Greenwich Council

Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Town Hall, Wellington Street, Woolwich SE18 6PW

Contact: Jasmine Kassim  Email: jasmine.kassim@royalgreenwich.gov.uk or tel: 020 8921 5146

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 Mehboob Khan, Clive Mardner, and Paul Morrissey.

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 84 KB

Members are requested to confirm as an accurate record the Minutes of the meeting held on 9 February 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 meeting of the Regeneration, Transport and Culture Scrutiny Panel held on 9 February 2017 signed as a true and accurate record.

5.

Cabinet Member Report pdf icon PDF 183 KB

To receive an update on progress with the delivery of the key priorities for the portfolio - Regeneration and Sustainability

Minutes:

Councillor Danny Thorpe, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Sustainability presented the report to the Panel, highlighting performance on priorities specific to his portfolio.  The Cabinet Member was assisted by the Director of the Department of Regeneration, Enterprise and Skills (DRES).

 

The Panel noted the report.

 

In response to questions raised, the Cabinet Member gave an assurance to the Panel that although the portfolio was wide-ranging and challenging, the targets were achievable.  It was stated that objectives were monitored and supported by action plans to ensure outcomes for the benefit of those who work, live in, and visit the Royal Borough of Greenwich (Royal Borough).  Thus, the accelerated programme of repairs and improvement to local roads and pavement was not unrealistic, and the delivery of the public realm areas in Eltham was nearing completion.

 

The Cabinet Member continued by reiterating to the Panel that in addition to improvements the in Kidbrooke area, plans were underway to develop the Eltham cinema site, and the Cruise Linder Terminal in Greenwich.  The delivery programme in the Peninsula area was continuing, and a housing zone had been established in Abbeywood and Theamsmead.  Specific to Woolwich, work had commenced to draft a new masterplan for the area, which would include the requirements of Crossrail, a new leisure centre, and the proposed development work at Spray Street.  The Cabinet Member further advised that an assessment of findings at the conclusion of consultation relating to the Charlton Masterplan had commenced.

 

Commenting on the latter response, the Panel enquired about application of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), highlighting that there had been no mention about regeneration of the Plumstead area.  In response, the Cabinet Member stated that given the location of Plumstead, it was unrealistic to suggest that residents in that area would not benefit from the wider regeneration of the Royal Borough.  However, there was no reason for the Council not to consider reasonable suggestions for development improvements specific to Plumstead.

 

The Cabinet Member continued responding to questions raised, advising the Panel that plans to further reduce carbon emissions across the Royal Borough were being developed against priorities in the Greener Greenwich Strategy and Air Quality Action Plan.  It was stated that the Council was working with residents, agencies and other organisations on matters relating to solar insulation, battery storage, highways, planning and related matter.  However, any attempt to acquire additional green spaces for housing development would have to be weighed against community expectations, and in light of areas already identified as ‘Metropolitan Open Land’.

 

The Panel also noted clarification by the Director of DRES that examples of what might be deemed harmful in planning terms under the permitted development rights could include elements of the housing stock that pertained to incremental changes which could degrade an environment.  It was stated that any developments that would significantly change the character and appearance of a conservation would also be considered as harmful.  However, enforcement against breaches had been difficult because the Council’s current position was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Planning Process and Procedures Review pdf icon PDF 86 KB

To receive an overview of the planning process and procedures, intended future service improvements and future challenges

Minutes:

The Assistant Director (Planning & Building Control) introduced the report to the Panel, outlining the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s (Royal Borough) planning process and procedures.

 

The Chair, Councillor Allan MacCarthy, added that the report should be viewed as an attempt to instigate an in-depth review into planning.  Thus, it should serve as a useful means of identifying what sort of issues could be identified as lines of enquiries for service improvement.

 

The Panel noted the report.

 

In response to questions raised, the Assistant Director clarified to the Panel that special measures were those determined under powers prescribed by the Government to address poor performance relating to the management of planning application, following assessments of quarterly submissions from local authorities.  It was stated that the submissions by the Royal Borough in Quarters 3 and 4 in 2016/17 highlighted progress against Planning Performance Agreement, and that the majority of appeals against the Council were related to applications that had been determined by Members.  It was confirmed that the criteria for non-determination planning applications would be circulated to Members.

 

Action: Snr. Corp Dev. Officer/

Assist Director

(Planning & Building Control)

 

The Panel advised that a concern at ward level was that residents were experiencing difficulties getting through to planning officers via the telephone.  In response, the Assistant Director stated that the department had taken steps to minimise complaints by introducing a telephone ‘hunt group’ system.  She advised the Panel it had been difficult to recruit and retain staff with expertise on enforcement and planning matters, but that the challenges were not dissimilar to other London authorities.

 

Continuing with its discussion, the Panel was of the view that perhaps a review of the level of salary for planning and enforcement staff should be undertaken against those provided by similar employers.  In response, the Assistant Director confirmed that efforts had been made to market the Royal Borough as an attractive and rewarding employer.  It was stated that existing staff were also encouraged and supported through work reviews against agreed action plans.

 

In light of a concern, the Assistant Director advised the Panel that the Council was not discouraging neighbourhood planning, but that actions were necessary to streamline the planning process.  Thus, in addition to post-application discussions, the Council was providing pre-consultation services in an effort to encourage dialogue with residents and private developers.  The Panel requested an outline detailing the scope of neighbourhood plans, and suggested that service to major developers should include fees to compensate for minor developments.

 

Action: Snr. Corp Dev. Officer/

Assist. Director

(Planning & Building Control)

 

Resolved –

 

That the report on an overview of the planning process and procedures, be noted.

7.

Update on development of a property asset investment model pdf icon PDF 141 KB

To receive an update on progress towards the delivery of an Asset Investment Model that will assist the Council in decision making in respect of land and property owned by the Borough

 

Minutes:

The Interim Assistant Director for Regeneration introduced the report to the Panel, highlighting progress towards the delivery of an Asset Investment Model (AIM) aimed at assisting the decision-making process in respect of land and property owned by the Council.

 

The Panel noted the report.  It was recognised that the efforts were geared towards establishing a clearer picture of what the Council could do with its vacant properties to ascertain where additional value could be achieved, and that included the commercial parts of the portfolio.

 

In response to questions raised, the Interim Assistant Director confirmed to the Panel that figures outlined in Paragraph 2.3 of the report in regard to residential dwellings and job growth were taken from the strategy adoption documentation.  However, the policy on how the Council would use its assets would have to be determined my Members against service demands.

 

It was suggested that upon completion of the work, a briefing on the delivery of AIM should be included in the Cabinet Member’s report to the Panel for further consideration.

 

Action: Snr. Corp Dev. Officer/

Interim Assist Director (Regen.)

 

Resolved –

 

That progress towards the delivery of an Asset Investment Model that will assist the Council in decision making in respect of land and property owned by the Borough, be noted.