Stroud District Councillors’ Report
of SDC Wotton Ward Councillors’ Council meetings and local
On 16 November consultation begins on the next stage of the Local Plan Review. The draft emerging / potential strategy paper was further discussed at the Environment Committee meeting on 11 October. Consultation will be open for 9 weeks until 18 January.
Parish and Town Councillors can view the draft strategy paper discussed by the Committee here:
DRAFT Local Plan Review: Emerging / Potential Strategy Paper
Strategy proposals for the local area are:
North Nibley – page 88 – no proposed sites for housing growth
Wotton page 89 - no proposed sites for housing or employment growth due to environmental constraints
Stinchcombe – pages 27 – 31 – proposed change from a tier 4 to tier 5 settlement. As one of the smallest settlements in the District, the village is not expected to receive any growth, “other than limited development that seeks to address specific needs identified through Neighbourhood Plans”.
There are more details on the vision for the ‘Wotton Cluster’ on pages 85-90.
Overview of the Emerging Strategy
The consultation document will identify how required housing development could be distributed across the district, as well as addressing employment, retail and town centre, open space and community needs over the next twenty years.
The document seeks to
progress all of the matters introduced last year at the local plan review ‘issues and options’ stage
identify the key issues facing the district over the next 20 years,
identify the principal land use needs
develop a vision and strategy for how growth and development could be distributed to achieve sustainable development and address local needs
identifies mini visions for the 8 parish clusters in the district based on discussions with parish councils held last year
It identifies future housing numbers required based on the Government’s new standard methodology – the formula is based on household need projections, adjusted to reflect the current affordability ratio in the district (house prices to earnings). The results are challenging for the district. The government housing target will require delivery of at least 638 homes per year in Stroud District. This is a 40% increase from the figure in our current Local Plan of 456 homes per year. Last year 497 homes were built. The higher government target means that we still need to find land to build another 9300 homes by 2032. Legally the SDC has to seek to meet these requirements. SDC is commissioning further evidence on housing needs to test these figures for Gloucestershire.
The emerging strategy proposes concentrated development in the District’s main towns – which is the most sustainable and popular option. However, this won’t be sufficient to deliver the scale of growth required. In addition, the strategy proposes to maximise the potential for growth from new settlements (two proposed new ‘garden village’ settlements at Sharpness and Wisloe (south of Cambridge and Slimbridge) were highlighted) and to recognise the potential from smaller sites at a wider number of settlements.
Councillors have raised concerns over the Wisloe proposal. However, the proposal for Sharpness (eventually 3500 homes) with potential benefits for the area, seems to be more positively received by Sharpness residents.
This strategy proposes a slightly more dispersed approach than is set out in the current local plan Growth is proposed at tier 2 settlements: Berkeley, Minchinhampton, Nailsworth and Painswick and at some tier 3 settlements. The plan also proposes policies allowing for limited additional growth on the edges of tier 1 to tier 3 settlements.
At very small settlements, it’s proposed that should communities wish to have some further limited development of up to 10 houses, in the interests of social sustainability, then it should be allowed, provided that the Parish support this through a Neighbourhood Development Plan. It was noted that NDPs can be prepared without great time or expense and the council will support those communities who wish to take this approach. There will be consultation on this proposal with Parish Councils.
Local consultation events will be held on this emerging / potential strategy. Dates have not yet been fixed, but it is likely that the one for the Wotton area will be held in Kingswood this time. This will be a good opportunity for residents and communities to help shape the future of our District. The final Local Plan submission will be presented to the Planning Inspectorate in December 2019.
Full Council meeting (18 October)
Car Parking Charges – Council took a decision to consult on removing parking charges in Stonehouse and Painswick - since charges are no longer being proposed for Wotton, Dursley or Nailsworth.
Council Tax Support Scheme – was approved for next year. This will provide help for those least able to pay their council tax. Unlike many councils, Stroud District is choose to continue funding this scheme to help people of working age on low incomes
Gloucestershire Local Nature Partnership's Green Infrastructure pledge – Council supported this pledge and requested a report in a year’s time on progress with green infrastructure development in the county. (see council papers)
Also discussion on the Gloucestershire Vision 2050, the future budget strategy, procurement and local wealth building. Further budget discussions will be held at Committee meeting in December.
Strategy & Resourses Committee (4th October) – Cllr Tucker
The agenda contained the following topics which are not covered elsewhere.
An interim report from the Infrastructure and Communications Technology (ICT) Working Group was presented. This Group, made up of SDC computing technologists and Councillors, are looking at where the Council needs to be, to encompass newly available technology, ensure security and reduce cost. This followed a review by the Society of Information Technology Management (SOCITM) of the SDC computing infrastructure. Budget allocations of £450k for this and for each of the next 3 years have already been sanctioned by Councillors. Some expenditure has already been sanctioned to replace aging data storage and back-up facilities, which is essential for protecting data and running an efficient Council.
In the absence of a CEO, the arrangements for an Acting Head of Paid Service were agreed to cover the period until the new CEO is in office.
The preliminary groundwork for the development at Brimscombe Port, on the former Thames and Severn Canal, east of Stroud, continues to programme. The exciting regeneration of this site will provide a large basin for visiting narrow boats (as it was in the 1870’s!), boating and leisure and housing. SDC are working with ‘Registered Housing Providers’ to maximise affordable housing within the available overall budget. The Stage 2 procurement process is currently underway to identify consultants to undertake further investigatory works and advise suitable partners to co-develop this site. Whilst the cost of this work is expected to be in the region of £68k and not insubstantial in these times of austerity, the Alliance Group Leaders have been assured that this is at a competitive level for the amount, width and scope of this essential work. Leaders will be monitoring this expenditure very closely.
