Agenda and minutes

Strategic Planning & Environment Overview & Scrutiny - Wednesday, 1st February, 2023 7.30 pm

Venue: Conference Room 2 - The Forum. View directions

Contact: Corporate and Democratic Support  01442 228209

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 322 KB

To agree the minutes of the previous meeting.


Cllr Timmis referred to page 8, paragraph 3, stating that ARobinson's minuted response requires revision. It was agreed that the sentence would be reworded.


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


Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence were received from, Cllr Hearn and Cllr Wyatt-Lowe


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 Points from the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 248 KB


The actions were noted.


Joint Budget pdf icon PDF 511 KB

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The order of the agenda was changed and The financial Monitoring Report and Key Performance indicator items were heard as part of the joint budget meeting.


This item was presented collectively in the joint Budget meeting by Nigel Howcutt, he was happy to take questions.


Cllr Foster referred to the £15k in the budget for repairs at Berkhamsted Leisure Centre and asked what is in the budget for the new leisure centre project. N Howcutt advised that there is a significant amount of money in the capital programme for Berkhamsted Leisure Centre over the next 2 years and that details of this were shared with the Finance and Resources Committee as a Part Two element and will be the single biggest capital investment in the capital programme.


Cllr Beauchamp commented on the capital programme costs on page 40 of the report and line 94 regarding the Water Gardens North Car Park drainage improvements. Cllr Beauchamp noted the £35k in the budget and suggested that this is to help resolve the flooding issue that occurs at the exit and asked why the Council was paying this when it should be down to the contractor. The Chair queried whether this would fall under N Howcutt's remit and that the information may be commercially sensitive. N Howcutt agreed and suggested that this be discussed further outside of the meeting.


Q3 Financial Monitoring Report pdf icon PDF 559 KB

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Fiona jump presented this report and was happy to take questions.


There were no questions from the Strategic Planning and Environment Committee


Air Quality Management Areas and Air Quality Action Plan update pdf icon PDF 690 KB

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EWalker presented the update, noting the impact of air quality and the Council's duty to monitor this. Any exceedances are dealt with by the declaration of air quality management areas and action plans with objectives set to assist and reduce these exceedances. Three air quality management areas have been declared as (1) Lawn Lane, Hemel Hempstead, (2) London Road, Apsley, and (3) High Street, Northchurch. These were declared in 2012 due to an exceedances for nitrogen oxide ("NOx"), primarily due to contributions from road transportation services. Levels in Lawn Lane and London Road have consistently remained over objective levels, though levels in Northchurch have shown compliance over the last 5 years.


With the onset of the Covid pandemic, the government instruction to stay at home translated into substantial improvements in NOx levels in Lawn Lane and London Road, those these reductions are being treated as exceptional and directly linked to pandemic restrictions. Levels for Northchurch have remained compliant post-lockdown.


Priorities over the last 2 years have been in relation to responding to the impact of Covid-19 and Environmental and Community Protection officers were redeployed to functions relating to the pandemic. Opportunities to progress actions to improve air quality have therefore been limited, though there is now a focus on this with the re-initiation of the Air Quality Steering Group.


EWalker proposed the revocation of Air Quality Management Area 3 at Northchurch in consultation with Defra. EWalker stated that they are confident that future exceedances of objective levels in Northchurch are unlikely and therefore recommended that the content and progress of the air quality action plans be noted and that agreement be given to rescind the Air Quality Management Area in Northchurch, as well as agreeing to widening air quality monitoring to include PM2.5 using portable units.


Cllr England commented that air quality requires a wider perspective beyond the 3 areas and he noted his disappointment that the report focuses on these. Cllr England noted that air quality across the borough could be improved. Cllr England also noted that current UK levels are set higher than suggested levels and that he would have liked to see this referenced in the report.


