Agenda and minutes

Strategic Planning & Environment Overview & Scrutiny - Tuesday, 13th June, 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 335 KB

To agree the minutes of the previous meeting.


The Chair began the meeting by providing an overview of the Committee, noting that its role is to hold the Council to account on its day-to-day operations as well as scrutiny of new policy areas and take a proactive role by inviting any relevant individuals to attend meetings. The Chair noted that any concerns or ideas could be raised with her outside of the meeting.


Cllr Timmis commented on the use of acronyms and asked that all acronyms be explained within the minutes.


Cllr Birnie referred to page 5 of the minutes and the comment that 79% of completions for enforcement was achieved and that it then emerged that completion meant there were a number of cases visited for the first time rather than the case reaching a resolution. Cllr Birnie suggested that this was not a useful key performance indicator ("KPI") and that they should instead look at a different or additional KPI that will demonstrate when an enforcement is finished either by being abandoned or enforced. The Chair asked that this be addressed during the meeting when looking at current enforcements.


Cllr Santamaria commented on the Hemel Town Centre vision, as referred to in the minutes, and that business owners in the area are keen for regeneration. The Chair noted that this could be discussed further outside of the meeting. JDoe confirmed that the market square features in the new vision as a key site and the Bank Court as an area will be promoted as a new entry into the town. This will come to Cabinet next month and there will be further opportunities for scrutiny.


The minutes were formally approved as an accurate record.



Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence.


Apologies were received from Cllr S Hobson



Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.


There were no declarations of interest.



Public Participation


There was no public participation


Action Points pdf icon PDF 256 KB


Cllr Timmis commented on the action regarding data being available to allow information on affordable home completion, noting that this is yet to be received. Cllr Timmis also asked for clarification on what is classed as affordable. SRowberry advised that affordability is not clearly defined in government guidance. On the action, SRowberry confirmed that the information comes from the County Council and will be provided at the end of the financial year following a review of starts and completions, and it is hoped this will be ready to be presented at the next meeting.


Cllr Timmis suggested that the County Council will have different levels of affordability, dependent on area. Cllr Timmis referred to houses built last year in Kings Langley that were deemed to be affordable and were approximately £400,000, which is not affordable.


JDoe advised that whilst officers used to collect completion data, it is now more cost effective to buy in the services that the county offer. On affordability, JDoe confirmed that he would check arrangements with the County Council, though they will report on a range of affordable housing products and will not all be socially rented homes that are provided by the local authority or registered providers and will also include affordable rent, which is up to 80% of market rent, shared ownership and low-cost market housing.


Cllr Anderson commented that affordable housing is housing that is available socially for rent and low-cost market housing is now very rare. There is a government policy regarding starter homes, though current uptake is low across the country. Cllr Anderson advised that the term 'social housing' has been deemed as insensitive.


SRowberry referred to the government's definition of affordable housing, noting that it sets out affordable housing for rent, starter homes and discounted market sales housing, and then includes other routes for affordable home ownership. The Chair noted that the report on this will be produced at the next Committee meeting.


On the action regarding RLeBrun's team looking at green waste, it was asked if there has been any further progress. TPugh confirmed that he could look into this and provide the Committee with a further update


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




Q4 Environmental Services Quarterly Reports pdf icon PDF 493 KB


TPugh presented the report, first noting that the household recycling rate for the quarter is 49%, giving a provisional outturn of 52% for the year. The average monthly rate for missed bins in Q4 was 85, giving a quarterly figure of 255. 105kg of residual waste was collected on average per household for the period, giving a provision outturn figure of 421kg per household. 95.38% of fly-tips were collected with the set timescale of 7 days, above the target of 95%, and 92.6% of graffiti was removed within 7 days, just under the target of 95%.


Cllr Birnie noted the reference to a new reporting exercise within section 1.4 of the report and asked for clarification of this. TPugh explained that this refers to a review and rationalisation of new KPIs undertaken last year.


Cllr Birnie commented that the KPI results don't appear to be consistent and that it would be useful to see actual kilograms against them where appropriate so they can be compared. The Chair asked if the councillor would also like to see the change in KPIs on quarter. Cllr Birnie stated that it would be beneficial to also see this.


