Agenda and minutes

Regeneration Scrutiny Panel - Wednesday 1st November, 2023 10.00 am

Venue: Mandela Room

Contact: Susan Lightwing 

No. Item


Welcome and Evacuation Procedure


The Chair welcomed all present to the meeting and read out the Building Evacuation Procedure.


Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.


There were no declarations of interest received at this point in the meeting.


Minutes - Regeneration Scrutiny Panel - 11 October 2023 pdf icon PDF 146 KB


The minutes of the Regeneration Scrutiny Panel meeting held on 11 October 2023 were submitted and approved as a correct record.



Planning Capacity - Scrutiny Review

A representative from the Planning Advisory Service (PAS) will be attendance to provide information to assist the Panel with the current scrutiny investigation into Planning Services.


Recommendation: for the Panel to receive and note the information provided.


The Planning Advisory Service (PAS) comprised a team of 15 people and was part of the Local Government Association and ran projects funded by the Department for Levelling Up, Homes and Communities (DLUHC), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and Natural England.  PAS supported English Planning Authorities to provide effective and efficient planning services and help the implementation of changes in the planning system.


The Principal Consultant led on Development Management support, helping Local Authorities to improve their decision making and performance.     PAS carried out reviews for Planning Authorities on a regular basis and had contacted Middlesbrough Council after noting a dip in the speed of decision making, which was the measure used by the Government to class performance.


The Council accepted the offer of support and PAS agreed to undertake a quick review of Development Management using the PAS Development Management Toolkit.  The review looked at the Council’s key development management statistics such as the number of applications received, how quickly they were processed and validated and officer caseloads.    Decision making processes, IT, administration, workload management and consultation were examined. 


The review focussed on three elements over one day which were identified as most important by officers.  The review ascertained what the issues were, what Middlesbrough was doing well and not so well and then suggested areas that could be improved upon.  PAS drew on best practice and issues experienced by other Councils to share, as well as experience of what worked well.


Since this was a quick review, Planning and Development Committee, Political Leadership, Planning Enforcement and the Appeals Process were not included and the Consultants only spoke with officers.


Under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, Designation was applied where a planning authority was not meeting performance targets. Middlesbrough was slightly below the threshold of 60% for the speed of decision making on major applications between October 2021 and September 2023 and therefore potentially at risk.  Middlesbrough was below the threshold on non-major applications and appeals for the same time period.


If a planning authority was Designated, it would lose its planning powers.  Applicants would have the option of applying directly to the Planning Inspectorate who would receive the fee.  However, the Planning Authority would still need to prepare a report and make a recommendation on the application.  Being Designated would also harm the reputation of the Planning Authority.  There was currently only one Council in England that was designated, there were ten Councils that had been on the Government’s “minded to designate” list and managed to avoid it, and seven were awaiting a decision.  If a Planning Authority was not meeting the performance targets it would receive a letter from DLUHC, usually in early January asking the Authority to outline any “exceptional circumstances”, to which the Authority had two or three weeks to respond. 


Some of the key positives with regard to Middlesbrough’s service that were listed in the PAS review report included:


           Good back office and software systems.

•  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23/24


Local Plan

The Head of Planning will provide a verbal update on progress with Middlesbrough’s new Local Plan.


Recommendation: for the Panel to receive and note the information provided.


The Head of Planning provided a brief verbal update on progress with Middlesbrough’s new Local Plan. 


The Council was currently undertaking an Asset Review and clarification was awaited on which sites needed to be factored into the Local Plan.  Other studies were also being undertaken which included one on Highways.


The intention was to bring a draft Local Plan forward by December 2023 with consultation to follow.




Overview and Scrutiny Board Update

The Chair will provide a verbal update on matters considered at the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Board held on 18 October 2023.


The Chair provided an update on some of the items discussed at the latest meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Board which was held on 18 October 2023.


The Executive Member for Children’s Services provided an update on his portfolio.  The recently appointed Executive Director of Children’s Services and the Director of Children’s Care were also in attendance.


The final draft of the Council’s Boundary Review 2023 submission to the Local Government Boundary Commission was presented to the Board and approved.







Date and Time of Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Regeneration Scrutiny Panel is scheduled to take place on Wednesday 6 December 2023 at 10.00 am.


The next meeting of the Regeneration Scrutiny Panel was scheduled to take place on Wednesday 6 December 2023 at 10.00 am.


Any other urgent items which in the opinion of the Chair, may be considered.