Cheltenham Borough Council
Cheltenham Borough Council

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Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Virtual WEBEX video conference via YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/user/cheltenhamborough. View directions

Contact: Bev Thomas, Democratic Services Team Leader 

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

Minutes:

Councillors Boyes and Jeffries.

2.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

Councillor Flynn declared an interest in agenda item 11 as a member of Hester’s Way Neighbourhood Partnership.

3.

Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 476 KB

Minutes of the meeting held on 15 June 2020

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 15 June were approved and signed as a correct record.

4.

Communications by the Mayor

Minutes:

The Mayor explained that mayoral engagements remained greatly curtailed in the circumstances. He informed Members that there was currently approx. £3k in the Mayor’s foodbank fund, with some disbursements already made.

 

He then made reference to a meeting he had attended virtually with regard to an initiative to pool funding to provide those children on free school meals with food over the schools holiday. More information would follow.

5.

Communications by the Leader of the Council

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council informed Members that the Gloucestershire Covid-19 outbreak management plan had been published on 30 June and was now available to view on the GCC website. It had been coordinated by the Director of Public Health.

 

The existing Gloucestershire Health Protection Board had been adapted to coordinate any issues for the planning of a potential outbreak and a new Member Engagement Board which included District Council Leaders had been established and met on a monthly basis to coordinate communications. It provided weekly updates and a data dashboard was in the process of being set up.

 

Additionally, the Leader referred to the council’s recovery strategy which had been approved by Cabinet at its July meeting. He placed on record his thanks to  Members and others for their contributions to this evolving document, and informed that the climate change and cultural emphasis had been strengthened as a result of consultation.

 

The Leader then informed that an extraordinary Cabinet meeting had been convened on Tuesday 28 July at 4pm to consider the budget outturn report to be followed by an extraordinary meeting of Council scheduled for 4pm on Wednesday 29 July.

 

Finally, the Leader referred to the significant contributions the Cheltenham Development Task Force (CDTF) had made to the town over the last 10 years. It represented a great private-public sector partnership. He wished to place on record his thanks to Graham Garbutt, Chair of the CDTF and Jeremy Williamson who had both played a significant role in many developments across the town over the last 10 years.  

 

He added that the CDTF would morph into the Cheltenham Recovery Task Force which would be in place for the next 18 months and then would be reviewed. He was pleased to announce that Diane Savoury had agreed to be the independent chair of this group and an initial meeting of the task force would take place over the next couple of months.

6.

To receive petitions

Minutes:

None received.

7.

Public Questions pdf icon PDF 295 KB

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Tuesday 14 July 2020.

Minutes:

1.

Question from Sally Walkerto the Leader of the Council, Councillor Steve Jordan

 

What is the process for changes to be made to the local plan post adoption, particularly in the event of new material considerations arising with regard to any site allocated for development? 

 

Response from Cabinet Member 

 

Once a local plan is adopted by the Council it can only be amended through the plan-making procedure; including preparation, publication, and examination by the Planning Inspectorate on behalf of the Secretary of State. The planning system requires that decisions must be taken in accordance with the development plan unless there are material considerations that indicate otherwise. Therefore, any new material considerations relating to an allocated site would be considered as part of any decision on a planning application on that site.

2.

Question from Sally Walker to the Leader of the Council, Councillor Steve Jordan

 

Can the council reassure us that the delegated powers to the planning department (to address issues of consistency etcdo not extend to changing the language on housing allocations, and that council confirm the inspector’s language of ’some 25’ is the current allocation for HD4. [which is now variously down as ’25 (table page 11)’, ‘some 25 (inspectors report)’, 'approximately 25’ and ‘minimum 25 (table page 13)’.]

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

Yes, changes to the Local Plan that change the intent of the Local Plan are not delegated to the planning department.

