Draft Minutes

of the Meeting of the

Strategic Planning and Economic Development Policy and Scrutiny Panel

Tuesday, 1st July 2008

held at the Town Hall, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.

 

Meeting Commenced:  3.30 p.m.   Meeting Concluded: 6.12 p.m.

 

Councillors:

 

P Clive Webb (Chairman)

P  David Pasley (Vice-Chairman)

 

P  Bob Cook 

P  Jill Iles 

P  Edward Keating 

P  Dr. Mike Kellaway-Marriott 

A  Keith Morris 

P  Tony Moulin 

 

 

P: Present

A: Apologies for absence submitted

 

Also in attendance: Councillors Carl Francis-Pester (Executive Member for the Community), Andy Cole, Bob Garner, David Jolley, Reyna Knight and Marcia Pepperall.

 

Officers also in attendance: Allan Davies (Development and Environment), Jo Gadegaard (Corporate Services Unit), Marcus Hewlett (Development and Environment), David Jellings (Corporate Services Unit) Graham Quick (Development and Environment) and Michael Reep (Development and Environment

 

SPE

8         

Declarations of Interest by Members (Agenda Item 3)

 

None.

 

SPE

9         

Minutes of the Meeting held on 19th May 2008 (Agenda Item 4.1)

 

            Resolved: that the minutes of the meeting be approved as a correct record, subject to the deletion of Councillor Jill Iles from names listed in the conclusion to Minute SPE 4.

SPE

10    

Matters of local interest raised by Members (Agenda Item 5.1)

 

The Panel considered a reference from the West Area Committee of 22nd May 2008 regarding parking provision in new developments, with the suggestion that the Panel consider it for inclusion on its work plan.

 

Concluded:  that parking provision in new developments be included in the Panel’s Work Plan under the topic headed Parking.

SPE

11    

Joint Waste Core Strategy – Preferred Options Document and Consultation Plan (Agenda Item 5.2)

 

This matter had been considered by the West of England Waste Management and Planning Strategy Member Project Board at its meeting on 17th June 2008. The Member Project Board had agreed to undertake pre-consultation on the Preferred Options Pre-Consultation Draft Document and Consultation Plan with the Joint Overview and Scrutiny Reference Group and the respective Unitary Authority Scrutiny Committees/Panels, and for their views to be reported back to the Member Project Board.

 

The Panel received a powerpoint presentation on the items. A hard copy of the presentation has been placed in the signed minute book, and would be included with the agenda papers on the Council’s website. The presentation highlighted the following matters –

 

·   Regional Spatial Strategy – challenges and indicative waste management capacity

·  The four phases of the Joint Waste Management Strategy

·  The vision of the Strategy (less waste going to landfill, integrated network of waste management facilities to meet identified residual waste needs, less waste miles and substantial self-sufficiency)

·  Strategic Recovery Facilities

·  Indicative capacity assumptions

·  Why Option C is the preferred option

·  Landfill/Landraise Capacity Study

·  The next steps

 

The representative of the Director of Development and Environment responded to Members’ questions, queries and comments which included the approximate split between the amounts of domestic and commercial waste, and also the need for a joint waste strategy approach.

 

A Member commented that North Somerset did not do enough to minimise waste, and added that waste should be dealt with as near as possible to the source of production. The undertaking of Strategic Flood Risk Assessments was welcomed.

 

Another Panel Member expressed disappointment at the apparent emphasis on landfill, when efforts should be made to encourage alternative technologies. Reference was made also to importance of recycling fuels and finding uses for waste materials.

 

The Panel considered that Climate Change Strategy should be included in the Strategy document.  The representative of the Director of Development and Environment undertook to inform Councillor Keating which officer was preparing the North Somerset Climate Change Strategy.

 

 

 

A Panel Member commented that Urban Extensions should be included in the updated draft with particular reference to the provision of combined heating and power in new developments

 

The Chairman queried why there was no reference to methane digesters.

 

The Panel was informed that -

 

(i)      Nearly all of North Somerset’s waste was currently sent out of the district to landfill. The Panel received an explanation of the criteria for landfill sites. No sites in North Somerset had yet been designated for landfill. The need to bring forward sites, having regard to the pending LATs liability was recognised.

 

(ii)     Landfill was a particularly sophisticated operation. It was envisaged that the need for landfill sites would continue for some time, notwithstanding a possible phased approach over several years whilst new technologies were considered/introduced.

