Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Council Chamber - Municipal Offices. View directions

Contact: Harry Mayo, Democracy Officer  01242 264 211

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Cllrs. Flynn, Nelson and Sankey. Cllr. Harman substituted for Cllr. Nelson.

2.

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

Cllr. Barrell noted that her son worked for Cheltenham Borough Homes, in case it was relevant to the Housing Delivery Strategy item.

3.

Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 211 KB

Draft minutes of 6th September meeting.

Minutes:

Cllr. Barrell asked that the last line of her HOSC update in item 9 be amended to read ‘significant changes in healthcare’. With that in mind, it was:

RESOLVED:

That the minutes of the 5th July meeting be approved and signed as a correct record.

4.

Public and Member questions, calls for actions and petitions

Minutes:

There were none.

5.

Matters referred to committee

Minutes:

There were none.

6.

Housing Delivery Strategy/Development Delivery Update pdf icon PDF 499 KB

Discussion paper from David Oakhill, Senior Development Manager, Place & Growth

 

Objective: understand the strategy for housing and regeneration (housing provision) and comment as necessary.

Minutes:

David Oakhill (Senior Development Manager) presented his discussion paper, noting that the council had set an ambitious vision with a considerable development agenda, including Golden Valley, a step change in housing delivery and the raising of environmental and sustainable standards. This was set in the context of the council’s climate pledge and Covid-19 recovery and regeneration initiatives, in which housing played an important role.

He updated members on key developments, including the Golden Valley acquisition, the lifting of HRA borrowing caps and CBH’s subsequent capital programme proposals, all of which shaped the delivery of new homes. Subject to restrictions, the council and CBH would deliver homes across four categories: affordable housing, estate regeneration, private rental stock and homes for sale on the open market. He stressed that the council also acted as an enabler of housing delivery, both through its planning process and the sale of land for development.

The Asset Management Plan was under review and would be presented before Council in the winter, setting the overarching framework for how all council assets would be managed. Housing delivery would form an integral part of this.

One member queried how environmental and sustainability standards would be raised. The Senior Development Manager responded that in the case of the Golden Valley development, a large part of the procurement process had focused on sustainability. He would be able to offer a fuller picture once the ongoing negotiations were closed. CBH formed a large part of this, and was currently working on its future work programme with the goal of carbon neutral homes at its heart. He acknowledged that it was much easier to control environmental standards in homes the council built than it was in those it bought.

One member asked whether the construction phase would be carbon neutral. The Senior Development Manager clarified that carbon neutrality generally referred to the completed homes, as it was much harder to guarantee in the construction phase, although they always aimed for the highest possible degree of sustainability. He hoped that technologies would emerge over time that enabled more sustainable construction phases.

One member queried what proportion of homes at the Golden Valley development would be affordable. The Senior Development Manager responded that the Joint Core Strategy had allocated a number of large strategic sites for development (of which the Golden Valley was one) with 35% of all housing to be affordable. In the case of a smaller site, anywhere between 10 and 499 homes, they would expect 40% to be affordable.

The Chair thanked the Senior Development Manager for his contribution and looked forward to future updates as the developments progressed.

 

7.

Town Centre Projects & Programmes

Presentation by Tracey Crews, Director of Planning and Jackie Jobes, Townscape Manager

 

Objective: To consider the changing demands on High Street related schemes and the approach for co-ordinating initiatives and understanding how they fit into the wider objectives for the High Street.

Minutes:

Tracey Crews (Director of Planning) gave a strategic oversight of what was happening in the Town Centre, focusing on how plans agreed by the council fit together. These included the past activities of the Cheltenham Development Task Force, which focused on town centre regeneration including the Brewery, Transport Plan, North Place and the public realm. The Place Vision worked alongside this, articulating the key areas of interest as business, culture and community working together. Connecting Cheltenham was a further plan for transport in the town, with a focus on tackling the climate emergency and increasing connectivity in the town centre. In the area of public realm project delivery, over £1m had been invested so far by the council, GCC and the European Regional Development Fund, with a further estimated £1.4m coming in the next year.

The pandemic had had a significant impact on the town centre in many ways, most notably through job losses, furlough, social distancing, deprivation and re-skilling. She not acknowledged that not all these issues were new (for example, physical retailers going online-only and leaving the High Street) but Covid had caused them to accelerate. It was important to look at possible opportunities arising from the crisis, such as the rise in cyber and tech, and stressed the need to build on the town’s strengths.

