Agenda and minutes
- Attendance details
- Agenda frontsheet PDF 156 KB
- Agenda reports pack
- Supplementary Report - Planning Performance PDF 355 KB
- Supplementary Pack - EDC Public Realm Strategy Presentation PDF 8 MB
- Supplementary Pack - Economic Development Strategy Presentation PDF 3 MB
- Supplementary Pack - Planning Performance Presentation PDF 330 KB
- Printed minutes PDF 127 KB
Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Windmill Street, Gravesend DA12 1AU. View directions
An apology for absence was received from Cllr Conrad Broadley. Cllr Frank Wardle substituted.
The minutes of the meeting Tuesday, 17 September 2019 were signed by the Chair.
Declarations of Interest
Cllr Lauren Sullivan declared an interest in item 5: Ebbsfleet Public Realm Strategy as she was the Councils nominated Member to sit on the EDC Planning Committee.
Cllr Harold Craske also declared an interest in the same item as he was the Councils nominated substitute for the EDC planning Committee.
The Chair welcomed the Head of Design – EDC to the Committee and reminded everyone to speak clearly when using their microphones.
The Head of Design – EDC gave a detailed presentation to the Committee on the Ebbsfleet Public Realm Strategy; the presentation can be accessed through the below link:
Following the presentation, Members had their questions answered by the Head of Design – EDC:
· A stewardship policy was being discussed by EDC with the ambition of setting up a legacy organisation that will take on the responsibility of the management companies that were responsible for the maintenance of green spaces in non-adopted residential streets for all planned future developments. For the residential streets that have been adopted, EDC were exploring options to take over the maintenance of the green spaces on behalf of KCC
· The EDC employed a professor from Sheffield, who was an expert in the field of sustainable planting, to review the Public Realm Strategy and give advice on the types of trees that would be climate change resilient until 2060. The Strategy factored in the costs of maintenance to all planned trees as well as setting out the different types of trees that would be needed in relation to the different sized streets
· Additionally, the Strategy detailed technical guidance on the below ground maintenance of the root systems of the trees so that they don’t grow out of control after a number of years and cause structural issues in the developments. The extra work to the trees and the roots would increase the upfront capital cost but reduce the future costs of overall maintenance fees
· The issue of using local firms to supply plants and other shrubbery will be taken back to EDC to be discussed so that advice can be given to the developers to source locally although the EDC have very little influence over their direct suppliers
· The evaluation framework was often used when there was a disagreement between the consulting teams and the design teams. A workshop is convened with various teams of different specialists at KCC and scores given across all nine areas as a collective responsibility rather than individual specialisms; that method removed all adversity and allowed for a collaborative approach. If there was a disagreement during the design process then the scoring would be undertaken at the application stage
· The phrase ‘EDC is presenting the Public Realm Strategy to Gravesham Borough Council for endorsement, to maximise the material weighting of the document within the planning system’ meant that, with the endorsement of the relevant local authority and engagement from a public consultation, more weight could be given to the document in the planning decision-making process and be far more likely to achieve the desired outcomes laid out in the framework. Additionally, if the EDC did not have the endorsement of Gravesham Borough Council, then they could be challenged much more easily by developers / landowners within the planning system
· The presentation given was just an executive summary ... view the full minutes text for item 18.
The Assistant Director (Communities) introduced the new Senior Economic Development Officer to the Committee who has joined the Economic Development team and will contribute to the development of the proposed Strategy.
Members were provided with a presentation on the draft Economic Development Strategy and were asked to comment on the emerging objectives for the Strategy; the presentation can be accessed through the below link:
Member’s attention was drawn to section three of the report which described the challenges that Gravesham’s economy faced and needed to be addressed if it the Council’s ambition for a vibrant and productive economy was to be realised. The challenges included:
· Lowest productivity levels – Gravesham had the lowest productivity levels and the smallest local economy in Kent & Medway when compared with other Kent Districts
· Lower job density – Gravesham’s job density was low, with a ratio of 0.62 jobs available for each person aged between 16 and 64 (the ‘working age’ cohort), compared with a figure of 0.87 for the South East
· Lower wage levels – Statistical analysis demonstrate that local residents who commuted out of the local area for work, enjoyed markedly higher earnings
· Higher unemployment – Unemployment in Gravesham (3.4%) continued to report above the Kent figure (2.6%)
· Lower attainment and skill levels – On average, Gravesham residents of working age have lower attainment and skill levels than other parts of the South East and nationally
On a more positive note, the Assistant Director (Communities) advised that Gravesham was seeing a growth in small businesses with around 4000 of them operating within Gravesham; their three year survival rates stood at 65% which was higher than the rest of the County.
