Agenda and draft minutes

Strategic Planning & Environment Overview & Scrutiny - Wednesday, 16th March, 2022 7.30 pm

Venue: Conference Room 2

Contact: Corporate and Democratic Support  01442 228209

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 141 KB

To agree the minutes of the previous meeting.

Minutes:

The minutes from the last meeting were approved.

2.

Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies were noted from Cllr Rogers.

3.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

4.

Public Participation

Minutes:

There was no public participation.

5.

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

Minutes:

None

6.

Environmental Services performance Q3 pdf icon PDF 542 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RLeBrun took the report as read.

 

RLeBrun focused on Q3, noting that it was a difficult year for waste services with 200 days lost due to Covid-related absence.  The national shortage of drivers also resulted in the loss of 5 full-time drivers and many agency drivers.  RLeBrun confirmed that they managed to maintain all services during this time.  An agreement was secured to pay a supplement to LGV drivers, which was put in place at the end of November, and has resulted in retaining drivers and the re-employment of the 4 out of 5 drivers who previously left. 

 

Clean, Safe and Green lost 90 days due to Covid, and a number of LGV drivers were deployed to waste collections, though over 80k bedding bulbs were still planted across the borough and new wildflower areas were created.  Work has also started on the play area and High Street Green, and 5 Green Flag parks were retained due to hard work behind the scenes and maintenance.  RLeBrun noted a memorial garden in Gadebridge Park is being created for those lost during Covid and a ceremony is due to take place in July 2022. 

 

A number of environmental projects took place, including a zero waste day in Hemel town centre, a second-hand competition to help encourage second-hand shopping, and 90 1,100 litre bins were handed out to 53 blocks of flats to encourage recycling.  There were also clothes swap events taking place with another to take place in the coming weeks, and work is taking place on sustainable period poverty and reusable nappies.  The Monsters on a Mission competition has seen high engagement, and 236 Street Champions have received equipment with a further 214 registered, and there has been an increase in registrations for the Love Food, Hate Waste challenge.  During Q3, waste services received 8,277 requests, including 483 bulky item requests and 328 fly-tipping reports.

 

Work is also taking place on the service plan for the coming year, which includes a refresh of KPIs, and a review will come back to the Committee on how measurements link to corporate priorities.

 

Cllr Birnie congratulated the team for the lack of disruption to services during the pandemic and commended Craig Thorpe for managing to bring the 4 out of 5 drivers back.  Cllr Birnie also welcomed the Covid memorial idea and congratulated the team for its implementation.

 

Cllr Timmis congratulated the team for the Covid memorial and for the action against fly tipping, noting that 2 fly-tippers had been caught.  Cllr Timmis noted that a number of planning applications requires works to or removal of trees and asked if the Tree Officer is involved in checking these applications.  RLeBrun confirmed that they are involved in planning applications and will check what mitigations need to take place, and if a tree is to be removed, they will seek to have it replaced where possible.  RLeBrun confirmed that Luke Johnson is the current Tree Officer and works in the Woodlands Team.

 

Cllr Harden asked how often  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Environmental and Community Protection Performance Report Q3 pdf icon PDF 527 KB

Minutes:

RLeBrun took the report as read and provided an overview of Q3.  The period saw the local Test and Trace service set up to support the national service and take up to 240 cases per quarter, though this far exceeded by going up to 1,093 cases and meant resources were pulled from the wider Environmental and Community Protection team to handle this and impacted other areas.  The local service was suspended on 17th December 2021 and the national service took on the model. 

 

Looking at large cases, RLeBrun confirmed RB Fencing was ordered to pay a fine of £6k due to using council land.  Dacorum Sports Trust pleaded guilty at Crown Court on safety offences on 29th November following climbing incidents and warnings not being heeded.  They were fined £33,333 plus a victim surcharge and £41k council costs.

 

RLeBrun noted the business continuity plan refresh to take on lessons learned. 

 

On animal welfare, 4 dogs were seized, 1 of which died and 3 were rehomed.  A 12-month community order was served with 100 hours of unpaid work, £300 of costs and £95 victim surcharge.  Overall, 3 cases were reported, and all 3 owners were disqualified from keeping animals for life.

 

The Littering and Public Space Protection Order pilot was launched on 1st November.  During this time, enforcement officers patrolled 974 hours covering all wards and issued 6 fixed penalty notices. 

