Venue: By Skype
Contact: Fiona McCallum Tel. No. 01546 604392
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Graham Archibald Hardie, Donald MacMillan, Sandy Taylor and Richard Trail.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
There were no declarations of interest.
Report by Head of Development and Economic Growth
The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting which was being held on a virtual basis in light of government guidance and Coronavirus legislation on public gatherings in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. For the purposes of the sederunt, Iain Jackson, Clerk to the Committee today, read out the names of the Members of the Committee and asked them to confirm their attendance.
The Chair then raised a preliminary matter and referred to the number of objections to the hearing proceeding on a virtual basis. He invited the Development Manager, Peter Bain, to comment on the supplementary report that was issued in relation to the requests received for continuation of this hearing.
Mr Bain referred to supplementary report number 4 and the requests for postponement of the hearing. The recommendation in the report raised a number of concerns regarding the ability of third parties to properly engage in the hearing process. Following advice from the Head of Legal and Regulatory Services a joint response to these requests was made. This confirmed that the hearing process was discretionary and not statutory and the important element was for Members to decide on how they would wish to proceed. In response to the issues raised Officers had noted and had regard to the advice issued by the Chief Planner which suggested that planning authorities should take a pragmatic and flexible approach in seeking to maintain development management functions in planning at this time. It was contended that the approach to deal with this application by way of a virtual meeting was open, fair and transparent.
The Chair opened the discussion to Members.
Councillor Green referred to the number of ways that people could join this meeting and asked if Officers were aware of anyone that had been unable to join. The Head of Legal and Regulatory Support, David Logan advised that the practicalities of making sure those making presentations had the ability to do so had been discussed. He advised that parties who wished to participate in the hearing today and make a presentation were in attendance. With 35 presenters and 30 plus observers he was not sure if anyone was unable to join. He pointed out that whether a physical or visual setting, there would always be circumstances when people could not attend.
Councillor Freeman referred to the request for adjournment which he had discussed with Officers. He said it was quite clear that given the previous decision by the Committee to hold virtual hearings was taken less than six months ago, it would not be possible to go back on and review that decision without suspending standing orders and if there was a material change in circumstances.
Mr Logan acknowledged that he had received Councillor Freeman’s request for comment and advice on this and advised that he would agree that the decision to move to virtual hearings was taken less than six months ago and could not be changed without suspending standing orders. He pointed out that if a Member sought to move to a physical hearing his view, at the moment, was that it would be difficult to form a competent Motion in this respect as there would be uncertainty as to how and when a physical hearing could take place.
Councillor Freeman commented that if the Committee decided not to proceed today the developer would have a right of appeal to the Scottish Ministers for non-determination which would mean a strong possibility that the decision on the application could be taken out of the Committee’s hands.
At this point it was noted that Councillor Gordon Blair had lost connection to the meeting. A short adjournment was taken to enable him to be reconnected.
Councillor Freeman sought confirmation from Mr Logan that given the timescale since the application was submitted, the developer would have a right of appeal to the Scottish Ministers for non-determination. He said that as far as he was concerned applications should always be dealt with locally. Mr Logan confirmed that the Applicant did have the right of appeal to the Scottish Ministers for non-determination. He advised that he could not say if such an appeal would be competent or successful. He added that objectors had no right of appeal but could have a Judicial Review. He advised that it was important to have regard to the advice of the Chief Planner. He said that this process was envisaged so that all participants would be able to access the meeting in a meaningful way.
Councillor Devon commented that the Committee had held several of these hearings over recent months and that she believed that all parties involved in these went away satisfied with the outcome. She asked Mr Logan if he could confirm if any adverse comments in respect of the previous hearings had been received. Mr Logan advised that as far as he was aware no adverse comments had been received and that everyone was happy that they were able to put their case across.
The Committee unanimously agreed to proceed with the hearing today.
In advance of the meeting today interested parties confirmed that they would make presentations to the Committee. Mr Jackson read out the names of those representatives and asked them to confirm their attendance.
The Chair, having explained the hearing procedure that would be followed, invited the Planning Officer to present the case.
Before proceeding with the main part of her presentation, the Major Applications Team Leader, Sandra Davies, advised Members of a number of late representations received which were contained within supplementary report number 7. This report was circulated and a short adjournment was taken to allow time for it to be read.
Mr Bain then gave a verbal update on further additional representations received after preparation of supplementary report number 7. He advised that a further 10 emails were received from the Save Loch Long, Protect Portincaple Campaign Group which contained 202 pro-forma representations objecting to the application. The content of the submission related to the manner in which ... view the full minutes text for item 3.