Agenda and minutes
Planning and the Environment Committee
Apologies were received from Cllr Michael Wenban who is substituted by Cllr Derek Shelbrooke and Cllr Lee Croxton who will be arriving late to Chair the meeting.
The Minutes of the meeting held on Wednesday, 28 March 2012 were signed by the Chair.
Declarations of Interest
No declarations of interest were made.
Note: Cllr Valerie Ashenden began the meeting as Chair.
Presentation by Kent Architecture Centre
A presentation is presented to the Committee by Chris Lamb from the Kent Architecture Centre (copy attached). The presentation summarised the background of the Kent Architecture Centre and its key areas of work connected to the enhancement of design quality, community enabling, Member assistance and Local Design Panels.
The Committee and Chair thanked Chris Lamb for his interesting presentation. Members agreed that an independent review is very welcomed from the Members. Cllr Croxton suggested that an informal meeting be arranged with him, Cllr Theobald, Cllr Ashenden and The Kent Architecture Centre, which Chris Lamb was happy to do.
Presentation - Duty to Co-operate
Hand outs will be distributed at the meeting
The Principal Planning Officers made a presentation to Committee regarding the new ‘duty to cooperate’ introduced as part of the Localism Act, Section 110, which imposes on Planning Authorities a code of conduct and the requirements the policy imposes (copy attached).
The new ‘duty to co-operate’ summarised as follows:-
· where there is a sustainable development or use of land, which would pose a significant impact on at least two local planning areas or on a planning area that falls within the remit of a County Council;
· requires Councils to set out planning policies to address such issues;
· requires Councils and public bodies to engage constructively and on an on-going basis to develop strategic policies; and
· requires Councils to consider joint approaches to plan making.
Members raised concerns that the frequent policy and criteria changes, and goal movement is making strategy development difficult and wondered whether a dedicated body should be set up or an existing body modified to tackle and deal with these cross-boundary issues. The Principal Planning Officer advised that at the moment there is no intention, so far as she is aware, to create a regional or sub-regional forum for discussion of planning issues.
Delays have been caused by the need for additional evidence following dwelling requirement recommendations at Cabinet in February. The Committee agreed that the best way forward is to drive the Core Strategy through as quickly as possible with a publication stage consultation this year and adoption as soon as possible in 2013. The Principal Planning Officer advised that regular portfolio meetings are being held as well as the use of other mechanisms in place, and so long as the plan is clearly evidence driven, this should ease our way through the process.
The Committee thanked the planning team for their presentation.
The Principal Planners presented to the Committee an update on the retail study and resulting policy changes prior to public consultation.
The report is a technical report and it is being used to inform retail and town centre policy development for the Core Strategy in conjunction the other studies and the representation received to previous consultation stages. One of the main issues that came out of last year’s consultation was that a few consultees were concerned about the projected vision and approach of Gravesend Town Centre. Any feedback to this limited consultation will enable Members to fully understand all the issues being raised by the evidence and representors before the submission stage document is published in the Autumn with the Council’s retail and town centre policy.
The report is set out as follows:-
· current national planning policy base;
· implications of the retail study update;
· scale of town centre uses to be accommodated;
· options for accommodating development;
· representations received during the last consultation;
· responses to those representations;
· outline of the consequences for policy.
Discussion was raised regarding internet buying – the report suggests that current figures are at 20 per cent, it was wondered if figures were higher. The Principal Planning Officer advised that the report sets out that at some point the 20 per cent figure would flatline due to the nature of internet buying. With that in mind, Members discussed that Gravesend Town Centre could look at the direction of providing the day out experience for shoppers and a reason to visit Gravesend.
Members discussed whether a similar study would be done for office space – currently there is a requirement for small space office space, simply for the close link of the Ebbsfleet network.
The Committee considered the retail study report and it was agreed that public consultation would go ahead. The recommendations were noted and agreed by the Committee.
To provide Members of the Planning Delivery
Committee with a report on the progress made by the council in
delivering the Areas of Focus and Measures of Accountability
(relevant to the committee) as set out within the Corporate
Business Plan 2011-15.
The Committee considered the Performance Update, Quarter Four 2011/12 report on the progress made by the Council in delivering the Areas of Focus and Measures of Accountability as set out in the corporate business plan 2011/15.
The following areas of improvement/good performance:-
CBP 14 – Affordable Homes
In accordance with the procedure for collation of data for CBP 14, a total of 142 new build homes were delivered during 2011/12 which included 30 delivered in quarter four. For the reporting of affordable housing provision based upon Housing Association handovers however, a total of 151 new build homes were delivered during this time. This figure includes 90 units of general needs housing for social rent, shared ownership and intermediate rent comprising of:-
20 X 1Bed units
32 X 2Bed units
30 X3Bed units and 8 X4Bed units.
In addition, 56 X 1bed and 2bed units for Extra Care were delivered during this financial year with a further five bungalows for people with specialist housing requirements being delivered by the Council.
CBP 29 – Town Centre Footfall
Footfall in the town centre is affected by a range of factors, including consumer confidence and weather. A range of events and promotion in the town centre has helped towards achieving recorded average footfall levels of 186,354, over 1,400 above the set target for the year.
Potential areas for review:-
CBP 13 – Net Additional Homes
Data for CBP13 is currently comprised of Building Control returns and a site visit for Springhead (also known as Penn Green, Springhead Park, and Ebbsfleet). This data is subject to additional data quality checks and site visits undertaken as part of the annual monitoring report.
Whilst 81 completions occurred at Christian Fields Phase 2 during the monitoring period, a net loss of 11 dwellings has been recorded for this site due to the need to take into account 92 demolitions that occurred during the monitoring period , these being Royal Clarendon Hotel (50 dwellings), Watling Court (56 extra care dwellings) and Springhead (55 dwellings).
CBP 28 – Unemployment Rate
The resident rate of unemployment increased in the final quarter of 2011/12 to reach an annual peak of 4.7 per cent. This rise mirrors what is happening in the rest of the country.