Report of the Town Clerk, the Executive Director of Environment and the Comptroller and City Solicitor
To be considered in conjunction with the non-public appendix at Item 21.
The Committee considered a report of the Town Clerk, the Executive Director of Environment and the Comptroller and City Solicitor considering how the functions of the Planning and Transportation Committee can be most effectively discharged, and recommending the establishment of a Planning Applications Sub-Committee to address the issues of (i) allowing Planning and Transportation Committee to major on strategic and policy issues; and (ii) planning application decisions on land or buildings for which Planning and Transportation Committee has responsibility. The Comptroller and City Solicitor introduced the report and drew Members’ attention to the key points, adding that it was intended to put the matter to the Court of Common Council for consideration in September, and that the Planning Protocol would be updated if the report were agreed.
The Chairman commented that the proposals offered a chance to improve the Committee’s democratic process, ensure a direct focus on applications, and increase time for the Committee to consider strategic and policy matters. The Chairman added that the separation out of planning applications was a positive step and in accordance with the recommendations of the Lisvane Review. The proposals also aimed to prevent overburden with regards to meetings.
A Member commented that they were pleased to see the notion of panels or a regional split dropped, but queried whether the Committee’s non-application workload could be condensed into 4 quarterly meetings, given that they approximated that 93% of the Committee’s decisions were strategic or non-application decisions. The Member added that they were concerned this would be insufficient and would lead to issues such as missed consultation deadlines, so robust and transparent agenda planning would be required. The Member advised that overall they supported proposals on a trial basis, but advised that if it became apparent that more frequent Grand Committee meetings were required, this should be changed without delay.
A Member commented that they supported the proposals, and that separating applications from other discussions would allow the Committee to do a better job with both and give applications their full commitment and concentration. If more than 4 Grand Committee meetings were needed, then this could be adjusted. Another Member suggested 6 Grand Committee meetings as a starting point, noting that the applications sub-committee may not require 13 meetings a year, although this would not always be possible to plan perfectly.
A Member then queried whether the arrangements for public speaking facilitated a fair balance and suggested that the protocol be reviewed for possible improvements. The Member also suggested whether the current arrangements facilitated sufficient diversity and inclusion, and that arrangements elsewhere could be looked at for any allowances made in respect of this.
The Chairman advised that the necessary assessment on equality, diversity and inclusion with respect to the Planning Protocol and speaking arrangements could be undertaken and brought back separately. The Chairman further noted Members’ views regarding the frequency of Grand Committee meetings, and suggested that the proposals be for no less than 4 meetings, to be reviewed after twelve months. The Chairman advised that the Policy & Resources Committee and the Court of Common Council would have discretion to amend the proposals, and added his hope that Members would support the Committee’s resolution in those fora.
Arising from the discussion, the Chairman moved the Committee to a vote, with the proposals amended to make explicit that the Grand Committee would meet at least 4 times per year. The Committee then proceeded to vote on the recommendations as amended, with 15 Members voting in favour, no Members voting against, and no abstentions. The recommendations were therefore agreed.
RESOLVED - That the Planning and Transportation Committee resolve to recommend to Court of Common Council: