Greenwich Council

Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 6 - Town Hall, Wellington Street, Woolwich SE18 6PW. View directions

Contact: Robert Sutton  Email: robert.sutton@royalgreenwich.gov.uk or tel: 020 8921 5134

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

To receive apologies for absence from Members of the Panel.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received on behalf of Councillors Cherry Parker, and Aidan Smith.

 

 

2.

Urgent Business

The Chair to announce any items of urgent business circulated separately from the main agenda.

Minutes:

There was no urgent business for consideration.

3.

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 39 KB

Members to declare any personal and financial interests in items on the agenda.  Attention is drawn to the Council’s Constitution; the Council’s Code of Conduct and associated advice.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Resolved –

 

That the list of Councillors’ memberships at Council appointed representatives on outside bodies, joint committees and school governing bodies, be noted.

4.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 85 KB

Members are requested to confirm as an accurate record the Minutes of the meeting held on 10th September 2015.

 

No motion or discussion may take place upon the Minutes except as to their accuracy, and any question on this point will be determined by a majority of the Members of the body attending who were present when the matter in question was decided.  Once confirmed, with or without amendment, the person presiding will sign the Minutes.

Minutes:

Resolved –

 

That the Minutes of the meeting of the Regeneration, transport and Culture Scrutiny Panel held on 10th September 2015, be agreed and singed as a true and accurate record.

5.

Cabinet Member's Report - Regeneration and Transport pdf icon PDF 116 KB

The Panel to note update of the key priorities for the Regeneration and Transportation department and the scope of the priorities for the year ahead.

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Enterprise and Skills, Councillor Danny Thorpe, presented the report to the Panel, highlighting updates on key priorities for the year ahead.

 

The Panel noted the report, and that the scope of the priorities was informed by commitments in the Cabinet Member’s portfolio.

 

In discussing the report, the Panel commented on issues relating to affordable ho

using and air quality.  It expressed a concern about the high cost of commuting in the capital, and highlighted the importance of linking housing, employment and transportation.  It was stated that a planned approach was required to tackle the challenges and risks for the benefit of residents.  Thus, the Council should utilise the opportunity to make recommendations on the issues when responding to the Greater London Authority (GLA) consultation that was underway.

 

The Cabinet Member endorsed a suggestion by the Panel and confirmed that concerns expressed would be considered within the scope of the key proposals set out within the GLA consultation document.  The Cabinet Member also responded to a question, reiterating to the Panel that although the Government had significantly reduced grant for affordable housing, the Council, in working with its partners, had secured approximately 4,000 affordable homes in the Royal Borough of Greenwich (Royal Borough).

 

The meeting also noted a confirmation by the Cabinet Member that the outcome of a review of garage sites in the Royal Borough which identified potential land for regeneration would be not be sold off to developers or registered providers for the purpose of disposal.  Instead, the Council would utilise the opportunity to assess the logistic of each of the site on merit, with the aim to work with its partners to deliver new homes for residents.

 

The Cabinet Member continued with an acknowledgment that the development of the Bakerloo line to Lewisham by 2030 would present a challenge as the Council aimed to widen the negotiations with officials at Transport for London to include Eltham and Kidbrooke areas as an extension of the commuting belt for the benefit of residents.  It was stated that the negotiations could include a proposal for the rail lines to link up with Bexleyheath Station.

 

The meeting also noted confirmation that the work of the Air Quality Taskforce was monitored by the Department of Community Safety and Environment, and that officers would provide feedback on progress with an action plan to the Panel in due course.  It was the view of the Panel that data on the operational life of buses in the capital could provide useful information to the work.

 

Resolved –

 

That the report be noted.

6.

Planning Service Review - Scoping Report pdf icon PDF 142 KB

The Panel to note an overview and key aspects of the planning service, together with a scope for the review of the service.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Assistant Director (Planning) presented the report to the Panel, highlighting the scope of the review in relation to investigation of the objectives of the Planning Service.

 

The Panel noted the report, and that the planning objectives formed part of the Regeneration, Enterprise and Skills Service Plan, and covered the processing of all householders and major schemes applications.  It was recognised that the scope of the work also include the development and implementation of the Royal Borough’s planning polices, and the provision of a planning enforcement service.

 

The meeting was addressed by three developers.  They advised the Panel of their recent experiences about the planning process.  It was the general view of the developers that planning officers were supportive, and that the Royal Borough was meeting targets on planning applications when compared with other local authorities.  Notwithstanding that, they stated that the provision of clearer and timely information about planning procedures and practices would be welcomed.

 

The Panel noted similar views by the developers in response to questions raised.  It was stated that timely delivery on each development was of vital importance in minimising integrity and risks upon implementation.  In particular, because developers had to make financial commitments on viability issues in a volatile housing market, steps to simplify conditions could speed up the time taken to process planning applications.  It was stated that whilst support officers was welcomed, a much more closer liaisons about requirements at the applications stage, and in working with Members and residents could speed up decisions in relation to viability of development schemes, particularly in the assessment of the level of affordable housing and shared ownership provisions.  The developers were also of the view that delays could also be alleviated if minor decisions were dealt with by officers under delegated powers.

 

The Assistant Director endorsed a view by the Panel that there had to be a much simpler way of streamlining workload within the Planning Services.  He confirmed that as part of the review, a visit to Camden Council had taken place to facilitate a benchmark exercise, but it was found that different planning processes and staffing structures existed when compared to that in the Royal Borough.  Notwithstanding that, outcomes from the exercise, and recommendations from the Planning Advisory Services, would be taken into account to assess how to adapt best practice within the Planning Service.

 

The Assistant Director continued by informing the Panel that two planning officers’ posts were recruited into in 2013/14.  He confirmed that the review would further organise the staff staffing structure to assist with the processing and validation of planning applications more efficiently.  The Panel was asked to note that other key areas of investigation which the review would consider included the introduction of information technology to facilitate slicker processes, with improved on-line sign-postings on the Council’s website, and on-screen measurements, laptops and cameras for staff, with an aspiration to operate a paperless office.  It was stated that consideration would also be given to the introduction of charges for household  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.