Verbal updates will be provided on the following:
- Planning White Paper and consultation timescales
- S106 Procedures (requested by KALC)
- Planning Enforcement – revised Policy
- Development Management processes and consultation/guidance
Updates were provided on the following issues:
(a) Planning For the Future and consultation timescales
The Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Infrastructure (Councillor David Lettington) presented an overview of the Government proposals to reform the planning system in England. These proposals were currently out for consultation and responses had to be submitted by the end of September/early October.
The Borough Council would consider its response at an extraordinary meeting of the Planning and Transportation Advisory Board scheduled for 29 September and parish councils were encouraged to submit comments direct or via local Ward Councillors or the Kent Association of Local Councils.
The main proposals set out in the White Paper ‘Planning for the Future’ and those matters which potentially had significant implications for the operation of the Borough Council, in its role as Local Planning Authority, had been considered by the Planning and Transportation Advisory Board held on 28 July.
Finally reference was made to the progress of the Borough Council’s Local Plan and it was confirmed that virtual Hearings were programmed for October.
(b) S106 Procedures
The Director of Planning, Housing and Environmental Health advised that a report to the Planning and Transportation Advisory Board of 28 July had provided an overview of planning obligations for the period 2018-2020. An update on upcoming changes to how future monitoring of obligations would take place had also been provided.
Members had approved the adoption of a Planning Obligations Protocol which was intended to provide a clear and transparent framework in respect of how the Service would negotiate and secure planning obligations under section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 in order to mitigate the impacts of development taking place across the Borough. Successful negotiation of planning obligations required effective management and monitoring to ensure timely and appropriate use of collected obligations.
(c) Planning Enforcement – Revised Policy
The Panel was advised that the Planning and Transportation Advisory Board held on 28 July had approved the adoption of a Planning Enforcement Section 215 Protocol. This was intended to provide a clear and transparent framework on how the authority decided to take action to serve formal notices, in particular how sites would be assessed to establish whether such action was appropriate and proportionate and whether any other powers held by the Borough Council should be called upon as an alternative. It was noted that, given the high number of complaints the enforcement team received on such matters, the Protocol would ensure that financial and personnel resources were properly focused.
(d) Development Management processes and consultation/guidance
Further to Minute Number PPP 20/12, it was reported that Cabinet of 30 June 2020 had approved the proposed changes to development management processes, as set out in Decision Notice D200040CAB and the report of the Director of Planning, Housing and Environmental Health to the Planning and Transportation Advisory Board of 3 March 2020.
The Borough Council had committed to a programme of engagement with stakeholders and there had generally been positive feedback from parish councils and applicants. A user guide providing clear instructions was being developed and would be available on the website in due course. Parish Councils were also encouraged to volunteer to test the new development management and notification process to aid understanding of any potential problems.
Following discussion a number of potential improvement actions were identified (summarised below) and noted by the Director of Planning, Housing and Environmental Health for further investigation:
- Rescheduling of training webinars
- Training sessions and guidance with parish clerks on using the Public Access search function
- List B to be amended to advise when the 21 day consultation period expired
- List B to be amended to advise whether a technical response was required from a parish council
- Applicants to be encouraged to submit all documents in a screen readable format
- Recognised that hard copies of documents might be necessary on an exception only basis for complex planning applications
Finally, the Director of Planning, Housing and Environmental Health emphasised that these proposals were intended to improve the application process for all parties and parish councils continued to have an important role in consultation.