This report highlights the process of the imposition and the ending of the moratorium and to provide advice on why a further moratorium should not be imposed.
The legal advice that had been provided in the report was emphasised, in particular that due to the terms of the moratorium’s imposition being satisfied, it was no longer in effect. The consequential challenging financial situation that had been caused by ongoing delays to certain residential/regeneration developments was highlighted. Such challenges included delayed income from residential rents, the servicing of loans, and the possibility of needing to transfer accumulated interest payments from Capital to Revenue.
There was discussion about the content of the report, with some councillors feeling that the moratorium on taller developments should not be discussed in isolation. It was also suggested that it was important to review the very recent Inland Homes planning appeal inquiry outcome that had found against the Planning Committee’s decision. Additionally, councillors for the Staines area were keen to include details of the alternative options for development that they had been discussing, with a view to reaching a compromise that they felt balanced the needs of Staines with the entirety of the borough.
The possibility of deferring further consideration of the report was discussed. It was felt that this presented a significant financial risk to Spelthorne.
The wider financial impact of the Council’s recent decisions on development were debated, with it generally felt that this had given rise to challenging budgetary conditions, the result of which was currently being considered by committees as part of the annual Budget setting process. The Council’s affordable homes target was also at risk of not being met due to delays in Spelthorne’s own developments and private developers seeking to maximise profits by limiting any affordable homes element to schemes.
The suggestion of a working group that had input into scheme design before projects reached the Development Sub-Committee (DSC) was made. Some felt that such a group would lack the expertise that enabled it to make meaningful contributions to schemes. The DSC also already had a role in considering the design of schemes.
A recorded vote was requested in accordance with Standing Order 21.5(a). Votes were recorded as follows:
FOR the officers’ recommendation (9)
Nichols, Sexton, Barnard, Brar, Buttar, Doran, Dunn, Leighton and Noble
AGAINST the officers’ recommendation (3)
Boughtflower, Islam and Mooney
There were no abstentions.
1. Noted that the previous moratorium was no longer in place.
2. Did not impose a further moratorium.