Agenda and minutes

Strategic Planning & Environment Overview & Scrutiny - Wednesday, 24th November, 2021 7.30 pm

Venue: Chamber

Contact: Corporate and Democratic Support  01442 228209

No. Item



To agree the minutes of the previous meeting.


The minutes of the last meeting were approved.


Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence.


Apologies were received from Cllr Silwal andCllr Hearn



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


There were no matters subject to call in


Hemel Garden Communities pdf icon PDF 1 MB


NB provided a map showing the outline of the Hemel Garden Communities including wider routes shown with green arrows.  The area hatched pink on the map was shown as the Hertford Innovation Quarter commercial area.

There has been a policy update with the Department for Transport’s decarbonising plan and 2021 has seen a spatial vision presented that has been endorsed by the Council’s cabinet and by Hertfordshire County Council, as well as it being noted by St Albans.

NB explained that other work streams include the framework plan. This particular piece of work is looking at delivering a spatial plan and strategic infrastructure for the growth areas. Work on the transport plan is continuing at pace with a range of stakeholder and council engagement activities since May 2021. 

The Council has received funding from the government and significant commitments of contributions from the 3 authorities. There has also been further work on communications of engagement as well as a draft strategy with branding and a website that should be delivered by February.

NB showed a diagram showing the key workstreams. The spatial vision is the overarching document that influences all of the work that is done. The key workstreams include the transport plan, the framework plan, the infrastructure delivery plan and the transformation workstream. The transformation workstream will include some further evidence such as green infrastructure strategy and working alongside the Hemel Place team to make sure transformation is delivered together.

NB explained that the transport plan runs to 2050 and it’s key for informing the local plans. The transport plan will also set a vision, goal and aims as well as costed transport interventions with a phasing delivery plan. This includes an active travel network focusing on walking and cycling and delivering transport hubs or multi modal transport interchanges. They will be focused at local centres and key destinations. The idea is to create a network for the bus improvements.

Another big move, NB noted, is the Hertford and Essex rapid transit system. This cuts across the town, starting at Hemel Hempstead railway station and working along the A414 corridor towards Harlow.

The future sees improvements to the bus network, behaviour change, low traffic neighbourhoods, changes to parking, freight and emerging technologies, such as electric vehicle charging, e-scooters and e-bikes and whatever comes forward in the future. The framework plan is a concept spatial plan that sets out spatial and infrastructure framework requirements for the new growth areas and transformational requirements for the wider town. This will set out the scope of the strategic infrastructure that is needed to support the new integrated neighbourhoods with the new local centres, the commercial development, as part of Herts IQ, social infrastructure services and facilities and supporting active and sustainable travel infrastructure and much more.

The Hemel Garden Communities Programme has a governance structure that includes member engagement through the delivery board and it is through the councillor visioning group that meets regularly. This comprises 5 representatives from St  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Hemel Hempstead Town Centre Strategy and Design Code for Paradise, Hemel Hempstead pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Additional documents:


SW introduced the report and said that the Hemel Place Strategy is a piece of work aiming to link everything together that is happening around Hemel Hempstead, pulling together the existing strategies into one vision and one place. It is not merely a particular area of planning. SW explained that Appendix 1 links all the visions that have gone through processes so the strategy is not starting from scratch. A key part of the Hemel Place Strategy is linking the Hemel Garden Communities, the Maylands business area, the town centre, the train station etc so it is all one Hemel Hempstead.  That is the strategic approach.

SW welcomed feedback on the strategy. The strategy needs careful consideration and lots of wider engagement, The KPMG report noted that Hemel Hempstead could suffer with more people working from home and more people not visiting the town centre leading to a reduction in footfall. So intervention is needed as part of the strategy to prevent this. 

The report includes the place shaping approach for the Old Town, which has included a multi discipline team looking at the Old Town and its future.  It is a place shaping approach. Some engagement has already taken place on this with the next community engagement in March 2022.

