Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document
Meeting of the Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 24/05/2004
Summary & Purpose
This report outlines the potential scope and process of a review of Development Control. The review’s objective will be to make recommendations about ways to improve Development Control performance as measured by Best Value Performance Indicators (BVPIs).
Quality of Life Implications
Prevention and Control
This report outlines proposals for the conduct of an in-depth review and as such has no quality of life implications. However, in itself Development Control has significant quality of life implications – any such implications that are likely to arise from the review will be assessed as the review progresses.
Members and invited organisations wishing to submit evidence to the review will be invited to do so by e-mail if they wish.
Resource and legal implications
The review will be conducted within existing resources and any potential legal implications will be assessed as the review progresses.
1. At its meeting of 16th March 2004, this Committee agreed two items to be included on its work programme as being suitable for in-depth review. One of those items was a review of development control.
Scope of the Review
2. In April 2004, the Audit Commission’s report on its Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA) of the Council found that Development Control performance was poor and not improving. This judgement was based largely on performance as measured by the Best Value Performance Indicators (BVPIs) for planning. These indicators measure the speed with which planning applications are determined. Therefore this scoping report has been prepared on the assumption that the objective of the review of Development Control is to make recommendations to the Executive about ways to improve performance against the BVPIs.
3. To achieve this objective it is suggested that the following key questions be addressed:
What are the Council’s objectives in relation to planning?
How do high-performing Councils do it?
What do planning officers say is slowing things down?
What is members’ perception of their role in the planning process?
4. The review should also examine the BVPIs and Waverley’s performance relative to other authorities. It is suggested that, concurrent with this review, the Committee should embrace its responsibilities with regard to performance management and seek regular information about on-going performance as measured by the BVPIs.
The review process
5. It is suggested that the review be conducted along similar lines to this Committee’s previous reviews of the A3 Tunnel at Hindhead and of fly tipping; that is, by the Committee hearing a range of evidence from invited witnesses. However, some other tools are proposed for this review. It is anticipated that members’ views will be sought via a questionnaire and that the Chairman and Vice-Chairman (or other small group of Committee members) will speak to small groups of planning staff to obtain their views.
6. Area Development Control Sub-Committees have already been invited to submit any observations to this Committee on enforcement and planning complaints to help inform the review, and these will be reported at a later date.
7. The proposed timetable for the review is:
i) Portfolio holder for Planning be invited to the Committee to present the Executive’s objectives for Development Control.
ii) Detailed examination of the BVPIs and other relevant performance information
iii) Officers to identify specific sources of information (and possible witnesses) outside the Borough, for example high-performing authorities as measured by the BVPIs; professional bodies such as the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and the Planning Officers Society; and input from central Government about the national context.
iv) Meeting to take evidence from invited witnesses (see iii above).
v) Evidence summarised and draft report considered.
vi) Draft recommendations to the Executive.
8. The resources necessary to undertake this review will be provided from within existing budgets. Most of the support work will be undertaken by the two Overview and Scrutiny Officers within the time allocated to Overview and Scrutiny work, and other officers of the authority will prepare their evidence to the Committee within existing workloads. Any professionals invited to give expert evidence to the Committee would be offered reimbursement of their expenses and these sums must be found from within existing budgets.
It is recommended that:
1. the Committee agrees to undertake an in-depth review of Development Control with the objective of making recommendations to improve performance as measured by the BVPIs;
2. that the review be conducted in accordance with the process and timetable set out above; and
3. that as a concurrent activity the Committee receive information about on-going performance against the Planning BVPIs at every future meeting.
There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.