Agenda and minutes

Strategic Planning & Environment Overview & Scrutiny - Tuesday, 14th March, 2023 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, The Forum. View directions

Contact: Corporate and Democratic Support  01442 228209

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 329 KB

To agree the minutes of the previous meeting.

Additional documents:


The minutes of the previous meeting were approved.



Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence were received from, Cllr Hearn, Cllr Wilkie and Cllr Rogers


Cllr Guest was a substitute for Cllr Rogers.


Cllr Taylor and Cllr England gave apologies for lateness.



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 previous meeting pdf icon PDF 250 KB





Q3 Reports Planning Development and Regeneration pdf icon PDF 485 KB

Additional documents:


ARobinson provided the update, noting that this is the first style of the report to consolidate a number of KPIs that were previously reported to the Committee. The new series of KPIs cover an amalgamated metric and planning applications determined within target, enforcement visits taken place against the target, affordable housing completions and retail property completions. There is no data for the quarter on housing or retail property completions. 80% of planning applications were determined within target, against a target of 70%, and 79% of enforcement priority sites were completed against a target of 100%.


Cllr Foster queried why there was no data for housing or retail property completions. ARobinson advised that the data for formal housing completions relies on NHBC submissions that are not always provided in time for the report. On affordable housing, ARobinson confirmed that they would check when the NHBC data is submitted and how this syncs with the report, noting that they are reliant on the NHBC reporting cycle.


Cllr Stevens referred to item 1.8 and the reference to the vacancy rate for council-owned commercial assets being 4.6%. Cllr Stevens asked if they could receive clarification on what this refers to. ARobinson suggested that this is based on a units basis.


Cllr Guest referred to page 19 of the report, paragraphs 1.4 and 1.5, and the reference to the number of planning applications determined within target exceeding the target. Cllr Guest congratulated officers for exceeding this target, particularly given that they are down on planning officers. Cllr Guest noted that the team is working through the backlog of enforcement site visits and asked how the live caseload is being reduced. PStanley noted that cases can be resolved due to the enforcement team finding that there has been no breach, that the breach is minor and it is not worth taking action, or a retrospective planning application has been submitted.


Cllr Guest asked if cases are dropping off due to being resolved. PStanley explained that a live case has to be open and all closed cases will no longer form part of the live caseload data.


Cllr Timmis noted her surprise that the target level of completed enforcement is as high as 79%, noting that another form of prioritisation has been brought in to bring total numbers down. Cllr Timmis stated that there are at least 10 outstanding cases in her ward and that she feels the service is failing. PStanley responded that the performance target in the report solely relates to first site visits and how quickly the enforcement team are completing these. This will depend on the priority of the case, with priority 1 cases having to be visited within 1 working day, priority 2 cases within 10 working days and priority 3 cases within 15 working days. This is not a performance measure on how many live cases are reaching a resolution within a certain timeframe.


Cllr Timmis commented that a case that was opened in 2016 that has not been dealt with  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Q3 Report Environmental and Community Protection pdf icon PDF 503 KB


TPugh provided the update, noting the number of high-risk food inspections is just under 60% as they continue to work through the backlog, though they are on target to fully recover this by Q2. The number of fixed penalty notices issued by district enforcement for the PSPO is 3,536.


Cllr Beauchamp noted that the report refers to a spatial planning environment and asked if the Committee is spatial or strategic. It was noted that the Committee is strategic.


Cllr Wyatt-Lowe referred to a public health panel meeting and noted a discussion regarding health prevention matters. A question regarding air pollution was raised and that the amount of particulates exposes residents to health problems, and Cllr Wyatt-Lowe asked if DBC is doing all it can to push Hertfordshire to address these issues.


Cllr Banks agreed with the comments, noting that their relationship with partners and stakeholders is critical to the work they are doing locally to improve air quality. DBC's main role is to monitor and contribute to meetings, and they are actively participating in a number of forums.


Cllr Wyatt-Lowe confirmed that she requested at the panel meeting a possible scrutiny on air quality and the need for more regular reporting to Public Health.


Cllr England noted that the report previously included a breakdown on the types of offences and the locations. The Chair suggested that TPugh look at previous updates to see the level of information provided on district enforcement.


Cllr England asked if there has been any balancing out regarding tackling litter across the borough and not just penalising smokers. TPugh confirmed that he would provide the member with this information and that the highest offence is the littering of cigarette butts, with Hemel Hempstead town centre seeing the most offences. The Chair noted that Hemel Hempstead town centre has the greatest footfall and therefore the greater intensity of enforcement, which can skew the figures.


