Mike Kiely, Planning and Development Advisor, outlined the report to members of the Committee.
The report detailed the new proposals for the governance of planning matters which had been under review following a resolution by Council in October 2017. It was noted that the regeneration and growth strategy in the Borough was an exciting challenge and as a result the Council needed a more proactive and delivery focused planning authority.
The report provided a detail of changes which would be required to the constitution to facilitate improvements in appendices A to H.
Havering has a higher than average number of major planning applications which are determined by the Council and refused to be then subsequently allowed at appeal. This figure had been running close to 10%. It was noted that over the past two years nearly 85% of these decisions had been against the recommendation of officers. The Government uses this as an indicator to the quality of decision making and as a result the London Borough of Havering was at risk of being designated by DCLG (now known as the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government).
If a Local Planning Authority lose more than 10% of these appeals in a two year period this is considered to be bad performance which can result in the designation. Havering came close to this at 9.23%.
Havering was contacted by the Planning Advisory Service (PAS) as part of the Governments Programme to assist authorities risking designation and there followed a Planning Committee Review. The resulting report made a number of key recommendations:
· Members should make decisions on Borough wide issues rather than ward issues
· Planning Committee needs to operate as an enabler and facilitator for development, rather than controlling or preventing it
· All committee members need to be adequately trained and agree to attend the entire programme – failure to do so needs to be effectively enforced
· A Chief Planner needs to be in place to manage the planning service and to act as the key go between with members
In order to address these concerns the proposals set out in the subject report provided options for consideration.
There followed discussions in relation to the proposals set out in the report and the Committee voted on whether to accept the proposals. It was decided unanimously that the proposals would be followed with three voters abstaining and Councillor David Durant on record voting against.
The Governance Committee decided to recommend to Full Council:
1. The setting up a new Strategic Planning Committee to deal with strategic applications and any other strategic planning matters and a Planning Committee to deal with other planning applications and planning matters.
2. The main changes to the Constitution set out in Appendix A and the consequential minor amendments to the Constitution set out in Appendix B.
3. That the following documents be included in the Constitution:
· the Functions Delegated to Staff, in Appendix C;
· the Functions Not the Responsibility of the Executive, in Appendix D;
· the Planning Committee Procedure Rules, in Appendix F; and
· the Planning Code of Good Practice, in Appendix G.
4. That these changes be implemented after the May 2018 local elections.