Agenda and minutes
Planning, Transport and Environment Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel
Thursday, 23rd August, 2012 10.00 am
Venue: Banqueting Room - Guildhall, Bath. View directions
Contact: Mark Durnford 01225 394458
WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS
The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting.
EMERGENCY EVACUATION PROCEDURE
The Chair will draw attention to the emergency evacuation procedure as set out under Note 6.
The Chairman drew attention to the emergency evacuation procedure.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS
Councillor David Martin had sent his apologies to the Panel, he was substituted for the duration of the meeting by Councillor Nicholas Coombes.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
At this point in the meeting declarations of interest are received from Members in any of the agenda items under consideration at the meeting. Members are asked to indicate:
(a) The agenda item number in which they have an interest to declare.
(b) The nature of their interest.
(c) Whether their interest is a disclosable pecuniary interest or an other interest, (as defined in Part 2, A and B of the Code of Conduct and Rules for Registration of Interests)
Any Member who needs to clarify any matters relating to the declaration of interests is recommended to seek advice from the Council’s Monitoring Officer before the meeting to expedite dealing with the item during the meeting.
There were none.
TO ANNOUNCE ANY URGENT BUSINESS AGREED BY THE CHAIRMAN
There was none.
ITEMS FROM THE PUBLIC OR COUNCILLORS - TO RECEIVE DEPUTATIONS, STATEMENTS, PETITIONS OR QUESTIONS RELATING TO THE BUSINESS OF THIS MEETING
At the time of publication no notifications had been received.
Mr Mike Wheeler, South West Transport Network made a statement to the Panel on the subject of the Rail Decentralisation programme, and Bristol’s ‘City Deal’. A full copy of the statement can be found on the Panel’s Minute Book, a summary is set out below.
As section 4.11.6 Future Decentralisation (p.122) of the ITT allows, we urge the Government to include the following addenda as an amendment, considering the status of the Rail Decentralisation programme, and Bristol’s ‘City Deal’.
We call upon the neighbouring Local Authorities to form a Rail Board or risk the Government imposing a quango upon us.
We also seek the following actions as part of the plans for devolution.
• Explicit information on Bristol’s ‘City Deal’ & the Rail Decentralisation status.
• The immediate transfer of the Government’s rail officer to the region, and a requirement for the employment of Directors of both Rail & ‘Bus/Tram locally.
• Insist Revenue Support for new services beginning 2016-19 (£900k p.a. /line) utilises the Precept model of e.g. TfL & MerseyTravel.
• A good model for the Greater Bristol Transport Board is Liverpool’s MerseyTravel, with its multi-mode, multi-magnitude network. It has been very effective in developing & funding services.
Broadly, we envisage new Transport Boards having jurisdiction over the following rail details:
• Specification for devolved services.
• Setting Fares for devolved services.
• Station/On-train staffing levels for devolved services.
• Rolling Stock procurement.
• Service Contract award & management.
• Specifying local subsidy – Precept.
• Development of local infrastructure.
• Station developments & maintenance (inc. disabled access).
• Ticket Office opening hours/re-instatement.
• ‘Smart-ticketing’ Options.
• CCTV & safety assurance.
• Shelters & information.
• Revenue Protection Staff placement.
• BTP Liaison.
The Chairman asked for the statement to be passed to Councillor Roger Symonds, Cabinet Member for Transport.
Councillor Geoff Ward asked if he felt he had been able to find the most appropriate officers to address.
Mr Wheeler replied that there appeared to be a breakdown in communication with officers at the West of England Partnership. He added that one local Council continues to veto these proposals.
Cabinet Member Update (20 Minutes)
This item gives the Panel an opportunity to ask questions to the Cabinet Member(s) and for them to update the Panel on any current issues.
Councillor Tim Ball, Cabinet Member for Homes & Planning was present and stated that he would make a statement to the Panel under agenda item 8.
