Agenda and draft minutes

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No. Item


Apologies for Absence


No apologies for absence were received.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 160 KB


No apologies for absence were received.


Declarations of Interest


The minutes of the meeting of the Strategic Environment Cabinet Committee held on Monday, 25 September 2023 were signed by the Chair.



Design for Gravesham pdf icon PDF 258 KB

Additional documents:


The Committee was provided with a report that gave them an update on Design for Gravesham, tabling the emerging draft document that would soon go to public consultation. Following the consultation, the final version of the document together with consultation responses would be presented to a future meeting of the Cabinet for approval.


The Assistant Director (Inclusive Growth) directed Members to appendix one which held a draft version of the Design for Gravesham design code and gave Members a summary of the whole document. This version of the code would go to public consultation, subject to the consideration of comments made by Members at tonight’s Committee.


The Assistant Director (Inclusive Growth) appreciated that Members may not have had enough time to review the document as it was very large and advised that comments could be provided tonight, in the near future or during the public consultation. 


Concern was raised by a Member that some of the points made at the previous Committee meeting had not been addressed:


  • Page 48 – At the previous meeting it was asked to highlight the Mosque on the map and amend ‘Culture’ to ‘Culture and Religion’
  • The document still had a strong ‘London lens’ feel to it and the images included within the pack did not show Gravesend as residents wanted it; there were still too many high-rise buildings, lack of green space and apartment blocks illustrated. Additionally, the proposed building typology would not fit in with the character of the villages surrounding Gravesend; the Design Code needed to make reference to suitable developments for villages in the Borough 
  • The presentation still lacked many references to beauty, placemaking and the provision to ensure developments reflected the local character of the borough or what made Gravesham unique


In response to the concerns raised, the Assistant Director (Inclusive Growth) advised that:


·       The diagram (pg. 48) had been updated with the annotation ‘culture/community/ faith.’ The ADIG noted that he would raise this point again with Levitt Bernstein (LB) and ask that they annotate culture, community and faith buildings separately.

·       He accepted the comment around lack of reference to beauty in the document and advised that he would ask LB to further consider/reference. 

·       With regards to the ‘London lens’, the previous comments had been taken on board and the code makes references to Gravesham throughout. However, the comment will be reaffirmed with LB to see if further local/regional examples of best practice regeneration can be added.  The ADIG noted that comprehensive community engagement had also been undertaken. Resident’s comments have shaped the vision and objectives for the code and comments are referenced throughout.

·       There are a mix of housing typologies illustrated in the code, including lower density projects – this will be reviewed and strengthened.

·       The Chair added that each development would be contextual to the area where it was being developed.


In further response to the ‘London lens’ comment, the Chair stated that he held similar concerns, and he would be explicit with the architects regarding the need  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.


Draft Developer Contributions Guide pdf icon PDF 280 KB

Additional documents:


The Committee was presented with an initial draft of the Developer Contributions Guide for discussion and comment.


The Head of Planning advised that the purpose of the document was to provide advice and information to applicants and their advisers when their development had given rise to the need for the Council, acting in its role as the Local Planning Authority to secure mitigation through a section 106 legal agreement or unilateral undertaking. It was also intended to provide the wider public clarity in terms of the Council’s role in that regard. In certain circumstances, there were other means of securing planning benefits such as through the imposition of conditions. However, the document concerned mitigation secured through a section 106 legal agreement or unilateral undertaking.


The Chair stated that guide was at its earliest stage and Members comments were being sought; other Councils had similar guides and it helped to codify expectations and set out how the Council wanted section 106 contributions to be spent in the Borough.


In response to a Members question concerning governance, the Chair responded that the document was in its earliest form and only comments were being sought as well as Member engagement. A strategic document would then be created, considered and asked to be ratified at the next meeting of Strategic Environment Committee; as the document was strategic it set the direction of the Council.


The Head of Planning fielded questions from Members and explained that:


  • There was not a set formula for overall section 106 contributions to be calculated, but there were different departments/organisations such as KCC, Health Service and Kent Police that all made requests for contributions, and they advised the Council of the methodology that generated their requests. The request is normally set out in a delegated report or planning report. In the future, the document would include signposting of where the section 106 guidance was publicly available
  • Members were advised to be mindful that section 106 contributions could not go above and beyond the policy requirements specified in the Local Plan which meant that higher contributions could not be requested for example for carbon offsetting. The document would include a limit to what could be requested
  • There was no requirement for the Council to consult on strategic corporate documents with external partners
  • The main focus of section 106 contributions tends to focus upon financial contributions, but in some instances actions could be requested to be implemented via a section 106 agreement; one example being seeking parking restrictions


The Chair thanked Members for their feedback.




Planning in Gravesham Key Principles pdf icon PDF 275 KB

Additional documents:


The Committee was presented with an initial draft of “Planning in Gravesham – The Gravesham Borough Council Planning Service Strategy 2023-2028” for discussion and comment.


The Head of Planning advised that Planning in Gravesham, set out the Council’s vision and strategic aims and objectives for the planning service in Gravesham to 2028. With the overriding aim of ensuring that a professional, courteous, consistent, and fair service was provided to all users, whilst stiving to maintain high standards.


The Chair stated that the document was in a finished state unless something substantial came up at this meeting.


In response to a Members question around the Planning departments readiness to fulfil the requirements set out within the document, the Chair provided an example of recent changes that had been made. The Chair was confident that principles and practices in Planning had changed for the better and the document was meant for the public as well as developers. Planning applications not filled out correctly would not be accepted and support would be given to people when it was needed.


Several Members raised the following points regarding the document:


  • The document required further structure with greater categorisation
  • Page 3 section 6 – Add a sentence stating that planning applications brought forward by the Council and the Councils developer company, Rosherville, would be held to the same high standards as everyone else applying for a planning application. Additionally, add in a sentence regarding rules for Councillors planning application being treated the same at Planning Committee and rules around them referring applications and declaring interests etc
  • Page 3 section 7 – Examples needed to be included in the section to contextualise what timely meant such as a response would be given in five working days etc
  • Page 4 ‘We will not’ – The wording required greater clarification on what the Council was able to explain so that the public wouldn’t be misled; decision notices often lacked detail that residents wanted but it was acknowledged they had to be written in certain ways to avoid going to appeal
  • Page 12 Complaints and Planning Officers – Amend point two: The Council will seek always to protect our Officers and Councillors from abuse and harassment in line with our policy and procedures
  • The document should be made readily available on the Councils website and include more animations which were easier to understand and highlight the key information that the public needed to be aware of
  • The role of the Planning Committee should be added to the document and include points around the political impartiality of Members on the Committee, the training Members received and the procedure for Councillor call ins
  • The document should include an area dedicated to guidance around submitting planning applications when a resident lived in a conservation area
  • Some Parish Councils believed that their own Planning Committees trumped the powers of the Councils planning Committee in Parishes; a passage should be included advising what weight would be given to the outcome of Parish Planning Committees when  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.