Report of the Senior Specialist Advisor (Planning).
The committee considered the report of the Senior Specialist Advisor for Planning which provided a summary of performance for the first quarter of 2017 (January to March).
Given the many varied types of planning applications received, central Government required all Councils to report performance in a consistent and coherent manner. To this end the many varied applications were combined together into three broad categories Major, Minor and Other. Government had recently amended the criteria for the assessment of the Council’s performance which was detailed in the section regarding special measures within the report.
The report detailed the following elements:
Special Measure Thresholds – Looking at new government targets
Planning Applications – Comparing volumes/delegated and approval rates
Pre Application Volumes – Comparison by type and volume over time
Refusals of Applications – Comparison of ward and decision level
Appeals – An assessment the Council’s appeal record over time
Planning Enforcement – An assessment of volumes of enforcement related activity.
Members were aware that Government had recently introduced new National performance criteria against which all Council’s would be judged. Failure to perform against those targets ran the risk of the Council be designated as ‘Non- Performing’ and special measures would initiated by Government. The assessment of the draft against this new ‘special measure’ threshold had two sections - Speed of decision and Quality of decision - and would be reviewing the Council's performance on a backward rolling two year basis, the detail of which was highlighted in paragraph 2.2 of the report.
If the Council were identified as not complying with these standards/criteria they would be declared as ‘non performing’ and formal designation would follow. In terms of formal designation there were two potential outcomes:-
· Major applications the applicant would have the ability to bypass the Council and go straight to the Planning Inspectorate for determination. This would mean that the Council would lose determination control until such time as the designation was lifted.
· Non-Major applications the Council would have to submit the Central Government an action plan addressing the areas of weakness that it had identified as having contributed to the underperformance.
Speed of Decision - It was evident that the decisions taken for the survey period were currently above the special measures threshold. It was considered that there was significant headroom against those targets and as such the risk of Special Measures for Non-Performance was low.
Quality of Decision - This section looked at appeal decisions and specifically the number that had been allowed or overturned at appeal. This performance indicator was a reflection on the relevance of an up to date local plan and that the decision makers made correct and informed decisions. Members noted that from the criteria given and the very low volumes of major applications progressed/determined within the survey period; meant that a small number of appeal decisions could have a significant impact upon performance and therefore there was a very high risk of the Council falling under special measures in this category. Members noted that the Council still had the BT Site Moy Avenue appeal to be determined and depending on the outcome of the appeal this may have a significant impact upon performance.
Members noted that in common with other years, the Council had refused fewer than 10% of the applications received, with the overwhelming majority being refused at delegated level. For 2017:- 9 cases were refused at delegated and 0 were refused at Planning Committee level.
RESOLVED: That the report be noted.