To note the report of the Head of Planning.
Cabinet member for Community Engagement, Councillor Bethia Thomas, introduced the report.
The report contained explanation of different types of appeal and the costs involved. It contained a summary of hearings taken place and the outcomes. In comparison with the national average and other local authorities, Vale’s performance was strong. The Cabinet member felt that the report showed a strong performance with a diligent planning committee and officers.
Chair reminded committee that they were to look at overall performance and not individual applications.
The committee asked questions of the Cabinet member, supported by Planning officers, Paula Fox (Development Manager) and Tracy Smith (Principal Planning Appeals Officer).
Committee discussed types of appeals, which weren’t generally broken into categories. There was a very low appeal rate against non-determination, which was a very good result, therefore keeping decision making local. Appeals against condition occurred more, so lessons could be learned on this area. No distinct patterns had emerged as the rate was too low. Future training will be developed upon the lessons learned.
Officer confirmed that officer time was not measured on appeals, so it would be hard to quantity the council’s costs, but the costings were available for legal costs.
Committee discussed the government metrics the council were measured against, this would likely be revised in the future.
Officer explained that Covid-19 altered how we work, but that virtual meetings did work well, to aid participation. Lockdowns saw a rise in individual homeowner applications. Workload may change back to normal but there were many cases still in the system from this period.
A member asked what we could learn from affordable housing provision and viability. Officer responded that if councillors on planning committee had a concern over the affordable housing viability of an application, which was a complex subject, it might be worth considering deferral in order to take advice, before risking an appeal.
Future training for councillors was flagged as an area to be considered.
There was a pause, due to Covid-19, in production of the appeals data from central government, so the planning team included all the data for 18 months so that the most up to date information was provided, hence it was a long report.
Officers, Cabinet member and the planning committee were thanked for their hard work.
Committee noted the report on planning appeals.