Agenda, decisions and draft minutes

Environment and Sustainability Committee - Tuesday, 9 November 2021 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Council Offices, Knowle Green, Staines-upon-Thames TW18 1XB

Contact: Chris Curtis  Email: c.curtis@spelthorne.gov.uk

Link: Members of the public may hear the proceedings by tuning into the Council's YouTube channel

Items
No. Item

507.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 242 KB

To confirm as a correct record the minutes of the Environmental and Sustainability Committee meetings held on 14 September, 6 October and 3 November 2021.

 

The minutes of the meeting to be held on 3 November are to follow.

Additional documents:

Decision:

The minutes of the meetings held on 14 September and 6 October 2021 were agreed a correct record.

 

 

Minutes:

The minutes of the meetings held on 14 September and 6 October 2021 were agreed a correct record.

 

508.

Disclosures of Interest

To receive any disclosures of interest from councillors in accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct for members.

Decision:

There were none.

 

 

Minutes:

There were none.

 

509.

Questions from members of the Public pdf icon PDF 102 KB

The Chair, or his nominee, to answer any questions raised by members of the public in accordance with Standing Order 40.

 

Note: the deadline for questions to be considered at this meeting is 5pm on Tuesday, 2 November 2021.

 

At the time of publication of this agenda three questions had been received.

 

Decision:

Permitted questions were responded to, details of which will be included in the minutes of the meeting.

 

 

Minutes:

Three questions were received from members of the public in relation to agenda item 10, Updates from Task and Finish and/or Working Groups.  Only two questions are admissible for each agenda item, furthermore one of the questions submitted was rejected by the Monitoring Officer as it did not fall within the remit of the Environment and Sustainability Committee.

 

Question 1 from Kath Sanders

 

“As Mr Nigel Rowe mentioned in Question 5 at the July Council meeting "The government has made it clear that infrastructure constraints should be taken into account when setting “a sustainable housing target” and work on this has not yet been done."

 

The answer to him and to several of my questions at the last full council meeting in July referenced the draft Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP) which residents have not had sight of. One reason for not publishing it seems to be that it was only draft and another that it was awaiting a Part 2. This has not precluded the publication of other draft reports in the Local Plan process or other reports where a Part 2 followed. 

 

There seems to be no mention of the IDP in the minutes of the Environment & Sustainability Committee meeting on 14th September, I don't believe it was mentioned at the Extraordinary E&S Committee meeting last night (6th October) and it is not in the forward plan for the next meeting on the 9th November. The Local Plan Task Group does not publish minutes but, in the last verbal update to the E&S Committee meeting on 14th September, it was not mentioned either.

 

Please can you provide an update as to when the Infrastructure Delivery Plan will be made available to residents?”

 

Response from Cllr Beardsmore, Chair of Environment and Sustainability Committee:

 

“Work is continuing to develop the Infrastructure Delivery Plan in line with the proposed site allocations for the Consultation on the pre-Submission version of the Local Plan (Regulation 19) in 2022.  This further work includes the Part 2 element which will consider individual sites in greater detail, in regard to their infrastructure requirements if any are identified. We Members feel our residents should see the full picture rather than seeing Part 1 ahead of the Part 2 element.  To ensure that the IDP as a whole is a robust, evidence based document it is necessary to provide the most up-to-date information as a means of supporting the work on the new Local Plan.  The IDP has previously been through two rounds of consultation with service providers and other key stakeholders to establish their needs in the context of the Borough’s housing requirements and anticipated growth.  These consultations have allowed the relevant providers to identify where additional services would be required however not all providers have identified needs as a result of the proposed growth. 

 

The IDP, as a whole, will be published in advance of the Regulation 19 consultation, which the Council’s Local development Scheme states is to be held in February and March  ...  view the full minutes text for item 509.

510.

Ward Issues

To consider any issues raised by ward councillors in accordance with Standing Order 34.2

 

Note: the deadline for ward issues to be notified for consideration at this meeting is 12 noon on Tuesday, 2 November 2021.

 

At the time of publication of this agenda no ward issues were received.

 

Decision:

There were none.

 

 

Minutes:

There were none.

 

511.

Colne Valley Regional Park pdf icon PDF 217 KB

To consider Spelthorne Borough Council rejoining membership of Colne Valley Regional Park.

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

The Committee resolved to agree to Spelthorne Borough Council re-joining as a member of the Colne Valley Regional Park through a formal agreement.

 

 

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report proposing that Spelthorne Borough Council re-joined as a member of Colne Valley Regional Park (CVRP) through a formal agreement and that the subscription fee was funded by the Green Initiatives Fund through a formal bid at the next Committee meeting.

