Stroud District Councillors’ Report

October 2019

Summary of SDC Wotton Ward Councillors’ Council meetings and local business.

Environment Committee (24 October) - Cllr James

The main item for discussion was the Local Plan Review – which will set the framework for future development of housing and employment sites, retail and town centres, open space and community needs over the next twenty years.

The Committee approved the Draft Local Plan which will now enter the next phase of consultation (starting week commencing 18 November 2019 for eight weeks). The consultation will be publicised widely and there will be further public exhibitions at locations across the district.

In summary:

Stroud District will have to deliver at least 638 homes per year to meet Government targets up to 2040 – which is a 40% increase from the figure in our current Local Plan. The strategy will concentrate housing growth at the main towns of Cam and Dursley, Stonehouse and Stroud, where there is best access to services, facilities, jobs and infrastructure.

New strategic development sites have been proposed as follows:

Housing and employment growth will also be centred at two new settlements at Sharpness and at Wisloe within the Severn Vale (A38/M5 corridor), where there is the potential to create new sustainable communities along garden village principles. Further strategic employment growth will also be concentrated at accessible locations within the A38/M5 corridor.

In order to meet wider development needs and to support and improve existing services and facilities at smaller towns and larger villages, modest levels of growth will be delivered at the local service centres of Berkeley, Minchinhampton, Nailsworth and Painswick.

A major change since the publication of the Emerging Strategy last year has been the Council’s declaration of a climate emergency, and the pledge to do everything within the Council’s power to make the district carbon neutral by 2030. Consequently, the Draft Local Plan includes a number of policies which seek to contribute to the achievement of a carbon neutral district by 2030, including supporting zero carbon construction and design standards, increasing renewable energy provision, prioritising sustainable transport options and seeking exemplar strategic developments.

This new policy sets out that all new development must be:

The new delivery policy on renewable and low carbon energy generation states that decentralised renewable and low carbon energy schemes will be supported and encouraged, and will be approved where their impact is, or can be made, acceptable. Work in support of this policy has mapped the District for opportunities and constraints for solar developments and for small scale wind developments (see draft report link)

The local plan document also looks at priorities for Town Centres in the District, for local green spaces and community facilities

For the Wotton cluster of parishes:

The key local issues and top priorities are stated as follows:

In the ‘Wotton cluster’ of parishes three sites were considered in the previous consultation. SDC responded in the consultation report as follows:

Further details can be found in the copy of the Draft Local Plan document and the Committee Paper.

Also discussed was Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) spending.

Introduced by government in 2010 as a mechanism to fund the infrastructure required to deliver Local Plan growth strategies. The District Council adopted CIL in February 2017 and implemented the charge from April 2017. CIL partially replaces the s.106 arrangements which secure payments through the planning system for the infrastructure necessary for new development.

CIL liability is calculated per m² of new dwellings (£90.72/m²) and retail warehouses (£85.05/m²), of which either 15% or 25% goes to local Town and Parish Councils as a ‘neighbourhood portion’ according to their NDP status and 5% is retained by the local authority to cover the costs of administrating the scheme. The remainder of the funding collected is held by the local authority to be spent on strategic capital infrastructure projects.

Two and a half years after CIL launched, funds of £431,100 have been collected and a further £241,200 is currently due for collection. Profiles show that a total of £1.75 million funds could be collected by CIL, dependent on a number of factors

The Environment Committee agreed to make the payments (totalling £114,000) to infrastructure providers for the following projects:

Allocated funds represent 26% of the total funding currently available. The Committee agreed to retain some funding to create a larger fund over time in order to support more significant infrastructure projects in future.

For more information see: Details of Funding recommendations and Committee Report

SDC Strategy & Resources Committee (Cllr Tucker) – 3rd October 2019

This was a very busy committee meeting, which finished well beyond the 10 pm deadline! Topics discussed were as follows:

Canal project - The process for compulsory purchase of land required to complete Phase 1B of the canal project was agreed. This is needed as part of the Heritage Lottery funding application, which is due to be sent to HL next February. A positive announcement is hoped for early Summer 2020.

Council Tax support scheme We agreed to continue the current Council Tax Support Scheme for 2019-20. However, in line with many other Councils, the continuation of the scheme will be reviewed during 2020.

The LGA Peer Review suggestions to help make SDC an ‘exemplar’ Council were reviewed, and all is going to plan and time. The current Strategic Director recruitment is an integral and important part of this process, which all Group Leaders support.

Gloucestershire Vision 2050 - As part of the County Council’s vision for regeneration and development of Gloucestershire by 2050 (imaginatively call Vision 2050) input and consultation process, 3 delivery boards have been set up, one to cover the development needs of Gloucester & Cheltenham, one to review the ‘M5 corridor’ needs, including transport and the third a Severn Vale Delivery Board (mainly, but not exclusively) relating to the Forest of Dean & Stroud District). SDC have decided that to get the best out of being a Board member, that we should lead it and hence our CEO, Kathy O’Leary, now chairs this Board. The Terms of Reference have been agreed and formal meeting will start this month.

