Agenda and draft minutes

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Items
No. Item

37.

Apologies

Minutes:

An apology of absence was received from Cllr Leslie Hills. Cllr Ejaz Aslam substituted.

 

38.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 96 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting Tuesday, 22 June were signed by the Chair.

 

39.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

No declarations of interest.

 

40.

Corporate Performance Report: Q1 2020-21 pdf icon PDF 86 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members of the Strategic Environment Committee were presented with an update against the Performance Management Framework, as introduced within the Council’s Corporate Plan, for Quarter One 2020-21 (April to June 2020).

 

The Assistant Director (Planning) introduced the report and informed Members that the entirety of quarter one was conducted while under lockdown

 

The Assistant Director (Communities) presented Members with a number of slides that outlined key information regarding the Economic Development Departments performance over quarter one; those slides could be found through the link below:

 

https://democracy.gravesham.gov.uk/documents/b13187/Supplementary%20-%20Economic%20Development%20Slides%20Monday%2028-Sep-2020%2019.30%20Strategic%20Environment%20Cabine.pdf?T=9

 

Following the presentation, the Assistant Director (Communities) fielded questions from the Committee and explained that:

 

·         The team were currently awaiting further information on the Kickstart Scheme to be released from the Government; the Council were unaware why it had been decided that groups of thirty young people were the focus. The scheme was viewed as an opportunity to engage with local businesses in meeting the employment needs of young people locally.

·         It I understood that payments will be not be made through the Council as an intermediary, they will be paid directly to the businesses and more clarity is required in respect of the role of an intermediary. There was a slight increase in town centre shop vacancies before Covid-19 which came about as a result of some of the shops in Town having to close due to the redevelopment/refurbishment of areas/properties. An example of that was a unit that was closed down and split into two as well a number of kiosks in the St George’s Centre which were closed during the refurbishment works. However, it is likely that the full impact of Covid-19 on vacancies was yet to be seen

·         With regards to footfall, the town centre had already been facing an ongoing decline in the average footfall due to the rise of online shopping and the change in available retail shops within the Town. However, Gravesend was in a good positon going forward due to the new developments moving forward such as the Reef development, Heritage Quarter and London Resort; Gravesend also had good transportation routes to London via the high speed line

·         With regards to the increased Youth Unemployment figure, the DWP had been encouraged to put in place local partnership work, alongside the large number of training providers out there; the youth unemployment rate had increased and actions in response will be reported back to Committee. The Senior Economic Development Officer had been in contact with North Kent College and held discussions around what they could make available locally. Discussions were also held with NWK for a joint approach to Comms such as a website portal which held information on available jobs/work experience in Gravesham and through social media to ensure that as many young people as possible were aware of the opportunities available to them

·         Prior to Covid-19, the team held a firm understanding of the vacant units and the positon they were in; the owners or agents were contacted to find out if the unit had been  ...  view the full minutes text for item 40.

41.

Update report on economic development strategy themes pdf icon PDF 316 KB

Minutes:

The Committee were presented with a report that summarised the steps that were being taken to draw from and link into economic recovery work at a county and regional level, together with an update on progress with the Economic Growth Strategy.

 

The Senior Economic Development Officer guided Members through the report and highlighted key points from the following sections:

 

·         Economic Snapshot

·         Local Authority Response

·         South East Local Enterprise Partnership and Thames Estuary Growth Board

·         Business Grant Scheme Closure

·         Economic Growth Strategy Progress

·         Business Communication

·         Kent and Medway Growth Hub ‘Recovery Helpline’

 

The Chair thanked the officer for his presentation and raised a question about the recent response to the consultation for London Resort regarding the skills employability and jobs for local people theme.

 

The Assistant Director (Planning) advised that the Council recognised the value that would come from the development of London Resort due to the amount of jobs it would create and the sustainability that came with those jobs. There were also ongoing discussions about local labour agreements, maintaining positive relationships with existing local businesses, adding a Gravesham heritage feel to the Resort and kick-starting careers for people learning new trades/skills.

