Minutes

of the Meeting of the

Strategic Planning and Economic Development Policy and Scrutiny Panel

Monday, 1st September 2008

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

 

Meeting Commenced:  3.30 p.m.   Meeting Concluded: 5.50 p.m.

 

Councillors:

 

P  Clive Webb (Chairman)

A  David Pasley (Vice-Chairman)

 

P  Bob Cook 

P  Tom Collinson (substitute for Tony Moulin)

P  Ann Harley (substitute for Keith Morris)

P  Jill Iles 

P  Edward Keating 

P  Dr. Mike Kellaway-Marriott 

A  Keith Morris 

A  Tony Moulin 

 

 

P: Present

A: Apologies for absence submitted

 

Officers also in attendance: Jo Gadegaard (Corporate Services Unit), Graham Quick (Development and Environment), Colin Medus (Development and Environment), Alistair Rice (Development and Environment), Steven Thorne (Development and Environment), Richard Turner (Corporate Services Unit), Janet Wood (Corporate Services Unit)

SPE

16    

Public Discussion (Agenda Item 2)

 

Hilary Burn addressed the Panel on behalf of the Parish Councils’ Airport Association, and Stop Bristol Airport Expansion Campaign in connection with implications of the changes to the Regional Spatial Strategy proposed by the Secretary of State.  The concerns raised related to the proposed removal of the Green Belt status at Bristol International Airport which would release land for increased car parking which in turn would undermine the transition required by passengers to move to public transport, mean more congestion on local roads and an increase in car emissions.  A further issue raised highlighted a perceived conflict between the environmental sustainability and the policy for expending airports under the Air Transport White Paper 2003 within the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) policy, and the obligation to achieve emissions cuts under the proposed Climate Change Bill.

 

The Chairman thanked her for her address.

SPE

17    

Public Discussion (Agenda Item 2)

 

Georgie Bigg addressed the Panel on behalf of the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) in connection with the threat to the Green Belt and the implications of the changes to the Regional Spatial Strategy proposed by the Secretary of State.  She gave a history of the involvement of the CPRE with the RSS.  Of particular concern was the proposed increase in the volume of housing for North Somerset which would result in a detrimental impact on the quality of life for present residents and a long-term negative impact for future generations.  She considered the speed of implementation to be inappropriate and premature particularly having regard to the current downturn and projections of further deterioration in the housing market and economy.    Of further concern was the threat to the Green Belt, which provided opportunities to access the open countryside for the urban population of Bristol and also provided a landscape setting of importance to the tourist industry and our heritage.

 

The Chairman thanked her for her address.

SPE

18    

Public Discussion

 

Edmund Bradley, Member of Barrow Gurney Parish Council, addressed the Panel giving the joint comments from Barrow Gurney and Long Ashton Parish Councils concerning the implications of the changes to the Regional Spatial Strategy proposed by the Secretary of State with particular regard to the proposed allocation of dwellings and subsequent environmental damage threat to the Green Belt by sporadic development.  He also voiced strong objection to the proposal to promote net densities of 50 dwellings per hectare or more.  Both Parish Councils were concerned that the scale of housing proposed was unlikely to be matched by funding for the required level of infrastructure which would lead to sporadic development and an increase in congestion and environmental damage to the landscape and Green Belt.

 

The Chairman thanked him for his address.

 

SPE

19    

Declarations of Interest by Members (Agenda Item 3)

 

None

 

SPE

20    

Minutes of the Meeting held on 1st July 2008 (Agenda Item 4.1)

 

            Resolved: that subject to the substitution of the word “Two-thirds” for “Nearly all” in paragraph (i) in minute SPE11 as follows:-

“The Panel was informed that – (i) Two-thirds of North Somerset’s waste ….”

the minutes of the meeting be approved as a correct record.

SPE

21    

The Panel’s Work Plan (Agenda Item 6)

 

The Panel considered the current Work Plan and proposed terms of reference for the Urban Extensions Working Group.  Following a question by a member of the Panel, Councillor Cook confirmed that Highways maintenance would be the next item for investigation.

 

Concluded:

(1)    That the Plan be noted, and

(2)    The proposed terms of reference for the Urban Extensions Working Group be approved.

SPE

22    

Weston Package Phase 1 Major Scheme Bid (Agenda Item 7.1)

 

The Panel was invited to note the progress made on the Weston Package Phase 1 Major Scheme Bid, make comment on the composition of the Package, and recommend to the Executive Member for Strategic Planning, Highways and Transport the submission of Weston Package Phase 1 Major Scheme Bid in January 2009.