Cllr England referred to the raw data report that was sent to Defra and noted the mention of Marlowes and Queensway. Cllr England quoted page 22 of the data report, noting that new sites were introduced in 2020 to consider areas not previously identified under previous rounds of review, and that on page 7 it states that the Council also identified a new potential area of exceedance as a result of new monitoring. Cllr England noted that this new area is not mentioned in the report, and that the report states that the proper way to improve air quality is having fewer cars in the worst areas. Cllr England queried why the new exceedance was not mentioned in the report.


The Chair summarised Cllr England's comments as querying the criteria by area 3 and where the criteria is  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


Release of Core CIL Spending pdf icon PDF 963 KB

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ARobinson took the report as read and noted that the Council currently holds around £15m in core CIL and that the decision taken was to hold back on spending CIL until a local plan and infrastructure deliver plan was finalised. Given the delays to local plan, officers feel that delaying any spend on infrastructure is less justified. A number of options have been considered on releasing CIL and the recommendation is that 20% of core CIL is released. A number of technical changes to the bidding process has also been recommended along with changes to governance of the Infrastructure Advisory Group and how projects are approved.


ARobinson noted a correction on the first table on page 63 of the report, stating that the row 'Rest of borough-rural area' should read 9.8% with a total figure of £267,027.


ARobinson advised that a number of potential projects have been identified in the report, as set out in section 6.


Cllr Beauchamp noted the potential for making part Waterhouse Street into a cycle lane, noting that this would help alleviate some traffic issues, though this may push some to Leighton Buzzard Road. Cllr Beauchamp asked if borough councillors will have any input in how core CIL is spent.


ARobinson advised that the intention is that anyone can put together projects to go to the Infrastructure Advisory Group for assessment with no restrictions in place. Bids or projects will come in for assessment and projects will then be presented to the group who will then make a recommendation to the Portfolio Holder and Cabinet. ARobinson noted that they will also be looking at what other sources of funding are available, and where there is neighbourhood funding available, this will be explored before considering core CIL.


ARobinson commented on the cycle lane scheme, noting that he does not have the assessment of the impact on the area and is currently only listed as a potential project. It was suggested that this could be discussed further offline if required.


Cllr Foster asked for the difference between scrutiny and accountability from the existing and new process. ARobinson advised that they will broadly operate in similar ways, and whilst the membership will predominantly be the same, under the previous regime there would be an infrastructure business plan and lift projects from the delivery plan and set out a longer-term time horizon for spending CIL money. These projects would be assessed before going to full Cabinet and Council. The new proposal is that the infrastructure delivery plan is the core document and the business plan will be removed, and instead of recommendations going to Cabinet and Council, they will go to Cabinet for approval.


Cllr Foster noted the emphasis based on the IDP and asked which IDP the proposed projects are based on. ARobinson noted that the IDP is a live document that is reviewed at least annually, and the intention with the new process is to report an infrastructure funding statement every December alongside an updated IDP. The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.


Key Performance Indicator Update pdf icon PDF 558 KB

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Hannah Peacock presented the report in the joint budget committee and was happy to take questions.


Cllr Foster noted the KPI  regarding refused applications and asked why it was not passed on elsewhere. ARobinson advised that the indicator is based on a low number of schemes. The Chair commented that removed KPIs will still be monitored by officers. It was clarified that this was regarding DOP07 on page 97 of the report with the entry stating 'slightly above target, this is principally due to officers leaving and closing down (by refusing difficult cases before they left)'.


ARobinson advised that the indicator purely records the refused application and is not an indication that they should not be refused. It was clarified that it covers all refusals. ARobinson confirmed that he would look into this further.


Action - ARobinson to look into wording of refused applications KPI.


Exclusion of the Public

The report contains information relating to a proposed restructure which affects current employees of the Council (Schedule 12 A Local Government Act 1972 Part 4)


Place, Communities and Enterprise Restructure


This item is Part 2, please see Part 2 Minutes


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 313 KB


The work programme was noted