The Chairman thanked him for his attendance and wished for it to be recorded that neither Councillor David Dixon, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods or Councillor Roger Symonds, Cabinet Member for Transport were present, had given their apologies or had submitted a written report to the Panel. She also questioned why a Divisional Director was not present.
The Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople Site Allocations Development Plan Document (DPD) is a formal planning document being prepared by the Council which will allocate land for the development of authorised Gypsy and Traveller pitches and a Travelling Showmen’s yard across the District. Bath and North East Somerset Council does not have any permanent sites for Gypsies, Traveller or Travelling Showpeople. This report highlights the key issues arising from the recent consultation and outlines the work being carried out as part of the next stage in the preparation of the Plan.
The Policy & Environment Manager introduced this item to the Panel. He explained that the Council undertook consultation on an Issues and Options document between 21st November 2011 and 16th January 2012 and that a Preferred Options document was consulted on between 23rd May and 20th July 2012.
He added that as a result of the issues raised during the public consultation and also because of the further work required on the Core Strategy the Council was undertaking a review or stock take of the work so far. Part of the stock take will be a review of the site selection process in light of the concerns expressed over the previous methodology through the public consultation.
He stated that over 1,600 comments had been received to that consultation, including a number of petitions.
He informed the Panel that through the consultation 27 new sites had been suggested. He stressed that no assessment had yet taken place of these sites.
The Chairman commented that earlier in the week she had received a copy of the Cabinet report due for publication in September. She asked why the report had already been written.
The Policy & Environment Manager replied that he thought an early sight of the paper would be of help.
Councillor Malcolm Hanney asked why there was no mention of the Judicial Review process in the report.
The Policy & Environment Manager apologised for the omission.
Councillor Malcolm Hanney commented that he did not understand why the Cabinet report had been published prior to this meeting. He added that the communities surrounding the 27 newly proposed sites would not have had time to receive and digest the information. He asked for the dates for when each of the newly proposed sites were suggested.
The Policy & Environment Manager replied that in response to a request at the last Town & Parish Council liaison meeting, the Council had agreed to notify Parish & Town Councils of the new list of sites as soon as it was possible. He added that it took some time to work out the exact location of some of the sites that were being put forward.
Councillor Geoff Ward commented that he felt it would have been more beneficial if only viable sites were listed.
The Policy & Environment Manager reiterated his previous comment relating to the request of the Parish & Town Councils. He added that the publication of the list would promote early engagement.
The Chairman asked if some sites should have simply been dismissed before publication.
The Policy & Environment Manager replied that officers have been asked not to withhold any suggested sites in light of previous criticism that the council had made decisions on sites without involving local councils.
The Chairman asked if any further comment could be given on whether three sites from the initial list were going to be removed at the next Cabinet meeting.
Councillor Tim Ball, Cabinet Member for Homes & Planning replied that it was highly unlikely that the Cabinet would choose to progress the sites at Stanton Wick, ... view the full minutes text for item 36.
The B&NES Core Strategy examination has been suspended in order to undertake a review of the District’s housing need and supply, along with a limited number of other issues, in response to concerns made by the Examination Inspector. This requires a review of the Core Strategy programme which, because of its strategic nature, has implications for the preparation of other Plans such as the Placemaking Plan, the Gypsy & Travellers Site Allocations Plan and the Community Infrastructure Levy. The Local Development Scheme is therefore also being reviewed.
The Policy & Environment Manager introduced this item to the Panel. He informed them that the examination into the Bath & North East Somerset Council Core Strategy had been suspended in light of the Inspector’s preliminary conclusions. This will enable further work to be undertaken to address the concerns raised by the Inspector. He added that the Inspector’s most substantive issue of concern relates to the housing requirement for the district. The Inspector is of the view that the publication of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) during the course of the hearings rendered the B&NES methodology for assessing housing target non-compliant with national policy. He therefore stated that he could not come to a conclusion on the level of housing that should be planned for.