The Hemel Place board membership includes the private, public and third sector. The board will meet every 2 months and the first board meeting took place in November. This meeting included a session from Thinking Place, a consultancy that has been consulting key stakeholders and also reviewing Berkhamsted and Tring.

There was some criticism from members that the wording used by Thinking Place was meaningless.

SW encouraged everyone to read this alongside the KPMG report which also contained the raw data and analysis.

SW said that Theme 2 concerns treasuring the town as a hub for leisure and culture, whilst acknowledging that the arts and culture offer is poor and needs to improve. The Theme 3, ‘Shrinking and linking’, concerns understanding connectivity points.

Dacorum won a bid from the Department for Levelling Up to pilot Design Codes, resulting in a budget of £50,000 and the appointment of design consultants, Tibbles. The Design Code, as a planning tool, shows how an area could be developed,. Appendix 4 of this report gives some highlights. The final version of the Design Code is due at the end of November and an informal session will be provided for all at that point. Then it will go to scrutiny and cabinet for public consultation before the formal adoption of an SPD.

As a temporary safeguarding expedient, Permitted Development rights have been withdrawn from the town centre area and now planning permission will need to be obtained to convert commercial property into residential use.

Cllr Birnie expressed concern at the lack of back bench Members on the Hemel Place board.

SW confirmed that the board membership included an independent chair, the leaders of the Council and the opposition, the CEO, the executive member from  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Economic Development Update pdf icon PDF 661 KB

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CT reviewed the work of the Economic Development team over the last 18-24 months and reported that COVID has put a strain on the local economy. The first year of the pandemic saw the team in ‘grant payment mode’ following a telephone survey of 700-800 of the borough’s local businesses. During the first 12 months of the pandemic the team also looked at supporting specifically the retail sector. Resultant grant schemes were Welcome Back funding and Return to the High Street funding.

DBC’s 2 business centres remained open throughout the pandemic and apart from the first 2 months they were fully staffed. The Council continued to charge rent for the centres, so we felt it was important that we were staffing on site and supporting the businesses and having that focal point for the business community. 2 retail projects took place (1) to support people returning to high streets in as safe a way as possible and (2) around promotion and events.

Throughout the pandemic communication was key, around what funding and grants were available. The recovery board opened in March 2021 to identify the priorities for the economy in the area and to formulate a recovery plan for the economy which will be delivered over the short, medium and long term. The Council is in the process of finalising action plans to support that plan and this will move into the delivery phase from 1st January. This involves such partners as the college, the university, the LEP and the chambers of commerce.

The filming sector has mushroomed over the last 6 months. The Council now has a dedicated officer as a single point of contact for the filming locations. DBC is also working with the college and the Elstree Screen Academy to make sure young people can access relevant training and be able to cross over into work experience and access to the filming that is going on. This is part of a wider Hertfordshire piece of work and will hopefully successfully promote Hertfordshire as the Hollywood of the UK.

CT explained that the Council was piloting a project to get social value from Section 106 Agreements which will be a formulaic approach where a certain number of houses or square footage of space equals a number of hours of social value, or social value training. It will oblige the developers to come forward with a skills strategy.

The Council has continued to attract investments from other areas into Dacorum in the last 18 months and the data attached to the report demonstrates that the Council is holding its own financially mainly because the diversity of our economy is one of our strengths.

Cllr Birnie welcomed the report and asked whether a film stategy had been developed.

CT confirmed that filming protocols were already available.

Cllr Taylor queried what support there was for people who wanted to become self-employed following the pandemic. CT explained the partnership with the Herts Growth Hub had been increased with many referrals  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Environmental and Community Protection Enforcement Policy pdf icon PDF 141 KB

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EW presented the updated policy, stating that enforcement policy is delivered through letters and notices that are sent to businesses or individuals regarding regulatory function. The enforcement officer informs people how they can expect to be treated throughout interactions with regulatory officers. Although the vast majority of interventions from within the department result in no enforcement action there is still an unfortunate minority where enforcement action needs to be taken. Enforcement action has safeguards built into it like procedures and rights to fair trials and investigations taken in compliance with criminal evidence when individuals are being questioned.

