Greenwich Council

Agenda and minutes

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

Contact: Nassir Ali  Email: Nassir.Ali@royalgreenwich.gov.uk or tel: 020 8921 6160

Note: Moved from 24th Oct 17 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

To receive apologies for absence from Members of the Panel.

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence.

2.

Urgent Business

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

Minutes:

There was no urgent business.

3.

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 34 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 as Council appointed representatives on outside bodies, joint committees and school governing bodies is noted.

4.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 49 KB

Members are requested to confirm as an accurate record the Minutes of the meetings held on 20 April 2017 & 12 July 2017.

 

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.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Resolved -

 

That the minutes of the meetings of the Regeneration, Transport and Culture Scrutiny Panel held on 20 April 2017 & 21 July 2017 be agreed and signed as a true and accurate record subject to the following amendments:

21 July 2017 Minutes

Apologies for absence for Councillors Paul Morrissey, Mehboob Khan & Gary Parker was received and an updated report on the Woolwich Creative District was requested for the December meeting of the Panel (last paragraph of page 4.)

 

5.

Planning Processes and Procedures Review pdf icon PDF 41 KB

To note the presence of Officers from the Directorate of Regeneration, Enterprise and Skills, that will be in attendance to take part in debate to inform the Review of Planning Processes and Procedures.

 

Minutes:

The report was introduced by the Chair who initiated the discussion to agree the scope for the review which would be undertaken by the Panel. He advised that the review was time limited and that a final report would be submitted for the April Meeting. He confirmed that the review had been previously put on hold due to the significant changes being implemented in the planning department and added that there had been a noticeable improvement since the recruitment of the Assistant Director (Planning & Building Control).

 

The Assistant Director (Planning and Building Control) confirmed that there was an internal review of the planning service under way which was looking at various aspects including:

-      how applications were processed,

-      the relevant timescales and the appeals process in terms of how the council defended its decisions.

She continued they were also looking at the challenges faced that were outside the councils control including the recruitment and retention of staff which was a concern nationally. She added the review was also covering the implementation of processes to streamline the service and assess how customers were being dealt with.

 

The Chair stated that the Panel wanted to complement the internal review and supported co-operative working whilst looking out for the interest of users and residents.

 

The Panel discussed issues surrounding planning and provided suggestions for the scope of the review. They noted the improving percentages in determining planning applications and requested the figures for outliers, how they compare with other London Boroughs and what procedures were in place to close them off. They raised concerns around the engagement process and the notification letters for the Planning Board. They questioned if there was a checklist of tasks that was completed before applications were submitted to the Planning Board or Area Committees and requested an overview of the process and how planning decisions were taken.

 

The Panel noted that appeals against planning decisions was a concern and stressed the importance of taking steps to address the issues. They stated the Borough had been under pressure for years due to the increasing number of developments and wanted to know what could be done to assist the Planning service. They added that the loss of experienced staff was a concern and requested the following information: The number of staff on short-term contracts, if the charges received for planning applications could be used to increase staffing and the budget allocation.

 

The Panel questioned the use of external companies for processing planning applications and requested data on the number of applications they were processing and how much it costs the Council. They also wanted to know how highway issues were considered when dealing with large planning applications commenting that this was not scrutinised at planning meetings.

 

With regards to the recruitment and retention of staff, the Panel wanted to know where staff move to when they leave Greenwich and if the creation of junior planning roles was a possibility. They noted that the retention of experienced staff was a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

2017/18 Quarters 1 & 2 Performance monitoring Directorate Regeneration, Enterprise & Skills pdf icon PDF 87 KB

To note the update on the Business Critical Indicators that are monitored by the Directorate together with the latest performance outcomes. The last report provided data for 2016/17 Quarter 3 and Quarter 4. The information presented in this report is for 2017/18 Quarters 1 and 2.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director of Regeneration & Enterprise introduced the report and highlighted the priority investment programme projects. She confirmed the Plumstead Library project (leisure, library and community facility) was in the planning application stage and would be considered by the December Planning Board. She added that there would be a report on the Spray Street project presented to the November Cabinet and advised on the complexities of the project.

 

With regards to the Woolwich Leisure Centre, the Director confirmed that there would be a Cabinet report early in the New Year outlining the progress on this project.  A key focus of attention was to assist in the relocation of Wilko.  In response to a question, the Director explained that it is proposed a separate Supplementary Planning Document for the Woolwich Leisure Centre project may be developed which would provide sufficient detail within the scheme to guarantee a like for like replacement and safeguard other key objectives for the Council.

 

In response to a question, the Director confirmed that expansion of the Woolwich pier was completed within budget and in time for the Tall Ships Regatta. The Assistant Director (Transportation) added that the Pier was owned by the Council with landing fees waived for the Thames Clipper and a notional fee received for a small of number of leisure users.  In response to comments on whether the leverage of landing fees could be used to maintain and increase the Thames Clipper service, the Assistant Director stated that the preferred approach was to work with TFL directly to discuss any improvements.

 

Panel Members noted that the progress of the priority investment projects was generally good however they requested additional detail in future reports. The Director confirmed that timescales would be included in the next performance monitoring report.  It was noted that this may be considered for the 2018/19 work programme.

Action: DRES

 

In response to a question, the Director confirmed that the Eltham Cinema Building was to be completed by the end of 2018, at which point the 12 week fit out period would begin with a view to open in Spring 2019 as stated in the Cabinet report.

Action: DRES

 

With regards to planning income, the Assistant Director (Planning & Building Control) confirmed that the projected fees for planning and pre applications was £1.39m which would be £72k under the income target. She added that although the Q1 figures were low the position but anticipated that the position would pick up. Panel Members requested the Q2 Planning figures.

Action: DRES

 

In response to a question on the overall departmental budget outturn, the Director explained that it was still early in the fiscal year and that costs would change throughout.

 

The Assistant Director (Transportation) explained that parking income had been historically under recovered however, shortfalls in the projections had been continually decreasing over the past few years due to an increase in targeted enforcement and back office efficiency in rolling out new Controlled Parking Zones. He added that there would be a December Cabinet report  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Commissioning of Future Reports pdf icon PDF 60 KB

To note the work items that are scheduled to be presented to the meeting of the Regeneration Transport and Culture Scrutiny Panel on 7 December 2017 as outlined in the body of the report.

Minutes:

The Chair confirmed that an update on the Woolwich Cultural Quarter was to be added to the December meeting agenda and highlighted the importance of scrutinising the use of the O2 Suite.

 

Resolved –

The Panel noted the amendments to the work programme and the items scheduled for the meeting on 07 December 2017.