The Policy & Environment Manager then spoke of the decision to suspend the examination. He said that the reason why suspension was favoured over withdrawal was because the Government had urged Local Authorities to ensure that an up-to-date Plan was in place as quickly as possible (NPPF para 184). He added that the delay to the Core Strategy had significant implications for the Council. It would delay the preparation of CIL potentially affecting CIL income from April 2014 and it would delay the adoption of other Plans currently under preparation. It may have an impact on housing delivery because of the delay in providing clarity and direction for key development sites. A suspension would entail less of a delay than a complete withdrawal.
Furthermore, a withdrawal would mean the removal of the entire emerging policy framework in the Core Strategy requiring the Council to fall back on less up-to-date Local Plan policies and the NPPF. Even those emerging Core Strategy policies which are potentially sound would be lost.
The Chairman asked what other elements of the Council’s work will be affected by the delay to the Core Strategy.
The Policy & Environment Manager replied that the decision affects the Placemaking Plan, Gypsies & Traveller Sites, CIL, Neighbourhood Planning SPD and Sustainable Construction SPD.
Councillor Malcolm Hanney commented that population figures for the area are now predicted to be much lower and therefore questioned the need for further housing. He also asked who made the decision to suspend the examination.
The Policy & Environment Manager replied that population figures are now expected to be substantially lower and that the Inspector had been informed of this. He added that the affordable housing capacity also has to be met. He stated that the decision to suspend the examination was taken at a meeting of the Informal Cabinet.
Councillor Nicholas Coombes asked how the new housing figures would be calculated.
The Policy & Environment Manager replied that the Council would use the latest Census data and seek the use of expert demographers to aid it on this matter. He added that he would be happy to bring the methodology to the Panel and the Local Development Framework (LDF) Steering Group.
Councillor Geoff Ward asked if the Inspector made any comments in relation to the ... view the full minutes text for item 37.
The Localism Act (November 2011) and the Neighbourhood Planning Regulations (April 2012) facilitate new community-led planning rights which will enable communities to undertake their own Neighbourhood Plans, Neighbourhood Development Orders and Community Right to Build projects. The new legislation also introduces new planning duties on Bath & North East Somerset to support these new rights. In order to respond to this new agenda and to update the Council’s policy on community engagement in all elements of planning My Neighbourhood: A Neighbourhood Planning Protocol for B&NES has been prepared and publicly consulted on. The Scrutiny Panel is asked to consider the Adoption Draft of this document and review the background work prior to the document being considered for adoption by Cabinet in September 2012.
The Policy & Environment Manager introduced this item to the Panel. He explained that the Localism Act (November 2011) and the Neighbourhood Planning Regulations (April 2012) facilitates new community-led planning rights which will enable communities to undertake their own Neighbourhood Plans, Neighbourhood Development Orders and Community Right to Build projects. He added that the new legislation also introduces new planning duties on Bath & North East Somerset to support these new rights.
He informed the Panel that a number of local groups in B&NES had already received in-kind support from some of the national agencies funded to assist with Neighbourhood Planning. In particular, B&NES has one of the Neighbourhood Planning National Frontrunners (Freshford & Limpley Stoke Parishes) – this cross border Neighbourhood Area has received a grant of £20,000 from the government to support the development of their Neighbourhood Plan as a result of a successful funding bid led by B&NES Council.
Councillor Nicholas Coombes wished to make some comments on the My Neighbourhood document.
He felt that Ward Councillors should be included as part of Figure 2 on page 10.
He believed there was a typographical error on page 11 and that the first bullet point in the box entitled Level 3 should read ‘Fall marginally below the thresholds for Level 1 and 2’.
On page 22, Figure 5 he suggested that the word ‘minority’ be inserted in the section entitled Faith, Ethnic and Language groups to read ‘Further work needs to be done to ensure that minority faith, ethnic and language groups are engaged and informed in the planning process. Many organisations representing minority faith, ethnic and language groups will be routinely consulted.’
He also asked for clarification on whose decision it was to approve Neighbourhood Forums and Neighbourhood Area Applications.
