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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 12/07/2004
Clarification of Proposed new Officer Delegated Powers (The Planning Service)



Summary & Purpose
This report follows consideration of delegated powers by the Executive in May and June 2004. This report seeks to:-

(a) clarify the interpretation of “small scale” in relation to the determination of planning applications;

(b) clarify the definition of “small scale” in relation to new delegated powers being sought in relation to enforcement cases; and

(c) secure new delegated powers in relation to Temporary Stop Notices, a new power in the Planning and Compensation Act 2004.

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 J
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

EXECUTIVE -12TH JULY 2004

Title:
CLARIFICATION OF PROPOSED NEW OFFICER DELEGATED POWERS
(THE PLANNING SERVICE)

[Wards Affected All]

Summary and purpose:

This report follows consideration of delegated powers by the Executive in May and June 2004. This report seeks to:-

(a) clarify the interpretation of “small scale” in relation to the determination of planning applications;

(b) clarify the definition of “small scale” in relation to new delegated powers being sought in relation to enforcement cases; and

(c) secure new delegated powers in relation to Temporary Stop Notices, a new power in the Planning and Compensation Act 2004.

E-Government implications:

There are no direct implications although it is acknowledged that the development of ICT systems is a critical component of continually improving service delivery.

Resource and legal implications:

There are no additional resource implications arising from the recommendations. It is considered that delegated powers in relation to minor breaches of control would release some limited officer time for other tasks, e.g. major enforcement and planning applications.

The new Temporary Stop Notice Powers are accompanied by compensation provisions for their inappropriate use. This is not dissimilar to compensation provisions for Stop Notices.

Delegated powers to approve small scale planning and other applications

1. The Executive considered a wide number of issues impacting on the planning service at its May meeting. One of those was the impact of the current interpretation of the delegation scheme and its impact on the Council’s performance against government Best Value Performance Indicators.

2. The Executive agreed with the recommendation that it:-

Confirms that single dwellings are small-scale developments for the purposes of the delegation scheme and fall within delegated decisions to officers.”

3. That resolution was subsequently called in by the Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which met on 7th June 2004. It decided to endorse the Executive’s decision on the understanding that the Executive would put forward as a recommendation to the next Council meeting a recommendation to allow the Council to review the decision and to clarify the meaning of “small scale” in the context of the delegated powers.

4. As a result of this feedback from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, the Executive instructed officers to produce this report with a view to clarifying explicitly the terms of the delegation scheme.

5. The current delegation scheme reads:-

Paragraph 223: “The approval of applications for small scale development and other minor proposals for which consent is required which are not in conflict with the Council’s planning policies".

6. As a result of work done with the Planning Services SIG in 2002, the following interpretation of small scale was agreed and this was subsequently added to internal management documents.

(Small scale means all applications for domestic extensions and alterations including outbuildings. It also includes small extensions to commercial and institutional buildings. It also includes all changes of use except those that are likely to have significant impacts on the environment, e.g. A3 uses, hot food take-aways, public houses and places of entertainment and loss of important town centre, community or village facilities, e.g. shops, health facilities, etc. All applications for new dwellings, other than changes of use, are Committee items.)

7. Officers are suggesting that this interpretation be changed as follows for the purpose of considering planning and other applications. The new insert is shown in bold and underlined.

(Small scale means all applications for domestic extensions and alterations including outbuildings. The construction or conversion of buildings to form a single dwelling. Small extensions to commercial and institutional buildings. All changes of use except those that are likely to have significant impacts on the environment, e.g. A3 uses, hot food take aways, public houses and places of entertainment and loss of important town centre, community or village facilities)

8. The Overview and Scrutiny Committee also suggested that officers should provide more specific quantitative information about the effects of single dwellings being explicitly included within the scope of delegated powers as assistance to the Council when it came to consider this matter.

9. In order to assist members with this, officers have looked at the last full quarter January to March 2004, to assess the potential impact of officers granting planning permission for single dwellings under delegated powers on the Minor Application Performance Indicator.

10. During this period there was a total of 116 minor applications determined in the quarter, of which 48 were determined within eight weeks (41%).

11. The total number of single dwellings determined was 32, of which 15 were refused under delegated powers and one granted as a renewal of an unimplemented permission. Area Development Control Committees determined 16 applications for single dwellings during this period. Assuming these 16 applications could have been determined under delegated powers then applications determined within target time would have risen to 64, representing a potential performance of 55%. This level of delegation therefore represents a 14% increase in performance in this BVPI over this period. Noting that performance has increased on a month-by-month basis with a view to hitting the Government’s interim target of 58% for 2004/05 and 65% for subsequent years, this level of additional performance capacity will be critical in assisting the Council to hit these targets and secure additional Planning Delivery Grant.

12. Members are reminded that the Director of Planning and Development already has delegated powers to refuse applications which are not in compliance with the Council’s planning policies.