 

The Head of Transport Policy and Programme presented the report and highlighted the financial implications to the Council of this bid, namely

(a)    The requirement to provide at least 10% of the capital funding for this  £20 million pounds plus project – this did not necessary mean from council tax revenue, (half of this funding had already been secured from developers)

(b)    The ongoing maintenance liabilities of new infrastructure;

(c)     The costs already incurred, and to be further incurred, in preparing the bid and obtaining planning permissions.

 

The bid needed to be considered in light of discussions regarding employment-led regeneration.  It was also to be noted that the Weston Package was not the answer to all of Weston-super-Mare’s transport problems and there would be other schemes Members would wish to be implemented.  The Weston Package represented a set of schemes which were potentially eligible for funding from the Department for Transport.  Whilst appreciating Members’ other concerns regarding the traffic problems at J21 of the M5, the Head of Transport Policy and Programme commented that this aspect would need to be taken up as a separate issue with the Highways Agency to obviate any risk of undermining the Weston Package.

 

Members also raised concerns regarding achieving employment-led redevelopment and reversed the question as to whether there was sufficient employment to justify the proposed number of new houses.  Members agreed that a robust policy was required to make sure commercial evidence of employment was available coupled with planning approval.

 

The Chairman voiced concerns as to the viability of a Park and Ride scheme without the risk of considerable loss of revenue currently received from managed car parks and parking for visitors on the beach at Weston-super-Mare.  The Head of Transport Policy and Programme commented that Park and Ride was only one element the Package was considering, which worked best with parking enforcement in place.  Park and Ride needed to be balanced with car parking for the town centre.  It may well not be included in the final bid.

 

Referring to the new ‘showcase’ limited stop bus service which would use the Cross-Airfield Link (CAL), the Head of Transport Policy and Programme explained that whilst the CAL was expected to be provided by the developer, the Council could not give a cast-iron assurance to the Department for Transport that the link would be in place by 2015 and the report set out the need for a parallel bid for funding from the Regional Infrastructure Fund to bring forward completion of the CAL.  The monies from that bid would be repaid by the Airfield developer at a later date.

 

Concluded: That the progress made on the Weston Package Phase 1 Major Scheme Bid is noted, and it is Recommended to the Executive Member for Strategic Planning, Highways and Transport that the above comments and concerns be taken into account when finalising the Bid.

 

SPE

23    

South West Regional Spatial Strategy: Secretary of State’s Proposed Changes (Agenda Item 7.2)

 

The Panel considered a report presented by the Local Plan Team Leader, representative of the Director of Development and Environment.  The Panel was asked to consider the implications of the Secretary of State’s Proposed Changes to the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) and forward comments to assist the Executive’s consideration at its next meeting.

 

They key areas of concern were:

 

a)      Objection to any more than 7,500 dwellings at SW Bristol.

b)      Objection to the 750 dwelling increase in the North Somerset ‘remainder’ figure which will simply increase pressure on less sustainable locations.

c)      Object to proposed removal of green belt between Royal Portbury Dock and the M5.

d)      Object to removal of the green belt at Bristol International Airport.

e)      Object to the requirement to ‘promote net densities of 50 dwellings/ha or more overall in planned urban extensions’

 

The Local Plan Team Leader stressed that if there were no new employment opportunities in Weston-super-Mare there was very little leverage to prohibit further housing development. 

 

Members strongly felt that any further new housing provision should linked to quality employment development and in tandem with the provision of required infrastructure.  Large scale planning applications would need to be comprehensive and to ensure employment opportunities were included.  New dwellings for SW Bristol should only follow on from the proposed city of Bristol urban development. 

 

Some concerns were also raised regarding premature large-scale planning permission applications which might then lead to sporadic development.  A Member also suggested that, regarding Development Policy F, in ensuring high standards and quality of design, an iconic new town might be preferable to urban expansion.

 

Members expressed further concern regarding the proposed average density of 50 dwellings per hectare which in reality meant a higher figure in some instances.  There were already concerns regarding completed new developments in Weston-super-Mare of a lesser density and the problems of accessibility particularly by emergency vehicles; the completed developments appeared to demonstrate a lack of sensible planning.

 

A Member also commented that the South Bristol Regeneration roadworks were expressed in vague terms.  The link between the A370 and the A38 had been talked of over a considerable period which suggested that either the highways programme needed to be brought forward to match development, or development would need to be halted until the highway development.   

 

In noting the comments of the speakers at Public Discussion, the Panel were also fully supportive of the objection to the removal of the Green Belt at BIA and to ensure that any future plans for expansion of this facility took full account of the proposals.

 

Recommended to the Executive that the comments and obvservations of the Panel be taken into account to assist in consideration of this matter on the 9th September 2008.

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                    ________________________________

                                                                                                                Chairman

                                                                                    ________________________________