Agenda item

Planning Code of Practice Review update

The report updates the Committee on the outcome of the Independent Review, and the consequential recommended changes, in relation to the Planning Code of Practice. This review is required under the Constitution.

Minutes:

The Chair explained that the Planning Code of Practice Review Update report would be considered by the Audit and Standards Advisory Committee, following which a formal decision on the recommendations outlined in the paper would be made by the Audit and Standards Committee.

 

Debra Norman (the Council’s Director of Legal and HR) introduced the report which provided an update on the outcome of the Independent Review, and the consequential recommended changes, in relation to the Planning Code of Practice. Ms Norman reminded Members that the Council had undertaken an internal review which had proposed various changes to the Code which had been approved by Full Council (Appendix 2 on page 43 of the Agenda pack).[1] She added that an Independent Review had been carried out simultaneously and the Independent Expert’s report had been attached at Appendix 1 (page 21 of the Agenda pack). Members heard that a summary of its key findings was available in paragraph 3.3 of the report (page 18 of the Agenda pack) – Ms Norman highlighted that the Independent Review had supported the changes made and approved by the Council in January 2018, noting that ‘the overall structure of Brent’s Code and changes were sound’. In addition, the Independent Expert compared Brent’s Code of Practice to neighbouring authorities positively and noted that the Planning Committee meeting he had observed had been well chaired; its governance arrangements were good; officer presentations made the technical reports easier to understand; and Members demonstrated an understanding of material planning matters. Furthermore, he had noted that a small proportion of recommendations made by officers were rejected and suggested that the Code should clarify thatif a Planning Committee Member opted to act in a representative (as opposed to decision making) capacity then they would be subject to the same rules as other Members. When the Council explained their rationale and the process which addressed this, the Independent Expert was content with the explanation provided.

 

A specific recommendation outlined in the Independent Review report related to the fact that the Council should consider re-inserting a ‘call-in’ section in the Code. This was addressed by gate-posting where further information on call – in could be found and referring to the updated terms of reference of the Planning Committee which includes a clear and robust call-in criteria.

 

It was also noted that the Local Authority should consider referring all officer, Member and council applications to be decided by the Planning Committee. After consideration, the Council’s response to this recommendation had been that there was no overriding justification for automatically referring such applications to the Planning Committee in all cases. The normal rules put in place provided a discretionary system to support both flexibility and proportionality with officers referring applications to the Planning Committee as appropriate.

 

RESOLVED that:

(i)            The contents of the Planning Code of Practice Review Update report, be noted and;

 

(ii)          The proposed changes to the Planning Code of Practice be recommended for approval by the Audit and Standards Committee.

 



[1] The additional changes that had arisen from the independent review had been highlighted in red.

Supporting documents: