Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Council Chamber - Guildhall, Bath. View directions

Contact: Marie Todd  01225 394414

Media

Items
No. Item

46.

Welcome and introductions

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting.

47.

Emergency Evacuation Procedure

The Democratic Services Officer will read out the emergency evacuation procedure as set out in the notes.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Senior Democratic Services Officer read out the emergency evacuation procedure.

48.

Apologies for Absence

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Dave Wood.

49.

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 4.4 Appendix 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 Officeror a member of his staff before the meeting to expedite dealing with the item during the meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Democratic Services Officer stated that Cllr Dave Wood had declared a disclosable pecuniary interest for all items on the agenda for this meeting.  This was due to his employment as Chief Executive of Avon Needs Trees.  Cllr Wood did not attend the meeting or the pre-meeting and did not take part in any decisions relating to the items on the agenda.

50.

To Announce any Urgent Business Agreed by the Chair

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There was no urgent business.

51.

Questions from Public and Councillors

Questions submitted before the deadline will receive a reply from an appropriate Cabinet member or an undertaking to respond within 5 working days of the meeting.  Councillors may ask one supplementary question for each question they submit, up to a maximum of two per Councillor.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were 12 questions from Councillors and 2 questions from members of the public.

[Copies of the questions and responses, including supplementary questions and responses if any, have been placed on the Minute book as Appendix 1 and are available on the Council's website.]

CabinetQA20240201 pdf icon PDF 172 KB

52.

Statements or Petitions from Public or Councillors

Councillors and members of the public may register their intention to make a statement if they notify the subject matter of their statement before the deadline.  Statements are limited to 3 minutes each.  The speaker may then be asked by Cabinet members to answer factual questions arising out of their statement.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members of the public and Councillors made statements as follows:

 

·  Mr and Mrs Flower – Somer Valley Enterprise Zone (copy attached as an appendix to these minutes)

·  Angharad Barber – Somer Valley Enterprise Zone.  Ms Barber spoke against the SVEZ development pointing out that 600 objections have been received from a variety of organisations and individuals.  She expressed concern about the proposed compulsory purchase order, harm to small businesses and increased traffic volumes.  She queried whether this was the right decision in the current financial climate and urged the Council to work with and listen to the local community.

·  Mrs Anne Huckle – Somer Valley Enterprise Zone (copy attached as an appendix to these minutes)

·  Margaret Heffernan – Somer Valley Enterprise Zone (copy attached as an appendix to these minutes)

·  Andy Jeffery – Somer Valley Enterprise Zone.  Mr Jeffery spoke against the Enterprise Zone and expressed concern at the loss of Grade 1 agricultural land.  He said that government policy is to protect this land.  He also spoke about the adverse effect on local businesses including the pub trade and local retailers and stressed that the Enterprise Zone should be for industrial use and not retail use.

·  James Wellman (on behalf of Cllr Ann Morgan) – Somer Valley Enterprise Zone (copy attached as an appendix to these minutes)

·  Jim Plunkett-Cole – Economic Outlook for Jobs in B&NES (copy attached as an appendix to these minutes)

·  Allison Herbert (Bath BID) – Economic Strategy (copy attached as an appendix to these minutes)

·  Robbie Bentley – The Local Plan – Risk and Equalities (copy attached as an appendix to these minutes)

·  Cllr Shaun Hughes – Local Plan and Economic Strategy.  Cllr Hughes spoke about the lack of engagement on the SVEZ leading to confusion for local residents.  He stated that the price is being paid for poor decisions in the past. Houses have been built on former industrial space.  Job creation is needed due to more building in the area and local jobs are needed.  On balance he supported the SVEZ for economic reasons but would not support the use of a compulsory purchase order.

·  Cllr Duncan Hounsell – The Local Plan (copy attached as an appendix to these minutes)

·  Cllr Bharat Pankhania – The Local Plan – Combe Down Allotments. Cllr Pankhania spoke regarding the potential loss of the allotments in Combe Down.  He stressed the importance of outdoor activity and the health benefits for the allotment community.  He presented a petition containing 4,700 signatures and hoped that the issue can be resolved.

·  Dewi Willcox – The Local Plan.  Mr Willcox spoke regarding the need for the Council to do more for young people in the area who are finding it difficult to afford somewhere to live and to find well-paid local jobs.  They are being forced to move away or to commute long distances to work and cannot afford the high private rents in the area.

