The Role of the Responsible Authority (Agenda item 7)
Briefing by David Spencer, Joint Deputy Planning Manager.
The Joint Deputy Planning Manager had been invited to the meeting to provide the Committee with an overview of Planning’s involvement with regard to betting shops and other licensed premises and how licensing as a whole fitted in with the wider area of the planning committee.
A planning permission ran with the land or a building – the morality or the ethics of the applicant was not a planning consideration. The planning perspective was to focus on the suitability of the development. Material planning considerations included: amenity, crime & disorder, design, layout, appearance and the suitability of the use. It was considered unlikely that an off-licence or betting shop would be given permission in employment areas. However, even in these stringent times there was still a strong demand for licensable activities such as entertainment, alcohol and late night refreshments.
There were three main policies for licensed premises within the Local Development Framework - to support leisure facilities in town centres (75% in terms of policy in town centres had to be retail), protection of amenity and support new community and leisure proposals in villages and to protect existing facilities.
The Planning System could approve a development at variance with the Licensing Authority. The Local Planning Authority was not bound by the conclusions of the Licensing Committee.
Once a use had been long established its control would be through the licensing regime and changes in operation might not require planning consent but would require amendments to the Licence.
What could be acceptable from a licensing point of view could have planning issues (e.g. highways) which would result in a scheme being refused planning permission.
Members were provided with the meaning of retail use and were also provided with a list of planning uses that gave an indication of the types of use within A1 and A2 use class.
A1 Shops – Shops – butchers, bakers, supermarkets, clothing, off-licences.
A2 Financial and professional services -Financial services such as banks and building societies and betting shops.
Certain changes involving similar types of use did not require planning permission; for example permission would not be needed when both the present and proposed uses fell within the same class. However, it was felt that betting shops should be seen as a ‘standalone’ use but the Government did not want to be seen to be interfering with market activities. These were issues that Members could consider through the new Local Plan; for example if there was a specific issue for Breckland such as cumulative impact that could be backed up by appropriate evidence.
Councillor Armes asked which category car showrooms came under. Members were informed that car showrooms were a form of retail but came under a use without class meaning it would require planning permission if a change of use was applied.
In response to a further question, it was noted that Charity Shops came under retail definitions. The Licensing & Business Support Manager stated that Licensing did get involved in charity collections.
Overall there were perceptions of disconnection between Planning and Licensing. There were also a number of licensed premises that had been around for hundreds of years that were beyond the planning system. Further to this, the Planning Authority was not bound by a decision of licensing and visa versa. A planning condition on opening times could be attached to the permission and if breached it would then become an enforcement issue.
Members were reminded that any objections in relation to the Licensing Objectives would automatically be referred to the Licensing Sub-Committee. The Chairman said that he did take account of objections but every authority had to work within the Law but felt that more weight should be given to the Police. Mr Grover outlined his responsibilities.
The Joint Deputy Planning Manger advised from a planning point of view, the key driver was amenity, looking at the adjoining uses and trying to find the right balance. Licensing would be consulted on how specific hours should be set to ascertain reasonable hours of operation.
Councillor Armes mentioned leisure in the countryside and the fact that planning and licensing should work together. Members were informed that Breckland did have examples of such leisure facilities in the countryside that worked well. There were some forms of diversification that were looked upon favourably; however, amenity and highway issues had to be considered in terms of travel and the suitability of buildings to be adapted. In response to the latter, the Licensing & Business Support Manager explained that licensing was restricted based on the licensing objectives. For example, parking and highway issues were nothing to do with the said objectives but agreed that there were many grey areas within the legalisation.
Councillor Sharp asked about the extension of business hours. Members were informed that such information would be reviewed by all responsible authorities and the applicant would have to apply for a variation through Licensing. The Sub-Committee procedure was explained.
The Joint Deputy Planning Manager was thanked for attending the meeting.
A copy of the presentation that was not shown at the meeting and a copy of a Government Notice on Planning and Betting Shops are appended to these Minutes for information.