Agenda item

Use of Planning Performance Agreements and other Cost Recovery Measures for the Determination of Planning Applications


The Group Manager – Planning and Development Services presented a report, to advise Members of the potential to use Planning Performance Agreements (PPAs) with developers as part of a system of cost recovery in dealing with (mainly) major development proposals, with the principle  equally also being applicable to smaller scale developments.


By way of background information, he confirmed that the main purpose of a PPA is to provide a framework agreed between the Local Planning Authority (LPA) and the applicant or potential applicant, about the process for considering a major development proposal. A PPA was a flexible mechanism adaptable to proposals where the issues raised are relatively straightforward to those where the issues are complex, a number of parties may be involved and the process may be staged over a long period. In the case of a Planning application this could range from the pre-application submission to the final agreement of Planning conditions. There was no standard PPA as each one is likely to be unique to its particular circumstances. A PPA is viewed as an efficiency tool which provides a clear timeframe to progress significant development and associated economic benefits, as well as where necessary additional resource to ensure service continuity.


The lack of adequate resource of Planning functions within local Authorities in Wales is a national issue identified by both Welsh Government and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). It is apparent that there is a critical loss of Planning and related skills within local Authorities together with a corresponding impact on the ability to deliver sustainable development in line with national policy. Lack of adequate resource within Planning Authorities is also identified as one of the principal reasons behind delays in the Planning system.


The Auditor General for Wales undertook a thorough examination of the Planning System in Wales and specifically its ability to implement the aims and objectives of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (Effectiveness of Local Planning Authorities in Wales, June 2019). Further to this, both the Welsh Parliament Public Accounts Committee (Effectiveness of Local Planning Authorities in Wales, June 2020) and Future Generations Commissioner (The Future Generations Report 2020) raised concerns on the ability of Planning teams to deliver key national legislation and policy. Lack of adequate resource within Planning teams was cited as a key risk factor across all these independent reports.


The Group Manager – Planning and Development Services, advised that Bridgend was no exception to this national picture and staffing levels within the area of Planning had reduced by 50% over the last 8 years together with a loss of specialist roles including GIS, Minerals Planning and urban design expertise. In order to meet the challenge of resource issues against a need to deliver a vital service against a challenging backdrop of radical changes to policy and legislation, the service had been rationalised and restructured on a number of previous occasions.


He continued by stating, that due to high workloads, increasing complexity of technical submissions as well as the implementation of far reaching national legislation and policy including the critical place making agenda, the Service is losing the gains made through efficiency over the last decade and is at risk of failure and potentially considering a reduction in service levels to provide a focus on core statutory functions only.


The above pressures had been exacerbated also, by the number of planning applications submitted for large scale developments in the last 12 months or so and ongoing work being progressed in terms of the Local Development Plan (LDP), he added.


The use of a PPA in these circumstances, would provide an agreed framework for the processing of the application from pre-application stage through to the discharge of conditions, as well as the potential to secure additional resource to assist in covering those staff members fully engaged on the project.


Bridgend is seen as a key area of growth and is identified as such in the

forthcoming National Development Framework (NDF) or Future Wales. It is highly likely that other key inward investment proposals will be forthcoming. Added to this is the Replacement Local Development Plan (LDP), due for adoption in mid-2022, which will identify a number of key strategic sites within the County Borough together with the corresponding need for Planning consent. There was demonstrative need for a system of PPAs to be introduced in time to meet the challenge. Furthermore, there is increasing evidence of the willingness of developers to enter PPA’s as part of the regular Planning process.


It was therefore proposed, to consider the potential for this system within Bridgend with a view to introduce a system of PPAs to be included as part of a revised and updated Pre- Application Advice Service.


Principally, PPAs would be used for larger development schemes (major and above) but could also be used for any type of development that requires an extraordinary response from the LPA.


The Group Manager – Planning and Development Services concluded, by confirming that in light of the above and other information contained within the report, Members were requested to authorise Officers to explore the use of PPAs within Bridgend and to review its paid for pre-application advice service, with a view to seeking the subsequent approval of Cabinet for a new charging structure in due course. Added resource secured through PPAs would assist in longer viability and resilience of the Planning and Development service area.


He then responded to a number of Members questions, following which it was


RESOLVED:                           (1) That Members agreed to the principle of introducing a system of Planning Performance Agreements in Bridgend and authorised the Group Manager Planning and Development Services to seek Cabinet approval to take forward a formal system of agreement and charging.

(2)  That authority be given to the Group Manager - Planning and Development Services to review and make changes to the current Pre-Application Advice Service and scale of charges.



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