 

Cllr Silwal commented on item 2.5 of the report and the 66 accidents reported, asking if these were all of the accidents or incidents and if assessments were up to date.  RLeBrun confirmed the risk assessment has been checked to ensure it is fit for purpose and Corporate Health and Safety also received a copy of the investigation report to ensure lessons are learned and documents are updated as required.  It was confirmed that this was done on all internal accidents and incidents reported.

 

Cllr Wyatt-Lowe referred to the prosecution of Dacorum Sports Trust and asked what follow-up actions are being taken to prevent this from occurring again.  RLeBrun advised that prohibition notices have been served and that officers have performed a number of follow-up visits and spot-checks to ensure the company’s procedures and policies are suitable going forward.  Spot-checks are still taking place and the prohibition notice is still in place for free climbing in this facility, so any further incidents would go back to a prosecution.  RLeBrun stated that he doubted free climbing would ever be permitted in the facility and that the prohibition will remain in place. 

 

Cllr Harden noted the district enforcements as listed on page 18 of the report and asked how success is being measured.  RLeBrun advised that this forms part of the pilot to see which areas are seeing improvements and that, going forward, they will monitor litter levels, litter complaints, public consultations, and understanding if litter remains a problem across areas.  RLeBrun confirmed the report on the pilot scheme would be provided to the Committee in June.  Cllr Harden voiced concerns on  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Planning, Development and Regeneration performance Q3 pdf icon PDF 492 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

ARobinson took the report as read and provided an overview.  Planning income continues to be strong with 730 applications in the previous quarter, though there has been a slight drop in applications being determined within timescales and of validations within 3 days due to resourcing issues. However, there has been a slight improvement in enforcement.

 

Cllr Birnie referred to item 2.8 on page 21 of the report and asked why there was a delay on 2 out of the 4 major applications.  ARobinson advised that 1 application referred to LA3 and the delay was due to finalising the S106 agreement.  ARobinson confirmed he would provide a written response on the second application.

 

Cllr Birnie noted the shortage of officers and asked how recruitment could be improved.  On enforcement, ARobinson confirmed that they have implemented the repurposing of Covid officers employed by the council and are working on a temporary basis in the enforcement team.  On the broader issue, ARobinson advised that they are looking at co-operating with other authorities and if there are any opportunities to free up resources to work together better, though this would take a number of years to work through.  Cllr Birnie asked if this referred to validation of applications.  ARobinson stated that this could be included but they are not yet able to confirm which areas they could work together on.  ARobinson added that they are also looking to re-grade certain posts and offer a higher salary. 

 

Cllr Birnie stated that the Enforcement 400 plan did not appear to be working and asked what the remaining backlog is.  ARobinson confirmed he would come back on the exact figure but agreed the plan was not working as hoped due to not having the staff to implement it.  Cllr Birnie suggested that Covid restrictions were no longer an issue. AR responded that there was a backlog of applications due to Covid but agreed that it would not be an ongoing cause. 

 

Cllr Wilkie commented on staffing issues and suggested that this could not be resolved given that it is a national issue.  Cllr Wilkie noted the national portal is causing delays of up to 2 weeks and asked if this was a reason for delays in Q3 figures.  ARobinson clarified that portal issues are not reflected in the reported figures.

 

The report was noted.

 

ACTION:  ARobinson to provide a written response to the Committee on the delay to 1 of the major planning applications. 

 

9.

Skills Supplementary Planning Document pdf icon PDF 631 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

ARobinson took the report as read and provided an overview, noting that the report looks to provide a new SPD to allow the council to require developers to deliver skills and apprenticeship training as part of developments.  The proposal is that the document is consulted on before returning to the Committee and then going to Cabinet and Council.

 

Cllr Birnie noted that this was an interim advisory and would return to the Committee. 

 

Cllr Timmis referred to the Social Value Strategy and that it would be delivered within S106, stating that this would be an additional charge on developers.  ARobinson confirmed it would be a further obligation on developers to provide skills and apprenticeship training for residents of the borough.  ARobinson stated that costs would be low as many organisations already have apprenticeship levies and schemes in place. 

 

Cllr Wilkie thanked ARobinson for the report and asked how approved delivery partners are selected.  ARobinson confirmed the report was created by Clare.  On the delivery bodies, ARobinson clarified that the council has the option to contract out the implementation of the SPD to a third party and that this third party would work with the developer to get social value strategies in place.  The council are yet to make a decision on whether there should be an approved partner, though the consultation provides the information for clarity.

