J Doe introduced the report to members and apologised that the performance update report was not in the agenda as there had been some technical problems. He ran through some of the highlights in the report:
- The speed of processing Building Control application is just under target and there is a £33,500 under achievement in income which is being watched closely.
- Income has increased within Development Management and is £60,000 ahead of target. It is predicted that the department will have a £100,000 surplus by the end of the year.
- The appeal success rate is also just under target however; two enforcement appeals were partially allowed which has had an effect on the rate.
- The department is struggling to validate applications on time due to a high volume of complex applications and the team are recovering from long term sickness and overtime is currently in operation.
- Enforcement targets are good, Priority 1 cases are visited within one working day.
- The new homes indicator will fluctuate from quarter to quarter but there is a lot of building currently underway in the borough. Last year 630 new homes were built which is well over target.
Councillor Birnie asked what cases fall into Priority 2 and 3 in
the enforcement department.
J Doe said they are less urgent cases, for instance, if someone isn’t following the planning conditions attached to their application. Priority 1 cases are where someone is breaking the law.
Councillor Birnie questioned the craft beer shop in Berkhamsted and the awning they have placed outside which doesn’t match their planning permission. What class would this fit into?
J Doe said that wouldn’t require immediate action. Priority 2 cases are visited within 10 days and Priority 3 are visited with 15 days. The recent reoccupation of the Bobsleigh hotel site by travellers was dealt with on the same day.
Councillor Birnie asked if it was possible to have figures for
actual successful enforcement action.
J Doe said this would be possible.
Councillor Anderson suggested that it would be useful if J Doe could arrange to send members a distinction of the two categories. He asked Councillor G Sutton if he would consider a new performance indicator regarding enforcement as this would be beneficial to watch.
Councillor Riddick asked if the Council could recover its costs
if the enforcement action was successful.
J Doe said there was provision to in some cases. If the case goes to court then the Council can apply to recover its costs.
Councillor Matthews referred to page 47 and the refusal rate.
How does this performance compare to other authorities?
J Doe said the refusal rate varies but the national average is 10%. At Dacorum, we encourage applicants to take pre-application advice which tends to iron out any issues.
Councillor Timmis said she was concerned about water in the
borough, both shortage and flooding. Private households have
received letters about conserving water usage yet there seems to be
more and more applications for residents to concrete over their
driveways which leads to flooding
J Doe said water shortage was an issue for the strategic planning department and there is currently a county wide water study taking place. It is an important planning consideration with major developments. In relation to flooding, there is national policy about developments in high flood risk areas. However, the government have changed the rules under permitted development rights to ensure that the materials for creating new driveways must be porous – concrete driveways require planning permission.
Councillor S Hearn asked if planning legislation has changed in
relation to development access and visibility splays.
J Doe said it was county council policy and the Development Management Committee take the advice of highway officers
Councillor S Hearn questioned if this was something that could be raised to County.
J Doe said they have published standards and they are interpreted in each case. Dacorum are reliant on their advice and if the committee refuse on grounds of highways when the report states otherwise then it could be subject to appeal as Dacorum have no legitimate highway authority.
Councillor Anderson suggested that it might be an idea to liaise with the Chair of the planning committee and discuss having an item on the agenda regarding the reports from Herts Highways.
Councillor Birnie said he was not satisfied with the quality of the reports received from highways and they are often inconsistent with their advice.
J Doe said he would liaise with Councillor G Sutton to work out how to go forward, it would be useful to have specific examples of reports that members aren’t satisfied with.
Councillor G Sutton said he was quite disappointed with the recent meeting he had with Herts highways and they didn’t address the issues raised.
Councillor Anderson suggested that J Doe and Councillor G Sutton should identify five examples where members are not happy with the advice given and prepare a formal representation.
Councillor Riddick said he was also concerned with county
parking standards and the size of parking spaces. Modern cars do
not fit in these spaces and are no longer fit for purpose.
J Doe said this had been the standard for many years and was currently being reviewed.
Councillor Marshall asked if the problems experienced with the
new planning website had been fixed.
J Doe said there had been a change to the system and was aware of the issues raised. The department is working closely with IT to get it fixed.
Councillor Hicks said Tring Town Council were unable to view
plans on the website at their last meeting.
J Doe said it is something they are trying to solve.
Councillor Timmis also mentioned that comments made by residents
are not showing on the website if they have been sent via email to
the planning officer.
J Doe noted the comments and said if it is not on the website, it doesn’t mean that those comments are not being considered.
Councillor Ransley said the issue was more that if residents can’t see the comments, they don’t know if they have been received.
Councillor Birnie said it detracts from the value of the website.
J Doe mentioned that some plans can’t be seen due to delays in the validation process.
That the Strategic Planning and Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee approve the report.