Agenda and minutes
Venue: Virtual Meeting - Online access
Contact: Karen Shepherd 01628 796529
Apologies for Absence
To receive any apologies for absence
An apology for absence was received from Councillor Baskerville.
To receive any declarations of interest
To consider the above report
Members considered amendments to the constitution in relation to Development Management Panels to allow the effective running of virtual panel meetings as part of the council’s response to the coronavirus crisis.
Councillor Coppinger introduced the report. He thanked the Opposition and Parish Councils for their helpful and supportive comments. In light of these he wished to make one change to the paper and to clarify one area. He explained that he was now proposing 9 Councillors on the Panel which moved the quorum up from 2 to 3. Whilst not in the paper he confirmed that Parish Councils would keep their 28 day period of consultation on plans to ensure that they could be fully considered.
In March full Council had met to hear a proposal to enable emergency changes to the constitution which would enable Development Management to function. Council had approved it and a time limit was set for June. These emergency powers had now been running for 9 weeks. In this period 10 major applications and 46 minor ones had been decided, that was in addition to 192 applications which included, for example, conditions and permitted development. 11 applications had been referred to the delegated-plus process. No one: no Councillor, no Parish, no resident group had raised any issue with this process.
The emergency powers would come to an end in June and therefore there was a need to move forward whilst recognising that the volume of plans received had decreased and that the country could face a second wave of infection. There was a need to move forward in a safe and secure way. The other factor to be aware of was that the Development Management Panel sat on a quasi-legal basis and that all decisions and processes were subject to legal challenge. The proposals therefore simplified the process, restoring both visibility and democracy whilst ensuring that the design was capable of withstanding issues with software which could, if they occurred, negate the whole process.
The most important safeguard was that the proposals were time limited. Whatever happened it had to finish in December. It could not be just rolled over. In addition, Councillor Coppinger promised that should there be a material change of any kind it would be reviewed sooner. It would be wrong to state what would happen after that date but he hoped that the council could, by then, return to normality.
In making these proposals other councils had been observed and it had also been considered how well the council had been able to run virtual meetings. Remembering at all times that any system failure, whether individual or total, could stop an application being decided or could allow a subsequent appeal and/or litigation.
Councillor Coppinger clarified the proposals:
1. Continue the current criteria so that only call ins and major applications would come before the panel. A major application was more than 10 dwellings or for commercial purposes 1000sq meters. A call in could only be made by the Ward Councillor and ... view the full minutes text for item 3.