 

The proposed wording of Policy HD4 is included at Appendix 4 of item 10 on the Cheltenham Borough Council Full Council meeting on the 20th July 2020. The wording of Policy HD4 is ‘a minimum of 25 dwellings…’. This wording was including in the Cheltenham Plan Main Modifications documentation, approved by the Council on the 14th October 2019 and consulted on towards the end of 2019. Various comments were made on the Main Modifications, including policy HD4/Main Modification 16 during the public consultation. The Main Modifications and all the various comments received were presented (in full) to the Plan Inspector. Having considered the modifications and comments, the Inspector has subsequently determined that the Cheltenham Plan, with the Main Modifications, is ‘sound’ and can proceed to be considered for adoption. I am unable to comment on the Inspectors use of certain words in their response to the Cheltenham Plan Main Modification proposals.

 

Any changes to the wording contained in the Main Modification consultation and now in the proposed Cheltenham Plan (adoption version) are limited to changes that, when taken together, do not materially affect the policies that would be set out in the document if it was adopted with main modifications but no other modifications.

 

Supplementary question from Sally Walker

 

I trust the council recognise that the adoption of the plan without review options for at least 5 years raises the unwelcome risk of legal challenge to adoption of the plan or specific policies (as the only route to redress). 

 

The DCLG fact sheet on local plans states that “local plans  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Member Questions pdf icon PDF 310 KB

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Tuesday 14 July 2020.

Minutes:

1.

Question from Councillor David Willingham to Cabinet Member Healthy Lifestyles, Councillor Flo Clucas

 

Data published by the ONS shows that from 1st March 2020 to 31st May 2020, the Alstone and St Mark's MSOA had the highest Covid-19 mortality rate of any MSOA in the Southwest region, and fourth highest in the whole of England and Wales.  On behalf of the communities that I represent and the bereaved families of the deceased, could I ask the Cabinet Member if she would support my calls for an open and transparent public investigation by the County Council into the causes of this tragically high local death rate?

 

Response from Cabinet Member 

 

Following an update from the Director of Public Health, I can confirm that the County Council will be undertaking a piece of work to look at deaths in care homes to identify any learning that can be taken forward.  Cheltenham Borough Council will provide whatever support it can to assist with this review.  Recently, a detailed report was taken to the County Council’s Adult & Social Care Overview & Scrutiny Committee looking at the support provided to care homes and I can arrange for this to be circulated to all members.  As members are aware there is an Outbreak Management Plan developed by Public Health, which I can confirm that Cheltenham Borough Council Officers are already integrated into, as part of our ongoing commitment to supporting our residents and communities. The Outbreak Management Plan has a strong focus on the prevention of cases and outbreaks in high risk settings such as care homes.  Therefore work is on-going to learn from cases and prevent future occurrences in care homes.

 

Supplementary question

 

Councillor Willingham firstly wished to put on record his condolences to those who had lost loved ones in this pandemic.

Tragically, the area he represents has the highest mortality covid rate in the entire south west region.

Prior to 16 April, 111 patients were discharged from hospital in Gloucestershire without being tested for corona virus.

GCC appeared to be unclear whether this should fall under the roll of health scrutiny or adult social care scrutiny.

He asked whether this could be thoroughly investigated by the CBC Overview & Scrutiny Committee or by something led by the Cabinet Member to ensure that those bereaved families get answers in an open and transparent way.

 

Response from the Cabinet Member

 

There has been great deal of concern by those involved in dealing directly with Covid 19 but also senior doctors. At the GCC Health Overview and Scrutiny meeting she was surprised by the lack of proper investigation of those responsible for decision making. In echoing condolences to those affected, she would see if this can be investigated by CBC O&S in order to enable those taking such decisions to defend them, particularly those relating to not testing patients before moving into care homes.

2.

Question from Councillor David Willingham to the Leader, Councillor Steve Jordan

 

Tower Hamlets Council recently successfully challenged a planning decision made  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Petition - We call for urgency on our climate emergency pdf icon PDF 517 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Clean and Green Environment

Minutes:

The petition organiser, Yolande Booyse, presented the petition to members.