 

Staines Moor, other significant green spaces, and water reservoirs form part of the Colne Valley Regional Park and contribute to the borough’s landscape and local biodiversity.  Re-joining as members would allow a more co-ordinated approach to improvements and projects undertaken and complement the Local Plan.

 

One member specifically commented that they supported the proposal to re-join the CVRP but advised that it had been agreed by the Climate Change Working Group that a formal bidding procedure should be put in place for funding from the Green Initiatives Fund.  As membership was not time pressured, he suggested approving the request to re-join CVRP with funding obtained from the Green Initiatives Fund should a bid be approved, or from another appropriate source if necessary.

 

Alternative options considered and rejected:

Not to join the CVRP, which would limit opportunities to fund schemes associated with improving Staines Moor and the River Ash.

 

The Committee resolved to agree to Spelthorne Borough Council re-joining as a member of the Colne Valley Regional Park through a formal agreement, funding to be provided from an appropriate source.

 

Reason for decision:

Parts of the Borough are located within the Colne Valley Regional Park.  The Park provides funding to its members to carry out initiatives and projects aimed at improving the local natural environment.  This can include biodiversity projects or initiatives aimed at improving green infrastructure networks in the Borough.

 

512.

Housing Delivery Test Action Plan 2021 pdf icon PDF 155 KB

To consider the Housing Delivery Test Action Plan 2021

Additional documents:

Decision:

The Committee resolved to:

1.    Approve the Housing Delivery Test Plan subject to the changes outlined during discussion of the item.

2.    Delegate authority to the Chair and Vice Chair of the Environment and Sustainability Committee to approve the changes in consultation with the Planning Development Manager, and

3.    Publish the agreed final version of the Housing Delivery Test Plan on the Council’s website.  

 

 

Minutes:

Spelthorne Borough Council is required by national government to produce a Housing Delivery Test Action Plan (HDTAP) because housing delivery for the previous three years fell below the minimum annual local housing need figure of 611 dwellings per annum, and currently stands at 50%.  In addition to the requirement for an action plan, a 20% buffer will be applied to the housing requirements and a presumption in favour of development because the housing delivery for the past three years was less than 75%.  The HDTAP sets out what actions have been taken and also future actions to address the issue.

 

The Planning Development Manager explained that the action plan did not play a role in deciding emerging issues in the local plan but looked at:

  • The Council’s corporate documents that affect housing delivery
  • The issues, both nationally and locally, that had impacted on the target numbers not being achieved and analysis of these,
  • Identified measures that could be taken to improve the situation.  This included more pre-application discussions to ensure issues were addressed early on, building relationships with developers, increased presentations to councillors for major developments and improvements to the planning section of the Council’s website.

 

The Committee discussed the matter at length and asked a number of questions about the report. One member commented that some aspects of the plan were aspirational and, in relation to the housing numbers quoted for Staines, conflicted with the views of many Staines residents and ward members.  It was noted that a number of other local authorities within Surrey had also fallen well below their expected housing number. 

 

Whilst it was acknowledged that the Council’s housing delivery fell short of the total required, members considered that the Council should not be willing to compromise important standards such as affordability and sustainability to meet housing numbers.  

 

During the debate, the following amendments to the plan were suggested:

 

1.    Paragraph 2.6 of the HDTAP should be amended to reflect that the Council have again challenged the target number set by national government.

2.    The introduction should make clear that the HDTAP relates to planning development management rather than strategic planning and the local plan.

3.    More information about the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and how this interlinks with the wider infrastructure provision and the local plan.

4.    In the section titled ‘Challenges’ it was suggested that this should be amended to reflect our commitment to increase the housing numbers, but not to compromise our standards on affordability, design standard and environmental factors, and aim to encourage developers to do the same. 

 

Comments were also made about the need for diversity of housing, not just building flats.  The Chair commented that the limited land available for development made this option unlikely unless green belt was released.

 

Another aspect raised by members was that the presumption in favour of development, as directed by central government, increased the potential number of planning appeals for local authorities with the lowest housing delivery statistics, such as the Council’s.   This could  ...  view the full minutes text for item 512.

513.

Outdoor Gym Equipment pdf icon PDF 133 KB

To consider delegation of the decision on the outcome of the tendering exercise for Outdoor Gym equipment.

 

Decision:

It was resolved to:

A.           Delegate the appointment of the contractor to the Group Head of Neighbourhood Services in consultation with the Chair and Vice Chair of the Environment and Sustainability Committee.

B.           Authorise the Head of Corporate Governance to complete any legal documentation necessary to implement the new contract.

 

 

Minutes:

The Group Head of Neighbourhood Services presented a report requesting that the appointment of a contractor to install outdoor gym equipment was delegated to herself in consultation with the Chair and Vice Chair of the Committee.  Tenders received from the procurement exercise were being evaluated, however due to the detail and complexity of the evaluation process it was taking longer than anticipated.  To wait until the next Committee meeting for a decision to be made would result in a delay in ordering and installing equipment and potentially increased costs.

