Agenda, decisions and minutes

Civic Affairs Committee
Thursday, 22 June 2017 10.00 a.m.

Venue: Council Chamber - South Cambs Hall. View directions

Contact: Patrick Adams  03450 450 500 Email: democratic.services@scambs.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

To receive Apologies for Absence from Committee members.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Brian Burling and Nick Wright. Councillor Simon Crocker was present as a substitute for Councillor Wright.

2.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

Councillor David McCraith declared a non-pecuniary interest as a member of the Planning Committee in relation to agenda item 4.

 

 

3.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 135 KB

To authorise the Chairman to sign the Minutes of the meeting held on 23 March 2017 as a correct record.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 23 March 2017, were agreed as a correct record.

4.

Proposed Planning Committee Adjourned Decision Protocol (report to follow) pdf icon PDF 233 KB

To consider introducing an Adjourned Decision Protocol that would be followed if the Planning Committee is minded to approve or refuse a major or significant planning application contrary to the advice of officers.

Decision:

The Civic Affairs Committee REFUSED to recommend to Council that it amends the Constitution to allow the introduction of an Adjourned Decision Protocol.

Minutes:

The Interim Head of Development Management presented the report which asked the committee to consider the introduction of a new protocol to be followed if the Planning Committee was minded to approve or refuse a major or significant planning application, contrary to the advice of officers.

 

A number of concerns about this were raised by committee members:

·         It was felt that this protocol may prevent the Planning Committee from acting independently.

·         It was advised that more clarity may be needed regarding the grounds for the Planning Committee making a decision that was contrary to the advice of officers, rather than this protocol being introduced.

·         Some members felt that proposing this protocol was a vote of no confidence in the Planning Committee and that it would allow officers to put pressure on the Planning Committee. In response to this, the Interim Development Manager assured members that the intention of this protocol was to support rather than undermine the Planning Committee. Members were informed that this protocol was in place in Oxford, Cambridge City, Haringey and other councils.

·         Some members felt that this proposal should have been presented to Planning Committee members before it was presented to the Civic Affairs Committee. In response to this, members were informed that this had been discussed with the Planning Portfolio Holder and Planning Committee Chairman.

·         It was felt that the Planning Committee and planning process were respected within communities and that the wrong message would be given by straying away from this process and introducing this protocol.

·         Concern was raised that should the protocol be implemented, it would delay the planning process and lead to appeals on non-determination, which would lead to the Council incurring costs. In response to this concern, the Interim Development Manager informed the committee that applicants were normally willing to defer to a later Planning Committee meeting and give the Council an extension of time rather than go to appeal. The appeal process took months, whereas an extension of time would normally just be a month until the next Planning Committee meeting.

 

Further information was requested. In response to this, the committee was informed that:

o    The number of planning applications that this protocol was likely to affect depended on the nature of the applications that went to Planning Committee and the decisions taken. Officers advised that the protocol would only be implemented if it was felt necessary and it was expected that this would only be occasionally.

o   The protocol would apply to major applications, as defined by planning legislation, being applications of ten or more houses.

o   Regarding the cost to the Council of planning appeals, members were informed that approximately £50,000 had recently been awarded against the Council from one appeal due to reasons for refusal that could not be supported.

 

It was pointed out that the Planning Committee already had the power to defer decisions when adequate information was not available.

 

The Interim Development Manager informed the committee that the aim of the protocol was to enable  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Willingham and Over Parish Boundary Review pdf icon PDF 174 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

This item was deferred to the next Civic Affairs Committee meeting.

Minutes:

Having been made aware that the minutes of the Civic Affairs Committee meeting held on 9 December 2016, stated that the Willingham and Over Parish Boundary Review would not come back to committee until 28 September 2017, the Chairman decided to defer the item. This would allow officers to carry out further consultation before this date. Committee members, local members and the affected parish council and respondents to the consultation had been informed of this in advance of the meeting.

 

An objection was raised to further consultation being carried out. The Head of Sustainable Communities and Wellbeing clarified that the consultation was not being reopened in full and that the Council would just be going back to those who had responded with more detail in the maps, as criticism of the consultation had been that the maps were not of sufficient detail regarding the boundary lines.

 

 

 

6.

Community Governance Review: Cambourne Parish pdf icon PDF 215 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

The Civic Affairs Committee AGREED to an increase in Parish Councillors from 13 to 19 for Cambourne Parish Council.

Minutes:

The Development Officer presented the report which set out the submissions received in relation to the Community Governance Review of Cambourne Parish, and asked the committee to either agree or disagree to an increase in parish councillors from 13 to 19 for Cambourne Parish Council.

 

Councillor Simon Crocker as local member and former Chairman of Cambourne Parish Council, made the following points:

·         Cambourne Parish Council felt that the proposed increase in the number of parish councillors was necessary.

·         Cambourne Parish was large, with the Parish Council managing £11 million of assets.

·         Due to the nature of Cambourne, many things were happening at once making workload for parish councillors difficult to manage.

·         A large scale planning application for the west of Cambourne had just been approved and once this was built, the population of Cambourne would be 19,500. Increasing the number of parish councillors now would mean an increase in future would not be needed.

 

The Head of Sustainable Communities and Wellbeing informed the committee that a separate community governance review was being undertaken for West Cambourne.

 

Members of the committee raised the following points:

·         Concern was raised in increasing the number of parish councillors given that  a recent parish council planning sub-committee was inquorate. It was pointed out that by increasing the number of parish councillors, the quorum was increased.

·         Concern was raised regarding the availability of people to become parish councillors. In response to this, the committee was informed that there was a waiting list for parish councillors in Cambourne and it was not thought that there would be a problem in filling the vacancies.

·         The committee was informed that Cambourne Parish Council had three busy committees with planning committee having to meet every two weeks due to the high workload. A new committee would be formed by the parish council to look at the building of a swimming pool in Cambourne.

·         Given that the increase in parish councillors was requested by the parish council, members expressed their support for the proposal.

 

The Electoral Services Manager informed the committee that there was no threshold or definition of a town council and that there was no difference between this and a parish council.

 

A vote was taken with all members voting in favour of the proposed increase in parish councillors. The Civic Affairs Committee therefore AGREED to an increase in parish councillors from 13 to 19 for Cambourne Parish Council.

7.

Code of Conduct Update Report pdf icon PDF 281 KB

Minutes:

The Deputy Monitoring Officer presented the report which updated the committee on complaints cases regarding alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct.

 

The committee was informed that Matter Number 9092 had been withdrawn following a meeting between the Monitoring Officer, Deputy Monitoring Officer and the complainant.

 

Members were informed that when a complaint was received, the member who was the subject of this was informed. In order to maintain confidentiality, details of members were not included in the report.

 

The Civic Affairs Committee NOTED the report.

8.

Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting is scheduled for 28 September at 10am in the Swansley Room.

Minutes:

It was noted that the next meeting would take place on 28 September 2017 at 10am.