Agenda and minutes

Strategic Planning & Environment Overview & Scrutiny - Tuesday, 10th January, 2023 7.30 pm

Venue: Conference Room 1 - The Forum. View directions

Contact: Corporate and Democratic Support  01442 228209

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 301 KB

To agree the minutes of the previous meeting.


It was noted that Cllr Wyatt-Lowe was present at the previous meeting and was then seconded to another meeting and should therefore be recorded as present.


The minutes of the previous meeting were formally approved as an accurate record, subject to the agreed amendment.



Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence were received from, Councillor Anderson, Councillor Wyatt-Lowe and Cllr Foster



Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.


There were no declarations of interest.



Public Participation


There was no public participation.



Consideration of any matter referred to the Committee in relation to Call-In




Action Point from previous meeting pdf icon PDF 105 KB


The actions from the previous meeting were noted, LFowell to chase officers on any outstanding actions.



Food Service Delivery Plan and Recovery Plan pdf icon PDF 502 KB

Additional documents:


SStefano took the paper as read and provided an overview of the report, noting that the Food Standards Agency has provided a roadmap for recovery for all local authorities post-Covid and requires that the food service plan be suitably approved. The service plan is to ensure that DBC meets the framework requirements and resources are allocated. Priorities changed in early 2022 and resources that were diverted to the pandemic have now returned to the team, and the team will continue to follow the Covid recovery guidance issued by the Food Standards Agency. The guidance covers the period from 1st July 2021 to 2023-24. There is a small level of uncertainty regarding the ongoing impact of Covid-19 and objectives may need to change throughout the year, though the food team is generally returning to business as usual on food controls rather than focusing on recovery.


SStefano advised that the team continues to meet or exceed the timeframes for objectives within the recovery plan and asked approval from the Committee on the continued use of the Food Standards Agency Covid-19 Recovery Plan to guide the work of the Food Safety team, as detailed in the Food Service Recovery Plan.


A comment was raised regarding Covid-19 as detailed on page 12 of the report and what requirements are missing from the Food Safety Service Authority Recovery Plan by continuing with the Covid-19 Local Authority Recovery Plan, and if this includes the hygiene safety certification of the businesses providing food services to the public. SStefano advised that they are now in the position where they are exceeding the recovery plan and are now fully staffed in the Food Safety team. SStefano continued that they are using containment outbreak management funding to fund additional contractors to assist with inspections. The report was written in June 2022 and the service has moved on considerably, and SStefano confirmed that they are looking to return to business as usual as early as June 2023. If a complaint is received, this will be followed up in the usual manner, and all A, B and C premises are prioritised for inspection due to their higher risk, and D premises are being inspected where possible. With regards to the impact to public health, SStefano advised that the situation is being managed well, particularly in comparison to other local authorities.


In response to a question regarding the Food Hygiene Rating, SStefano confirmed that they follow the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme and that these inspections are continuing.


A question was asked on if there is a proactive programme to re-test existing businesses given that many businesses have changed during Covid. SStefano explained that whilst they are working towards the Recovery Plan, they are still running their usual regime alongside, though they are slightly behind. There is no expectation in the Recovery Plan for D-rated premises to be inspected, though they are still being inspected. On re-testing premises, it was noted that businesses would need to re-register and they would be inspected  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Biodiversity Net Gain SPD pdf icon PDF 324 KB


ARobinson took the report as read and presented an overview of the paper. The paper seeks to update members on work in the planning department to ready itself for the Environment Act biodiversity net gains and also set out a number of opportunities for discussion. The paper was originally intended to be a formal supplementary planning document before the biodiversity net gain became mandatory. Given that the window of opportunity is closing, it was proposed that they do not pursue with a formal SPD and instead dedicate resources to getting operational items ready. It was noted that the work was still suitable for scrutiny as the department will be looking at items over and above the mandatory requirements.


Cllr Timmis first referred to item 1.2, bullet point 4, on page 59 regarding the net gain being delivered onsite, offsite or via statutory biodiversity credits. Cllr Timmis commented that it appears to be offsetting and asked what credits are in this case, stating that the net gain should be more closely related. Cllr Timmis queried who decides the biodiversity level.


