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Contact: Chris Ward; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 19 December 2017.
That the Minutes of the meeting held on 19 December 2017 be approved as a correct record.
To consider the attached report.
Contact Officers: Jeff Membery 01296 585316
Lindsey Vallis 01296 585152
Henry Allmand 01296 583320
The Committee received a report which outlined the progress of the Council’s Development Management and Planning Enforcement services. In addition to the report, two presentations were given to the Committee.
AVDC had seen a significant increase in workload for the service over recent years due to the Vale’s development with major applications having doubled since 2013 (a major application being 10 or more dwellings). The category of applications AVDC received was often for large numbers of housing or high investment retail developments. This was in addition to national projects included HS2 (with AVDC being the most affected authority outside London), East West Rail and the National Infrastructure Corridor all of which would have associated planning applications. Additional challenges to the service included a national shortage of skilled planners which had made recruitment competitive amongst Local Authorities. The service had undertaken a communications campaign to reach potential candidates through LinkedIn, offering ‘golden hellos’ and working with Reading University to approach graduates nearing the end of their studies. Recruitment to Senior roles had been slower than anticipated which had led to the utilisation of planning consultants and agency workers.
Major applications were often complex with representations made by developers and objectors. As a highly visible service, the perception was that Development Management was in favour of applications which created a challenging working environment due to the service’s actions being scrutinised by both sides. It was acknowledged that communication with the public, Parishes and Members was important in the delivery of the service. The recent introduction of the Parish Liaison Officer role had aided in this regard and had been well received by the Aylesbury Vale Association of Local Councils. The introduction of Account Managers had also assisted the service as these posts were able to respond to planning enquiries from developers directly.
Between July – September 2017 82% of applications were processed on time which was second locally only to Chiltern (83%). The special measures threshold was being increased by Central Government however AVDC would be unaffected by this based on current performance which was well above the minimum performance requirement.
Members sought more information and were advised that:-
i. At present there were four vacant posts in the service. 17 planners were in the service, two of which were part-time, and one experienced planner had failed the behaviour assessment as part of the corporate restructure. In addition, two planners had retired and one planner went on maternity leave and then did not return. Members were assured that the service did not want to lose their staff.
ii. The service was reaching its government target through the use of improved information management such as a workflow software system that flagged applications in danger of being late and monitored staff workload. Process mapping was also being undertaken to identify further streamlining opportunities. Authority had also been delegated to experienced officers rather than awaiting senior approval. Contractors had also assisted with targets being met.
iii. The remaining percentage of applications that failed ... view the full minutes text for item 2.
For Members to consider the future work programme. Meetings are scheduled as follows:-
21 March 2018: Streets & Horticulture Strategy
Community Safety Plan 2018-19
22 May 2018: No items as yet
25 September 2018: Housing & Homelessness Strategy
Following the Development Management update, Members considered the additional information on the service that they wanted to come to Committee and agreed on the following:
· Staffing number projections and application number projections
· Time and resourcing for recruitment as well as more detail on recruitment activity
The Committee then discussed their upcoming work programme and noted the policy frameworks that would be coming to Committee over the next three meetings. Members also expressed an interest in an item regarding culture in Aylesbury Town Centre coming to Committee in future.
That the work programme and Committee discussion be noted.