She explained that the petition had collected 750 signatures expressing concern over climate change and demanding real action. She added that the next crisis after Covid-19 would be the climate, and our approach to tackling this needed to change. The post-Covid world would offer an opportunity to leverage momentum, and both on a national and global scale, financially supporting green economies was a real possibility. Attempting to continue ‘business as usual’ was no longer appropriate, so the council should rethink its response to a carbon neutral pledge. She asked members to use the debate to address Cheltenham residents about how Covid-19 had changed their climate change response, including updating them on the progress of appointing a dedicated Cabinet Member and dedicated team for climate change.

The Cabinet Member Corporate Services and thanked the organiser for her presentation. He stressed that community support would be an essential part of tackling the council’s ambitious climate change targets, and welcomed the petition for highlighting the growing support within the town for reducing their carbon footprint.

He reported that the Executive Director People and Change, Darren Knight, and Director of Environment, Mike Redman, had recently met with local groups to discuss the council’s plans going forward and boost community involvement. The ‘Carbon Neutral Cheltenham – Leadership Through Stewardship’ report brought before Council last October laid out a roadmap of actions needed to reduce the town’s net carbon footprint to 0 by 2030. He acknowledged that this was a challenging deadline, twenty years ahead of central government’s goal of 2050, and meaningful steps must be taken in order to achieve it.

He added that the impact of Covid-19 on climate policy could not be overstated, as it had significantly affected the council’s finances, but it had not prevented important projects going forward, while the shift to remote working had changed commuting patterns in the borough. He stressed that the council was doing all it could, and remained committed to the pledge of going carbon neutral by 2030.

One member cited climate change as the key problem faced by the world at the moment, alongside Covid-19. She praised the council’s continuous climate change projects, as well as the work that went on quietly in the background to make a difference and keep people safe.

One member noted that the sentiment behind the petition was likely shared by the majority of people in the town, and indeed across the country. He stressed that community involvement was key, and endorsed the inclusion of partners and community groups in the process.

One member acknowledged that alleviating the climate crisis was a long and difficult road, but the council’s progress was good. He suggested that the council could declare areas outside all schools in the borough as ‘no idling’ zones, in order to improve air quality for schoolchildren. This could be enforced by council officers and supported by clear posters, and could then be widened to include more of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Cheltenham Plan - Adoption Report pdf icon PDF 256 KB

Report of the Leader

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council introduced the report, noting that the Cheltenham Plan formed part of the Joint Core Strategy. He acknowledged that the Local Plan had been a long process, starting back in 2012, and thanked Members and officers involved for their contributions. The plan sought to strike a balance between providing jobs and affordable homes while protecting green spaces, and continuously consulting the public on its key aspects. He emphasised a number of key points, including the protection of green spaces by granting formal LGS status to 16 sites around the borough, and noted that the process of a second JCS was in its early stages.

The following points were raised by Members :

·         the report was welcomed as an essential part of planning out the coming years and ensuring that the council did not stand still. Along with the JCS, it should give the town what it needs, particularly with regard to new houses built to a high standard and new employment.

·         some Members had campaigned for some 40 years to protect the Leckhampton Green fields, and were delighted to see it formally designated as an LGS. Free, accessible recreation was a key part of mental health, especially in urban areas, while the fields also provide essential services to the ecosystem by absorbing pollution and floodwater. He thanked planning officers and the Leader of the Council for their work on the issue.

·         one Member spoke in his capacity as the council’s representative on the Cotswold Conservation Board, and welcomed the level of protection afforded to the Cotswold AONB.

·         a number of individuals and organisations were thanked for their work behind the scenes, but concern was expressed about future developers’ potential lack of understanding of sustainability. Sustainability must be considered according to a wide range of factors, including the socioeconomic consequences for people living in the area and environmental implications. If Cheltenham could put these considerations front and centre of any future interaction with developers, the town and its residents would benefit immensely.

·         disappointment was expressed by one Member that the Oakhurst Rise site was not included among the 16 given LGS status, despite fulfilling many of the criteria involved.

·         one Member acknowledged that this plan sought to strike a balance between preserving essential aspects of the town and allowing it to grow. He stressed that officers had sought to distribute LGS status as widely as possible, having considered 92 sites originally. Interventions from planning inspectors eventually whittled this figure down to 16. He reassured Members that the lack of LGS status did not mean that the site was not protected.

