Planning Committee – 4 January 2008 (Policy Meeting)

Chair: Councillor Collinson
Venue: Function Room 1, Pittwood House, Scunthorpe
Time: 2 pm

AGENDA

1. Substitutions.

2. Declarations of personal or personal and prejudicial interests (if any).

3. Planning Bill 2007

4. Planning Bill – Streamlining Local Development Frameworks- Draft PPS12 ‘Local Development Frameworks’.

5.  Local Development Framework – Annual Monitoring Report

6. Trent Catchment Flood Management Plan – Consultation Draft

7. Preparation and consultation on a local validation checklist for planning applications (Report of the Head of Planning)

8. Public Rights of Way Improvement Plan (Report of the Service Director Highways and Planning)

Any other items, which the chair decides are urgent, by reasons of special circumstances which must be specified.

Note: Reports are by the Head of Strategic Regeneration, Housing and Development unless otherwise stated.

MINUTES

PRESENT: – Councillor Collinson (Chair).

Councillors Whiteley (vice–chair), Bainbridge, Barker, B Briggs, Bunyan, Carlile, England, Glover, Grant, C Sherwood , Smith and Wardle.

The committee met at Pittwood House, Scunthorpe.

990 DECLARATIONS OF PERSONAL OR PERSONAL AND PREJUDICIAL INTERESTS

The following members declared personal interests:

Members
Minute
Nature of Interest
Councillor Barker 991 Member of the Regional Flood Defence Committee
Councillor B Briggs 991 Member of the Isle of Axholme Drainage Board
Councillor England 991 Member of the Messingham Drainage Board
Councillor Whiteley 991 Member of the Messingham Drainage Board

Councillors J Briggs and Mrs Redfern attending the meeting under the provisions of Procedure Rule 37 (b) declared a personal interest in Minute 991, as members of the Isle of Axholme Internal Drainage Board.

991 (58) TRENT CATCHMENT FLOOD MANAGEMENT PLAN – CONSULTATION DRAFT PLAN – The Head of Strategic Regeneration, Housing and Development submitted a report informing members of the key proposals set out in the Trent Catchment Flood Management Plan (CFMP) – Consultation Draft Plan issued by the Environment Agency (EA) for public consultation.

The CFMP was a high level strategic planning tool through which the EA sought to work with other key decision makers to identify and agree policies for sustainable flood risk management on a catchment wide basis. It should provide: a broad understanding of current and future flood risk; a set of justifiable long term flood risk management policies, and a prioritised set of further studies. The Draft CFMP facilitated the presentation and consultation on flood risk management policies within the catchment and included a draft action and monitoring plan.

CFMPs identified broad policies for sustainable flood risk management that made sense in the context of the whole catchment and for the long term (50 to 100 years). They did not determine specific flood risk reduction measures or management approach for flooding issues in the catchment. A CFMP would lead to the preparation of strategies from which could follow the implementation of flood control measures. These measures were more likely to receive funding if backed by the CFMP.

Once feedback on the Draft Trent CFMP had been considered and actioned the final document would be produced. This was expected sometime during early 2008.

The EA had held a consultation workshop, at Gainsborough Golf Club on the 6 November 2007 where stakeholders, including Internal Drainage Boards, Local Authorities and other agencies, had been invited to discuss the content of the Draft Plan.

Comments on the CFMP were invited by 29 January 2008.

The River Trent CFMP covered flood management issues for the entire River Trent catchment down to the boundary with the shoreline management plan at Keadby Bridge. Given the size of the catchment area it had been broken down into 10 Policy Units that had distinctive characteristics or that related to individual rivers/towns/conurbations. These were set out in the report. Parts of North Lincolnshire fell within Policy Unit 1 – Axholme and North West Lincolnshire. Most of the western side of North Lincolnshire fell within this area including Scunthorpe. Areas to the east of Scunthorpe are covered by the Grimsby and Ancholme CFMP.

