Agenda and minutes

Local Councils' Liaison Committee
Monday, 16th November, 2015 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Offices. View directions

Contact: S. Tautz (Governance Directorate)  Tel: (01992) 564243 Email:  democraticservices@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

7.

Webcasting Introduction

This meeting is to be webcast. Members are reminded of the need to activate their microphones before speaking. The Chairman will read the following announcement:

 

"I would like to remind everyone present that this meeting will be broadcast live to the Internet and will be capable of repeated viewing and copies of the recording could be made available for those that request it. If you are seated in the lower public seating area it is likely that the recording cameras will capture your image and this will result in the possibility that your image will become part of the broadcast. This may infringe your human and data protection rights and if any member of the public wishes to avoid this they should move to the upper public gallery".

 

Minutes:

The Chairman reminded everyone present that the meeting would be broadcast live to the Internet and that Epping Forest District Council had adopted a protocol for the webcasting of meetings, including the Local Council’s Liaison Committee.

8.

Paris Terrorist Attacks

Minutes:

At the request of the Chairman, members, officers and invited guests stood in silence to honour the victims of the recent terrorist atrocities in Paris.

 

9.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 4 MB

Subject to the following amendment to Minute 4 (Local Plan), to confirm the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 15 June 2015 (attached) and any matters arising:

 

‘During a question and answer session, the Committee was informed that a new junction for the M11 was being considered as part of the Strategic Transport Assessment for the Harlow area’.

 

The published minute incorrectly stated that a new junction for the M25 would be considered as part of the Transport Assessment.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That, subject to the following amendment to Minute 4 (Local Plan), the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 15 June 2015 be taken as read and signed by the Chairman as a correct record:

 

‘During a question and answer session, the Committee was informed that a new junction for the M11 was being considered as part of the Strategic Transport Assessment for the Harlow area’.

 

10.

Essex Police and Crime Commissioner

Mr. Nick Alston, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, will be attending the meeting of the Committee.

 

Members of the Committee and representatives of local councils have been invited to submit specific questions that they would like to raise with Mr. Alston at the meeting. In accordance with the usual practice of the District Council, notice of all questions submitted were provided to Mr. Alston in advance of the meeting.

 

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed the Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, Nick Alston, to the meeting. Mr. Alston was supported by Chief Inspector Denise Morrissey of Essex Police, who had overall responsibility for the operational policing of the Epping Forest District.

 

The Committee was advised that the Police and Crime Commissioner had no agenda for presentation to the meeting and was willing to respond to questions or concerns on any local policing matters. Members and local councils had been invited to provide prior notification of any specific questions that they wished to raise with Mr. Alston and, in accordance with the usual practice of the District Council, notice of all such questions submitted had been provided to the Police and Crime Commissioner in advance of the meeting. Members of the Committee and representatives of local councils were also invited to raise specific questions with Mr. Alston and Chief Inspector Morrissey, concerning local policing arrangements across the Epping Forest District.

 

Halloween Disturbances – North Weald Bassett

 

Councillor S. Jackman of North Weald Bassett Parish Council sought assurances from the Police and Crime Commissioner in respect of public order disturbances that had occurred in North Weald on the evening of 31 October 2015. Mr. Alston advised the Committee that Halloween night was traditionally a very busy period for Essex Police, but that he was satisfied that the response of the force to the issues experienced in North Weald had been appropriate and that no calls to Essex Police had gone unanswered.  Councillor Jackman reported that Chief Inspector Morrissey was to attend a meeting of the Parish Council in the near future to discuss the Police’s local response to the public order disturbances in greater detail.

 

Remembrance Day Parades – Police Support

 

Councillor K. Angold-Stephens of Epping Forest District Council sought an indication from the Police and Crime Commissioner of the reasons why the withdrawal of Essex Police support from the recent Remembrance Day parades was apparently made at such short notice. Councillor Angold-Stephens reported that this approach had not allowed the Royal British Legion or local councils sufficient time to secure the necessary permissions to close roads traditionally associated with such parades.

