Venue: Council Chamber, Council Offices, The Campus, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, AL8 6AE
Contact: Gurdip Paddan
To note any substitution of Panel Members in accordance with Council Procedure Rules.
The following substitution of Panel Members had been made in accordance with Council procedure rules:-
Councillor M. Holloway for G. Hayes
Councillor M. Larkins for A. Chesterman
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors A. Chesterman and
To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 3 July 2019 (previously circulated).
The Minutes of the meeting held on 3 July 2019 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
NOTIFICATION OR URGENT BUSINESS TO BE CONSIDERED UNDER ITEM 9
Report on the Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan Timetable.
The Chairman agreed to consider the following report on ‘Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan Timetable’, as an urgent item.
DECLARATION OF INTERESTS BY MEMBERS
To note declarations of Members’ disclosable pecuniary interests, non-disclosable pecuniary interests and non-pecuniary interests in respect of items on this Agenda.
Councillors S. Boulton and P. Zukowskyj declared a non-pecuniary interest in items on the agenda as appropriate by virtue of being Members of Hertfordshire County Council.
PUBLIC QUESTION TIME AND PETITIONS
Up to fifteen minutes will be made available for questions from members of the public on issues relating to the work of the Committee and to receive any petitions.
The following questions were received and the Chairman responded:
Question 1 – Alan Perkins
On 6 June 2016 the Council published its Site Selection Report just seven days prior to the Cabinet Housing and Planning Panel meeting on 13 June 2016. This was the first time that the public had seen that report. The seven day period did not allow any landowner or member of the public an opportunity to bring errors to the attention of the Council prior to the decision to adopt the Site Selection Report on 13 June 2016.
In the case of BrP12 in Brookmans Park, the Council found that site to be suitable for allocation, but the Council did not then allocate BrP12 due solely to a perceived lack of capacity at Brookmans Park primary school.
BrP12 could provide 125 new homes, an 80 bedroom care home, a new scout hut and new public footpaths and cycle ways to join Brookmans Park to Bell Bar and Welham Green with Green Routes. All of the land to provide these homes and public benefits is within our ownership.
On 11 July 2016 the solicitor acting for my company, Aurora Properties, provided clear written evidence to the Council from the nationally respected expert, Mr Stephen Clyne at Education Facilities Management, that there was not, in fact, a lack of capacity at Brookmans Park primary school.
Aurora also provided the Council with the outcome of a Planning Appeal at Brookfield Farm, Leicester (APP/X2410/A/11/2161715) where that Council had refused planning permission for 170 new dwellings based on a lack of primary school capacity. The Inspector granted the Appeal and awarded costs against that Council for unreasonable behaviour.
Hertfordshire County Council also informed Welwyn Hatfield Council that it had based its assessment of primary school capacity throughout the borough on its generic pupil yield, not on the local circumstances which would take into consideration the demographics of Brookmans Park and the existing spare capacity at Welham Green primary school, which had 57 spare places at that time while 58 pupils from Welham Green attended Brookmans Park primary school.
Hertfordshire County Council then informed Aurora Properties in writing that Welwyn Hatfield Council had instructed the County Council not to assess the expert primary school capacity report, from Mr Clyne, as submitted by Aurora Properties.
My company made repeated attempts through its planning consultants and its solicitors to engage constructively with the Council, in order to resolve the perceived lack of primary school capacity in Brookmans Park, without success.
The above circumstances were all prior to the submission of the Local Plan for Examination, so the Council had every opportunity to review its erroneous sole reason for not allocating BrP12, but it declined to do so.
At the Examination, the Inspector directed the Council that he would not accept primary school capacity (real or imagined) as a reason not to allocate suitable housing sites.
Also, in January 2018, the Borough Council entered into a Statement of Common Ground with Hertfordshire County Council ... view the full minutes text for item 21.
Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) on the Housing Delivery Test Action Plan. The Plan seeks to identify the main issues associated with housing delivery in the Borough and the main actions that can be taken by the Council and other parties to speed up delivery.
Members considered a report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) on the Housing Delivery Test Action Plan. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) requires councils to prepare an action plan where housing delivery has fallen below the housing requirement. The Plan seeks to identify the main issues associated with housing delivery in the Borough and the main actions that can be taken by the Council and other parties to speed up delivery.
The Plan reviews Government guidance, considers the views of relevant stakeholders and analyses existing data and other knowledge in order to identify a series of actions that would be taken over the coming months and years to help increase housing delivery.
A number of questions were raised in terms of the length of the planning application determination process/timescales and build out rates, time taken for construction to commence, scope for technology and modernisation of the application process and pre-application advice.
The Panel requested changes to the key action points in the report at paragraph 3.6 and the Housing Delivery Test Action Plan. Following a detailed discussion the amendments were agreed as below:
At para 3.6 needs to state:
· Progress the adoption of the Local Plan.
· Review the scope for technology and modernisation to improve pre-application advice and the handling of planning applications.
The Housing Delivery Test Action Plan for Cabinet on 6 August to be updated with the following:
· It is intended that results will be reported to Councillors later in 2019 and that examination hearing sessions will take place in December 2019 and February 2020. This should lead to main modifications consultation and adoption later in 2020.
· Reference to adoption of the Local Plan but removal of words relating to the release of land from the green belt as this has not yet been confirmed through the examination process.