She added that the Development Task Force had been replaced by the Economic Recovery Task Force (CERTF). Key principles included partnerships, engagement, leadership and collaboration, and many aspects of the council’s work could contribute to this. The CERTF could help drive the town’s economic recovery through swift and brave interventions in response to challenges, while the Welcome Back Funding provided investment of over £200,000. Inward investment would also be achieved by promoting Cheltenham as ‘open for business’, alongside partnership working and place management. She reassured members that environmental and sustainability concerns would be central to this, particularly in terms of understanding the human impact on the town centre and how residents and visitors moved around the town, but emphasised that this needed the support and delivery by GCC as the Highways authority.

Jackie Jobes (Townscape Manager) added that reimagining the town centre would be a core tenet of the post-Covid economic recovery, and that the decline of high streets nationwide was well-documented long before Covid hit. The most immediate aspects of reimagining Cheltenham’s town centre were to progress the High Street paving works which had been postponed due to the pandemic, and to restart the Cambray Place development in spring 2022. They also needed to address the temporary street furniture on Boots Corner and  deliver the Minster Gardens. She noted that the E-scooter trials had been extended until March 2022.

She emphasised that the key question was what the Town Centre had to offer, and how it could compete with other areas. They needed to encourage a wide variety of uses and look at whether the planning system encourages and restricts innovation. Cheltenham’s town centre was relatively large, and work had been  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Feedback from other scrutiny meetings attended pdf icon PDF 112 KB

Gloucestershire Economic Growth O&S Committee (15th September 2021) – update from Councillor Paul McCloskey to follow.

 

Police and Crime Panel (28th September 2021) – update from Councillor Jonny Brownsteen to follow.

 

The Gloucestershire Health O&S Committee has not met since the last meeting of this committee.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr. McCloskey’s update from the Gloucestershire Economic Growth O&S Committee on 15th September and Cllr. Brownsteen’s update from the Police and Crime Panel on 28th September 2021 were taken as read.

9.

Cabinet Briefing pdf icon PDF 6 KB

Councillor Hay, Leader

 

Objective: An update from the Cabinet on key issues for Cabinet Members which may be of interest to Overview and Scrutiny and may inform the work plan

Minutes:

The Leader’s briefing was taken as read.

Cllr. Mason added that at the last Chair’s briefing, he and Cllrs. Hegenbarth and Payne had been briefed by officers about the relatively short timescales that the government permitted for bids and grants. They had found that some bid windows were so short that a key officer being unavailable for any reason could mean the authority would not be able to submit a bid, and had agreed to raise this with the Leader and ask her to write to the government to request they review it. The Leader responded that she was happy to do this, and agreed that the process could be frustrating and ineffective. Local authorities often struggle with capacity and windows for bids and grants often came in at short notice. She suggested also taking the issue to the District Councils Network and South West Councils to seek buy-in from other authorities. The Chief Executive added that this issue was on the radar of the Executive Leadership Team, which had raised it with the relevant government department.

10.

Review of scrutiny workplan pdf icon PDF 141 KB

Minutes:

The scrutiny workplan was circulated with the agenda.

11.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1972 - EXEMPT INFORMATION

The committee is recommended to approve the following resolution:-

 

“That in accordance with Section 100A(4) Local Government Act 1972 the public be excluded from the meeting for the remaining agenda items as it is likely that, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, if members of the public are present there will be disclosed to them exempt information as defined in paragraph 3, Part (1) Schedule (12A) Local Government Act 1972, namely:

 

Paragraph 3; Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular

person (including the authority holding that information).

12.

Municipal Offices: Options appraisal

Discussion paper from Mark Sheldon, Director of Projects to follow

 

Objective: To consider options and the next steps regarding the Municipal Offices

Minutes:

Members resolved to move into exempt session.

 

Mark Sheldon (Director of Projects) presented a discussion paper on the future of the Municipal Offices and responded to questions from members.

13.

Exempt minutes

Draft exempt minutes of 6th September meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

That the minutes of the 5th July meeting be approved and signed as a correct record.

14.

Date of next meeting

1st November 2021

Minutes:

1st November 2021.