Agenda and minutes

Strategic Planning & Environment Overview & Scrutiny
Tuesday, 6th February, 2018 7.30 pm

Venue: Conference Room 2 - The Forum. View directions

Contact: Katie Mogan  Member Support

Items
No. Item

11.

Minutes

To agree the minutes of the previous meeting.

Minutes:

The minutes of the Strategic Planning and Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 23 January 2018 were confirmed by the members present and signed by the Chairman.

 

12.

Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor Anderson.

Councillor Howard chaired the meeting in the absence of Councillor Anderson.

 

13.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

 

14.

Public Participation

Minutes:

There was no public participation.

 

15.

Consideration of any matter referred to the Committee in relation to Call-In

None.

Minutes:

None.

16.

Budget Preparation 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 128 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

J Doe gave a presentation to members and highlighted some changes from the previous budget meeting in December. At the last meeting, the government were considering raising planning income fees by 20%. This has now been confirmed and is fully operational. The purpose of the fee increase is to ensure that local authorities have the capacity to support the government’s ambitious housing growth. It is predicted that the increase in fees will generate revenue of £158k a year. The fees for pre application planning advice have been reviewed and this will generate £7k bringing the total fee income to £165k.

The department have prepared a growth bid and planned an operational reorganisation which the new income will fund. The aim is to increase the department’s capacity and ability to deal with major applications and improve efficiencies. The following has been proposed:

          One new Planning Officer and two trainees

          Training budget for trainees

          New Assistant Team Leader to support enforcement and business development/efficiency

          New supervisor for business support team (including planning registry/validation)

          Will give more capacity for senior staff to focus on major developments

An application for the LA3 site is due imminently which is expecting to have 1,100 units. There have been 3,200 applications over the last year and the capacity is needed to deal with this alongside the minor applications.

Recruitment is hard due to the lack of supply of planning officers and the training budget will mean trainees can be trained.
The Enforcement department is currently quite stretched and is operating on a reactive basis as there isn’t enough resource currently to fully check on the compliance of planning conditions.
It is hoped that by freeing up some of the senior officers time, then they can assist with other projects in the department, like the development of the new Local Plan.
The cost of the restructure is £177k which will create a small pressure in the budget.
The Hemel Hempstead Business Ambassadors is based on a subscription service and this generates £63.5k of income but there is a manager who coordinates the program and there are operational costs. The council have decided to support this scheme for its third year which will cost £45k.

Councillor Birnie asked if ‘golden handcuffs’ would be applied to those that go through the trainee program.

J Doe said yes. The internal policy is that if they leave within 24 months, then they have to pay a proportion of the costs of the training they received.

Councillor Birnie referred to the £12k pressure and said there had been no mention of how the service would improve from the public’s point of view. He said on major applications, there was a failure to interact with the public and all objections should be placed on the website for all to see.

J Doe said he was aware that this was an issue. The restructure should help improve the capacity of the team. The current planning system is about 20 years  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.

17.

Work programme pdf icon PDF 95 KB

Minutes:

The work programme was agreed.