Agenda and minutes

Thriving Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 7th December, 2022 10.00 am

Venue: Hybrid - Neuadd Cyngor Ceredigion, Penmorfa, Aberaeron / remotely via video conferrence

Contact: Lisa Evans 

No. Item






Disclosures of personal interest (including whipping declarations) Members are reminded of their personal responsibility to declare any personal and prejudicial interest in respect of matters contained in this agenda in accordance with the provisions of the Local Government Act 2000, the Council’s Constitution and the Members Code of Conduct. In addition, Members must declare any prohibited party whip which the Member has been given in relation to the meeting as per the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011.




Update on Phosphate Situation pdf icon PDF 110 KB


Consideration was given to the update report on the Phosphate Situation at the request of the Committee. Dr Sarah Groves-Phillips, Planning Policy Manager provided Members with the background to the phosphate situation.


It was reported that currently, since the introduction of the interim and revised guidance, the LPA had worked closely with neighbouring authorities who share river catchments namely Carmarthenshire (Tywi) and Pembrokeshire (Cleddau) to address the situation:

  • As a collective the Council had 3 Nutrient Management Boards (NMB) and held the inception meetings, developed a term of reference and established a Technical Officers Group and Stakeholder Group.
  • Had Lobbied Welsh Government for NMB funding, which had been awarded at £75,000 for the 2022-2023 financial year with expectations of £100,000 per catchment for the next 3 subsequent years.
  • Appointed a NMB programme Manager to take forward the work of the NMBs and develop the Nutrient Management Plan for the catchment – they intend to go out for a NMB officer to support the role in the coming weeks.
  • Appointed consultants to expand the Carmarthenshire Nutrient calculator and mitigation guidelines into the Teifi and Cleddau catchments. This was expected to be ready in January / February 2023. Some concerns expressed by NRW would be addressed in the new release and it was anticipated this calculator would be adopted nationally and rolled out as the All-Wales Nutrient Calculator.
  • The Council had undertaken a Geographical Information System (GIS) mapping exercise across the 3 catchments and now had detailed modelling of where ‘the phosphate hotspots’ were and suggested mitigations to reduce phosphate run- off.
  • The Council were currently conducting a feasibility study to create a Nutrient Credit Trading Scheme regionally liaising with DCWW who were also working on a similar project from a Water Company perspective.
  • They were seeking detailed advice on creating long term strategies for the NMPs through the leading expert in the field, including reconsidering / testing the catchment water bodies to establish if there were some where we could implement a ‘de-minimus’ threshold where development may be acceptable.
  • DCWW had completed the source apportionment work on the Teifi and this had revealed that 68% of the phosphorus sampled in the river was from WWTP’s rather than diffuse phosphates (agricultural and surface water run off) as previously expected.
  • To address the source of the phosphates the Council were in early days stages of working with DCWW to establish sites for wetlands and how this could ‘over engineer’ them to not only address the WWTP permit level but provide some ‘headroom’ for future development.
  • LPA were starting to liaise with NRW on where they were undertaking river restoration projects so we can ‘piggyback’ of existing works and increase the headroom capacity through extending riparian buffers they may be working on.
  • LPA had developed Green Infrastructure Action Plans for each of the 6 towns where Phosphate’s mitigations had been a key theme for developing the greening projects.
  • LPA had worked closely with the Public Service Board to ensure Phosphate mitigation projects had been  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Development Management pdf icon PDF 87 KB

Additional documents:


Mr Russell Hughes-Pickering, Corporate Lead Officer- Economy and Regeneration reported that in 2021 Audit Wales completed a review of the Planning Service in Ceredigion. The final review document was published in November 2021.


The report set out 10 recommendations relating to governance arrangements and to improving service capacity.


Appendix 1 presented set out the Council’s response and progress against each of these recommendations.


It was reported that the work was taken forward through a Task and Finish Group that had been set up earlier in 2021 to implement an Action Plan for the improvement of governance and performance issues. The focus up until to March 2022 was largely on addressing governance issues and identifying additional resource to tackle planning application and enforcement backlogs.


The work on governance issues resulted in changes to the Constitution agreed in March 2022, including:


  • New Terms of Reference
  • New Operational Procedures
  • New Code of Practice
  • New Delegated Powers


It was reported that training was provided to all Members after the elections in May and these changes had now been embedded with procedures and practices being adopted well.


To address performance issues, it was necessary to look at tackling issues in four main areas of the development management process – validation, consultee delays, phosphates and staff capacity to deal with cases.


Validation was running 8 weeks late, so cases were often reaching officers at a point where decision should normally be issued. To address this, additional resources and training was made available corporately. The current position was that most applications were now processed within a day or two of being submitted which was where the service would like to be. Other issues remain as a significant number of applications were of a poor quality, meaning many required further information or changes in order to become validated.


Consultee delays often reflect capacity issues elsewhere, for example, in Highways or Ecology. Where the Council had control additional resources had been provided to help address issues. Further resource was being sought to assist with ecological input, in particular to help clear cases where phosphates had been an issue.


The phosphate issue had led to a large number of cases being held in abeyance building up a backlog of cases. New guidance and a proforma would help progress some applications but would add pressures over the next 3-4 months to clear cases.


Overall, there were now 511 planning applications (where ideally the service  would want around 200) and 550 enforcement cases (ideally should be no more than 200 cases).


As staff recruitment has proved difficult, a tender exercise for engaging consultants took place earlier in the year and following evaluation of tenders, Capita were appointed to support the service deal with planning applications and enforcement cases. Capita have been actively working on cases since the beginning of September 2022 and are beginning to deliver recommendations so decisions can be made by the Authority. The process for considering applications or enforcement matters and making decisions was the same regardless of whether  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


To confirm the Minutes of the previous Meeting and to consider any matters arising from those Minutes pdf icon PDF 103 KB


It was agreed to confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 19 October 2022.




To consider the Overview and Scrutiny Forward Work Programme pdf icon PDF 89 KB

Additional documents:


It was agreed to note the contents of the Forward Work Programme presented subject to the following:

  • An update on the phosphates and planning service would be provided at the April as previously agreed at the meeting.
  • Welsh Transport Strategy also be presented in the April meeting, to include details of the land/planning permission which were required to proceed with the reopening the Aberystwyth to Carmarthen railway line