This week's Councillor Column is written by David Kinniburgh, Conservative councillor for Helensburgh and Lomond South and chair of Argyll and Bute's planning, protective services and licensing committee.

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At the last meeting of the planning, protective services and licensing committee there was a report to members advising that our annual planning performance framework (PPF) document for 2017/18 had been submitted to the Scottish Government for review.

This is a document which all planning authorities must submit annually for formal scoring against a number of performance indicators. This will be our planning services department’s seventh PPF document.

The document is to demonstrate that the council is ‘open for business’ with a focus on the promotion of sustainable economic development whilst securing an appropriate balance to protect the special qualities of Argyll and Bute by presenting a series of examples of good practice and case studies which demonstrate the delivery of high quality developments on the ground.

One aspect of the document I would like to pick up on though are the governance arrangements for the planning, protective services and licensing (PPSL) committee.

In planning terms all development management and development policy items are considered by the PPSL committee which consists of 15 elected members from the four areas which form Argyll and Bute.

The committee meets monthly, and has done so since planning was centralised in 2009 (except July), and it also holds site visits and local discretionary hearings as required.

In 2017/18 the committee met on a total of 18 occasions in locations throughout Argyll and Bute.

The number of planning applications dealt with by committee is very small as the council operates a ‘scheme of delegation’, where officials have delegated powers to reach decisions on planning applications which are uncontentious and conform with planning policy.

In the year under review 98.1 per cent of applications were decided in this way.

Members of the PPSL committee can also be selected by ballot to sit on local review bodies, which consist of three members, to consider appeals against decisions taken by officers under delegated powers.

This can be an appeal against a planning refusal, but is normally an appeal against conditions attached to a planning approval by officers.

The types of applications members can be asked to deal with in Argyll and Bute are many and varied, and to enable them to scrutinise and deal with them effectively, members attend monthly training sessions on different aspects of the planning system.

The full PPF document can be found on the council’s website.