Report to Chairman Parish Councillors and Residents Christmas 2017

Woodbastwick Parish Council
Incorporating Panxworth and Ranworth.

Report to Chairman Parish Councillors and Residents Christmas 2017

From Frank O’Neill Broadland District Council Member for Blofield with South Walsham

Broadland & South Norfolk District Councils – pooling expertise.

You may have read of the discussions for Broadland and South Norfolk to work more together by pooling resources. The idea was floated to me by John Fuller (Leader SNDC) earlier in the year when the proposal for devolution involving a new tier of local authority governance was not happening.  I thought his proposals a good idea then and today really do support this. It is too soon to say how it will shape out but it is safe to say: people expect good services when they pay for them.

All the cuts that can be made have been made (in my view). Thus if savings are to be made by pooling resources what’s not to like?

Broads Authority (BA) Local Plan – pre-submission Consultation
The BA is the overarching authority for the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads. It exercise various functions not least Town and Country Planning.

The consultation ends at 4 pm on 5 January 2018. This is the final stage of consultation before submission to the Planning Inspector for clearance. There is a public drop in session on 9 December next at Potter Heigham Village Hall from 10am to 12 noon.

The proposed Broads Local Plan sets out the final policies the BA wish to adopt to help determine planning applications in the Broads Area. Please encourage parish council members and local electorate to have their say.  People can formally respond on the BA Website.

Greater Norwich Local Plan (GNLP) Consultation – Early Warning
Planning is an evolving process. When adopted the GNLP will become the local plan for Broadland and South Norfolk District Councils with the City of Norfolk. It will replace the current plan – the Joint Core Strategy (JCS) which also spans the three local authorities.

Coming up for public discussion is the “Resolution 18” consultation. This will be our chance to comment on how much growth will take place locally before it too goes to the Inspector for approval.  There is a second consultation document dealing with Site Proposals.

Deadly dull all this may be but if people are to influence the future of the Built Environment locally I encourage everybody to respond to the consultation – preferably on line. You can pick and choose the questions you want to answer.

A cautionary note.
To date only parishes within Blofield and South Walsham Parishes that also fall within the Norwich Policy Area (NPA) have been affected by the Five Year Land Supply. In future it seems that the same rules will apply across the whole policy area. The principal implications are:
 If by expanding the area of focus beyond the NPA we meet the Five year and Supply then all new building must comply with local plans and nobody will be subjected to carpetbagger developers of the kind who have visited Blofield in the past
 Nobody is making promises but the current supply is 4.8 years within the NPA. Thus there is some hope of satisfying government targets. However if we fail again then the consequences may seem dire to some residents previously unaffected.

Review of Planning Procedure at Broadland District Council

Enforcement Action
There has been much complaint regarding the failure by BDC to take action for breach of planning law e.g. development that requires permission but has gone ahead regardless.

I have complained about the lack of overview of planning enforcement decisions. So often it appears to the casual observer that a file is opened and after a while it is closed without anything happening. Officers would not agree.  Nevertheless planning enforcement decisions have been taken within the department and neither parish not district
councillors hold any sway.

In future where a department decision is challenged the proposal by Head of Planning and endorsed by me is to provide a mechanism to refer the decision to the Planning Committee. Of course terms and conditions apply; here are the two key Points:
 The decision to close the file without action must now include a reason.
 Only the relevant district councillor can call in the decision for determination by the Planning Committee.

Perceived Flaws in the Call in Process for determining

Part A – Good Planning Reasons
Planning Applications
It is abundantly sensible that all planning applications are determined by the Planning Committee unless they can be made by officers under delegated powers. There can be problems when for a variety of reasons a decision should be made by committee even though the planning officer holds delegated power.  Hitherto any Broadland Councillor had power to call in an application without giving reasons. HoP did not
approve. His proposal was to make the call in conditional on good planning grounds.
I have successfully resisted. It is not possible to invest an untrained councillor with the skill to determine in law what would be good planning ground. One implication might be to remove effective supervision from elected members.
The agreed compromise is that in future the grounds should be justifiable. It is impossible to argue against this. It cannot be in the public interest to refer to committee where there are no justifiable grounds. Note that I have been told the cost of determination by committee is ten times that of an officer determination.

Part B – The Call In Process itself
There are time limits. As often as not when I am asked to request a call in it is already too late. This aspect was recently discussed at BDC Standards Committee.

I proposed
 either an extension of the time limit or
 a health warning across all relevant published documents.

I thought I engendered support from Head of Planning. Perversely when my proposal was put to the vote not one other committee member supported my proposal. Thus no change. It is fair to record that of the six committee members present three were co-opted parish councillors.

Herondale
Many will know that Herondale at Acle (near the library) is/was a purpose built home providing support for people in need of post operative care. It closed for these services when Age Concern handed back the lease unable to make it work financially.
The building is now surplus to Norfolk County Council requirements. If sold it will be lost forever. I wrote to both Norfolk and Norwich and Great Yarmouth hospitals to enquire if there was any interest. Neither replied.

You will have read in the EDP that the future of a similar service provided at Benjamin Court Cromer for 18 beds has been secured. The North Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group have voted in favour of the Norfolk County Council’s £2 million offer to turn the Cromer unit into a re-ablement centre.

If such a service is available in North Norfolk do we not want something like this in the East of the County? If yes what do we want And how do we do it?

Contact
If anybody would like to
discuss this further here are my contact details –
Tel 01493 752 111
Email frank.oneill@gmail.com

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