Delegated powers to determine that it is not expedient to take enforcement action against small-scale breaches of planning control

13. The Executive, at its meeting in May, considered creating new delegated powers in relation to minor breaches of planning control. Whilst the Executive was generally supportive of this, it deferred consideration so that officers could clarify the definition of small scale in relation to these matters. In particular, views were expressed that small scale for this purpose should not include the construction of single dwelling houses.

14. Members may recall that there has been a perception that, because officers have been reporting these relatively minor matters to Committee, this has been at the expense of the most serious breaches of control. Issues about fences, weather-vanes and tree houses have been prime examples of this in recent months. Whilst Officers understand how Members might arrive at this perception, officers carry out their enforcement work in accordance with the Council’s agreed priorities. Nevertheless, the proposed delegated power would free up some energy in the system by simplifying “chase-up” procedures encouraging retrospective applications.

15. Officers suggest, therefore, that the following should be added to the Officer delegation scheme.

“The Director of Planning and Development be authorised to determine the expediency of enforcement action in relation to:-

(i) operational development within the curtilage of existing premises;

(ii) advertisements;

(iii) the construction of walls, fences and other means of enclosure;

(iv) the construction or creation of a means of access to a highway; and

(v) change of use to a single dwelling”.

16. This definition would include extensions and alterations to dwellings, commercial and industrial premises, advertisements, fences and walls that may not relate to premises, e.g. field boundaries.

17. The definition would require officers to report the following beaches of control to Committee in the circumstance that it was considered not expedient to take enforcement action. These examples do not form an exhaustive list:-

(i) construction or erection of one or more dwellings;

(ii) the carrying out of development not in compliance with approved plans unless included in (i) to (v) of the delegated power;

(iii) changes of use to commercial, business, and storage uses; and

(iv) Change of use to more than one dwelling

18. Members are reminded that delegated powers already exist for the Director of Planning and Development to issue an enforcement notice, in consultation with the Solicitor to the Council, but no delegated power exists to take no action.

Temporary Stop Notices

19. Section 52 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 introduces a new power and provisions as sections 171E, 171,F, 171G and 171H of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 relating to the service of Temporary Stop Notices. It is understood that this power will come into effect in September 2004.

20. Section 171E enables a Local Planning Authority to issue a Temporary Stop Notice where it thinks that:-

(a) there has been a breach of planning control in relation to any land; and

(b) it is expedient that the activity (or any part of the activity) that amounts to a breach is stopped immediately.

21. A Temporary Stop Notice would cease to have effect at the end of a period of 28 days or any such shorter period specified in the notice or if it is withdrawn.

22. Section 171E places restrictions on the use of Temporary Stop Notices. They cannot be used to stop the use of a building as a dwelling house.

23. Section 171H provides for compensation in circumstances where the:-

(a) the activity specified in the notice is already authorised by planning permission or development order;

(b) a lawful development certificate is issued under Section 191 or granted by virtue of section 195; and

(c) the authority withdraws the notice.

24. This power is designed to give additional controls to Local Planning Authorities to stop development or associated activity at an early stage in the life of a planning contravention investigation in order to allow the Planning Authority to take control and consider the issues without the time pressures associated with building works. Members will recall that under the present powers, the Local Planning Authority must first determine that a breach of planning control has occurred and that it is expedient to issue an enforcement notice before it can issue a Stop Notice; and then it needs to satisfy itself that is necessary to do so having carried out a cost benefit analysis.

25. It is therefore recommended that delegated powers be given to the Director of Planning and Development, in consultation with the Solicitor to the Council, to issue Temporary Stop Notices.

Recommendation

The Executive recommends to Council that:-

1. the following explanatory text is inserted into the scheme of delegation to officers in the Council’s Constitution to clarify the scope of paragraph 223 relating to the approval of small scale development which are not in conflict with the Council’s planning policies.

Small scale means:- all applications for domestic extensions and alterations including outbuildings; the construction or conversion of buildings to form a single dwelling; small extensions to commercial and institutional buildings. All changes of use except those that are likely to have significant impacts on the environment, e.g. A3 uses, hot food take-aways, public houses and places of entertainment and loss of important town centre, community or village facilities.

2. the Director of Planning and Development be authorised to decide not to take enforcement action where unauthorised development accords with the Council's planning policies in the following descriptions of development:-

(i) operational development within the curtilage of existing premises;

(ii) advertisements;

(iii) the construction of walls, fences and other means of enclosure;

(iv) the construction of or alteration to a means of access to a highway; and

(v) change of use of a building to a single dwelling; and

3. delegated powers be given to the Director of Planning and Development, in consultation with the Solicitor to the Council, to issue Temporary Stop Notices.

Background Papers (DoP&D)

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/executive/2004-05/075