Philip Stanley introduced this item, highlighting a number of key appeal decisions within the report, and was happy to take questions from the committee.
Cllr Hobson asked about the applications that they have refused at committee that has then been allowed at appeal, meaning that they could or should on balance have been granted. She wanted to know if his assessment was that as a committee they were performing well in relation to ones that they had refused and were the decisions they were making consistent with the appeal outcome. From that she had read in the report and listening to the statistics PStanley had read she felt like they were performing ok. She asked for PStanley’s view on this
PStanley said he felt that that was a fair summary that the committee are doing well, however it’s generally the controversial items that come before committee therefore it is not a fair comparison between the percentages of delegated decisions and the percentages of decisions that come to Development Management Committee. In 2021 of the 6 decisions bought to Development Management where members had voted against the officer’s recommendation, 3 were allowed and 3 were refused at appeal. They may well be lessons to be learnt when it comes to appeal decisions and he was happy to run some training, they could look at the decisions that were allowed at appeal. However he felt that Cllr Hobsons assessment was fair and that the committee were performing well.
Cllr Anderson said that it can be a sensitive area when they talk about how the committee are performing. It could be argued that, is there such a thing as a right decision, is the right decision not getting it overturned by the planning inspectorate, or is the right thing getting it right according to your own planning belief’s and judging each case on its own merits. They do have a performance indicator that’s included with the other performance indicators about the proportion of appeals allowed that is reviewed quarterly by the SPAE OSC and it’s a tricky area, and he thought that if someone were take a view that it’s a sign of good performance if no decisions were overturned then that’s great, if one was to take the view that on occasion the planning decision was different to the point where it ultimately got overturned and that could be judges as good performance. It’s very subjective, he thinks that their turnover number are quite low which shows that they are making their decisions stick.
Cllr Anderson referenced the appeal decision for Wilstone, he said that he felt that member should play close attention to that, they refused at committee one for a smaller number of properties in Markyate and that has now gone to appeal and they will await the decision on that.
RFreeman wanted to comment and say that it was worth noting that as of yet, despite us making decision that the inspectorate hasn’t agreed with, they are not opening themselves up to claims for costs at the moment which is important he feels its testament to the committee that even though they may not agree on the recommendations there are defendable planning reasons associated with those.