Tree planting - A part of SDC’s lead on Climate Change, it was agreed that some SDC owned land at Salmon Springs off the Painswick Road, would be suitable to plant broad leaf trees to help with our aim to become Carbon Neutral by 2030. Officers will now consult environmentalists and local residents as to whether this should be a ‘tree only’ site or combine it with some form of amenities. The income loss to SDC from the current rental will be £300/annum.

Strategic Director recruitment

Following earlier shortlisting, a rigorous interview selection process was held for three of the four Strategic Director posts in October. Candidates presented to members and officers, with Q&As, they were questioned by a round table panel of councillors, senior officers and members of appropriate external bodies and finally were formally interviewed by the four Group Leaders, the Chief Exec, along with HR and a member of the recruitment agency. They were long days for all! The outcome is as follows:

Caron will join the council in December and Brendan will join after Christmas.

The fourth and final role - Strategic Director of Communities, (which will cover Community Services, Housing Services, Cultural and Leisure, Health & Wellbeing, Contract Services and Revenue & Benefits) will be re-advertised, as the previous candidates withdrew their applications. We hope that an appointment can be made before Christmas with the new postholder starting by March. The delay in this appointment is disappointing but will ensure that we are able to have the right people for the right jobs.

Cllr Tucker attended the shortlisting meetings and participated on all the interview Panels and was joined last week by Cllr Braun.  We cannot therefore complain that the Ward has not been truly represented in the selection process! It is perhaps worth mentioning that following the very thorough process the candidates went through, on each occasion there was unanimous agreement by the interview panel on who to offer the position. (Cllr Tucker)

SDC Planning Review Panel (Cllr Tucker) – 7th and 22nd October 2019

Local Plan Review - The main topic of discussion was again the Emerging Local Plan, which, in part, is aiming to allocate land to build 12,000+ homes between now and 2040. Each of the political parties have had further inputs and well as members of the public and local councils and there was further consensus at both these meetings. The proposals were discussed at the Environment Committee (report above).

Investment & Development Panel (Cllr Tucker) – 28th October 2019

This meeting was to receive an update from officers and consultants on the progress of the proposed development of Brimscombe Port, which forms a crucial part of our canal regeneration project to the east of Stroud.

The contents of the proposed contracts were discussed and agreed, which included procurement, lead developer engagement, community involvement and the provision of up to 170 homes, a welcome number being ‘affordable’. Members and officers continue to monitor project spend regularly.

Stroud Road Safety Liaison Group (Cllr Tucker) (SDC appointed member) 1st October 2019

This Group meets 4 times a year to discuss road safety in the District. Fatality and Injury statistics are provided by GCC and discussed in detail. A revised method of reporting injuries appears to have ‘skewed’ the data for Q1 & Q2 2019, so we will need to wait a further 6 months, so that like-for-like data can be compared. Police attending crashes now electronically report personal damages at the scene and this is likely to result in more (minor) injuries being recorded.

Audit and standards committee - 8 October 2019

The main item at this meeting was an internal audit progress report.

Internal audit regularly reviews, and reports on, agreed areas of work within the council. It grades the councils ability to manage services and potential risk. Three grades can be awarded that link with the level of risk and compliance:

At this meeting, the audit gave grades of satisfactory to the way that council deals with internal controls on dealing with VAT, ensuring that void periods for empty council homes are minimised and the application of the local transparency code. The full paper, including the key findings and recommendations are available on the Committee website.

Meetings attended by Cllr James

7 Oct North Nibley Parish Council

16 Oct Stinchcombe Parish Council

17 Oct SDC Full Council

24 Oct Environment Committee

SGS College Berkeley Green for Constituency

Meetings attended by Cllr Braun

10 Oct Code of Conduct workshop.

17 Oct SDC Full Council

18 Oct Official re-opening event at Concord Sheltered Housing Scheme, Nailsworth

20 Oct Reception for Wotton Town Crier George Carpenter

21 Oct Wotton Town Council meeting

22 Oct Presentation by Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group – Fit for the Future

24 Oct Strategic Director recruitment interview panel member

24 Oct Wotton & surrounding area Community Climate Action Group public meeting

29 Oct Public Consultation event – North Nibley Village Hall

Meetings attended by Cllr Tucker

1 Oct Stroud Road Safety Liaison Group

2 Oct Strategic Director shortlisting

2 Oct SDC Group Leader meeting with CEO

2 Oct SDC Financial Workshop

3 Oct Met with SDC Planning Officers and NNPC to discuss planning applications in NN

3 Oct Strategy & Resources Committee meeting.

7 Oct Planning Review Panel

7 Oct North Nibley Parish Council

8 Oct Strategic Director recruitment interview panel member

9 Oct Strategic Director recruitment interview panel member

10 Oct Code of Conduct workshop.

11 Oct SDC Finance Fund selection workshop

14 Oct Presented at ‘Being a Councillor’ event

15 Oct Alliance member’s meeting

16 Oct SDC Group Leader meeting with CEO

17 Oct SDC Full Council

20 Oct Reception for Wotton Town Crier George Carpenter

21 Oct Wotton Town Council meeting

22 Oct Planning Review Panel

24 Oct Strategic Director recruitment interview panel member

28 Oct Investment & Development Panel

29 Oct Public Consultation event – North Nibley Village Hall