The Chair of the Planning Committee had 2 items to discuss as a matter of Urgent Business.
The Head of Planning gave an update to the Planning Committee on the Secretary of State’s concerns about the performance of the Authority’s planning department. He reported that throughout the last three quarters up to the end of June, the planning department were above the national standard for performance on determining non-major planning applications either within the 8-week time period, or using agreed extension of time. The Head of Planning had also updated the Secretary of State on the structural changes that were being done within the planning department and that he was working with the Planning Advisory Service to keep the review and momentum going. The Chair of the Planning gave his thanks to the Head of Planning and the staff for their hard work towards achieving such progress.
The Head of Planning also gave an update about the national consultations that were ongoing which aims to increase the delivery of housing through various proposed changes to national planning policy and permitted development rules, e.g. by allowing the change of use of agricultural buildings to dwelling houses. This would allow traditional barns and modern portal frame buildings to be converted into habitable dwellings without the owner having to obtain further planning permission. He stated that this was a big concern for the National Park and several other National Parks and that the Authority needs to present evidence of how this could harm our statutory purposes and also data to show how many barn conversions are already approved within the current policies. These current policies allow the National Park to control the flow of development in the right places with the right design but the new proposals for permitted development risk losing the character of these barns and the wider landscape with unfettered development.
Members were positive about the Authority’s position against these policy proposals and endorsed every effort to stand strongly against them.