 

Alternative options considered and rejected:

Do not agree to the delegation and submit a report to the Environment and Sustainability Committee in January 2022 for a final decision.

 

It was resolved to:

A.           Delegate the appointment of the contractor to the Group Head of Neighbourhood Services in consultation with the Chair and Vice Chair of the Environment and Sustainability Committee.

B.           Authorise the Head of Corporate Governance to complete any legal documentation necessary to implement the new contract.

 

Reason for decision:

The procurement exercise had been undertaken and the tenders evaluated. Due to the timing of the committee cycles the report would not be available for until January 2022. Delegating the appointment of the contractor will prevent a potential delay to the installation dates.

 

514.

Revenue Monitoring Q2 (July - Sept 2021)

To note the forecast outturn for 2021/22 as at 30 September 2021.

Additional documents:

Decision:

The Committee resolved to note the draft forecast outturn for 2021/22 as at 30 September 2021 and the aggregate variances by cost centre reported in Appendix C6.

 

 

Minutes:

The revenue monitoring report covered the period to the end of September 2021.  There were three main changes from the previous report:

 

a)    Firstly, a saving of £49k in respect of the annual contribution to the River Thames Flood Scheme,

b)    Secondly, two variances for Development Control from an underspend to an overspend of £154k based on projection that before the financial year end legal costs may be incurred related to appeals. 

c)    Thirdly, income over-recovery relating to planning performance agreements had increased to £94k.

 

It was commented that although there had been an overspend in respect of refuse collection, it was important to maintain the level of service provided. 

 

The Committee resolved to note report.

 

515.

Capital Monitoring Q2 (July - Sept 2021) pdf icon PDF 212 KB

To note the current level of capital expenditure for capital projects that fall under this Committee’s remit as at 30 September 2021.

Additional documents:

Decision:

The Committee resolved to note the current level of underspend on capital expenditure against its Capital Programme provision as at 30 September 2021, which may be subject to change following the Corporate Policy and Resources Committee meeting in November.

 

 

Minutes:

The report covered the period to September 2021.  There was little change and the projected overspend of £82k related to the Laleham Park upgrade which was reported at the last Committee meeting. 

 

Concern was expressed that whilst the Committee was expected to note the report, there were some contributing factors related to project monitoring that were not presented alongside the report.  The Group Head of Commissioning and Transformation advised that following the change to the Committee system, it was necessary to make changes to the project management reporting process.  A significant amount of work was required to do this but it was progressing.

 

The Committee resolved to note the report.

 

516.

Updates from Task and Finish and/or Working Groups

To receive written or verbal updates from the following Task and Finish/Working Groups:

 

·         Local Plan Task Group                         Chair of E&S Committee

·         Staines Development Task Group      Chair of E&S Committee

·         CIL Task Group                                      Chair of E&S Committee

·         Climate Change Working Group         Chair of E&S Committee

 

Decision:

It was resolved to note the updates provided for the following task and finish and working groups.

 

 

Minutes:

The following updates were provided:

 

Local Plan Task Group

“The group has been meeting frequently throughout October to discuss the draft policies and allocations. The site allocation discussions follow meetings held with landowners and agents to obtain further information and to put forward queries raised by Members of the group, plus a review of highway issues by Surrey County Council.

 

The group has also discussed potential sites for gypsies and travellers, which are now undergoing further assessment by officers. It is hoped that the draft policies and allocations can be finalised by the end of November. This will allow important work on the Infrastructure Delivery Plan and traffic modelling to be completed.”

 

Staines Development Task Group

“The group has met to consider next steps for the Staines Development Framework in light of the consultation responses and have viewed a draft structure of the document. They are starting to consider key issues such as townscape, including building heights and massing. Future meetings will cover transport and parking, public realm and amenity space. The group has also agreed a summary of the consultation responses that will be published alongside the full document.”

 

Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Task Group

“The CIL Task Group met on 30 September to discuss a number of Strategic Bids.  Two bids were from the CCG proposing reconfigurations and refurbishments works to the Staines and Sunbury Health Centres to increase capacity. The third bid was from Surrey Education towards the expansion of Bishop Wand School. The outcome of the meeting was as follows –

 

      £400,000 Strategic CIL toward the expansion of Bishop Wand to be recommended to the Joint Committee for approval

      £71,760 Strategic CIL towards the reconfiguration of Staines Health Centre to create two new clinical rooms to be recommended to the Joint Committee for approval

 

The Spelthorne Joint Committee, as the final decision maker for Strategic CIL spend, will be presented with the above schemes at their meeting on 22 November. The Strategic bid for the refurbishment of Sunbury Health Centre is not being recommended at this time. Further information is required from the CCG, and once received the bid will be reconsidered at a subsequent Task Group meeting.”

