The Planning Committee considered a report from the Director of Planning and Economic Development and the Monitoring Officer seeking its approval of the updated powers and functions it delegates to officers, as set out in Appendix A to that report.
Following a presentation from the Joint Director of Planning and Economic Development, Members engaged in a wide-ranging debate surrounding the options outlined in the report. The principal points raised were as follows:
· The Local Planning Authority should improve public perception that it recognises and respects the concerns and aspirations of Parish Councils and residents
· Members had had insufficient time in which to consider the options fully, and it was essential that the review should be conducted over such period as to allow an informed decision to be made.
· The review of delegation had to retain enough flexibility to protect South Cambridgeshire District Council’s five-year housing land supply
· If applications that Parish Councils want presented to Committee are instead dealt with under delegation, Parish Councils should be told why
The Joint Director of Planning and Economic Development highlighted the potentially broad range of material considerations used to consider the basis for referral of applications to the Committee. He emphasised instead the importance of officers using their professional judgment to assess the relevant factors involved on an application by application basis.
“The receipt of a request for call in by a parish council within 21 days, or a member within 28 days, of notification is referred automatically to Committee - where material planning considerations are cited by the parish or member for seeking such a decision
This will take place for the next 6 weeks to allow full scrutiny and time to digest a way forward given the short time we have had to assess the options. During this six weeks the committee will sit more often, as often as is necessary, to ensure decisions are not delayed.”
Upon a show of hands, this amendment was lost by seven votes to three. Councillors Roberts, Heather Williams and Wright supported the amendment. Councillors John Batchelor, Bradnam, Cahn, Fane, Heylings, Milnes and Rippeth voted to refuse the amendment.
Members discussed timescales for receiving back a further report. The Monitoring Officer asked Members instead to consider allowing officers a reasonable length of time to finalise proposals without imposing a deadline on them.
The Planning Committee
1. By five votes to four with one abstention, approved Option 1 in the second agenda supplement namely to amend paragraph 1 in Appendix A to the report from the Joint Director of Planning and Economic Development contained in the main agenda (dated 4 February 2020) to read as follows:
“A Local Member or Parish Council writes, or emails a request for a particular application to be considered by Planning Committee, and sound planning reasons are given for why this is considered necessary and the request is accepted by the Joint Director of Planning and Economic Development, in consultation with the Chairman of Planning Committee (or Vice-Chair in his/her absence).”
Footnote - Notwithstanding any decision is ultimately one for the officer himself/herself, the committee’s guidance in terms of decisions made in accordance with the delegation rules is that in cases which raise issues which are sensitive or controversial, the committee would expect the officer normally to refer the matter to the committee.
(Councillor John Batchelor, Bradnam, Cahn, Fane and Heylings voted to approve. Councillors Rippeth, Roberts, Heather Williams and Wright voted against. Councillor Milnes abstained.)
2. By eight votes to two, approved the remainder of the tracked changes in Appendix A to the report in the main agenda.
3. Unanimously, instructed officers to submit for its consideration as soon as possible the draft terms of reference for the Planning Advisory Service review and that they report back to Committee with the recommendations arising from that review to either an ordinary or extraordinary meeting by no later than the end of June 2020.
[S1]Rory, Ian, don’t have the report but this was an alternative to the recommendation in section 3?