 

Mr. Alston advised the Committee that of the approximately ninety parades held across Essex on Remembrance Day, only those scheduled for Epping and Loughton in the Epping Forest District (and Hadleigh elsewhere in the county) appeared to have encountered organisational difficulties with regard to road closures, although not all parades required such arrangements to be in place. Mr. Alston reported that the decision to withdraw police support from Remembrance Day parades had not been taken lightly, but was reflective of the financial situation currently faced by Essex Police. The Committee noted that the decision to withdraw support for parades had been taken by Essex Police in the Summer, but had only been communicated to the District Council in early September 2015, which had left the Council with insufficient time to complete statutory procedures for the temporary closure of the necessary  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Rural Affordable Housing Schemes - Planning Exceptions Policy pdf icon PDF 266 KB

(District Council) To consider the attached report in connection with the provision of local affordable housing schemes.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The District Council reported to the Committee on the opportunities available for the provision of affordable housing schemes comprising affordable rented, shared ownership and low-cost market housing, in rural areas of the Epping Forest District.

 

The Director of Communities advised that an opportunity for the provision of such housing schemes had arisen as a result of the ‘planning exceptions policy’ contained in the Council’s current Local Plan, which recognised that a lack of affordable housing in rural village areas was likely to have a greater effect on individuals and communities than in urban areas, and that the opportunities for increasing the amount of affordable housing was less than in urban areas. Members noted that this was usually because less suitable development sites generally become available in rural areas and local inhabitants were more likely to have to move away from their local area than in larger, urban areas.  

 

The Committee noted that, under the exceptions policy, planning permission could be granted on sites that only provided affordable housing (plus some market housing, if necessary in order to make the development viable) to meet a local housing need, for which planning applications for developments comprising predominantly market housing would be refused. Members were advised however, that certain conditions set out in the Local Plan must be met in relation to schemes, including that the development must be:

 

·              in smaller settlements that have a recognisable community, distinct and separate from the metropolitan area;

·              small scale;

·              in response to a demonstrable local housing need (identified through a rural housing survey);

·              supported by the local town or parish council;

·              well-related to the existing settlement; and

·              providing predominantly affordable housing in perpetuity.

 

It was reported that the Local Plan stated that settlements which could be suitable for schemes included Epping Green, Matching Tye, Matching Green, Moreton, Sheering, Fyfield, Willingale, Toot Hill and Stapleford Abbotts. Those areas that would specifically not be appropriate included Lower Nazeing, Theydon Bois, Chigwell Row, North Weald Bassett, Sewardstone and Chipping Ongar.

 

In order to ensure that rural affordable housing schemes only provided accommodation for local residents, applicants were required be:

 

·              long-established local residents (i.e. those who have lived in the village concerned for at least five of the preceding ten years) requiring separate accommodation;

·              immediate family dependents of long-established local residents;

·              former long-established residents; or

·              living elsewhere and could not otherwise take up, or continue to, work in the village.

 

The Committee was advised that four rural housing schemes had so far been provided in the District under the planning exceptions policy, which had provided a total of 26 affordable homes. Affordable Housing Grant was available from the Homes and Communities Agency to fund rural housing schemes in certain circumstances.

 

The District Council had previously selected Hastoe Housing Association as its partner for the delivery of rural housing schemes. Hastoe had a wealth of experience in working closely with town and parish councils to assess local housing need and provide rural housing schemes, including three of the four schemes already  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

Town & Country Planning Act 1990 - Section 106 Agreements

(Local Councils) In view of the recent judgement handed down to West Berkshire and Reading Borough Councils and the subsequent removal of the Government’s Planning Practice Guidance on planning obligations relating to affordable housing due to this High Court ruling, local councils seek clarification of the percentage of affordable housing required in new developments in the District and details of Section 106 requirements.  

 

The District Council’s Assistant Director of Governance (Development Management) will report to the Committee in this respect.

 

 

Minutes:

 

The local councils sought clarification of the percentage of affordable housing generally required on new residential developments in the District, in view of a recent High Court judgement handed down to Reading Borough Council and West Berkshire District Council and the subsequent removal of the Government’s Planning Practice Guidance on planning obligations relating to affordable housing as a result of the ruling.

 

The Director of Communities reported that in November 2014, the Government had changed the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), to require that any development comprising of ten dwellings or less with a gross internal floor area of less than 1,000 square metres, would no longer be required to provide any element of affordable housing. Along with all other local planning authorities, the District Council had implemented this change to its current development policy.