 

In response to questions raised about the recommendations and the varying amounts of money, the Committee was advised that the submitted requests had been considered by local CIL task groups in detail.  Further details would be available when a report was submitted to the Spelthorne Joint Committee for consideration and decision and it was not considered appropriate to debate the issue or share information at this stage.

 

Climate Change Working Group

The group had held their first meeting on 13 October.  Another meeting was to be held shortly when it was anticipated that a Chairman would be appointed.

 

They had received details of activities and work done to date and also suggested items to go forward.

 

The Committee resolved to note the updates provided.

 

517.

Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 130 KB

A copy of the Environmental & Sustainability Committee Forward Plan is attached.

 

Decision:

It was resolved to note the forward plan subject to the additional items agreed at the meeting.

 

 

Minutes:

A verbal update on the site investigation was to be added for January 2022 as agreed earlier.  The recovery action plan would also be included as a standard item for future meetings.  

 

One member of the committee proposed that the following items were also added to the Committee’s forward plan:

 

1.    A project management report to be considered alongside the capital monitoring report as a standard item

2.    Finalise bidding process for Green Initiatives Fund and other Climate Change Working Group actions.

 

It was resolved to note the forward plan subject to the additional items above.

 

518.

Urgent business

To consider any business deemed as urgent by the Chair.

 

Petition - “Prevent tower-block developments in the Staines Conservation Area or overlooking the riverfront, and spread the planning housing growth target more evenly across the borough.”

 

The chair has agreed to this item being added to the agenda in accordance with Section 100B(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972 for the following reasons:

 

“The Local Plan Task Group and the Staines Development Task Group are currently assessing issues which are linked to the subject of the petition and therefore waiting until January will prevent this being considered appropriately.”

 

The item, which was omitted from the main agenda, was referred from Council on 14 October 2021, under the following resolution:


Resolved that the petition be referred to the Environment and Sustainability Committee for further consideration.

Decision:

It was resolved to refer the petition “Prevent tower-block developments in the Staines Conservation Area or overlooking the riverfront, and spread the planning housing growth target more evenly across the borough”to the Local Plan Task Group and Staines Development Task Group for further consideration and reported back to the Committee. 

 

 

Minutes:

A petition had been presented to Council on 14 October 2021 when it was agreed to refer it to the Environment and Sustainability Committee for consideration.

 

The petition had not been included in the published agenda but added as urgent business as it could not wait until the next meeting in January 2022.  The Local Plan Task Group (LPTG) and Staines Development Task Group (SDTG) were currently assessing this as part of their work in the coming months.  The Chair of the Committee suggested that the most appropriate course of action was for the petition to be considered by those task groups when meeting to progress the Local Plan and Staines Development Framework.

 

The Chair of the SDTG confirmed that the petition and the issues raised in it were in the forefront of the minds of those on the task group and would be borne in mind. 

 

A question was asked regarding adoption of the petition and the Committee was informed by the Principal Solicitor that the advice circulated at the time of the Council meeting still stood and that it would not be lawful for the Council to do so.  The most appropriate process would be for the task groups to consider the petition when doing their work and then report back to Environment and Sustainability Committee with their recommendations for consideration. 

 

The view was put forward that it was only fair for the housing target to be more evenly distributed across the borough, not predominantly in Staines and only an independent consultant could fairly facilitate this.  Furthermore, at a recent meeting Staines councillors had agreed that they would not support any development in the Staines conversation and riverside area of more than 5 or 6 storeys. 

 

The Group Head of Regeneration and Growth advised that from an officer perspective, the most appropriate way to deal with this would be for the SDTG to consider and discuss the matter fully and reach a stage where they were in agreement on the recommendations to be made. The SDTG would then meet jointly with the LPTG to discuss the recommendations they were putting forward. The LPTG would then consider those proposals before making a final recommendation to the Environment and Sustainability Committee for their consideration.

 

It was recognised that difficult decisions had to be made and that Staines town as the focal point for the borough needed to be the best design possible to maximise economic and residential opportunities.  All Staines councillors were members of the SDTG, and every ward was represented in the LPTG which was as politically proportionate as possible to ensure fair representation. Officers advised that the relevant task groups were holding regular meetings and councillors were challenging and questioning all aspects of their work.

 

A question was asked as to whether the outline planning permission granted in 2008 for the waterfront site still stood and therefore subsequent planning applications could exercise that permission.  The Chair believed, but could not confirm, that the last full permission had expired  ...  view the full minutes text for item 518.