Cllr England noted that Keep Britain Tidy states that cigarette litter accounts for 70-90% and if DBC is recording over 90% then this suggests they are not being as proportional as they should.


Cllr Wyatt-Lowe commented that, going through Hemel Hempstead town centre, the greatest accumulation of cigarette butts is around bins and asked if the bins are designed correctly.


Cllr Beauchamp suggested that the bin design isn't the issue and that people take a 'near enough' approach and throw cigarette butts towards the bin.


Cllr Guest referred to the 2,666 PSPOs that have been paid and 870 tickets were cancelled, some of which are due to being referred to prosecution. Cllr Guest noted that 327 were prosecuted through the single justice procedure and asked for clarification on what this is. The Chair advised that this is a way of ensuring that the individual doesn't have to go before the court and acts in a similar way as an on-the-spot fine. Cllr Guest asked if this refers to all cases referred to prosecution. The Chair suggested that if there is no challenge to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Q3 Environmental Services

Report to follow


The Chair advised that there was no report. It was noted that neither officer had been made aware that the individual report should be produced, though the report has now been produced and will be circulated to members post-meeting.


On the 5 KPIs, the following was noted:

- Fly-tips collected within the timescale of 7 days is 91.7% against a target of 95%.

- Graffiti removal within 7 days is 91.9% against a target of 95%.

- 313 bins were missed per 100,000 bins collected.

- Recycling is 49%.

- 109kg of residual waste per household.


Cllr Timmis noted the charging of a fly-tipper in her ward and advised that she has received a report from a resident stating that there has been a major fly-tip in the middle of a lane. Cllr Timmis noted that she has also recently seen further fly-tipping and asked if they are seeing an increase in cases. TPugh noted that there is a relatively high number of fly-tips in Dacorum, though he was unsure if they could state that numbers are increasing. TPugh added that DBC does more enforcement around fly-tipping compared to any other council in Hertfordshire.


Cllr Timmis referred to the 313 missed bins and asked if this is due to crews changing. TPugh advised that the figure is for justified missed bins, noting that the figure of 320 for February breaks down to 112 grey bins, 106 blue, 12 green and 90 kerbside caddies.


Cllr Timmis commented on the green bins, noting that residents have stated that they have not received the leaflet and that bins were not collected. TPugh explained that they were let down by the leaflet distributors, though there were other methods of communication, and they are organising for more leaflets to be delivered as well as putting bin hangers onto bins.


Cllr Beauchamp commented on residual waste and asked if this refers to black bin waste or a combination of all bins. TPugh confirmed that this refers to black bin waste.


Cllr Foster asked how many residents registered for green bin collection after the first collection took place. TPugh confirmed that he could provide this figure, though there is currently around 14,000 subscriptions. TPugh added that they have reached their assumed number and are now above this.


The Chair queried the process to remove graffiti from private properties. TPugh stated that they notify the owner of the property and that they are asked to remove it or pay the council to do so.


Cllr Stevens provided an anecdotal report regarding a green bin out for collection without a sticker. Cllr Stevens stated that the owner knew the cost but was unsure of how to register and asked how they can encourage residents to phone up to register, noting that it is much easier to sign up online. TPugh advised that customer services have received a high level of calls, which has led to delays. There has been funding for an additional member of the team for the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


Paradise Design Code pdf icon PDF 954 KB

Please note that I have reduced the file sizes of Appendix A and Appendix C due to the constraints of outlook and our website. If a full size version of either document is required please contact Keeley Mitchell and she can provide this to you via Herts FX

Additional documents:


ARobinson introduced the item, noting that the Committee has previously seen the draft and that it has been out to consultation, receiving 23 consultation responses. The report is now the final design code and the Committee is being asked to inform Cabinet of its views on the documents. ARobinson confirmed that, once adopted, the design code will provide a detailed set of design requirements for the Paradise employment site, which was allocated under the site allocations DPD for mixed-use development a number of years ago.


Cllr Guest asked how much weight the new design code will have in determining planning applications compared with the current SPD. A Robinson explained that there are a hierarchy of plans and the DPD document will sit alongside the core strategy with the SPD being a subsidiary document that provides more detail on the site. It will be a material consideration when determining a planning application and will get the requisite level of weight alongside other planning considerations.


Cllr Guest asked how the new design code compares to what currently exists. ARobinson advised that the existing documents won't change and will maintain their current weight, and the new document provides additional detail to the policies. The new document code doesn't have more weight, though provides additional detail and clarification by expanding on the existing policy.


Cllr Guest referred to page 31 of the report, paragraph 1.3, on the consultation running from 28th October 2022 for 4 weeks, closing on 28th November 2023, and asked if it should read 2022. It was confirmed that this was incorrect and could be updated.


