Planning Peer Review.
The Council had before it the recommendations of the Planning Committee in respect of actions identified in response to the findings of the Peer Review of planning services undertaken by the Local Government Association. The Chairman of the Planning Committee, Councillor Morales, explained that an action plan had been drawn up to ensure the recommendations were adopted. The Members of the Planning Committee had proposed that a quarterly update on the progress of the action plan would be given to the Planning Committee.
A revised version of the action plan, incorporating the changes proposed by the Members of the Planning Committee, had been included in the papers now before the Council.
That (i) the action plan be approved, subject to the amendments agreed above, and;
(ii) a quarterly update on the action plan be presented to the Planning Committee.
The Committee considered the report which provided an overview of the recent Peer Review of the Council’s Planning Services undertaken by the Local Government Association. Thomas James provided a brief overview of the report and explained that the peer review had been requested from the Local Government Associations (LGA) in response to a motion agreed at Council.
The report set out ten key recommendations, which in turn had been produced into an action plan which was attached at appendix 2.
The Chairman worked through the action plan and asked Committee members if they had any amendments they would like to make at each action point. The discussion and agreed changes (in bold) are noted below.
Action Point 1
on the ‘community ownership’ of the masterplan, it was
agreed that the sentence below under the implementation column
would be amended to read “Review information on the
Council’s website and develop with Comms officers an
overarching narrative around place making and major projects and
growth planning agenda.”
Action Point 2
There were no changes to this point
Action Point 3
Members were interested in who would be putting the training programme together and commented that they would like to have some input so that it was tailored to Members needs. Some new Members felt that the Planning training provided last year was too high level, particularly for newly elected Members, although they appreciated this had been different to previous years due to the impact of the pandemic on the training provision. It was agreed to revise the text under the implementation column to read, “Develop a training programme, bespoke for Woking Borough Council, for members and officers and to signpost online training resources. To identify mentoring opportunities for chair of planning committee”
Action Point 4
The Committee were supportive of this point and commented that it was important that they had the opportunity to meet all Planning Officers at the initial training sessions.
Action Point 5
The Chairman reported that this action point had already progressed positively, and she hoped that a clear forward plan for items coming to committee would continue to improve.
Action Point 6
It was agreed that the text under the action column should be “All parties and committee members recognise the need that planning committee decisions must be non-political and to make individual planning judgements”
Action Point 7
The Chairman questioned whether the reference to the Masterplan in this action should be added to action point 1 where the masterplan was also referenced. Councillor D Roberts commented that this was a complex point as there were some things that could be changed at this point and some that could not; he was unsure we should be asking for community ownership of the masterplan at this point. The Chairman commented that more detail from recommendation 7 should be included in this action point, particularly reference to the residents panel and community engagement. Giorgio Framalicco commented that Members could choose to add further wording, but ... view the full minutes text for item 7