 

(iii)    Water management catchment plans had been taken into account.

 

(iv)    It was acknowledged that landraising was not a popular option.

 

Concluded: that this minute be reported back to the West of England Waste Management and Planning Strategy Member Project Board, together with the following specific recommendation that  the Preferred Options Draft Consultation Document be updated to include :

 

(i)      Climate Change Strategy;

 

(ii)     reference to peak oil;

 

(iii)    the issue of dealing with waste close to the source of production;

 

(iv)    a focus on recycling waste;

 

(v)     the provision of combined heat and power in new developments.

SPE

12    

Core Strategy (Agenda Item 7.1)

 

The Panel was updated on the progress of the Core Strategy and was invited to consider and comment on the key issues they wished the Core Strategy to address.

 

The key issues and challenges to be addressed in the Core Strategy was reported. The Chairman ruled that this supplementary paper be considered as urgent as it was relevant to the consideration of the recommendation, having regard to the timescale for input to the consultation and report process.

 

A copy of the above paper has been placed in the signed minute book, and would be included with the agenda papers on the Council’s website.

 

Panel Members in discussing the key issues considered the following issues to be of importance and should be taken into account –

 

(i)     The term South West Bristol Urban Extension was inappropriate given its location as a community within North Somerset. It required an identity of its own. The introduction of a buffer zone of green space between the urban extension should be considered.

 

(ii)    Weston-super-Mare was not the sole provider of employment, social and leisure needs and the overall vision should emphasise that the whole North Somerset area is an asset.

 

(iii)   The provision of an effective and efficient transport network was fundamental.

 

(iv)   It was important to preserve cultural heritage of North Somerset.

 

(v)    Provision of infrastructures for sustainable communities.

 

(vi)   The Bristol Port Company in seeking to expand be urged to do so upward rather than outward.

 

(vii)  The need to develop the passenger rail link to Portishead. The Vice-Chairman commented on developing a rail link from Portishead to Clevedon.

 

A Member suggested that the Core Strategy should place greater emphasis on local knowledge, and that it should also state preference for a mix of housing development.

 

Concluded: that the progress on the Core Strategy be noted, and that it be recommended with regard to the key issues, the matters identified in the preamble above by Panel Members be taken into account.

SPE

13    

Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (Agenda Item 7.2)

 

The Panel was invited to consider and advise on the completion of the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment.

 

The representative of the Director of Development and Environment outlined the background as set in section 3 of the report. It was explained that in essence, the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment was a delivery tool as well as a means of checking the robustness of the Council’s Local Development Framework.

 

The Panel was advised that there were no new sites mentioned in the report, which simply identified sites where land supply for housing may come from. The Assessment did not allocate sites, which would be the role of the relevant Development Plan Document.

 

Panel Members commented as follows –

 

(i)      The need to protect local character and distinctiveness, and not lose those sites to development.  It was important to ensure that land registers were up-to-date.

 

The Vice-Chairman referred to the particular concerns of Portishead Town Council.

 

(ii)     With regard to the development of sites in Weston-super-Mare, local members would like to see mixed use in most cases.

 

(iii)    Concern at the loss of employment sites in areas such as in Yatton.

 

(iv)    The need to create sustainable communities.

 

Concluded: that the report be noted.

SPE

14    

Report of the Roads Maintenance Working Group (Agenda Item 7.3)

 

The Panel considered the recommendations of the Roads Maintenance Working Group following its investigation into how North Somerset’s roads were currently being maintained. The Working Group had sought to establish whether the condition of the roads could be improved through better policies, decisions or other action taken by the Council.

 

Councillor Bob Cook  welcomed Jo Gadegaard, newly-appointed Scrutiny Team Officer, and thanked her for helping to co-ordinate the report. The Working Group considered that there should be a North Somerset standard for roads maintenance, over and above national guidelines, and was also keen to utilise local knowledge. Councillor Cook complimented the Highways Maintenance Team for their work, whilst emphasising the need to seek improvement. He added that there were further issues that the Working Group wished to address.

 

Councillor Moulin commented that materials such as kerbstones, were a valuable asset, and that it was important to ensure they were reused.  He also expressed concern that the highways maintenance budget and the ability to carry out repairs could be adversely affected by increases in oil prices.

