified or not proper where the circumstances would make such a decision unreasonable.

33. The SIG agreed the delegated powers of the Committees and referred the matter to the Constitution SIG for consideration.

Officer Delegated Powers

34. In the context of the SIG’s discussion on the 25th August 2005 and conclusion that it did not wish to promote the introduction of additional triggers for Members or the Town and Parish Councils with regard to the operation of the delegation scheme then other changes to the delegation scheme are less critical. If the SIG had supported such triggers thereby increasing the Committee business then it may have been prudent to also consider whether any other applications currently being reported to Committee could be potentially delegated. An example might have been where the Committee had approved a housing scheme for more than one dwelling but the applicant wished to make minor changes such adding porches. Since there are no permitted development rights for such works unless the buildings are completed then the applicant has to make a fresh application for the development as a whole i.e. more than one dwelling and whilst the changes might normally be delegated because the application would be for more than one dwelling it would have to be a committee decision to approve the fresh application.

35. It was agreed that there was not a need to change the officer delegation scheme. However, the SIG did emphasise the role of the local Ward Member in feeding through the local view to Committee and providing a link for the Town/Parish Councils.

36. The SIG agreed that Town/Parish Councils needed greater feedback on why a decision was made. Officers confirmed that delegated decisions and the reasons for decisions would go on the website on a weekly basis.

37. The SIG emphasised the need for training for Town/Parish Councils on their role and Officers highlighted that a Parish Planning Forum on how Town/Parish Councils should make their comments was discussed at the Town and Parish meeting held on 30th August 2005.

38. The SIG agreed that further training was needed on Codes of Conduct and issues of Probity. It was agreed that it would be beneficial for Waverley and Town/Parish Councils to receive training. The SIG also highlighted that a paper on this matter would be beneficial.

Officer Presentations

39. Officers agree that presentations should be improved using the technology now available in the Council Chamber. As a standard it proposed to present plans and photographs to demonstrate the location of the development, its relation to surrounding properties or features, the development being applied for and any other information thought to be useful in assisting Members reach an informed decision.

40. In addition it is proposed to change the format of the report so that it reads in a more logical manner and takes full advantage of the SX3 system to input information automatically and thereby reducing time spent on report drafting and generation. A model of the proposed report format is attached at Annexe 3.

41. The importance of Officer presentations was strongly emphasised by the SIG.

Site Visit Arrangements

42. One of the critics of the Best Value Inspectors was the frequency of deferrals by Committee for site visits. This was not a criticism of site visits themselves but rather of the impact on the speed of decision making. All of the initiatives being discussed or implemented have at their heart an objective to speed up the decision process from the time of a receipt of an application and at the same time retain integrity and quality of decisions.

43. Improved presentations, changes to the report format and the input of Development Control Forums will all assist Members to make decisions without a need to visit the site. Nevertheless it is likely on occasion and for good reasons Members may wish to visit a site before making a decision. In these circumstances it would be consistent with the objectives of speeding up the decision making process and reaching a decision of integrity that a site visit before the meeting would assist. In particular it would assist Members understand in context any comments from Public Speakers at the meeting.

44. It is not suggested that site visits should be abandoned but if they are to happen there is no real difference to Members committing themselves to a date for site visits that might be before a meeting instead of a site visit meeting date after the committee meeting. In all other respects the logistics of going to site are the same for visits whether they are before or after the meeting. The main differences between the current system and a system where there might be a pre meeting site visit are the arrangements for agreeing what sites needs to be visited and how that is communicated to Members. There is a danger that the number of site visited pre meeting might be more than currently visited simply as a result of caution but on the other hand this could be seen as improving the decision making process.

45. There are a number of Planning Authorities that operate pre meeting site visits and Mr Anderson, Development and Policy Manager has operated and set up such a system for Hart District Council. The principles of such a system would be as follows.

Site visit dates would be diarised and would ideally take place on the Monday preceding the meeting, assuming these will continue to take place on Wednesdays. This clarifies commitments and the two day period would allow officers an opportunity to address any unforeseen issue raised at a site visit and prepare a response for the committee meeting. Agendas will continue to be circulated to Members the week preceding the committee meeting and applications subject to public speaking will continue to appear in part A. the identification of Public speakers will not be known until 12.00 pm on the Friday preceding the meeting, when the speakers list closes. Both Members and officers from the agenda papers should identify potential site visits by Friday 12.00pm by contacting the Planning Enquiry Team. Officers will use their discretion to suggest sites where an inspection is important to understand the key issues. E.g. design, relationships. It will also give an opportunity for officers to forewarn applicants and agents of potential site visits. A list of potential site visits, the start time and starting place will be e-mailed to Members on Friday afternoon prior to meeting. This important so that people can be clear of the arrangements and can estimate the time commitment likely to be involved. The size of the Borough presents a challenge to carry out site visits and this needs to be organised in a logical and efficient way. There are two options

Option (a) assumes the use of members continuing to use their own cars including sharing where possible. In this scenario it would not be efficient to commence site visits from Godalming as this would result in double or triple trips. It is suggested that site visits would commence in Farnham, Haslemere or Cranleigh with a view to working logically across the Borough from one end to the other. The starting venue could be rotated. Option (b) would be to organise a mini-bus and this would normally require people to assemble at a central point to pick up the bus and finish the event at the same place in order to pick up cars. In this case it may well be that Godalming may be the best starting place. An estimated cost for is 3,000 per year. Once assembled for the site visit the chairman could quickly assess from Members whether there are any other sites that ought to be added to the list and seek agreement or not as to whether any additional sites should be added.