ARobinson explained that when the biodiversity net gain becomes mandatory, all development will have to deliver 10% net gain above the existing base. An assessment will be conducted on the biodiversity of the site, which will then become a credit, and a developer will need to provide a number of credits of biodiversity to offset their development. As part of the planning application, the developer will need to find the additional biodiversity credits, and whilst this would ideally be via the site itself, the system does also allow for offsetting to take place. If the developer is unable to do this then the local authority can provide a local system of sites, which DBC doesn't currently have, or they can be provided by a third party. If this is not possible then payment will be provided to government to deliver the biodiversity elsewhere.


Cllr Timmis challenged the delivery of biodiversity elsewhere as it will not have any impact on the local area, adding that there is currently no description of what biodiversity currently means.


ARobinson advised that the legislation is seeking to deliver a net improvement in biodiversity and that the system is in place to help quantify this.


Cllr Timmis commented on SANGs, noting that these are to offer recreational leisure facilities and that unless they can fence some of this off then the impact of human beings will mean less opportunity for biodiversity. ARobinson advised that the SANG provision is in addition to biodiversity net gains and can't be double-counted. Dacorum can have significant amounts of recreation space as well as the requirement for biodiversity net gains and they should therefore have more open spaces compared to other local authorities. CCovington added that the biodiversity net gain will need to show additionality, though they are waiting for more advice from the government on how to combine elements.


CCovington referred to Cllr Timmis' earlier comment on offsite,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Skills and Apprenticeships SPD pdf icon PDF 313 KB

Additional documents:


ARobinson referred to the draft Employment and Skills Planning document, noting that the consultation has now taken place with comments received and that the document has now been revised. The report is now in for final review before going to Cabinet and Council for adoption. Once in place, the document will require developers to provide social value strategies and will be required to put in place a number of measures around skills and apprenticeships for local people to access training and employment opportunities.


The Chair referred to 3.7 and policy CS14 that sufficient land will be allocated to accommodate growth in the economy of approximately 10,000 jobs between 2006 and 2031. The Chair noted that Hemel Garden Communities also states the potential to create 10,000 jobs and queried if there would be over 10,000 jobs by 2031. ARobinson advised that the policy was adopted in 2011-12 and was the trajectory at this point in time with Hemel Garden Communities coming in later. ARobinson suggested that there would be an overlap in the numbers and it was unlikely that a further 10,000 jobs would be created on top of those within the core strategy and agreed to look into the numbers further.


Cllr Taylor asked for further information on what types of work the 10,000 jobs would cover. ARobinson advised that the SPD will not create 10,000 jobs and stated that they will compel developers of developments of over 30 dwellings to provide training and apprenticeships. The reference to 10,000 is regarding a broader target across all sectors.


Cllr Taylor queried how many dwellings will be affordable for those in the jobs created. ARobinson stated that housing affordability sits outside the SPD, though there is a policy for 30% affordable housing and DBC is looking at a new affordable housing policy as part of the local plan. The standalone requirement to provide affordable homes is separate to the SPD. Cllr Taylor suggested that they look at how the two areas could work together in future. ARobinson agreed that the local plan should look at employment, housing and affordability to ensure that objectives are being balanced correctly.


Cllr Taylor recommended that a context diagram be created to demonstrate the different policies and how they are connected to allow for further discussion.


On job creation, ARobinson advised that the developer will discuss with DBC what opportunities they can offer. For residential developments, opportunities are likely to be mainly in construction. For commercial operations, there will be potential opportunities for ongoing employment and DBC will work with the developer on what opportunities they would like to see.


Cllr Stevens commented that he did not feel this would be well received by developer industries and that developers will require skilled people to be able to proceed.


The Chair asked if all local authorities are completing SPDs to do their local plans.


ARobinson advised that a number of local authorities develop SPDs, though they are not required to develop a local plan, and they are  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 318 KB


The Chair noted that an additional item may be added to the Work Programme.


There being no further business, the Chair closed the meeting at 21:28