 

Councillor Dr Kellaway-Marriott advised that unrepaired potholes were a particular danger to cyclists, and that this concern had been drawn to the attention of the Executive Member for Strategic Planning and Transport.  

 

Concluded:

 

(1) that the recommendations of the Roads Maintenance Working Group as  set out below be agreed and referred to the Executive Member for Strategic Planning and Transport  for consideration and action –

 

Recommendation

Timescale

Action

                    

 

(i) that officers brief the Strategic Planning and Economic Development Policy and Scrutiny Panel about the time scales for completing 1) the Asset Management Policy and 2) a transparent plan of how the Council will prioritise road work projects. 

2 months

Executive

Director of Development and Environment

 

 

(ii) that local people and Parish Councils are encouraged to take an active interest in their local roads networks. This to include highlighting areas of concern to the council as well as working in partnership with the local community to improve and maintain the road network.

Ongoing

Parish Councils

Director of Development and Environment

 

 

(iii) that local people and Parish Councils are encouraged to take an active interest in their local roads networks. This to include highlighting areas of concern to the council as well as working in partnership with the local community to improve and maintain the road network.

Ongoing

Parish Councils

Director of Development and Environment

 

 

(iv) that officers create a communications strategy for how to publish information about planned road works. Plans could be communicated via the mediums of North Somerset Life magazine, the council website and the local press. 

6 months

Executive

Director of Development and Environment

Marketing and Comms Team

 

 

(v) that officers introduce a quality assurance regime for receiving public feedback on major road work, for example carrying out surveys.

6 months

Executive

Director of Development and Environment

 

(vi) investigation of other areas of funding in order to 1) intensify the road works programme, and 2) enable more road repairs in conservation areas where maintenance costs are particularly high. 

Ongoing

Executive

Director of Development and Environment

 

(vii) that Planning Officers consults the Highways Maintenance Team when considering new developments to ensure that road maintenance issues are taken into account.

Ongoing

Executive

Director of Development and Environment

(viii) that the Executive considers how the Council can consult the National Farmers Union and Country Land and Business Association about how to best promote the conservation of rural road networks.

6 months

Executive

 

 

(2) that following consideration of the report the Executive Member be requested to report back to the Panel within two months with a response to the recommendations;

 

(3) that the Roads Maintenance Working Group further investigates the following issues:

 

(i) the pricing structure which contractors use when charging the Council;

(ii) rights of way/footpath maintenance;

(iii) keeping rural public roads safe including raising land owner awareness of ways to improve the condition of the roads.

 

SPE

15    

The Panel’s Work Plan (Agenda Item 6)

 

 

The Panel agreed the following changes to the Work Plan :–

 

(1)    Roads Maintenance Working Group to investigate the issues identified in Minute SPE 14(3) and report back to the Panel;

 

(2)    Parking – parking provision in new developments to be added to the scope of the topic (Minute SPE 10 refers). The Chairman commented that the work on this topic be expedited;

 

(3)    Urban Extensions Working Group – membership to comprise Councillors Cook, Dr Kellaway-Marriott, Moulin, Pasley and Webb;

 

(4)    Transport and Young People – Information to be updated;

 

(5)    Working Group on Local Employment Opportunities and Urban Regeneration – membership to comprise Councillors Cook, Dr Kellaway-Marriott, Moulin, Pasley and Webb;

 

(6)    Bristol International Airport – correct title of topic to be inserted;

(7)    Cabstand, Portishead – Awaiting feedback from the Excutive Member for Strategic Planning and Transport. Report back to Panel in November 2008.

 

(8)    Motorway Junctions – Subject to outcome of workshop on Transport in Weston-super-Mare to be held on 2nd July 2008, invite the Highways Agency to a Panel meeting for a discussion on this issue;

 

(9)    Plastic Bags – Not within this Panel’s remit, so deleted from the Work Plan. To be led by the Environmental Services Policy and Scrutiny Panel;

 

Councillor Keating referred to problems for beekeepers of declining honey production in some parts of North Somerset due to a fall in the bee population. Members considered that this was more a matter for the Environmental Services Policy and Scrutiny Panel.

 

Concluded:

 

(1) that the Work Plan be updated and agreed to reflect work in progress;

 

(2) that the matter of declining honey production be referred to the Environmental Service Policy and Scrutiny Panel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                    ________________________________

                                                                                                                Chairman

                                                                                    ________________________________