Councillors agreed to approve the bids to Homes England for additional borrowing from the Housing Revenue Account until 2022. (Cllr Tucker)
Kathy O’Leary our new Chief Executive Officer, will start full-time on the 26th November. Group Leaders and Senior SDC Officers have met with her on several occasions recently to bring her up to date with the idiosyncrasies of the Stroud District, high expectations of residents and the workings and aims of the political coalition alliance which lead the Council at Ebley Mill. It is pleasing to see that she still appears as enthusiastic to that when we interviewed her! (Cllr Tucker)
Stroud Subscription Room
The agreement between SDC and Stroud Town Council (STC) for them to take over the ownership of the Subscription Rooms and the day to day running to a newly set up Stroud Subscription Room Trust (SSRT) is ongoing. The contract between SDC and STC/SSRT is being refined, but there are still a few hitches, including costs and responsibilities for significant roof repairs and staff transfers. However, these are being worked on positively between STC Councillors and SDC officers and monitored closely by your local District Councillors to ensure there is ‘a good deal all round’. The approval last week of the SSRT by the Charity Commissioners will enable some of the problems to be resolved. It is still the intention that contracts will be exchanged in December and that STC will own the property and SSRT will run the events from after 31st March 2019. (Cllr Tucker).
Stroud Tourism Information Centre (TIC)
The future of the Subscription Rooms Tourist Information Centre (TIC), which is currently located within the Sub Rooms but not included in the sale, is under discussion. STC’s business model does not provided for the TIC within the building and a SDC Task & Finish Group, which includes Cllr Tucker, is reviewing various options and there have been numerous meetings between TIC staff, SDC Officers and District Councillors to agree the best way forward for providing tourist information within the District. A recommendation by the Group will be put to the Community Services and Licencing Committee on 6th December. (Cllr Tucker).
In an attempt to improve the economy of Stroud District, a Task & Finish Tourism Group (which includes Cllr Tucker), was set up 10 months ago and has undertaken an in-depth review of tourism, tourist requirements and what is currently on offer within the District. The Group has held 7 meetings with ‘town/village clusters’ from Wotton to Painswick, along with operators of various attractions, such as Berkeley Castle, Jenner House, Slimbridge Wildlife Trust, and Cattle Country etc and local tourist centres (including Wotton) have all contributed to the study. A meeting was held last week with the Gloucestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), who are responsible for spending government ‘growth deal monies’ to improve economic growth in Gloucestershire. This was very positive and the LEP were highly impressed with the work we had done. We are now collating all the data into a report and our recommendations will be presented to the Community Services & Licencing Committee meeting for approval on 6th December. https://www.gfirstlep.com/ (Cllr Tucker)
Election to Wotton Town Council.
The result of the Wotton Town Council election on 1st November was as follows:
John Collins, 129 votes.
Derek Thomas, 518 votes,
Chris Young, 429 votes
Congratulations to Mr Thomas and we look forward to working with him in the future.
Building on both the former The Full Moon site and at Fountain Crescent to provide a mixture of ‘affordable’ and ‘shared ownership’ properties, supported financially by SDC, are well under way. The first property in Mount Pleasant is expected to be completed by next April. (Cllr Tucker)
Charfield Liaison Group meeting
Cllr Braun has been attending stakeholder meetings in Charfield, with the potential developers and South Gloucestershire local planning strategy officers to discuss the proposals for Charfield to be designated for a further 1200 homes in the joint spatial plan. As councillors may be aware, a further development for 121 homes and a retail unit at the Warners Court site has now been given the go ahead. There is also (still at a planning stage) a draft proposal for a large retail unit/supermarket (Coop) to be sited at MJ Fews. There will be a consultation on the sustainability appraisal and the joint local transport plan soon (Nov / Dec 2018). Discussions are still underway about reopening of Charfield railway station (which would also be sited on the MJ Fews site), upgrades to junction 14 of the M5 and improvements to Wotton Road in Charfield.
Meetings attended by Cllr Butcher:
Environment Committee (11 Oct)
Phone conversation about Ashen Plains with Steve Bartlett
Full Council (18 Oct)
Phone meeting Darren Hammond re incident with Ward Resident at SPLC
Meetings attended by Cllr Braun:
Housing Performance discussion meeting (1 Oct)
North Nibley Parish Council (1 Oct)
GRCC Community Led Housing Event (3 Oct)
Strategy & Resources Committee meeting (4 Oct)
Stinchcombe Parish Council (10 Oct)
Housing Committee planning meeting (15 Oct)
Full Council meeting (18 Oct)
SDC Task & Finish Group – Reducing Single Use Plastics (29 Oct)
Charfield Liaison Group meeting with Local Planning Authority (29 Oct)
Greenway Working Group meeting (31 Oct)
Meetings attended by Cllr Tucker:
1 Oct SDC Leaders and Committee Chairs meeting.
2 Oct SDC Planning Review Panel.
4 Oct Farewell and presentation to David Hagg, retiring CEO.
4 Oct SDC Strategy & Resources Committee meeting.
10 Oct SDC Planning Strategy meeting.
10 Oct Meeting with CEO designate, Kathy O’Leary
11 Oct Meeting with CEO designate, Kathy O’Leary.
12 Oct Meeting with Kathy O’Leary and David Drew MP.
12 Oct SDC Task & Finish Group Sub Rooms meeting.
14 Oct SDC meeting to resolve recycling problems at Bearpackers Arms Houses, Wotton.
15Oct Coalition Alliance leaders meeting.
15 Oct Wotton Town Council meeting.
18 Oct SDC Full Council.
23 Oct SDC meeting at Pitman Place with Neighbourhood Warden to discuss anti-social behaviour.
29 Oct Coalition Alliance leaders meeting.
29 Oct SDC leader and Deborah Potts (Director Active Gloucestershire) community health meeting.