Agenda and minutes

Strategic Planning & Environment Overview & Scrutiny - Wednesday, 5th July, 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 314 KB

To agree the minutes of the previous meeting.


The minutes of the previous meeting were formally approved as an accurate record.


Cllr Birnie referred to the action list on page 18 of the pack and suggested that there were duplicated headings in the table. Cllr Birnie queried what a CSU subscription is. It was noted that the officer was not present and Cllr Birnie agreed to contact him by email. The Chair asked that queries be submitted to LFowell.


LFowell advised that an update has been circulated following the circulation of the action points.


The Chair suggested that other action points could be addressed during the meeting.


Cllr Timmis referred to the action on affordable housing and noted that it states they are checked and made available by May or June. Cllr Timmis asked if this meant in 2023 and whether they are therefore available. It was confirmed that this is not yet available and that it would be followed up next week


Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence.


It was noted that Cllr Deacon was made Chair of Avid this week


Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.


It was noted that Cllr Deacon was made Chair of Avid this week


Public Participation


There was no public participation. However, William Wyatt-Lowe was viewing online on behalf of the Hemel Place Board.


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




Action Points pdf icon PDF 375 KB


As covered under item 1


Hemel Town centre Vision pdf icon PDF 805 KB

Additional documents:



SWhelan gave a short presentation on the Hemel Hempstead Town Centre Vision with an overview of the Hemel Place Board, which advocates for Hemel Hempstead and considers the investment opportunities to get the best out of all interventions that are operating and horizon scanning going forward. The strategy will bring together current programmes and consider the town centre as a first step with short, medium and longer-term interventions, and the strategy looks to grow relationships across Hemel Hempstead and integrate with communities and businesses. A consultation took place at the start of the work and focused on the idea of growing a fresh new future for Hemel Hempstead with themes focusing on enterprise, connections and wellbeing. The story was launched in July 2022 and is now part of the vision being presented.


The town centre vision links all the interventions taking place and considers how the town centre needs these interventions to support its growth. The vision is an overarching view of the aims and ambition and is not a delivery plan, it is aimed towards investors and how to increase the profile of Hemel Hempstead. Throughout previous planning, Hemel Hempstead has fallen below the radar in terms of investment. The drivers for change include reduced footfall, as well as considering how people now use town centre spaces and how to mitigate climate change. The five priorities for the town centre are (1) focus on Bank Court as the heart of the town centre, (2) improve east-west connections, (3) reimagining Waterhouse Street, (4) reconnecting the old and new towns and (5) Hemel Imaginarium, which looks at revitalising the town centre in the short-term.


The natural environment is a strong asset of the town centre. Opportunity sites are critical and a flexible approach will be taken. A soft-launch of the vision was given at UKREiiF and was positively received.


Cllr Pringle asked how flexible and future-proof the vision is, noting that the work started a few years ago and that they are only reflecting on the long-term change catalysed by the pandemic. Cllr Pringle queried if they should look at the plan in terms of future-proofing and lifestyle changes are still being observed so the vision needs to be innovative and flexible.


Commenting on the post-pandemic world, SWhelan advised that this has been considered with economic development and that feedback from surveys is that businesses are still learning, such as around hybrid working and spaces are required. SWhelan stated that research suggests that, by 2030, much of the office space will be for co-working. On land uses, SWhelan advised that the plan takes the opportunity sites and is open to what the land uses could be, and the vision is firmer on Marlowes and the main retail hub. SWhelan suggested that they not pause as there could be an unknown amount of delay and the vision has been kept open enough. SWhelan noted the feedback from the community regarding the access to nature and that this will be a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Annual Planning Enforcement Report pdf icon PDF 695 KB


PStanley presented the report, noting that specific enforcement cases could be looked at in more detail outside of the meeting. The previous 12 months have seen a number of challenges and successes and PStanley referred to issues within the service with the amount of live cases that remain on their books. Staffing over the last 12 months has been challenging and the principle planning enforcement officer and planning enforcement positions have now been filled. On performance, PStanley noted a downward trend in live enforcement case numbers, which peaked at 620 and are now at around 400, which is due to a declining number of cases being received as well as the work being put in with the 400 Plan with dedicated focus on geographic areas and case types.


PStanley noted the errors under part 3, stating that the intention was to present 1st June 2022 to 31st May 2023 and members were instead pointed to the data contained within the tables. PStanley advised that the key messages within the section remain true with further closures and live cases coming down. Around 25% of cases are closed due to establishing there was no breach to start with, just over 25% are closed as the team has concluded that it would not be expedient to take further action as the case is a minor breach. Around 45% of cases are closed due to the actions of the team, such as securing planning permission or the offender voluntarily resolving the issue.


PStanley referred to the focus on dealing with the most harmful cases and serving of enforcement notices with 19 enforcement notices issued in the first 6 months of this year, compared to 10 in the last year, though this also results in greater appeal work, which requires further resourcing. PStanley advised that this then means there is reduced resource to attend sites regarding new cases and therefore the Principal Planning Enforcement Officer is triaging cases to assess the level of harm and the requirement for an urgent site visit. PStanley explained that the focus is on cases that are the most harmful and that are in danger of becoming immune through the 4- or 10-year rule.


PStanley next looked at the KPIs, noting that this was raised at the last meeting, and also referred to the suggested KPIs from local government. Looking ahead, PStanley explained that they are now looking at the 300 Plan to create a more sustainable caseload for the team and that various measures are being worked on to achieve this. There are upcoming challenges in terms of biodiversity net gain and the expectation that local planning authority enforcement teams will be required to monitor the agreements. PStanley summarised that the team is performing well, that there are cases where they have not acted as timely or completely as they would like, but that the team is working well in terms of driving down live case numbers and taking formal action.


Cllr Pringle acknowledged the need to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 232 KB


The Chair advised that the next meeting will take place in September and will cover reports and is more policy-led. The next meeting is currently empty and members were asked to consider items. The Chair noted she is keen for officers to bring the Local Plan Update as early as possible and that this could possibly be included in the October or December meeting.


It was asked if the question mark could be removed from the Rural Plan.


There being no further business, the meeting was formally closed.


Agreed Actions


- Officer to contact Cllr Birnie regarding table in action points on green waste and duplicated headings and to confirm meaning of CSU subscription (TPugh?)

- To follow up affordable housing information (JDoe)

- To circulate documents regarding Hemel Vision Board (SWhelan)

- To provide demographic data for Hemel Hempstead (JDoe)

- To discuss resources for planning enforcement with portfolio holder and bring back further action to the Committee.

- For question mark to be removed from the Rural Plan (LFowell)