Agenda and draft minutes

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Items
No. Item

82.

Apologies

Minutes:

Apologies of absence were received from Cllr Leslie Hills, Cllr Dakota Dibben and Cllr Emma Morley. Cllr Jordan Meade, Cllr Gary Harding and Cllr Lyn Milner acted as their respective substitutes. 

 

Apologies of absence were also received from the Service Manager (Planning) and the Senior Economic Development Officer.

 

83.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 101 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting of the Strategic Environment Cabinet Committee held on Monday, 27 September 2021 were signed by the Chair

 

84.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were made.

 

85.

Economic Development Strategy pdf icon PDF 95 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee were provided with a report on the activity undertaken to promote the draft Economic Growth Strategy and feedback received from businesses and residents.

 

The Committee were directed to appendix three to the report which held the draft Economic Growth Strategy for Gravesham 2019-23.

 

The Assistant Director (Communities) informed Members that the objective in consulting on the Economic Growth Strategy was to seek opinion from a broad range of community and business stakeholders; to receive their input to the finalised strategy document but also to engage their longer-term interest in action planning for the seven key themes. The response levels to the consultation were disappointing, despite use of a range of media to consult, and it was a challenge to get business users to engage them on the issue and the Assistant Director (Communities) was unsure as to why that is so.

 

However, the feedback that was received was helpful and was summarised on age 13 of the report. The Assistant Director (Communities) assured Members that the comments received would be taken on board and used to amend the Strategy.

 

The Committee would be brought regular updates on the actions laid out within the Strategy.

 

 In response to Members questions, the Assistant Director (Communities) and the Assistant Director (Planning) explained that:

 

  • The consultation took place between 21 September and 31 October 2021 and was now closed; 26 responses were received
  • The responses received weren’t expected to make any significant changes to the Strategy; a one-page document outlining the changes that were made to the Strategy would be agreed with the Chair and then made available to the Committee
  • The seven themes of the Strategy weren’t laid out in order of importance; one of the proposed changes to the Strategy was putting a greater emphasis on theme 7 supporting sustainable economic growth through delivering the Councils climate change commitments. In addition, there would be the Kent Gravesham Business Awards and greater emphasis would be put upon sourcing local produce and celebrating local skills
  • Land available for businesses to grow locally was a concern shared by the Economic Development Team; it was essential to have land so that local businesses could expand and encourage investment. A number of projects were being brought forward such as the Council working with the EDC to bring further development at Northfleet Embankment East
  • There was currently no planning development earmarked for the Tollgate site; originally a planning application was submitted by BP but it went to a judicial review after complaints from the petrol garage next to the site. After much back and forth, in the end the Council decided to refuse the planning application; following that decision BP appealed but then withdrew their appeal shortly after. The Assistant Director (Planning) agreed to undertake an exercise to find out the latest information to see if any development was planned for the site and report back to Members outside of the meeting
  • The Assistant Director (Communities) responded to Member’s concerns regarding survey question three and thought  ...  view the full minutes text for item 85.

86.

Kent Design Guide Consultation

The consultation is being run online by KCC and is available at https://letstalk.kent.gov.uk/kentdesignguide and the Kent Design Guide is available at https://kentdg.wpengine.com/ as an interactive website.

 

Minutes:

The Committee were informed that the consultation was being run online by KCC and was available at https://letstalk.kent.gov.uk/kentdesignguide  and the Kent Design Guide was available at https://kentdg.wpengine.com/ as an interactive website.

 

The Assistant Director (Planning) gave Members an overview of the consultation and outlined the key points concerning the Kent Design Guide.