 

The Senior Economic Development Officer fielded several questions from Members and explained that:

 

·         The broadband scheme to extend superfast broadband to 1200 homes and businesses was a successful bid from KCC that aimed to cover all of Kent’s rural areas that suffered with poor broadband or had no connectivity at all. The economic development team had received some of the postcodes of the areas that would benefit from the broadband installation and Members were welcomed to inquire about the areas that would receive the boost

·         The programmes of funding available were different to the funding that was available prior to the pandemic; HM Treasury had been active in providing business support grants over the last few months. However business recovery seems to be at the forefront of central government funding decisions now and it was considered likely that new funding is likely to be available to local schemes to bid for.. The team’s approach was to make the Council’s priorities known to key partners so that when schemes are released, the Council would be in the best position possible and be ready to put in successful bids.

·         One of the team’s roles was to understand what skills were required for people to gain employment and how to work alongside local colleges as part of local efforts to create a suitably skilled talent pool to satisfy the demands of local people and employers. Apprenticeships are an increasingly popular form of education which allow skills to develop to form a career and their increased availability locally, is likely to improve employment opportunities and the availability of a skilled workforce within Gravesham.

·         A common discussion being held was getting into schools from an earlier age and discussing future skills development and employment. Schools’ careers services are now partly delivered through the Enterprise Advisor Network which is comprised of volunteers from  ...  view the full minutes text for item 41.

42.

Presentation on use classes order change pdf icon PDF 221 KB

Minutes:

The Committee received a presentation from the Assistant Director (Planning) on the use classes order changes.

 

The presentation was published and could be found through the following link:

 

https://democracy.gravesham.gov.uk/documents/b13189/Supplementary%20-%20Presentation%20on%20Use%20Classes%20Order%20Changes%20Monday%2028-Sep-2020%2019.30%20Strategic%20Envi.pdf?T=9

 

The Chair thanked the officer for her comprehensive presentation and Members asked that it be emailed to all Members after the meeting.

 

The Assistant Director (Planning) advised that its format had been written so that it could be shared with members of the Planning Committee but she was happy for it to be circulated to all Members.

 

Following a question on if the changes made it easier for a shop to change its use, the Assistant Director (Planning) explained that the proposals were designed to make it easier for shops to change their uses as it was recognised that Town Centres needed to have more flexibility. However if a shop needed to carry out external works to the building, planning permission could be required.

 

The Chair observed that many retailed shops had changed to residential development over the years.

 

The Chair thanked the Assistant Director (Planning) for an information presentation.

 

43.

Presentation on current Government planning consultations pdf icon PDF 169 KB

Minutes:

The Assistant Director (Planning) presented the Committee with a presentation on the current Government planning consultations.

 

The presentation was published and could be found through the following link:

 

https://democracy.gravesham.gov.uk/documents/b13190/Supplementary%20-%20Presentation%20on%20Current%20Government%20Planning%20Consultations%20Monday%2028-Sep-2020%2019.30.pdf?T=9

 

The Chair queried the Assistant Director (Planning) on whether she thought the role of local Councillors and Councils would increase or decrease (with far greater control by central Government) in terms of deciding what went into the Local Plan.

 

The Assistant Director (Planning) explained that the Government were concerned about certain areas where they felt that some Councillors may not have recognised the need to develop and were more inclined to listen to the groups that were anti-development thus making decisions that were not in line with Government thinking. The Local Plan was most effective when Councillors considered the needs of their wards, held discussions with their constituents and could indicate land that could be suitable for development. The Assistant Director (Planning) explained that at previous meetings with Parish Council Chairs that the Leader had asked them to think of developments that their Parishes needed so that officers could try to accommodate that as the Local Plan was developed.

 

The Assistant Director (Planning) further explained other changes proposed to the Local Plan and reminded Members that it was not just about residential development but also about jobs, infrastructure and how people moved around the area. There was a concern that there would be a blanket approach which wouldn’t be suitable as many areas were different; each Local Plan needed to meet the needs of the local community.

 

The Chair thanked the Assistant Director (Planning) for an information presentation and thanked Members for their contributions to the meeting as well as their challenging questions to officers.