 

Cllr Birnie asked if the delivery body would be paid for by the developer.  ARobinson explained the developer is required to put the strategy in place and there would be an administration charge to put that process in place.  ARobinson added it would be enforced through planning regulations and S106.  Cllr Birnie asked if there would be a charge to the council.  ARobinson confirmed that costs would be with the developer and the council’s only role would be around obligation. 

 

Cllr Wilkie agreed with the principle of the programme and asked who would take responsibility of the stated thresholds.  ARobinson stated that the SPD would set out the charge per sqm or dwelling and this would be communicated to the approved delivery partner.  ARobinson added that the threshold could not be so low that every house would need to implement a strategy though they need to ensure medium to large developments are captured.  ARobinson reminded the Committee that this is still a consultation and that thresholds could be revised. 

 

Cllr Wilkie asked if there would be a timeframe for the apprenticeship.  ARobinson advised that this would depend on the development.  Obligations for residential developments exist during the development whereas non-residential developments would broadly have a requirement for construction and operational phases. 

 

Cllr Birnie commented on the shortage of building operatives and that developers would likely be in support of finding apprentices.

 

Cllr Harden referred to item 2.6 in the report, noting that the council could chose to resource directly or appoint an external body but that the report assumes an approved delivery partner will deliver this.  Cllr Harden noted that much of the concept  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Luton Airport expansion proposals pdf icon PDF 677 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

ARobinson began by noting corrections to the report as (1) on paragraph 2.4, references to “LOA” should read “LOAOL” and (2) on paragraph 4.12, the reference to 45% of passengers arriving by car. ARobinson should read as 55%. 

 

ARobinson introduced members to Anthony Aldridge who was present to answer any questions.

 

ARobinson noted that the report sets out the statutory consultation that runs until 4th April.  The consent order is expected later in the year, and the main issues have been summarised under section 4 of the report.  ARobinson highlighted that Dacorum, by consequence of ownership of a small parcel of land included to the application, is technically considered a host authority.  ARobinson confirmed that their previous response to the 2019 consultation has been included in the report. 

 

ARobinson stated that officers would like to respond to the consultation as a host authority, working with other host authorities, and the purpose of the report is to capture the committee’s comments and the portfolio holder will be advised of the final response of the report and the committee’s views.

 

Cllr Timmis commented on the small area of land and asked if they were being grouped under Luton Borough Council, adding that they are now currently a host as it has been projected that the land will be acquired as part of the access road.  ARobinson advised that the application includes Junction 10 and that they are included as a host authority by a small margin, though they do not know if the red line will change by the time the application is formally submitted. 

 

Cllr Timmis queried what the implications would be on Dacorum being a host authority for a small area of land.  ARobinson stated that there are additional obligations on host authorities to discharge in terms of consultation, but as a neighbouring authority, most additional implications do not go any further than when they were under the neighbouring authority status.  AAldridge added that the implications of being a host authority are similar to being a neighbouring authority, such as consulting with other authorities on how to undertake the consultation, and that Dacorum were consulted with so there is no disadvantage procedurally.  There will be a significant difference in the examination period with both host and neighbouring authorities invited to submit a local impact report by the planning inspectorate.  AAldridge advised that the only real difference between host and neighbouring authorities post-application is that host authorities have an automatic right to appear at any hearings, though if representations are made as a neighbouring authority, this right will be granted.

 

Cllr Timmis noted that DBC passed a motion 2 weeks ago opposing Luton Airport’s further planned expansion and that it will commit to continue to oppose the expansion.  Cllr Timmis advised that the 2013 planning application was granted by Luton Borough Council based on certain conditions, including mitigation of noise and that this has not occurred, and only the A320 is quieter.  Cllr Timmis commented that, as noise mitigation has not  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 412 KB

Minutes:

Cllr Wyatt-Lowe suggested that the Chilterns beechwood topic be added to the work proramme. Cllr Birnie noted that it was his last meeting and that it would therefore be wrong to dictate a detailed programme for his successor but agreed that the suggestion regarding the beechwood be noted for inclusion at some future date. 

 

Cllr Timmis thanked Cllr Birnie for his chairmanship.