Mr and Mrs Flower Statement - Somer Valley Enterprise Zone pdf icon PDF 40 KB

Additional documents:

53.

Matters Referred by Policy Development and Scrutiny Bodies

This is a standing agenda item (Constitution rule 3.3.14) for matters referred by Policy Development and Scrutiny bodies.  The Chair of the relevant Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel will have the right to attend and to introduce the Panel’s recommendations to Cabinet.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

No matters were referred by Policy Development and Scrutiny Panels.

54.

Building a Fair, Green, Creative and Connected Bath with North East Somerset pdf icon PDF 114 KB

The Economic Strategy offers a new approach combining challenges and actions across six pillars of Good Work, Inclusive Innovation and Creativity, Greener Economy, Resilient Businesses, Housing Affordability and Stronger Places.  The Cabinet is asked to approve the Economic Strategy and to sign off the partnership approach to its implementation and delivery.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Paul Roper introduced the report, moved the officer recommendation, and made the following statement:

 

“We have before cabinet an ambitious new Economic Strategy which, with your support, will enable us to strengthen and diversify our local economy over the next ten years. 

 

I feel privileged to propose the recommendations in this paper.

 

Despite the harsh funding restraints placed on us by central government, our administration is taking matters into its own hands to develop our local economy and communities by launching this strategy.

 

With this strategy, our administration is setting out our stall with a far-reaching plan to Build a Fair, Green, Creative and Connected Bath with North East Somerset.

 

We have worked closely with our key stakeholders over the last 18 months to shape our shared vision for our local area. We are all singing from the same hymn sheet. Together we recognise that we all have a stake in ensuring that our economy and our communities thrive.

 

The Economic Strategy spans the decade to 2034 and contains six pillars:

 

·  Creating a Greener Economy that is Net Zero and Nature positive

·  Supporting our residents to access Good Work

·  Establishing B&NES as a centre of Inclusive innovation and creativity

·  Creating Resilient Businesses by building a diverse, creative and sustainable base

·  Addressing Housing Affordability and ensuring residents have access to high quality homes

·  Supporting Stronger Places, building resilience and sharing prosperity more fairly

 

The strategy further outlines a 10-point Delivery Plan, some of which we are already delivering, for example Bath Quays and the wider Milsom Quarter Masterplan, which will be a flagship for sustainable development.

 

Why is this strategy so important?

 

It is the platform from which we can move to a fairer, sustainable and thriving future for our local area.

 

It forms an integral part of our larger plan. It is the blueprint we need to demonstrate that our vision is robust. The Economic Strategy opens the doors for our local authority to attract the vital funding – both private and public – that is essential to enable us to implement our plans.

 

There is a time-honoured saying in the business world: failing to plan is planning to fail. Now that we have the strategy and the delivery plan, we can start working on the implementation – bringing it to life.

 

In our local authority, we are very fortunate to have valuable Council assets like the Roman Baths. We are blessed with two outstanding universities, the Royal United Hospital, a double World Heritage classification, historic market towns, and significant businesses all in a wonderful, unique setting. For the most part, our residents are highly qualified, and unemployment is relatively low.

 

But not everyone in Bath and North East Somerset is sharing in our overall prosperity.

 

Economic growth in our area over the last ten years has been sluggish. Wages here are below the national average. Many residents are struggling with rising housing costs.

 

Inequalities in health and employment are growing, creating a two-tier economy.

 

I would like  ...  view the full minutes text for item 54.

55.

Local Plan Options consultation and Local Development Scheme pdf icon PDF 217 KB

The report sets out the proposed Local Plan options for public consultation and the arrangements for public consultation scheduled to start in February 2024.  It also seeks changes to the Council’s Local Development Scheme (LDS) which is the Council’s programme for the preparation and review of planning policies.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Matt McCabe introduced the report, moved the officer recommendation, and made the following statement:

 

“Every 20 years a Local Authority gets to set a new Local Plan. This sets out the policies by which all planning decisions will be made. It also sets out where new housing will be built, what type it will be and where land will be designated for other needs, such as employment.

 

Today we are considering the Options Document. This primarily sets out the potential areas that could be allocated for house building, employment and renewable energy, as well as many areas of development management policy. This marks a considerable amount of effort on behalf of officers over the past year, for which I am very grateful.