Cllr Deacon queried if there are any targets for the first three measures within the report. TPugh confirmed that no targets were set as part of the KPI management system, and whilst there are some national targets, such as for recycling, none were set for the first three.


Cllr Gale commented on the national indicator NI 192 and N1 191 and asked for these to be explained further. TPugh advised that these are legacy from a compulsory KPI system and have persisted as valuable measures. The indicators allow councils to benchmark performance and it shows that what is being measured at Dacorum is the same as the national indicator.


Cllr Timmis congratulated the department on the number of fly-tipping prosecutions and the number addressed and asked why some fines are so small given that the removal of them can cost up to £1,000. EWalker advised that the fines issued by the court are subject to national guidance and the fly-tipping group are lobbying government to review this guidance, though central government have stated they will not be reviewing this at this time. Since this response, an anti-social behaviour ("ASB") action plan has been released by the government to look at encouraging councils to increase fixed penalty notices that can be used for fly-tipping with the aim to reduce fly-tipping and keep fly-tippers out of court. EWalker explained that for prosecutions they follow the 'polluter pay principle' where the polluter covers the cost of removal. The court may not always grant this request, often if the defendant has limited means, though the court will often decide that the polluter must pay to clear the fly-tip.


The Chair asked that the Committee's thanks be passed onto the department regarding the action taken against fly-tipping.


Cllr Mitchell commented on the lack of provision on the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Q4 Environmental & Community Protection Quarterly reports pdf icon PDF 586 KB


EWalker presented the update, noting that the KPI on high-risk food hygiene inspections was at 80%. The food safety recovery plan was brought in after food hygiene inspections were temporarily paused during the pandemic to catch up with inspections. At the end of Q4, there was a small remaining backlog of low-risk premises with 19 inspections outstanding and this is aimed to be resolved by Q2. There has been an increase in food premises registrations since the pandemic with a high turnover of food businesses. The annual air quality status report for 2023 has been drafted and is currently being reviewed internally and locations for three particulate monitoring devices have been agreed with Hertfordshire County Council ("HCC") as Swing Gate School, Bennetts End Road and Lawn Lane, and these are due to be installed shortly. The capital bid to purchase a new real-time analyser was successful and will be installed in the Apsley air quality monitoring area.


EWalker noted that the team has worked with a business to voluntary surrender 30kg of ready-to-eat products and secured public safety without taking enforcement action. For the corporate health and safety team, funding from the Contain Outbreak Management Fund was secured to plan for potential future pandemics and included resilience training and health and safety training for the corporate leadership team, which is now 85% complete. The enforcement team have been shortlisted for a Keep Britain Tidy Excellence and Enforcement Award, the team were beaten by the London Borough of Greenwich. Several prosecutions have taken place for fly-tipping during Q4. The animal welfare service achieved a Gold Standard Award by the RSPCA. 35 prosecutions were brought by the Council for littering and public space protection orders with 100% success, 33 were taken through the single justice procedure and 2 referred to the magistrates court.


Cllr Wyatt-Lowe commented on item 3.5 of the report regarding the 30kg of ready-to-eat products being surrendered and asked what actions have been taken to prevent this happening in future. EWalker advised that the issue was highlighted during a routine hygiene inspection and was a new business operator. New business operators are educated on how to run their business appropriately, though it was a serious offence and the business operator was very cooperative. The business has been followed up on and all food business operators should have a food safety management system to highlight issues so they have been supported on getting this in place.


Cllr Santamaria noted the improvement in the food inspections backlog and congratulated the team on this. Cllr Santamaria referred to the visit regarding what would happen in the event of a national power outage and asked what was discovered through this. EWalker advised that NBeresford went to a multi-agency exercise, Operation Lima, to highlight any gaps in multi-agency planning. This has resulted in action points to resolve both within the council and as part of the larger local resilience forum, which are being worked towards.


