Agenda and draft minutes

Estate Management Scheme Member Group - Monday 6th December 2021 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Campus East, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, AL8 6AE. View directions

No. Item



To note that the Chair of the Group for the 2021/22 Municipal Year was appointed at the Cabinet meeting on 15 June 2021.


It was noted that Councillor S. Boulton was appointed Chair of the Group for the 2021/22 Municipal year at the Cabinet meeting on 15 June 2021



To note declarations of Members’ disclosable pecuniary interests, non-disclosable Private Document Pack pecuniary and non-pecuniary interests in respect of items on this Agenda.


Councillors S. Boulton and F. Thomson declared a non-pecuniary interest in items on the agenda as appropriate by virtue of being Members of Hertfordshire County Council.


Councillors F. Thomson, S. McNamara, L. Musk and Jane Ranshaw declared a non-pecuniary interest in item 3 as members of the council’s Welwyn Garden City Estate Management Appeal Panel.


Councillor F. Thomson declared an interest as a resident residing within the Estate Management Scheme area.



Report of the Head of Planning outlining the proposed changes to the operation of the Estate Management Scheme and terms of reference of the Welwyn Garden City Estate Management Appeal Panel.

Additional documents:


Members received a presentation and report from the Head of Planning. Members noted that the Estate Management Scheme (EMS) was created in 1973 in response to the Leasehold Reform Act 1967 which had allowed freeholds to pass to residents.  The Scheme was designed to be ““administered for the purpose of maintaining and enhancing amenities and values in Welwyn Garden City and with due regard to the convenience and welfare of persons residing, working and carrying on business there”.


The Council had consulted on the future of the EMS in 2016, which revealed broad support for the scheme.  In November 2017 Cabinet agreed to the following:


·        Principle of creating EMS team to manage and administer the Scheme


·        Principle of establishing fees for EMS applications to cover costs of team


·        Production of EMS design guide


·        Public consultation to seek views on principles and draft design guide


·        Production of report which sets out responses to consultation, plus details of EMS team, fee schedule and adoption of design guide


Members noted that a two-year fixed-term EMS Manager was appointed in May 2019, a draft Design Guide had been published on the website and this cross party group had been established to guide Cabinet in next steps. Members also noted that the Council undertook a further consultation on the future administration of the EMS, between 24 June 2019 and 6 September 2019. Letters were sent to 10,900 known addresses within the EMS areas of Welwyn Garden City. Members were informed that only 231 responses were received.


Officers advised that of the responses received, there was wide support for a more accessible Design Guide. Officers also recommended that changes be made to the way appeals were dealt with, with a proposal that appeals be sent directly to an arbiter for determination, and the Estate Management Appeals Panel be reconstituted to consider EMS applications brought to them by officers and those “called-in” by Members and be renamed the Welwyn Garden City Estate Management Panel.


The following points were raised and noted:


Proposed changes to the appeal panel


·        The ability for any application to be “called-in” might create pressures and expectations that Ward Members would call in applications by those applicants who had concerns with their ability to get approval from Officers and did not want to risk having to appeal to an Arbiter (with the potential costs involved).  Members expressed concerns that this had the potential to create more work for Officers and Members. Officers confirmed that the process was based on that used for planning applications, and expectations were that the new process would not create significant extra work. However, the exact process for how call-ins operated could be looked at to ensure the process was manageable.

·        Members asked whether the removal of the appeals process would prevent Members from learning about potential breaches.  Officers advised that the changes proposed had included a new enforcement protocol on how breaches would be dealt with, in part to ensure the Council responded to such breaches in a proportionate  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.