Venue: Council Chamber, Council Offices, The Burys, Godalming. View directions
Contact: Fiona Cameron Democratic Services Officer
The Minutes of the meeting of the Environment Overview & Scrutiny Committee held on 18 September 2017 are attached, and Members are asked to confirm them as a correct record.
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 18 September 2017 were confirmed as a correct of the meeting.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS
To receive apologies for absence and note substitutions.
Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Peter Isherwood.
Cllr Ross Welland attended as a substitute.
All Councillors had been invited to attend the meeting for Item 5, Community Infrastructure Levy – Draft Charging Schedule, and to participate in the discussion following the consultant’s presentation.
The following Councillors attended for Item 5:
Cllr Brian Adams (Portfolio Holder for the Local Plan)
Cllr Jim Edwards (Portfolio Holder for Environment)
Cllr Patricia Ellis
Cllr John Gray
Cllr Val Henry
Cllr Richard Seaborne
Cllr Liz Townsend
Cllr Bob Upton
DECLARATIONS OF INTERESTS
To receive from Members declarations of interests in relation to any items included on the agenda for this meeting, in accordance with Waverley’s Code of Local Government.
There were no declarations of interests in relation to matters on the agenda for the meeting.
QUESTIONS BY MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC
The Chairman to respond to any questions submitted by members of the public in accordance with Procedure Rule 10.
There were no questions from members of the public.
The purpose of this report is to seek the views of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee on the rates to be included in the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Draft Charging Schedule (DCS). This will set out the Council’s approach to collecting developer contributions towards infrastructure. The report also sets out the proposed next steps leading to the adoption of the CIL Charging Schedule and its implementation. In due course, this matter will be considered by the Executive with a view to the DCS being approved for consultation. The Overview and Scrutiny Committee is invited to forward any comments on this matter to the Executive.
That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee considers the proposed revised CIL rates and the other issues in this report and forwards any comments to the Executive.
The Chairman welcomed Mark Felgate, from the Council’s consultants Three Dragons, and invited Graham Parrott, Planning Policy Manager to remind Members of the background to the Community Infrastructure Draft Charging Schedule.
The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) was a tariff system that would enable contributions to be collected from planning developments towards infrastructure projects. CIL would largely replace Section 106 developer contributions, although these would still be used for site-specific infrastructure and to secure affordable housing.
The Council had to prepare a CIL Charging Schedule which would outline what CIL rates the Council would be charging. This had two formal consultation stages, before being considered at an independent examination. The Council had consulted on the Preliminary Draft Charging Schedule over the summer, following consideration by the Environment O&S Committee and the Executive. The consultation responses had been considered, further modelling had been undertaken by Three Dragons, and the Draft Charging Schedule had been prepared. Public consultation on the Draft Charging Schedule was the last major stage in the process leading towards submission and examination of the CIL Charging Schedule.
Mark Felgate gave a presentation that informed Members about: the feedback received via the consultation on the Preliminary Draft Charging Schedule; the main changes in the Draft Charging Schedule compared to the Preliminary Draft Charging Schedule; what the Examiner would be considering; and, the proposed new CIL rates in the Draft Charging Schedule.
There had been nearly 40 responses to the consultation on the Preliminary Draft Charging Schedule, which was above the average level of response at this stage in the CIL process. Responses had been largely from parish, district and county councils, land promoters and developers, and statutory organisations. Generally, the comments were not supported with evidence, but this was not unusual in relation to the Preliminary Draft Charging Schedule. More detailed comments could be expected on the Draft Charging Schedule.
In response to the consultation responses and review of new and updated evidence, a number of changes had been made to the viability assessment that under-pinned the CIL rates proposed in the Draft Charging Schedule. Key pieces of new evidence were: a new dataset on house prices, indexed to August 2017, that showed a continued pattern of rising market; updated build costs and other development costs, which had also increased; a new assessment of land values, which showed a higher land value on small sites and a lower land value on medium and large sites.
The approach taken in the updated viability assessment had also been reviewed: the case studies had been revised to ensure they were representative of the local market; more detailed descriptions had been provided for different types of older persons housing; the number of tests had been reduced to be clearer to understand; and, Dunsfold Aerodrome would be considered separately.
In comparing the CIL rates in the Preliminary Draft Charging Schedule with the rates now proposed in the Draft Charging Schedule, the differential rates for residential development to reflect provision of Suitable Alternative Natural ... view the full minutes text for item 33.
This report provides an update on the Council’s latest performance against the Government’s targets for speed and quality for planning applications and appeals. It also presents the outcome of the Review of the Development Control Function that followed the Cratus Strategic Review. The Development Control review is included as Annexe 1.