Cllr Birnie noted the absence of an explanation of the acronym “PAP” in the report.


EW explained that PAP meant the Primary Authority Principle, which is where a business would have a link with a particular local authority that they could rely upon for regulatory advice. For example, Tesco has a partnership with Luton Borough Council.

Cllr AE asked about enforcement in The Marlowes.

EW stated that all enforcement officers (including those in the town centre) have to comply strictly with enforcement policy.

Cllr RB asked about ‘dark kitchens’ in the borough, i.e. kitchens that operate out of town under the name of a well-known restaurant within the town as a cheap alternative to having a second restaurant and providing only takeaway food.

EW was not aware of any such dark kitchens, but people who cook in their own home and sell their food at markets are regulated at home. In this regard the team regularly visit all markets and events in the borough. Market stalls can be enforced in several ways. A home inspection may be made where the bulk of the activity is carried out. Or if the retailer lives in, say, Chesham and comes to a market stall in Dacorum, the Council would liaise with Chiltern District Council to find out regulatory information about those individuals. Alternatively the Council could be contacted by Chiltern District Council to get officers to investigate a particular premises whilst it is operating to collect samples to get a food hygiene rating.

The report was noted.



Food Service Plan pdf icon PDF 328 KB

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RC introduced the report and detailed the inspection framework which complies with the statutory requirements of the Food Standards Agency (FSA). The Council was behind with its inspections of food providers as members of staff had been redeployed to other functions related to the COVID 19 pandemic. RC presented a food service recovery plan designed to rectify this and to get inspections back on track. The FSA has given appropriate and specific timelines to ensure the Council is enabling the people of Dacorum have an informed choice about where they eat and ensuring establishments are complying with legislation. The timelines span from September 2021 to 2024.   

Normally, local authorities participate in national and local sampling programmes. Working with the UKHSA they will decide on specific sampling areas to see if risks emerge. The Council has not been able to participate in this due to its lack of resources.

Cllr RB queried whether there was still an impact of leaving the EU on workload and resources.

RC confirmed that this was still the case. The impact of leaving the EU is still yet to be realised in full. It is thought there could be more requirements for export health certificates in the future as a result of Brexit.

RC stated that the Council had not met its statutory objectives during the pandemic which was why the food service recovery plan was put in place. The Council was confident that with its current resources and the use of consultants, where required, they would be able to clear the backlog of missed inspections.

Cllr Birnie expressed doubts about the timeline for the recovery plan and asked how long inspections took and whether this depends on if the business is compliant or not.

RC replied that a fully compliant business’ inspection could take 1 hour, but it could take up to 4 hours where problems became manifest.

Cllr JT asked if food banks were inspected.

RC confirmed that food banks are inspected under the same regime as other food businesses.

Cllr Birnie commented that;

·                there are a number of typographical and grammatical errors in the report which should be amended.

·                a full report on statutory food functions is not required at each meeting in future. The important update for the future is to focus on any changes to the statutory position.

·                future reports should also include more numeric data e.g. average inspection times, which will help to elucidate why more resource is needed to fulfill the department’s duties in a timely manner.

·                in the light of security issues elsewhere in the government realm, if the names and pictures of staff are not already on the website, then they should be removed from the appendix of the report to protect identities before the report was published.

The report was noted



Work Programme pdf icon PDF 266 KB


Cllr AE asked for Air Quality to be added to the programme.

Cllr Birnie agreed to do so, but reminded Members that we still awaited technical amendment by DEFRA of the raw figures from our street monitors, so the item could not yet be scheduled.

There being no further business, the meeting was closed at 10.30 pm.