The Policy & Environment Manager thanked him for his comments and replied that the current advice that he had was that the decision was to be a Cabinet function.
Councillor Nicholas Coombes replied that he felt it should be a decision made by Full Council.
Councillor Malcolm Hanney commented that he felt that Full Council should have a view on the process, but was reassured that not huge numbers were making moves on the matter.
Mr Rae Harris commented that in previous drafts of the document there had been a lack of detail in relation to local preservation trusts. He asked how a neighbourhood could be highlighted.
Councillor Nicholas Coombes replied that members of preservation trusts will not always live within the same area and therefore they would require some front facing members to put an application forward.
Councillor Malcolm Hanney advised Mr Harris to make a statement at the next Cabinet meeting.
The Panel RESOLVED to:
(i) Note the amendments to the draft in Appendix B.
(ii) Note the results of the consultation (Appendix C), Localism e-survey results (Appendix D) and summary of community interest in take up of Neighbourhood Planning (Appendix E).
(iii) Note the new application forms for Neighbourhood Forums in Bath and Neighbourhood ... view the full minutes text for item 38.
A healthy, properly functioning natural environment is the foundation of sustainable economic growth, prospering communities and personal wellbeing. Core Strategy policy CP7 on Green Infrastructure addresses this issue and sets out a requirement to protect and enhance the Green Infrastructure network across the district. The Council is committed to preparing a Green Infrastructure Strategy to coordinate the delivery of this policy. The purpose of this report is to apprise the panel of the draft Green Infrastructure Strategy and key issues arising from the stakeholder Consultation in May 2012.
The Green Infrastructure & Environment Partnership Co-ordinator introduced this item to the Panel. She explained that a healthy, properly functioning natural environment is the foundation of sustainable economic growth, prospering communities and personal wellbeing. She added that Core Strategy policy CP7 on Green Infrastructure addresses the issue and sets out a requirement to protect and enhance the Green Infrastructure network across the district.
She then wished to highlight some of the key points from within the report.
The strategy will also provide the supporting framework to access funding sources external to the council including health, Water Framework Directive funds and a platform for bidding for heritage Lottery funds or similar. Opportunities also occur through Development Management processes to influence allocation of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and Section 106.
The Bath & NE Somerset area benefits from a unique and outstanding natural environment. This Strategy is about harnessing and sustaining the full benefits of these invaluable assets and offering cost effective, practical solutions to make a significant contribution to delivering the Councils vision and values.
The strategy is being developed by the Planning Policy & Environment Group within Planning & Transport Development with support from a cross council officer working group and was informed by early stakeholder engagement in 2011. Once the Strategy is approved by the Council the details of who will do what and by when, will be worked up in the Delivery plan.
The overall response received during the recent consultation on the draft strategy was very positive. The draft was well received and there was strong support for the need for a strategy and endorsement of the importance of GI in achieving sustainable development.
Councillor Caroline Roberts commented that she felt an expansion of the Avon Valley Railway down as far as Newbridge would be detrimental and called for a balance to be found on developments such as this.
The Green Infrastructure & Environment Partnership Co-ordinator replied that Task & Finish Groups would look to find sustainable solutions.
Councillor Geoff Ward commended the strategy as it would lead to further tourism and give openness to the City.
The Green Infrastructure & Environment Partnership Co-ordinator commented that it is not the expectation that the Council should deliver the strategy solely, other land owners will be sought to manage their sites in an agreed manner.
The Chairman on behalf of the Panel thanked her for the report and her attendance at the meeting.
This report presents the latest workplan for the Panel (Appendix 1).
The Chairman introduced this item to the Panel. She requested that a report on the Core Strategy Methodology be added to the workplan so that they could monitor the next stages of the process.
She also wished to highlight the request for Cabinet Members to provide a written report to the Panel if they are unable to attend the meeting in person.
The Panel agreed to have a small scale update on the Gypsies & Travellers item at their September meeting.