As part of the CFMP process the EA and partners had developed policies to manage flood risk in the future. These policies set out the direction flood risk management would take in the future, and were intended to help the EA to achieve their vision for a more sustainable, cost effective and natural approach to managing flood risk in the catchments.

Within the Draft CFMP, Policy Unit 1 ‘Axholme and North West Lincolnshire’ had been identified as a Policy 2 area: – ‘Reduce existing flood risk management actions (accepting that flood risk will increase over time)’. This was a matter of great concern as any proposal that could effectively increase the flood risk to North Lincolnshire’s communities was totally unacceptable. Climate change and increases in sea level would have even more impact on flood levels in future years. It was, therefore, imperative that river defences were adequately maintained and improved upon to ensure that communities were protected now and in the future. A policy 2 designation did not allow this happen as defences, even if maintained, were not improved. The communities that could be affected included East Butterwick; Burringham; Gunness; Flixborough Stather; Fockerby and Gunthorpe; Luddington; Eastoft; Amcotts; Ealand; Keadby; Althorpe; West Butterwick; Sandtoft; Belton Westgate; Wroot; Gunthorpe; Owston Ferry; Graiselound; Kelfield; parts of Westwoodside and Crowle and the western reaches of Scunthorpe.

However, it was not just current communities that this proposed policy action would affect but potentially it could have a huge impact on the ability to deliver the sustainable urban growth of Scunthorpe and the Lincolnshire Lakes Project. In addition, the Council was also seeking further housing growth in Scunthorpe through a Housing Growth Point bid that could deliver a substantial number of houses above the housing figures identified in the Regional Spatial Strategy.

From the list of policies, Policy 4. – “Take further action to sustain the current level of flood risk into the future (responding to the potential increases in risk from urban development, land use change and climate change)” would appear to the most appropriate policy for this Council area. Given, the amount of potential growth proposed for the Scunthorpe Urban Area (Growth Point bid) and the Lincolnshire Lakes Renaissance Project, in addition to the low lying communities currently at risk from flooding, nothing short of Policy 4 would be acceptable.

Councillor Briggs, attending the meeting in accordance with Procedure Rule 37 (b) spoke on this item.

Resolved – (a) That the Council responds to the Trent CFMP consultation, strongly opposing the identification of Policy Unit 1 ‘Axholme and North West Lincolnshire’ as a Policy 2 designation; (b) that the Council urgently seeks the redesignation of Policy Unit 1 ‘Axholme and North West Lincolnshire’ to Policy 4. “Take further action to sustain the current level of flood risk into the future (responding to the potential increases in risk from urban development, land use change and climate change).”; (c) that an urgent meeting with Senior Officers of the Environment Agency be arranged to set out the Council’s concerns regarding the impact this policy could have on existing communities and the future regeneration of Scunthorpe, and (d) that the local Members of Parliament be contacted and asked to lend their support.

992 (59) PLANNING BILL 2007 – The Head of Strategic Regeneration, Housing and Development submitted a report informing members about the contents of the Planning Bill which was currently proceeding through the House of Commons.

Major changes to the current planning system were contained in the provisions of the Bill, including:

  • Establishment of the Infrastructure Planning Commission to oversee applications for nationally significant infrastructure projects;
  • Introduction of National Policy Statements covering a range subjects to from the framework for decisions by the Independent Planning Commission;
  • Streamlining the Local Development Framework process
  • Streamlining the Development Control system
  • Changes to the planning appeals system
  • Introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy

The Bill proposed a new system for the development of nationally significant infrastructure projects. The new system covered certain types of energy, transport, water, waste water and waste projects. As part of this the number of applications and permits required for such projects was being reduced, compared with the position under current legislation and replaced with a new system of development consents.

A major role in the new system was to be played by a new independent body called the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) which would be responsible for examining applications for nationally significant infrastructure projects. The IPC would also be responsible for determining any application when there was a relevant national policy statement in force.