The Leader of the Council summed up the key points and thanked Members for their contributions.

RESOLVED THAT

1.    the adoption version of the Cheltenham Plan at Appendix 4 to this report be adopted, as part of the Council’s statutory development plan

2.    the amendments (maps and text) to the adopted Proposals Maps as set out within Appendix 5 and 6 to this report be adopted.

3.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

West Cheltenham Cyber Central garden community Supplementary Planning Document pdf icon PDF 503 KB

Report of the Leader

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader introduced the Golden Valley Development Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) which outlined the opportunity to deliver a national exemplar, world class cyber facility, as well as being a highly accessible and sustainable development.  The Leader noted that the SPD at Appendix 2 was the correct version but that the covering report had been amended.  The recommendation had been amended to seek adoption rather than approval by the council.  He explained that the SPD covered the area in the JCS, as well as the safeguarded area and emphasised the need for a masterplan in place for this exciting opportunity for the town. 

 

The national support that this project had garnered emphasised the importance of the site and as it crossed into Tewkesbury Borough Council (TBC) boundaries, there had been close collaborative working which would see TBC consider this very same document on the 28 July.  Both authorities needed to adopt this SPD for it to come into force.  Widespread consultation had been undertaken on the SPD, informally at the end of last year and then formally in January 2020 for a period of 5 weeks.  This report and accompanying SPD took account of stakeholder and public engagement together with representations received during the statutory consultation and a full schedule of comments received and subsequent amendments to the SPD was provided at Appendix 5, but the Leader noted that some viewpoints were diametrically opposed and therefore impossible to draft a document that addressed these opposing views.   Once approved by both CBC and TBC, the SPD would become a material consideration to the determination of future planning applications.

 

The site was next door to GCHQ and cyber was already important for the town, with Cheltenham being second only to London in terms of the level of cyber business.  This represented a fantastic opportunity, not least because it could benefit the entire community, some areas of which had higher levels of deprivation and as such it was vitally important that it benefited the whole community in terms of jobs, affordable housing, as well as the climate change agenda.  At this stage he noted the ‘Excellent’ accreditation by Building with Nature.  He did ask that members, when looking development plans, be mindful of the fact that CBC owned only part of the site that was being talked about, not all of it, with Severn Trent the owners of some parts.

 

In closing, he highlighted that Gloucestershire County Council had secured £22m of government funding, the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) had re-allocated £1.6m to ensure that all cycling routes were connected and Great Western Railways were in the process of confirming funding for a cycling route out of the station and to this site.  Finally, he acknowledged the importance of community involvement and though he pledged that this would continue, he was not yet sure what this would look like going forward.

 

The Leader, with support from the Director Planning, provided the following response to a member question regarding housing numbers at this site.  They  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

Planning Committee Size pdf icon PDF 259 KB

Report of the Chief Executive

 

**Note-details of nominations to Planning Committee will be circulated separately**

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Deputy Chief Executive, Tim Atkins, introduced the report which sought approval to reduce the size of the Planning Committee from 11 to 15.  He reminded members that the Constitution Working Group (CWG) was asked to review the number of members on Planning Committee in order to ascertain if a smaller number might increase the effectiveness of the decision-making process.  The CWG met in January 2020 and supported the proposal, Group Leaders were then consulted and approved the change which was noted by Council when considering changes to the Constitution at its meeting on 17 February.  The plan that was this would then be formally approved at the Annual and Selection Council in May 2020 when establishing and appointing to Planning Committee, however, due to the Covid 19 outbreak and the subsequent rescheduling of the Borough Elections until May 2021, the Annual and Selection Council was cancelled.  The Deputy Chief Executive explained that the proposal was based on best practice advice that encouraged smaller committees as tending to offer greater consistency in decision making; lower costs to run and better attendance at meetings and hoped that members would support the recommendations. 

