Agenda item

Corporate Performance Update: Quarter Four 2021-22


The Assistant Director (Communities) provided the Committee with an update against the Performance Management Framework, as introduced within the council’s Corporate Plan, for Quarter Four 2021-22 (January to March 2022).


The Assistant Director (Communities) gave the following update and responded to Member questions:


PI 28 – % rate of vacant town centre retail properties: Vacancy rates continue to improve slowly but not yet back to pre-pandemic levels. Take up of the smaller units has been strong but it is the larger units creating the problem. Many of the units in town have been sub-divided as there is no longer a requirement for large floor space.


The national vacancy rate in town centres is just over 14% whereas we currently stand at 10.7% so we are doing better than some towns such as Dartford or Chatham but in terms of footfall it varies depending on the diverse mix and how many people are living in town centres.


A lot of work is being done to put properties into a marketable state, works include residential use above and this will contribute to more people living within the town centre. On the leisure side, the Panic Room continues to expand and innovate. They have their new axe throwing and laser games in part of the former BHS. Changes are happening and there is now a mix of retail, business and leisure with a solicitor and gym in the St. George’s Centre. We rely on the businesses coming forward recognising those opportunities. Business rates are immovable but agents will negotiate on rents.


PI 29 – Average weekly town centre footfall: This remains a concern due to changing shopping habits. With the big players like Marks & Spencer and Debenhams no longer in the town centre that has an impact on footfall. For many years we have held out against Bluewater but since the pandemic Bluewater is also suffering. Retail parks on the edge of town which are cheaper and have free parking are doing better.


Economic profile: By the end of this quarter the council had allocated 100% of the remaining top-up business grants to support a number of people who wanted to adapt their business post Covid, some leisure, some training and construction skills.


PI 32 - % net gain in active business: promoting a borough open for business with a focus on retaining existing businesses and encouraging new start-ups, increase the level and range of business investment to drive economic growth. Gravesham does well on small start-up businesses compared to other areas and the survival rates seem to be good.


Improving economic conditions: Working with partner agencies to develop a package of measures that support local enterprises and deliver a workforce with the skills needed by modern business. Proposals for a new school at Cable Wharf and an extension to Rosherville Academy, lots of investment taking place. The council have won an award this week for taking on 34 placements through the Kickstart scheme. The scheme will come to an end in the next quarter and the council will bring a report to Committee on the number of those who we were able to help into training and employment.


PI 35 - % of major planning applications processed on time: Members agreed this was a good outcome. Members felt there were sites blighting the borough where they have received approval but not developed the sites within a reasonable timescale. There are very little levers to ensure sites are developed once approved.


Action: The Principal Transport and NSIP Project Manager to relay back to the Assistant Director (Planning) concerns about approved but un-developed sites and whether the Section 215 Notice can be used to improve the look of the sites. Tom Reynolds (Assistant Director, Strategic Regeneration) to be asked to provide some clarity on the implementation plan for the borough.


Members noted the information in the report.


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