To combat some of the challenges Gravesham faced and fundamental to achieving a more productive local economy was an expansion in the number, variety and quality of job opportunities in the Borough. Investment in new employment space and skills were essential to that objective and in ensuring that local residents could access better paid jobs within the Borough. Investors needed to be informed of the planned changes to Gravesham and how well connected Gravesend was with the high speed train links to London.
The following objectives, listed on pages 12-15, were proposed and considered by the Committee in response to the challenges set out in Section 3 of the report:
· Objective 1: Place Branding to Promote Gravesham as a Place ‘Open for Business’
· Objective 2: New employment land and premises to enable businesses to grow
· Objective 3: Enhancing the Borough’s Infrastructure to Re-inforce Accessibility & Connectivity Advantages
· Objective 4: Supporting Enterprise to Encourage Business Growth
· Objective 5: Skills & employability to ensure that the local workforce is equipped with appropriate skills to access employment opportunities
· Objective 6: Recognising the Changes that are taking place in the rural economy and its contribution to overall local economic growth
· Objective 7: To identify the Implications of the Councils climate change commitments in support of sustainable economic development
The Senior Economic Development Officer informed the Committee of the ... view the full minutes text for item 19.
Members were presented with a short presentation outlining the performance of the Council’s Planning Services; the presentation can be accessed through the below link:
The Director (Planning & Development) advised that the report was produced at the request of Members and was the first of a regular series intended to be presented every six months to inform Members on current performance in respect of the planning service. The report included performance information on all the teams based within the Planning Service: Development Management, Planning Enforcement and Planning Policy.
The Director (Planning & Development) advised the Committee that as it was the first report it gave background information, the required processes and what the constraints were that the service faced; performance figures from the last two year period were included. The Director (Planning & Development) asked Members to identify any other areas of performance that they wished to see within the next six monthly performance report.
The Director (Planning & Development) highlighted difficulties the Planning Service at Gravesham faced:
· Staff vacancies were an issue as over the last couple of years (seen on slide 2) the Development Management and Planning Policy teams have been down at least two members of staff, with turnover having an added impact
· Currently there are three posts out to advert as another officer is leaving the Service at the end of the week
· A difficulty the Serviced faced linked to the vacancies was the consistency of them as when one staff member left, another joined resulting in a state of forever training up new officers costing officer time and resources
· Fully qualified Planners were an increasingly scarce resource as they were highly sought after by the private sector and local authorities couldn’t match the salaries offered by those private companies. For example, Gravesham lost several senior Planners to the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation, which offers higher salaries
The Director (Planning & Development) explained that on a more positive note, the Council had been lucky to attract a small number of recent graduates who would be trained up within Gravesham with the aspiration of making them qualified Planners. Additionally, a number of female staff had been employed who all worked flexible hours as part of their childcare arrangements; even though they only worked three days a week each they provided their years of experience to the role making them valuable. Further information can be included on resourcing in the next update report.
The Director (Planning & Development) highlighted further key headlines from the report and presentation regarding the types of planning Appeals, planning decisions and national figures.
The Director (Planning & Development) and the Assistant Director (Planning) fielded questions from the Committee explaining that:
· The Council paid national wages that were in line with the salaries in other Borough Councils; ‘golden hellos’ have been seen in other local authorities but they are not exercised at Gravesham as they were seen as divisive for the existing staff
· The cost of training up graduates to a higher level of education was not a great amount when ... view the full minutes text for item 20.