Issue - meetings

Planning Peer Review Report

Meeting: 12/09/2023 - Cabinet (Item 73)

73 Planning Peer Review Report

Report of the Chief Executive.


Supporting documents:


Cllr Nick Botterill, Cabinet Member for Finance, Development Management, and Strategic Planning, presented a report updating on the findings of the Local Government Association (LGA) Planning Service Peer Review, and setting out the initial response of officers to the recommendations.


It was stated the Peer Review had identified many positive aspects of the council’s planning service, but had also identified a number of weaknesses and inefficiencies, including relating to administrative and committee arrangements which were still aligned to or relating to the pre 2009 district council arrangements. He stated some changes recommended would be taking place in the coming months, with others requiring further thought and preparation on the best response to those recommendations, but that change was needed.


The Leader commented that independent experts had provided evidence and reasoning that the set up and way of working within planning needed addressing, and that Members might find some changes challenging. He noted that only a very small proportion of planning decisions were determined by committee.


Cllr Graham Wright, Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee, on behalf of the Chairman of the Environment Select Committee, noted past scrutiny work involving planning committees in particular, and that the Environment Select Committee would be considering the Peer Review report at its next meeting.


Cllr Gordon King, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, highlighted the high technical knowledge within the planning service teams, but also agreed changes to administration and organisation were appropriate and necessary, fulfilling business plan and corporate objectives, and that five planning committees was not necessarily the most effective arrangement. He suggested improved training offers for town and parish councillors to provide guidance to them could be a useful objective.


Cllr Dr Brian Mathew agreed that the structures could be reformed to deliver greater efficiencies, though also stated some existing structures had strengths.


Cllr Pip Ridout stated she served on two planning committees and spoke to the Peer Review team, and supported many of their recommendations, as well as greater training for parishes.


Cllr Clare Cape highlighted comments in the Peer Review report on involving Members in the Local Plan process.


At the conclusion of discussion, it was then,




It was agreed to note:


1)     The findings of the Peer Review, recognising the challenges that the service faces in order to create one of the best performing planning services in the country; and


2)     The initial officer response to the recommendations.



While it would not normally be necessary to report the findings of a peer review to Cabinet, as no formal decision needs to be made, given the nature of the issues raised, it is appropriate that Cabinet be given the opportunity to consider the Planning service peer review report’s recommendations and the intended officer response.