 

It is also informed by, and will help to deliver, our Corporate Strategy and our Economic Strategy.

 

This huge piece of work began over a year ago, when we began talking to residents and stakeholders. It has been going through our all-party Local Development Framework Steering Group. It is worth noting that many Council Administrations do not bother to consult with other parties on the development of a new Local Plan, So, it is to the credit of all administrations here in BANES that we, as a Council, do. It is something that I am keen to maintain.

 

What this means is that all political groups have had the opportunity to take part in the drafting of this material, albeit on a confidential basis. So, all groups have been able to submit their initial thoughts, in advance of the public consultation.

 

This options document is what we are intending to put out for consultation to residents and other parties. The results of this consultation will inform the draft of our New Local Plan, and we will put that out for consultation later in the year.

 

There is also another timing element to consider. One of the key factors locally is the Strategic lead taken by the West of England Combined Authority, in terms of Planning for the Economy, Transport and Housing right across our region. Unfortunately, in an effort to seemingly qualify as the worst Mayor in the country, Mayor Dan Norris pulled WECA out of this regionally significant role.

 

This has left the four authorities rushing to complete new Local Plans, because that strategic overview is now missing. We are having to work closely with each other to try and achieve this regional co-ordination. Remember - not having a valid Local Plan in place, creates a free for all for developers. Hence the urgency. Luckily for BANES we prepared our partial update, which we completed a year ago, and it has given us a more up to date plan than our neighbouring authorities. However, this has also left us slightly behind them in preparing a new Local Plan, covering the longer term.

So, what have been our main drivers?

 

Well, we want to create a fairer, more prosperous and sustainable economy.

We want to maximise the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 55.

56.

Somer Valley Enterprise Zone Local Development Order - Commitments pdf icon PDF 125 KB

The report sets out the commitments the Council has for the Somer Valley Enterprise Zone.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Paul Roper introduced the reports for all three items relating to the Somer Valley Enterprise Zone and moved the officer recommendation in respect of the LDO commitments.

 

Cllr Roper made the following points:

 

·  The Somer Valley Enterprise Zone is an important part of the delivery of the new Economic Strategy and is also a manifesto commitment for this administration.

·  The Somer Valley Enterprise Zone is intended create around 1,300 jobs of exactly the type we aspire to. Good quality, secure, well-paid, local jobs giving residents meaningful and fulfilling employment.

·  It will provide 1,300 local jobs for the towns and villages and hamlets around Paulton, Westfield, Radstock and Midsomer Norton, a population in the region of 30,000 people.

·  Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s nearly all of the employment in the Somer Valley was local.  Many local businesses have been lost including Great Mills DIY/Focus, Welton Bibby Bag Manufacturing and Purnells & Sons Printers which, at its height, provided 2,000 jobs.  Well over 1,000 jobs have been lost in comparatively recent times.

·  The consequence of this is that people now commute, census statistics from 2021 suggest that 30-50% of the economically active population in this area commute over six miles to work.

·  Out-commuting means that families need at least one car and that is a huge barrier to young people and the less affluent and this limits their opportunities.  More houses are also being built in the area.

·  The Council needs to create opportunities and aspiration for both current and future generations in these communities.

·  This authority recognised in 2007 that jobs lost needed to be replaced. This is when it originally allocated the land we are considering today as employment land. It was left to the free market to bring the development forward and it failed to do so. It is probable that delivery was seen as too complex and too expensive.

·  This administration has now stepped in and what we have before us today is the mechanism by which we can deliver this pioneering project – a green business park.

·  The LDO paper enables adoption of the LDO by cabinet and addresses the market failure in delivering SVEZ. It is a planning framework that, by way of compliance applications, prospective developers and businesses can seek planning permission on a de-risked basis. It gives them more certainty that an application will be approved, provided it meets with the strict criteria enshrined in the LDO. The LDO does not remove planning restrictions - it defines them in advance, giving businesses certainty as to what they need to do to make a successful application.

·  To enable the LDO to be brought forward to approval today, there has been a process that the planning authority has been through to ensure the scheme is compliant with all local and national policies.

·  These policies and statutory consultees include an environmental impact assessment, Ecology, Arboriculture, Air quality, Conservation, Archaeology, Highways, Drainage and Flood Risk and many more. The list of hurdles this scheme has  ...  view the full minutes text for item 56.

57.