· The Council will explore the scope for technology and modernisation to improve the provision of pre-application advice and the handling of planning applications. Officers are aware of IT applications for example that make it easier to potential applicants to understand whether their proposal is permitted development, whether they require planning permission and what information needs to be submitted in order to make their application valid.
1. That the Panel agrees the Action Plan and the series of actions within the action plan that the Council will seek to implement over coming months and years.
2. That the Action Plan be presented to Cabinet for information.
Report of the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services), which sets out the results of the informal consultation, the statutory consultation and the recommended course of action.
Report of the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) on the introduction of resident permit scheme and double yellow lines in Lambs Close, Cuffley.
The report noted that an existing resident permit scheme has been operating within Lambs Close since 2000. When parking enforcement responsibility passed to Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council in 2005. Lambs Close has been patrolled as with all other public highway by the authorised enforcement officers on behalf of Welwyn Hatfield. The sale of permits has been managed by Northaw and Cuffley Parish Council. The Parish Council requested that Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council (WHBC) takes on the responsibility for the sales management of a permit scheme, as in the same way WHBC run all other public highway permit schemes. The current permits issued by the Parish Council have been handwritten permits, which in the past have been open to a small amount of misuse by way of the expiry date being altered with a pen. WHBC since 2017/18 have issued all resident parking permits as paperless and checked by the enforcement team by vehicle’s number plate meaning the permit expiry date cannot be altered.
In order to bring the management of the permit scheme in line with all other resident permit schemes managed by WHBC, a new traffic regulation needs to be made to set the charges for resident permits as well as designate it with a zone code. Within the new Order, it will allow for the first time the residents who live within this scheme the opportunity to purchase visitor parking vouchers. Currently, any visitors to residents have restricted or no parking within the road during the operational hours of 11am to 1pm Monday to Friday. This has the potential to cause a level of isolation for those who could be partially housebound.
In February 2019 Parking Services consulted all residents within Lambs Close to offer the opportunity to make changes to the enforcement days and hours whilst the Traffic Regulation Order required was being designed. Residents were surveyed to see if any supported change of days or times to the current permit bays. Eighteen responses were received, with no majority in favour of making any changes to the days and times. During the consultation, several respondents highlighted the sets of six parking bays on the west of the road which are currently separated by short sections of single yellow lines. It was proposed when creating a new Traffic Regulation Order to recreate the parking bays within their current start to finish limits but removing the yellow lines between the bays to increase the parking scope to eight parked vehicles in that section of the road. This would give better parking provision outside of parking restriction hours. On previous visits by Parking Services Officers, the permit bays were often observed as underused during the restriction period.
As part of the remedial work to create the Order, it has been identified that the single yellow lines still left in situ from 2000 are in sections ... view the full minutes text for item 23.
Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) on the Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan Timetable. The Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan has been submitted and is currently undergoingpublic examination by an independent inspector.
The timetable agreed in March 2019 was that the results and recommendations of this process would be presented to Councillors in September 2019 and the further hearing sessions would take place in November/December 2019. The unexpected receipt of 10,000+ representations to the public consultation in addition to site analysis work and updating evidence has unfortunately created too much work to be achieved in this time.
This item was considered urgent as Members needed to be aware of the unexpected workload generated by representation received as part of the public consultation on sites and the issues raised by examination Inspectors in respect the Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan and reporting timescales.
Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) on the Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan Timetable. The Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan had been submitted and was currently undergoing public examination by an independent Inspector. The report noted that the Inspector has indicated that the Plan does not currently meet the objectively assessed need for housing. The Council has therefore carried out a further call-for-sites exercise and published those sites for public consultation, before deciding whether to select any new sites for inclusion in the Local Plan.
The timetable agreed in March 2019 was that the results and recommendation of this process was scheduled to be presented to Councillors in September 2019 and the further hearing session would take place in November/December 2019. The unexpected receipt of 10,000+ representations from the public consultation in addition to site analysis work and updating evidence has unfortunately created too much work to be achieved in this time. Members were advised that previously there had been only 6,000 representations to such a consultation.
The report noted that at the time of writing in late July 2019 it had taken about two months to work through 4,000 representations. The Planning Policy team had therefore employed additional agency staff to speed up this process but it is likely that it will take another two months to complete the task. As a result it would not be possible to present a full summary of the issues raised by residents and others to Councillors in September 2019. Realistically it will be achieved by November 2019.
The examination Inspector for North Herts Local Plan had recently written to that Council to advise that further hearing sessions were required in light of new evidence presented to him as part of the Main Modifications consultation stage, including fundamental issue such as the Objective Assessment of Need for Housing and green belt evidence.
The examination Inspectors for the St Albans Local Plan had recently written to that Council to more fully understand the evidence gathering that has taken place to justify a green belt review and the assessment of individual sites.
In terms of suitable sites for the Local Plan, a Member sought clarification on the capacity for the primary school at Brookmans Park. The Chairman advised that this was beyond the content of the report under consideration and that discussion on sites and infrastructure issues would take place at a later date. It was noted that the Inspector would be retiring in March 2020.
1. That the Panel notes: the unexpected workload generated by 140+ sites promoted as part of the call-for-sites exercise; the unexpected workload generated by 10,000+ representations received as part of the public consultation on these sites; and the issues raised by examination ... view the full minutes text for item 24.