This report includes recommendations for the improvement of the Service as a consequence of recent performance but also taking into account the conclusions of the Service Review. The recommendations include alternative timescales for implementation which vary depending on the availability of resources to carry out identified tasks.
That the Environment O&S Committee receive the Planning Performance report and make comments and observations to the Executive on the report and Improvement Plan.
Elizabeth Sims, Head of Planning, introduced the report on the Council’s latest performance against Government targets for the speed and quality of planning decision-making. The report also presented the outcome of the external review of the Development Control function that had been carried out following the Cratus Strategic Review.
The report included recommendations for the improvement of the Development Control function that took account of recent performance and the conclusions of the service review.
The Council’s performance on speed of decision-making was very good, as was the performance on quality of decision-making in relation to Non-major planning applications. However, performance in relation to quality of decisions on Major planning applications was causing some concern. Quality of decision-making was assessed on the number of planning appeals allowed as a percentage of the total number of decisions (not the number of appeals decided).
The target for Major applications was for the number of appeals allowed to be no more than 10% of the total number of decisions on Major applications. The Council’s current performance was 6.4%, but there were a number of Major appeal decisions outstanding. Officers were reasonably confident that appeals on 7 sites within the Farnham Neighbourhood Plan would be dismissed. However, there was a risk that if these were all allowed, performance would exceed the threshold for ‘Special Measures’, with the threat of planning powers being transferred to the Planning Inspectorate.
The main reasons for appeals being allowed largely related to the out of date nature of the Local Plan. It was anticipated that as progress was made on Part 1 and Part 2 of the Local Plan the Council would be able to demonstrate better certainty of deliverability on sites in relation to the 5-year Housing Land Supply and this should translate into improved success on Major appeals. There was a shared responsibility on Members and Officers to progress the Local Plan Part 1 as quickly as possible to support robust decision-making.
The scope of the independent review of the Planning Service had concentrated on identifying and supporting more effective customer service and communication. The key findings were: a need for improved communication particularly with applicants, Members and parishes; improved processes to better respond to the volume and complexity of case work, and to improve the Planning Committee process; and, selection, recruitment and training of staff.
Referring to the Planning Service Improvement Plan, Elizabeth Sims explained that this combined actions to address performance on speed and quality of decision-making and also those to address the matters highlighted in the service review relating to customer service and communication. It was acknowledged that with the imminent departure of the Development Control Manager there were some short-term resourcing issues to progressing some of the actions whilst a permanent replacement was recruited. It would be important that the marginal income from the expected increase in Planning Fees before the end of 2017 was ring-fenced and used to support delivery of the Improvement Plan.
Committee Members welcomed the report which they felt was ... view the full minutes text for item 34.
To receive a presentation on Place Shaping by the Director of Frontline Services.
Due to time constraints, the Committee agreed to defer this item until the January 2018 meeting.
Air Quality Update
Richard Homewood to give a verbal update on Waverley’s air quality monitoring and reporting, and the latest meeting of the Air Quality Steering Group.
Richard Homewood, Head of Environmental Services gave a verbal update on air quality matters:
· The Air Quality Steering Group had met in October and considered a number of areas of work that could contribute to improving air quality, including barriers to the take up of Low- or No-Emission vehicles by Hackney Carriage and Private Hire drivers, and the development of a Surrey strategy for building a network of vehicle charging points across the county. A Farnham Air Quality Working Group was being established that would explore actions that might be taken to address the poor air quality in the Farnham Air Quality Management Area.
· With regards to Waverley’s monitoring and reporting of air quality, the 2016 Annual Status Report (which reported 2015 monitoring data) had been withdrawn due to concerns about validity of the data. There was also a lack of confidence in the data reported in the 2017 Annual Status Report. An external audit of Waverley’s air quality monitoring procedures was underway, and there would be a report to Members in due course setting out the measures to be taken to meet the Council’s obligations in relation to air quality monitoring. Key Members had been kept informed of progress, as had DEFRA.
The Committee noted the update, and that further information would be reported in January 2018. The Chairman was pleased to see that the Farnham Air Quality Working Group would enable participation by local stakeholders in exploring options to address air quality issues in Farnham.
The Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee, along with the O&S Co-ordinating Board is responsible for managing the Committee’s work programme.
The work programme (attached) takes account of items identified on the latest Executive Forward Programme (Annexe 2) as due to come forward for decision.
A Scrutiny Tracker has been produced to assist the Committee in monitoring the recommendations that have been agreed at its meetings. The Tracker details the latest position on the implementation of these recommendations.
