Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Kaposvar Room - Guildhall, Bath. View directions

Contact: Mark Durnford  Email: mark_durnford@bathnes.gov.uk, 01225 394458

Items
No. Item

48.

WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting. He reminded everyone that only points 2, 8 & 9 from the call-in notice were valid and that the Panel were attempting to put themselves into the shoes of the decision maker.

 

49.

EMERGENCY EVACUATION PROCEDURE

The Chair will draw attention to the emergency evacuation procedure as set out under Note 6.

 

Minutes:

The Chairman drew attention to the emergency evacuation procedure.

 

50.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS

Minutes:

There were none.

51.

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

Minutes:

Councillor Winston Duguid declared an other interest as he is a non-executive director of Somerset Cricket Board

 

Councillor Lucy Hodge declared an other interest as her son trains at Bath Cricket Club.

52.

TO ANNOUNCE ANY URGENT BUSINESS AGREED BY THE CHAIRMAN

Minutes:

There was none.

53.

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.

 

Minutes:

Councillor Eleanor Jackson addressed the Panel, a summary is set out below. She stated that a key focus of the decision is that B&NES land is to be disposed at less than best consideration and that she would expect financial prudence and for the Council to achieve value for money as part of this process.

 

She questioned who would actually benefit from this decision and that it was most likely to be the developer of the student housing accommodation.

 

She stated that having heard the original application at the Development Management Committee she was surprised that the development did not have disabled access.

 

She said that the issue of land ownership should have been identified before planning consent was given and that the decision should therefore be delayed.

 

Bob Goodman addressed the Panel, a summary is set out below. He said that 5 years ago, he was fortunate to be asked by Cllr Liz Richardson, the then Cabinet Member for Planning, to look at the effect that the Universities were having on the City, particularly student accommodation.

 

I believe I had a good working relationship with both Universities which resulted in the reduction of the 25% rule on HMO’s down to the now 10%.

 

I made it clear to both Universities and, more importantly to Developers, that the “gravy train” of P.B.S.A. had to end within the City and both campuses had to “consume their own smoke”.

 

So, in 2016 when Bath Cricket Club came to me to talk about their Car Park, wanting to know if I would support a development, I said that I thought some sort of development was possible (maybe for the elderly), but that was a matter for the Planners, but I made it crystal clear I would not support student accommodation in any way.

 

Somehow the Committee approved the student development 18 months later.

 

I was not made aware, at any time, as the Cabinet Member for Planning, there was a Ransom Strip which was owned by the Council and indeed when you look at the Site Plan which was part of the Application, the red-line included the land owned by the Authority – that itself needs to be looked into.

 

Let’s have transparency with this valuation which has been carried out. I cannot see this strip is worth only £150k even if you want to sell it, which this Council should not. Just because there is Planning Permission, doesn’t mean the strip has to be sold.

 

Who is holding the Developers to account? Certainly not this Council.

There are now countless applications for P.B.S.A. in the City coming in; Scala, BMW, Hartwells, Bath City Football Club and, recently, Regency Cleaners – the Developers are rubbing their hands together with the support they are now getting from this Council.

 

Finally, I urge any of the Committee who love this City as I do, to reject the proposal of the Cabinet Member to approve this asset transfer.

 

Councillor Shaun Hughes asked if he  ...  view the full minutes text for item 53.

54.

Call-in of decision E3191: Proposed Asset Transfer of Land at North Parade Road to the Bath Cricket Club at Less Than Best Consideration pdf icon PDF 77 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Colin Blackburn, Lead Call-in Member addressed the Panel, a summary of his submission is set out below.

 

The key focus of my words today are towards Transparency, Commercial Sensitivity and who is pulling the strings.

 

Bath Cricket Club approached the Cabinet Member responsible about 3 years ago to informally scope out the willingness to allow them to re-develop their land.  At that time, they made no reference to the fact the Council owned the ‘ransom strip’ in question.  The Cabinet Member was unaware of that fact, gave them positive feedback but a clear warning that the Administration’s Policy was ‘No more Student Blocks’.  Nothing further was said.  A year later, 8th September 2017 a planning application arrived from Gilltown Ltd, a student development company.  As they didn’t own the land in question, they correctly submitted Certificates of Ownership to B&NES and Bath Cricket Club.

 

I cannot find out who in B&NES at Lewis House received this, but it was a clear flag that someone wanted to build, on our land, something that clearly was against the Administration's Policy and at that stage the CEO, Leader and Cabinet members should have been made aware of our ownership of the ransom strip and key role in being able to determine what could be built on the site.

 

Work should also have started to create a report determining value, community benefits etc. 2 and half years ago and a transparent report created, on what was becoming a land transaction, and given to the leadership of this Council.  It wasn’t, B&NES could have stopped this application but someone in Property Services took it upon themselves to not inform anyone, ignore the elected administration’s stated policy regarding student accommodation, and must have entered into some form of negotiations with the developers.

 

Who was it that negotiated and on who’s authority?

 

I call upon our CEO to take swift and decisive action to regain control in the Property Services Department.  We have heard ‘a report’ is being done. This was stated after the last call in over 23 Grosvenor Place and told us there would be ‘refinement to its decision-making processes to ensure better democratic accountability and transparency’. I ask the CEO to publish a timeline when it will be completed, by whom and then publish the findings. 

 

How much is this land really worth? 30% of the development value I have been reliably told. At £150,000, this land is being cheaply given away to benefit a developer of a student block. We should be given the information that underpins the scant assumptions we have been told.  How Is the Community benefit actually measured? By definition, a random strip allows the owner to control what ultimately gets built there and extract a premium against the development. I think we have achieved neither.

 

Boosting the health of our community has been attributed a value of £2 million, a fantastic thing we can all agree but how has that figure been determined and why  ...  view the full minutes text for item 54.