46. The SIG again emphasised the importance of presentations and that this would reduce the need for site visits. It was agreed not to change the current system but Officers were asked to work on a system for identifying pre meeting site visits where that might be appropriate.

47. The SIG did acknowledge the difficulties in administering a bus for site visits and budget issue.

Reporting matters for Information

48. Currently enforcement case updates, appeals and delegated planning decisions are reported to the Area Sub Committees for information. There is an opportunity for members to ask questions of officers on these matters but in many instances where questions are raised officers have to report back to Members outside the meeting. This is largely due to the fact that the officer servicing the Committee is unlikely to have the detailed knowledge of the significant number of cases being reported for information.

49. Officers recognise that it is important for members to continue to receive this information and the question is begged, is this best done through the Committee system or are there other alternatives.

50. To continue reporting to the proposed Committee structure has a number of difficulties. The first is that to inform Members consistently it would be necessary to report to both Committees the same information. This will mean duplication of paper work and additional printing costs. There is a danger that both Committees could discuss the same case issues at different meetings and could potentially reach differing outcomes. In addition the cyclical nature of the committees would not always accord with the timing and release of the information.

51. An alternative to reporting the same information to each Committee is to report the relevant information for the preceding three weeks only. However, whilst agenda could be available to all members some may feel aggrieved if a matter is reported of interest to them to the Committee which they are not a Member.

52. An option would be to provide this information at what ever frequency members feel comfortable with as part of the weekly list distribution. Ideally this could be distributed electronically and include information as Members reasonably wish to see. This would have the advantage of reducing the Committee business time and will save printing costs. In addition this information could be made available to the public either on the web site or through the Locality Offices.

53. With regard to enforcement reporting in particular I believe it would be better to report to Committee on a quarterly basis updates on cases and at the same time an overview of the performance of the Enforcement Service, This could include number of complaint cases received, the number investigated within targets, the number of cases closed, the number of notices served and the number of prosecutions undertaken. In this way a much more rounded picture of the enforcement service can be presented and this will assist in the performance management of the service.

54. It was agreed by the Modernising Planning SIG that regular information items ie appeals, delegated planning decisions which are currently reported on the agenda summary pages should, under the new system, be produced as part of the weekly lists and go on the website.

55. In reference to enforcement updates it was agreed that Committees should receive a quarterly report on this matter.

56. The SIG agreed that the Constitution SIG should look all Constitutional matters involved with these matters.

Impact on Resources

57. The move to a two-committee structure has limited impact on the overall financial costs to the Council but does impact on opportunity costs.

58. With fewer committees to service there is an opportunity cost for Planning Officers and Committee Services officers to spend time on other work. At the moment there are at least five briefing meetings a month, which can involve two or more planning officers and a Committee clerk. This consumes about 25 person hours per month. The new system is likely to consume 8 to 10 person hours per month for briefings.

59. There is no savings in officer time in preparing reports, as these would need to be done in any event.

60. If matters of information were reported electronically then this could save in the region of 1,500 printing costs.

61. Site visits may take longer to complete given the increased travel distances but it is difficult to quantify this at this time.

62. The 2005/6 budget has already made an allowance of a reduction of 5,000 for Committee Service staff based on the intention to review the Area Sub Committees.

The SIG noted the resource implications.

Impact on Speed of Decisions

63. Taking the whole of the changes being implemented into account the proposed Committee system will enable Minor and Major Applications to be reported to Committee within the target times. The Government has confirmed that Councils must meet these targets by April 2007 and these changes are designed to deliver over 60% of major applications and over 65% of minor applications decisions within national targets. Whilst delegated decisions are over 90% of decisions made it is on these two categories of applications that the Committee determination process is most influential.

The SIG noted the impact on the speed of decisions.

Implementation

64. It was proposed by the Modernising Planning SIG that the new committee structure and if adopted should be implemented from January 2006.

Other matters

65. It was agreed by the SIG that in the interim the Western Area Development Control Sub-Committee should be encouraged to hold its meetings in the Council Chamber at the Burys in the context of the Best Value Inspection criticisms of the appropriateness of the Farnham Town Hall for Development Control meetings.

Recommendation

It is recommended that the Development Control Committee pass on its views and comments to the Modernising Planning SIG for further consideration.

Background Papers (DoPD)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.

CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: John Anderson Telephone: 01483 523298

E-mail: jaanderson@waverley.gov.uk

comms/2005-6/dc/035