 

  • The draft Kent Design Guide followed the format of design guidance that was set out in the National Design Guidance published in 2019. It was predominantly set design guidance around 10 key characteristics that were there to help shape spaces and communities
  • The districts of Kent were working together to reinvigorate the Kent Design Guide through the consultation but it had taken a long time as different Councils wanted different things and various Council already had their own guides in place for such things as parking standards or cycling and walking etc
  • The Kent Design Guide acted as an overarching framework which gave some degree of certainty to developers who desired consistency across Kent; developers didn’t like that each Council may have different standards which created more work for the developers to follow each districts standard. The Kent Design Guide allowed them to know what rules were in place and what was expected of them as a minimum
  • Gravesham had its own page on the Kent Design Guide website which showed the Borough in a positive light
  • The Assistant Director (Planning) highlighted that the website includes new Kent parking guidance due to be adopted in Spring 2022. She brought this to Member’s attention as KCC@s assumption was that these  would supersede all other parking standards including the SPG4 which is the adopted standard used by Gravesham
  • Another issue was whether or not Gravesham could adopt the Guide as it was fluid document; that meant that Gravesham might agree with the document on day one and adopt it but some time after the document could change and the Council may be inherently supporting a document that was now unsuitable for Gravesham
  • Version document control would also be key as the policy had to be locked in place for planning appeals

 

The Assistant Director (Planning) advised that the consultation was due to finish on 17 January 2022 and Members could request for more generalised comments to be submitted to the consultation if they wished.

 

In response to Members questions, the Assistant Director (Planning) explained that:

 

  • The decision to adopt the guide was down to the administration but it wasn’t unreasonable to endorse a certain version of the fluid document and clarify what the Council accepted and what wasn’t accepted. That way would allow for some manoeuvrability if the original document that was endorsed was significantly changed from what was agreed
  • The Council had had issues in the past with other documents such as ‘Growth without Gridlock’ which the Council largely supported but couldn’t support the part regarding the Lower Thames Crossing. The Assistant Director (Planning) agreed to raise the issue of the Council only agreeing to a certain version of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 86.

87.

Draft Planning Enforcement Strategy pdf icon PDF 88 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee were presented with the draft Planning Enforcement Strategy and their views were sought.

 

Members made the following comments regarding reporting a Planning breach through the website:

 

·         The current method of reporting a Planning breach on the Councils website was clunky and needed to be amended to become more efficient and simplified. 

·         There should a be a single link on the front page of the website that, when clicked, took the user straight to the page where they could report planning breaches

·         The form itself asked for the users details before it asked for the details of the breach and there was nothing on the form to inform users that their details would be completely protected. A passage needed to be included telling the user that their details would be protected, not shared with anyone else and used only if absolutely necessary

·         The form layout should be amended to ask for the potential planning breach details first and then take the personal details last; users were more likely to give their personal details if they had already filled out the rest of the form

 

In response to Members concerns/comments the Assistant Director (Planning) explained that:

 

·         The Council had recently moved to a new website provider and the Digital Team were spending a lot of time looking at accessibility and wayfaring; a meeting was held the other day with the Digital Team and Planning Enforcement and one of the first questions asked what was the three key areas that should be located in three buttons at the top of Planning Enforcement Page

·         The three areas deemed most important were around pre-planning application advice, looking for active planning applications and reporting a planning breach. Advice was also being sought from the officers in teams that dealt with people first hand and those officers that dealt with people through the contact centre in order to gather more information that would make the website more helpful to the public

·         With regards to the reporting process for planning breaches, the Assistant Director (Planning) agreed to review the form and take Members comments on board. However, someone reporting a breach had to give their personal details on the form otherwise their complaint couldn’t be accepted; the current confidentiality and privacy statement was clear about what was done with personal details. The Assistant Director (Planning) advised that there were a few issues with data sharing and representation but agreed to look into what could be done make it more clearer to the public what the Council did with their details

 

Following further comments and questions regarding the draft Planning Enforcement Strategy, the Assistant Director (Planning) advised that:

 

·         COU was an acronym and stood for ‘change of use’

·         It was planned to create a one page document written from the perspective of Cllr Sullivan that summarised the Planning Enforcement Strategy laying out what breaches the Council would enforce and what the Council wouldn’t enforce. The document would be written up using simple, easy to read language and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 87.

88.

Corporate Performance Report Q2 pdf icon PDF 86 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee was presented with an update against the Performance Management Framework, as introduced within the Council’s Corporate Plan, for Quarter Two 2021-22 (July to September 2021).

 

The Assistant Director (Planning) directed Members to appendix two to the report which provided Members with a statistical overview of the Council’s performance against each performance indicator for quarter two.

 

The Chair thanked the officers for a detailed report.