 

In response to a member question, the Deputy Chief Executive, along with the Director of Planning, explained that reducing costs was not the main driver for the proposals; but rather that it represented best practice.  Whilst being quorate had never been an issue, Planning Committee meetings were never attended by all 15 members.  The quorum was currently 8 (members) and were the committee size to reduce to 11 this would in turn reduce to 6. 

 

A number of Planning Committee members, both past and present, stressed the importance of site visits (Planning View), which they felt were poorly attended due to being held during the day, whilst accepting that it would be difficult to undertake in the evenings for some 6 months of the year.  Councillors were reminded that ward members were able to attend meetings and address the Committee where an application affected their ward and of the substitution process that was in place, though it was stressed that there was a requirement for substitutes on Planning Committee to have undertaken training and have attended one in three meetings.     

 

Members who spoke against the proposal to reduce the size of the committee, did so because they were concerned that a reduction in members would result in nothing more than reduced diversity of views and were sceptical about the assertion that decisions would be more consistent.  Some of these Members urged caution given the pace of unitary discussions, a decision on which would result in a larger, farer ranging area, with a precedent set by having reduced the size of the committee at this stage. 

 

Those that spoke in support of the proposal agreed that a reduction in size could result in Members having the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of planning regulations and give more in-depth consideration to applications, which would result in more consistent and effective  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.

13.

Applications for Pavement Licences under the Business and Planning Bill 2020 and Responsibilities for Functions pdf icon PDF 229 KB

Report of the Chief Executive

Minutes:

The Deputy Chief Executive explained that the Business and Planning Bill 2020 (“the Bill”) once in force, would introduce a number of changes to potentially promote post-lockdown economic recovery and growth.  Part 1 of the Bill included provisions that would enable the operators of licensed premises, via a new standalone mechanism, to secure for a limited period, a “Pavement Licence”. The new Pavement Licences would allow additional outdoor space to be lawfully licensed and used by premises. Under the provision an application must be determined by a local authority within 7 days of receipt of the application, this reducing the consultation period, as well as the ability of the authority to refuse.  The proposed delegation would allow the Director of Environment, in consultation with the vice-chair of the Licensing Committee, to determine an application for a Pavement Licence under the new legislation.  It was also noted that if necessary the ability to revoke a licence should also be delegated to the Director of Environment. A slight amendment to the recommendation was proposed in that ‘and revoke’ would be added after ‘determine applications’.

 

The Licensing Team Leader, gave the following answers to member questions:

 

·         Under the Bill there is no statutory appeal process, but the draft guidance states that councils may wish to consider the scope for an internal review process.  To this end, an applicant wishing to appeal a decision to refuse consent could apply to the Miscellaneous Licensing Sub-Committee.  The Chair felt that it was more appropriate to preside over any such appeal, rather than being involved in the original decision(s) and it was noted that there were two vice-chairs for the Licensing Committee.

·         A local authority can grant a Pavement Licence subject to conditions that it considers reasonable but in any event such licences will be deemed to be subject to a “no-obstruction condition” and condition would remain and if following a site inspection it was considered that it would cause an obstruction, the matter would be referred to the Director for determination and possible refusal. 

 

 

At this stage the Mayor sought agreement from members that the meeting should continue beyond four hours in duration and the no member objected.  The meeting continued. 

 

The Licensing Team Leader, continued to respond to member questions: 

 

·         There had been no amendments to the Highways Act 1980 and when the Bill was repealed (currently planned for September 2021) applications would be made under the Highways Act 1980.

·         In response to a further question, the Business Support and Licensing Team Leader assured members that they would be consulted on applications as ward councillors as they had previously, though admittedly with less time to respond, 5 working days from 28 days.  He noted that if the authority does not determine an application within the determination period, the licence would be deemed to have been granted for a year.

 

The Leader paid tribute to the Licensing and Planning Teams at CBC, as the concept for this Bill had been spearheaded in Cheltenham.  He also acknowledged  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.

14.

Notices of Motion

Minutes:

There were none.

15.

Any other item the Mayor determines as urgent and which requires a decision

Minutes:

None.