Members are invited to consider their work programme and make any comments and/or amendments they consider necessary, including suggestions for any additional topics that the Committee may wish to add to its work programme.
The Chairman directed the Committee to the Committee Work Programme set out in the agenda. The Committee noted the items currently scheduled to come forward in January and March 2018:
January 2018 -
· Service Plans 2018 – 2021
· Budget 2018/19
· Q2 Performance monitoring
· Place-shaping presentation & discussion
· Air Quality update
· Corporate Priorities update
March 2018 –
Update on Joint Enforcement Initiative
The Chairman also advised the Committee that two Special Meetings of the Committee could be needed in December 2017:
· If the Local Plan Inspector’s report was received in time to allow the Council to consider adopting the draft Local Plan before the end of the year, the Environment Overview & Scrutiny Committee would meet to carry out pre-decision scrutiny of the final draft Local Plan prior to a Special Executive and Council.
· The Committee Working Group looking at the procurement options for the Waste & Recycling, Street Cleaning, and Grounds Maintenance services from 2019 was due to report on their recommendations, to go onto the Executive in January 2018. This was a substantial piece of work and would require a separate meeting of the Committee to consider the findings and recommendations.
The Chairman invited Cllr Williams to update the Committee on the work that the Working Group had been doing on the Waste, Recycling and Street Cleaning contracts procurement.
Cllr Williams informed the Committee that the Working Group had met three times to consider the procurement of the waste, recycling and street cleaning services. They had then met another two times, to look at the Grounds Maintenance service and then to look at the options for procuring Grounds Maintenance in combination with Waste and Recycling, and/or Street Cleaning services. The meetings had been supported by officers and the Council’s consultants. There had been a huge amount of information for Members to absorb, which had been challenging as well as interesting. Conclusions about the services, and recommendations about the approach to procurement, were being drawn together and would be presented to the Committee in due course.
This report provides information on key corporate priorities that fall within the remit of the Environment Overview & Scrutiny Committee.
Updates since the Committee report in September are shown in bold type.
It is recommended that the Committee considers whether there are matters in relation to these Corporate Priorities that they would like to add to the Committee Forward Programme, ensuring that the purpose for scrutiny is clearly defined and any proposal passes the work programme selection criteria flowchart.
The Committee received an updated report on Corporate Priorities falling within their remit, which highlighted where there had been progress since the September meeting.
The Chairman informed the Committee that a planning application had been received for Listed Building Consent for the demolition of the Redgrave Theatre and conversion of Brightwells House. This was required as the current Listed Building Consent expired in January 2018.
The Chairman asked what the reason was for the delay in the start of construction on site? Elizabeth Sims advised that there were no additional planning permissions needed; the permission for the temporary bridge was extant and could be implemented. Graeme Clark added that the CPO of the Marlborough Head was still being finalised, but this would not delay the contract going unconditional.
The Committee noted that the Council had been notified that the Inspector for the Dunsfold Park Inquiry had now made a recommendation to the Secretary of State, who was expected to report his decision in January 2018. There was no right of appeal for the applicant or Waverley if permission was refused.
The Chairman thanked officers for the update, and requested a further update in January 2018.
Service Plans are devised each year in order to deliver the Council’s corporate priorities.
This report gives the Committee the opportunity to scrutinise the mid-year progress of each Service Plan for 2017/18 for the following service areas:
· Environmental Services
· Parks & Countryside
To note, and discuss by exception only.
The Committee reviewed the Mid-year report on the Service Plans for services falling within the remit of the Committee, and noted the good progress made on most actions.
Cllr Ramsdale thanked officers for the update, but felt that the service planning process was rather superficial and there needed to be more challenge around how to make savings for the Council. He felt that while there were some service areas that had received a very high level of scrutiny, there were others that had not been reviewed by Members. Even if it was not possible to identify savings, it was important to provide reassurance through the scrutiny process.
Graeme Clark informed the Committee that he had had a brief discussion with Cllr Ramsdale on this matter. Taking account of the work that had already been done on the Business Control business plan, and the procurement options for Waste, Recycling and Street Cleaning, the remaining services within the remit of the Committee that had not been scrutinised were Environmental Health, Animal Control and Emergency Planning.
Cllr Ramsdale suggested that he lead a Member Working Group to undertake budget scrutiny, and asked any Committee Members who wanted to join this working group to email the Scrutiny Officer.
The Committee agreed to set up a Working Group to scrutinise the Environmental Health, Animal Control, and Emergency Planning services and budgets to identify where savings might be made, or provide reassurance that there are not savings to be made.