Somer Valley Enterprise Zone Local Development Order pdf icon PDF 122 KB

The Cabinet is asked to adopt the Local Development Order for the Somer Valley Enterprise Zone site to meet the aims of the Local Plan policy SSV9.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Paul Roper introduced the report and moved the officer recommendation.

 

Cllr Paul May seconded the motion and made the following statement:

 

“The presentation this evening has been inspirational.  This is an example of how we can use this opportunity to work with Bath College to create apprenticeships during and after construction and offer job experience options for young people in the area.

 

This report provides a sensible process to move the scheme forward, bearing in mind that progress has already been protracted. You mentioned about 2007 – talks have been going on since Wansdyke District Council.

 

Of course, we have listened to the speakers and written submissions, and this is reflected in the previous paper, but because of the site complications we need to have the powers to deliver a vital employment site set amongst the already commercial area that has been built up around the former Great Mills office and sales warehouse.

 

There has been considerable consultation and changes made to deliver the master plan that moves towards the many concerns expressed.

 

We have a responsibility to provide local jobs in the area and clearly this will not happen unless we adopt this high intervention approach.  I fully support the recommendations.”

 

RESOLVED (unanimously):

 

(1)  To adopt the Local Development Order for the Somer Valley Enterprise Zone (SVEZ) site recommended by the Local Planning Authority, and to meet the aims of policy SSV9.

 

(2)  To delegate to the Director of Regeneration and Housing and the Director of Sustainable Communities (or [the Monitoring Officer / Executive Member] for payments of over £500,000) in consultation with the S151 Officer, authority to take all necessary steps to acquire by agreement land and/or rights required for the SVEZ Scheme and to negotiate and settle all necessary compensation and professional fees (including interim payments) as agreed with landowners, where compensation is within the SVEZ Scheme budget. This will be subject to full due diligence and financial evaluation to ensure value for money and that commitments are in line with approved scheme budgets.

 

(3)  To delegate the approval to the Director of Regeneration and Housing and the Director of Sustainable Communities in consultation with the s151 Chief Finance Officer to:

 

o  Accept the Investment Fund grants from the West of England Combined Authority, subject to WECA approval at Committee.

 

o  On grant acceptance to move from provisional to approved budget for £9.3m continue with land assembly and infrastructure design.

58.

Somer Valley Enterprise Zone In Principle Statutory Mechanisms pdf icon PDF 143 KB

The report provides an overview of the current progress of negotiations with landowners in respect of the Somer Valley Enterprise Zone (SVEZ).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Paul Roper introduced the report and moved the officer recommendation.

 

Cllr Matt McCabe seconded the motion.

 

RESOLVED (unanimously):

 

(1)  To note the ongoing progress which has been made towards the acquisition of land required to develop the Somer Valley Enterprise Zone (SVEZ) Scheme.

 

(2)  To authorise the carrying out of formal land referencing (including the procurement of a land referencing agent and the issue requisitions for information under the Acquisition of Land Act 1981 and/or any relevant or associated statutes) across the area being considered for the SVEZ Scheme in order to identify landowners, their interests and to gather as much information as possible about the land. This will include full due diligence and financial evaluation to ensure value for money.

 

(3)  To authorise the entry into negotiations by the Council (and on behalf of the Council) with landowners and others with an interest in the relevant land required for the delivery of the SVEZ Scheme in order to acquire land and rights by agreement where possible.

 

(4)  To authorise the acquisition of land or rights required for the SVEZ Scheme subject to relevant financial limits, whereby the decision to proceed with any purchase in excess of the SVEZ Scheme budget would be referred to [Cabinet /Single Member Decision] for authorisation.

 

(5)  To delegate to the Director of Regeneration and Housing and the Director of Sustainable Communities (or [the Monitoring Officer / Executive Member] for payments of over £500,000), in consultation with the S151 Officer, authority to take all necessary steps to acquire by agreement land and/or rights required for the SVEZ Scheme and to negotiate and settle all necessary compensation and professional fees (including interim payments) as agreed with landowners, where compensation is within the SVEZ Scheme budget. This will be subject to full due diligence and financial evaluation to ensure value for money and that commitments are in line with approved scheme budgets.

 

(6)  To authorise the taking of all steps (including the drafting of a CPO and related documentation) necessary to prepare for a subsequent report to Cabinet to determine the use of compulsory purchase powers to acquire the land and rights in land required for the SVEZ Scheme.