Cllr England congratulated the officers on the work. This was supported by a number of other members.


Cllr Timmis asked if the design code only relates to the Paradise area and will not roll out to other parts of Dacorum. ARobinson confirmed that this is purely the defined area, as set out in the document. KMitchell noted that it also sets out parameters regarding height.


Cllr Timmis commented that a number of trees are deciduous and that buildings will look more austere in winter months. KMitchell confirmed that new codes have been included on tree planting and that the details of this will be detailed planning provisions.


Cllr Timmis commended the suggestion that apartments should have their own green space.


A comment was raised that there are other design codes for other areas across the borough. KMitchell noted that they are one of the first to adopt a design code using the national guidance.


Cllr England asked if the design code doesn't imply anything for any other part of Hemel Hempstead. This was confirmed.


Cllr England queried the maximum size of a design code area. KMitchell stated that there isn't a maximum size and all design codes must be based on analysis. KMitchell noted that the design code applies to the site, though they have drawn objectives from the Hemel Garden Community Spatial Vision, and other design codes in the area will likely build on  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.


Hemel Town Centre Framework pdf icon PDF 493 KB

Additional documents:


SWhelan presented the framework, first noting the work on Tring and Berkhamsted, advising that both now have a narrative set in place with engagements started with communities in autumn 2022. Tring has started a steering group that has met 3 times and DSoutham has met with Berkhamsted to look at next steps. SWhelan noted the connecting of communities across the borough with all 3 areas highlighting that working together and connecting the communities will benefit them all.


SWhelan apologised for the town vision document not being included on the agenda and acknowledged that members would need further time to go through this. This is a draft document and is not intended to to go Cabinet until summer, and SWhelan suggested that this item come back to SPAE in June or via a separate briefing in the coming weeks.


SWhelan advised that the town centre vision is aimed at land owners and investors and that there will be opportunities to rephrase this to consider other audiences. The partnership approach is critical and is highlighted early on in the vision as it is a huge strength that investors can invest in a place where there is civic pride and a strong network of businesses. The three main themes of the vision are on businesses, connections and wellbeing, and these follow through into the wider strategy. There is a focus on the pedestrian connections and curating the public spaces, and there are 8 aims around the vision that are deliverable through partnership by focusing on investment and regeneration opportunities. The drivers for change include a lack of sustainable transport, oversupply of retail, lack of culture and leisure facilities, a decrease in employment and reduced footfall.


SWhelan noted the analysis for both sections of the town centre to consider main cycling routes, retail spaces and which areas can be diversified. The history of Hemel Hempstead is also included within the vision to help increase the civic pride and ownership within the community, and being 75 years old, some areas will require renewal and investment. 5 priorities for Hemel Town Centre have been laid out as (1) making Bank Court the heart the town centre, (2) improve east-west connections, (3) reimagine Waterhouse Street, (4) reconnect the Old Town and New Town, and (5) the Hemel Imaginarium project to focus on meanwhile usage. Zones for opportunities have also been identified for when funding comes in and will have a partnership approach.


On the next steps, SWhelan explained that they are working with the third and private sector to think imaginatively about funding opportunities and resources. The work in progress items around quotes will be completed and the document will be taken to UKREiiF before coming back to SPAE in June, before going to Cabinet in July to ratify the document. Work will also commence with the Hemel Place Board on action plans.


The Chair asked if the Council should be promoting themselves as Hemel or Hemel Hempstead. SWhelan confirmed that they had looked into this and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 228 KB


The Chair noted the work programme.


Cllr Timmis noted that A Robinson should be removed from the work programme.


Cllr Timmis asked if water companies could be invited to attend given the plans on reducing water usage and possible hosepipe bans.


LFowell confirmed that there are a number of items to be planned on the previous work programme and noted that the June work programme will be for the next term so is populated only with standing reports. LFowell confirmed that the Hemel Town Centre Vision will be added to the plan.


The Chair asked if they could have a 'to be added' column on the work programme for the next term. LFowell explained that any suggestions could be sent to the Chair and that they would be added as items for consideration.


Cllr Timmis noted that Luton Airport are about to put in for a large expansion and suggested that this should be discussed at SPAE.


The Chair asked that any suggestions be emailed to him with LFowell copied in.




JDoe commented on ARobinson leaving and reassured members that they are out to advert on his substantive post along with other leadership posts within the Council with a closing date of 3rd April and interviews scheduled for May. An interim AD for planning will start on 20th March and JDoe confirmed that he would circulate details to members as well as liaising with LFowell and the team on putting contact details into the member news.


There being no further business, the Chair closed the meeting.