Agenda item

Planning Appeals Monitoring Report


The Committee was reminded that at its meeting held on 16 June 2022, it was agreed that future planning appeals monitoring reports be presented annually, to see if any patterns were emerging in respect of member overturns, costs of overturn appeals and costs awards. 


The Committee considered a further updated monitoring report on planning appeals, which focused on data relating to the years 2021-2023.


Officers had attached commentary to each year's report which looked at the proportion of appeals allowed in respect of member overturn decisions and overall appeal performance.  The report had also included details of the range of costs associated with defending appeals together with the key risks and financial implications. 


The Committee noted that a detailed report on planning appeals, including details of cost applications, was reported to every meeting of the Planning Committee. The information contained in the monitoring report had been taken from the information contained on previous Planning Committee agendas.   


The report had highlighted that the Council’s success rate on appeals was improving year on year, which was particularly important as this was one of the measures that DLUHC used to assess the Council’s performance as a planning authority.  Along with the speed at which applications were determined, DLUHC also measured quality of decisions over a two-year rolling programme.  Paragraph 7.7 of the report had set out the published current performance on quality of decision-making for both major and non-major applications. 


There was also a detailed monthly training programme that had been developed for members and officers with a different topic each month which would be rolled out shortly.   


During the debate, the following points were raised:


·      Clarification was sought as to the criteria by which the Secretary of State had stated that the Council was at risk of designation in terms of the determination of planning applications.  In response, the Joint Executive Head of Planning Development indicated that it was in respect of a specific performance measurement, namely the speed at which non-major applications were being determined.  The measures to be taken to avoid designation were meant to achieve 70% within the 8-week period over a rolling 2 year programme. Performance had significantly improved for the quarter January to March 2023, where we achieved 72%, and the period April to June, where we achieved 82% of determination on non-major applications.

·      It was noted that the criteria for designation of a local planning authority could either be the speed of determining applications or quality of decisions. Quality of decisions was measured by overturns of committee decisions at appeal and was the focus of this planning appeals monitoring report. However, the report lacked any data on the first reason for possible designation, the speed of decisions in determining or not determining planning applications within statutory time periods.

·      Concerns were reiterated regarding the number of applications appealed on the grounds on non-determination by the Council, in that this could make a designation more likely and lead to awards of costs against the Council. There was also concern over the “democratic deficit” caused by non-determination of planning applications within the statutory time periods. It was suggested that a further report should be submitted to the Committee at its November meeting, on the number of applications (of all types) per ward that were not being determined within the statutory time limits, and the reasons for their non-determination.

·      Given the capacity issues around how the Council was trying to improve its planning processes and performance to avoid designation, the Leader of the Council expressed concern at having to provide a further report when officers should be focusing on improving the speed of determination of applications.

·      As the criteria for designation were based on both speed and quality, there was concern that, whilst the speed of determination of non-major applications has increased from 72% to 82%, it had been at the expense of the quality of some of those decisions.


Having considered the report, the Committee


RESOLVED:  That the contents of the revised Planning Appeals Monitoring Report and data be noted.


To enable the Committee to monitor the Council’s performance on planning appeals.


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