National Policy Statements (NPS) would set the framework for decisions by the IPC. The Secretaries of State for Communities & Local Government, Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, Transport and Environment, Food & Rural Affairs would be responsible for preparing any such statements and there was a duty on all Ministers to ensure that the statements met the objectives of sustainable development.

Any NPS produced would be subject to public consultation and in particular where the statements identifed locations or potential locations there would be a duty to consult local people. Developers would also have to conduct public consultation prior to submitting a planning application. NPSs would be subject to parliamentary scrutiny.

The Planning Bill also proposed changes to the Local Development Framework system, the details of which were covered in a separate report (Minute 993 refers)

The new Bill also proposed some fundamental changes to the way that the existing appeals process worked where applicants were aggrieved at a decision to refuse planning permission or approve subject to conditions. Currently applicants could appeal under S 78 of the 1990 Act to the Planning Inspectorate and an independent Inspector would listen to evidence form all parties and determine whether or not the refusal was reasonable or not.

Under the proposed arrangements in the new Bill only decisions made by the Councils Planning Committee would be challengeable via the Planning Inspectorate. Any appeal against an Officer delegated decision would not be to the Inspectorate but to the Councils own Planning Committee or Sub Committee. The concern of this approach was that applicants would not feel they had had their application independently reassessed. The reason behind this suggested change appeared to be an acceptance that the Planning Inspectorate could not cope with the level of appeal numbers nationally. This it was suggested was a resource issue for Government to resolve. If the Bill was not changed it would have the effect of placing much of the appeal responsibility down at the local authority level and Members in particular.

Other provisions in the bill related to a requirement to produce a scheme of delegations to officers, charging for appeal, changes to tree preservation orders, powers to agree minor amendments to approved plans and the introduction of a Community Infrastructure Levy.

Resolved – (a) That the report be noted; (b) that the council expresses its grave concerns at the proposals to remove the determination of major infrastructure projects from local planning authorities with a resultant loss of democratic accountability; (c) that the council objects to the proposed changes to the appeals process for the reasons set out in Para 3.8 of the report and (d) that a separate fee for lodging an appeal not be supported.

993 (60) PLANNING BILL – STREAMLINING LOCAL DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORKS (LDF) DRAFT PPS12 “LOCAL DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORKS” – The Head of Strategic Regeneration, Housing and Development submitted a report informing members about proposals set out in “Streamlining Local Development Frameworks” and draft PPS12 Local Development Frameworks issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) for public consultation.

The Planning White Paper published in May 2007 had made a number of proposals to revamp the current planning system including streamlining Local Development Framework production. Key issues resulting from the White Paper had previously been reported to this Committee (Minute 926 refers).

As part of the Planning Bill published in November 2007 the broad reforms contained within the Planning White Paper had now been translated into detailed proposals. The Department of Communities and Local Government has produced draft regulations and a consultation draft replacement of Planning Policy Statement No 12 “Local Development Frameworks” for public comment.

Representations on the two documents had been invited by 19 February 2008.

It had become increasingly clear that Local Authorities were struggling to deliver LDFs and their component parts to the timetables established within Local Development Schemes. As with most new processes it took time to determine and assess their effectiveness and then to revise them in line with lessons learnt and good practise. The Draft PPS12 and Local Development (Amendment) Regulations sought to streamline the LDF process, speeding up the production of DPDs and making them easier to revise and resubmit if circumstances demanded so. These proposed changes were welcomed as it was evident that the current system was cumbersome and was confusing for the public and stakeholders to understand. Proposals that speeded the system up, were more effective in terms of public consultation and allowed greater flexibility in changing DPDs at advanced stages of production could only be of benefit.

Resolved – (a) That the proposals put forward within the Draft PPS12 and Local Development (Amendment) Regulations be welcomed, and (b) that the Head of Strategic Regeneration, Housing and Development respond to the Department of Communities and Local Government stating support for the Draft PPS12 and Local Development (Amendment) Regulations.