Cllr Mitchell asked if it is possible  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Q4 Planning, Development and Regeneration Quarterly reports pdf icon PDF 483 KB

Additional documents:


SRowberry presented the update, noting that the proportion of planning applications determined within the target period is 87% against a target of 70% and improved from 80% in Q3. On enforcement site visits 79% of priority site visits have taken place against a target of 100% due to the number of enforcement issues the team has had to deal with and a reduced team. In the last quarter, 6 enforcement notices were served, 1 breach of condition notice and 1 attempt to stop measures, as well as 6 appeals against enforcement notices, compared to 3 enforcement notices in the whole of the previous financial year.


In response to a previous question from Cllr Birnie regarding initial visits and not completion, PStanley advised that they are currently visiting 79% of enforcement cases in time as a result of choosing what enforcement to focus on, either to visit new sites quickly or deal with existing cases. There was no permanent Head of Enforcement for around 15 months, resulting in a buildup of formal enforcement cases that had to be dealt with and therefore serving enforcement notices has been prioritised over the last quarter. Enforcement notices can then appeal, putting additional pressure on resources. The team was down one enforcement officer during the quarter and a new officer has now been recruited. A triage system has been introduced where the principle planning enforcement officer will look at new cases coming in and assess which are a priority with lower priority cases held in abeyance until the new enforcement officer has joined.


Looking at KPIs, PStanley noted that the KPI is for first site visits, and whilst this should be measured, members of the public also want to know if the matter has been resolved. PStanley advised on the difficulties of defining the resolution of an enforcement case given how they vary and that it could be unfair to measure the complete closure of cases when there could be other aspects of resolution that could be incorporated into that KPI.


The Chair asked what is reported back to the Development Planning Committee, noting that the report could be shared with this Committee.


Cllr Birnie commented that interim reports on first site visits would be helpful for both the person that has made the complaint and also the member for that area. Cllr Birnie agreed that enforcement can be complex, though there are a number of valid reasons to close an enforcement case.


SRowberry advised that the annual planning enforcement report will be brought to the next meeting. This report will be more detailed and it was suggested that a further discussion take place once members have seen this. Cllr Birnie asked that the comments be considered whilst the report is being produced.


Cllr Timmis commented that planning enforcement has not delivered as it should to residents over the past year. Cllr Timmis acknowledged the efforts taking place and queried the reference to a temporary resource, stating that this is not sufficient to ensure  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 237 KB


The Chair presented the items for discussion as the Local Plan, Luton Airport, Chilterns Beechwood Mitigation Strategy, Economic Development Update, Place Strategies, Maylands Master Plan, visit to Cupid Green and CCTV, Hemel Garden Communities, South West Herts Joint Strategic Plan, and air quality.


On the Local Plan, JDoe advised that officers will be meeting with Cllr Wilkie and the Leader to discuss principles and the arrangements for this. The Chair noted that a task and finish group will look at this in more detail on behalf of the Committee.


Regarding Luton Airport, the Chair noted that this will also impact air quality, noise and climate change. Cllr Timmis commented that DBC are an interested party.


Cllr Birnie asked how the items for discussion will be sequenced. The Chair confirmed that prioritisation will be considered outside of the meeting. Cllr Birnie recommended that the economic development update be a recurring agenda item. It was noted that scheduling takes place between the Chair, Vice Chair and senior officers.


The suggestion from Cllr Timmis regarding water and sewage was also added to the list of topics for consideration.


Cllr Patterson queried why there isn't always a rural place strategy. A rural plan was added to the list of topics for consideration. It was noted that the Secretary of State will be issuing changes to the national planning policy framework in respect of rural planning and this could be brought to a future meeting.


The Chair noted that previous Committees have visited Cupid Green and therefore the secretariat will be organising this for current members.


The Chair asked if some members could join officers when attending a fly-tip. EWalker agreed that this could be organised for small groups of one to three people..


Agreed actions


- To check County Council's arrangement regarding affordable housing. (JDoe)

- To follow up on action regarding green waste. (TPugh)

- To provide further information on amount of lower-income households that have ordered   green waste collection and if ordering two collections is double-counted. (TPugh)

- To confirm how much fly-tipping has increased. (EWalker)

- To provide further information on fly-tipping categories. (EWalker)


There being no further business, the meeting was formally closed