994 (61) ANNUAL MONITORING REPORT 2007 – The Head of Strategic Regeneration, Housing and Development submitted a report informing members about the content of the Local Development Framework – Annual Monitoring Report 2007 (AMR) and seeking endorsement of the document to inform the preparation of future Development Plan Documents.

Councils were required to submit an annual monitoring report to the Government Office to show that the Local Development Framework was achieving its aims and delivering sustainable development.

The report outlined the main issues in the AMR.

Recommended to Council – That the AMR report be endorsed and used to inform the future preparation of Development Plan Documents.

995 (62) PREPARATION AND CONSULTATION ON A LOCAL VALIDATION CHECKLIST FOR PLANNING APPLICATIONS – The Head of Planning submitted a report informing members of the proposal to publish and consult upon a local checklist for validating planning applications at a local level.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) had issued the document “The Validation of Planning Applications – Draft Guidance for Local Planning Authorities” in August 2007. This provided detail as to what was required in relation to information which is linked to the new standard planning application form (1APP).

The new procedure creates a local validation checklist known as Part 2 to reflect the policies and issues specific to each individual Local Planning Authority. At present only the mandatory Part 1 list is used by North Lincolnshire Council in order to confirm the validity or otherwise of each individual planning application.

The mandatory validation checklist included items such as the planning application form, appropriate certificate of ownership, appropriate plans and sketches, design and access statement (where appropriate) and planning application fee. These were currently the only items upon which the council was entitled to determine whether an application had been submitted in a valid format. However, there were many other items of information which could help the Local Planning Authority make an appropriate decision on the planning application but these could not be required of the developer at the validation stage, only later during the application processing. The effect of this was that important information is not obtained from the developer at day one but only later in the process. Examples of this could be matters such as the need for a transport assessment or retail impact study or even the need for a flood risk assessment.

Attached to the report as an annexe was an extract from the DCLG document on validation and this indicated the process relating to the submission of a planning application and what was required and the various stages of this process. A further annexe showed those types of information that it is suggested should be required under the local validation checklist. This was an extensive list with a potential for over 30 different reports or studies which might be required in order to validate a proposal. The list was based on a recommended national list. Not all applications would require all of these reports and indeed the vast majority of planning applications would require very few if any of these. It was generally the major or significant proposals which would require some or many from this checklist.

Preparation of a local validation checklist was a process which was actively being promoted by central government through DCLG and the Planning Portal. It appeared that this was an appropriate way of ensuring that submitted applications were accompanied by all the necessary information on receipt.

The Head of Planning suggested that the Part Two checklist appended to the report should be amended by the deletion of Item 30 “ Site Waste Management Plan”, the addition of “Impact report on climate change and CO2 emissions” and the amendment of Item 37 to read “Biodiversity Survey and Report”

Resolved – (a) That the contents of the report be noted and that the consultation process outlined in the report be undertaken with local agents, Parish Councils, statutory consultees and adjoining local planning authorities, and (b) that a report be brought back to the Planning Committee (Policy) in due course for further consideration.

996 (63) RIGHTS OF WAY IMPROVEMENT PLAN – The Service Director Highways and Planning submitted a report seeking approval for the publication of the Rights of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP).

The draft plan had been advertised and attracted few comments.

The Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust wanted nature conservation to be taken into account whenever the creation of new paths was being considered. The ROWIP had been amended slightly to reflect that concern. Effectively this had involved spelling out the duty placed on highway authorities anyway under section 29 of the Highways Act 1980 to have due regard for agriculture, forestry and nature conservation.

The Transportation Planning team had advised that mention of highways per se could aid future funding potential. The ROWIP was specifically a rights of way funding bid. However, rights of way themselves were part of the wider highway network. This crucial aspect should become more obvious when the ROWIP was integrated into the Local Transport Plan in 2011.

Resolved – That approval be given to the Rights of Way Improvement Plan and for its publication as soon as practicable.