 

The Committee was advised that, in August 2015, Reading Borough Council and West Berkshire District Council had successfully challenged the change to the NPPF in the High Court. The Director of Communities reported that the two councils had claimed that the new policy would reduce the amount of affordable housing across the country by more than 20% and have a particular impact in their particular areas. Members noted that the Judge in the case had quashed the Government’s revised policy and had ruled that the change was incompatible with the statutory planning framework. The Government was ordered to pay the councils’ costs in bringing the challenge and, as a result of the judgement, the Government subsequently removed the new provisions from the NPPF. Following the judgement, the District Council had returned to its previous affordable housing policies set out in the Local Plan:

 

·              in areas with a population of more than 3,000 people – a requirement for developers to provide 40% affordable housing on sites comprising 15 or more new dwellings, or with a site area 0.5ha or above; and

·              in areas with a population of less than 3,000 people – a requirement for developers to provide 50% affordable housing for developments on greenfield sites providing two or more dwellings (or with a site area over 0.1ha) and for developments on brownfield sites providing three or more dwellings (or with a site area over 0.2ha).

 

The Committee was advised that the Government had recently been granted leave to appeal the decision of the High Court in the Court of Appeal.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(1)         That the report be noted; and

 

(2)         That a further report be made to a future meeting of the Committee on the outcome of any appeal by the Government against the recent High Court judgement.

 

 

13.

Greater Essex Devolution

(Local Councils) Following Essex County Council’s commitment to progress its devolution agenda, the District Council is invited to share its own plans for taking over services from Essex County Council and/or devolving others to local councils.

 

The Leader of the District Council and the Director of Neighbourhoods will report to the Committee in this respect.

 

Minutes:

The local councils requested that, following Essex County Council’s commitment to progress its devolution agenda, the District Council share its own plans for taking over services from Essex County Council and/or devolving others to local councils.

 

The Leader of the District Council, Councillor C. Whitbread reported that the fifteen local councils of Greater Essex (Essex County Council, the district, borough and city councils and the Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock unitary authorities) had been working together to explore and develop devolution proposals which could see the transfer of powers and funding from central Government to a Greater Essex Authority. Whilst the proposals were not yet fully developed and any ‘deal’ would need to be considered by the Council before a final decision was reached, it was possible that devolution could bring benefits and greater local control over issues such as:

 

·              the growth of the local economy in a sustainable way;

·              the application of skills funding to ensure that training matched current and future business need;

·              increased inward investment and job creation, and

·              initiatives to tackle some of the transport and infrastructure challenges of the area.

 

The Committee was advised that, in order to agree to devolving power, the Government required the development of proposals that showed ambition in terms of outcomes, strong governance arrangements and a realistic prospect of delivery. Councillor Whitbread reported that, although a high-level submission had been made to the Government in September 2015 to confirm the Greater Essex Partnership’s interest in a devolution arrangement, there was still not enough information available to make an informed decision about a final deal and that the case for devolution to a Greater Essex Authority was yet to be made.

 

The Committee was advised that it was anticipated that a more detailed submission would be made to the Government in December 2015, setting out the basis of a devolution deal and the approach to new governance arrangements, which would commence the detailed negotiation phase with the Government. Members noted that it was not likely that the detail of any final devolution deal, including any new governance model (such as a combined authority), would be available until March 2016 at the earliest. As a result, it was not currently possible to consider the substance of any services or functions that might subsequently be devolved to town and parish councils, although the Chief Executive of the District Council encouraged local councils to consider potential areas for devolution that they might wish to discuss with him or Councillor Whitbread at a later stage in the process. Members were advised however, that it might not be possible for the District Council to delegate responsibility for particular services, the provision of which might be of interest to local councils.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(1)         That the report be noted;

 

(2)         That a further report be made to a future meeting of the Committee once the detail of any devolution deal reached with the Government has been finalised; and

 

(3)         That pursuant to resolution (2) above, a special meeting of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.

14.

Public Consultation and Engagement pdf icon PDF 243 KB

(District Council) To consider the attached report in connection with local consultation and engagement arrangements.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report and presentation of the District Council’s Public Consultation and Engagement officer, Mrs. V. Loftis, setting out the ways in which local town and parish councils could support the District Council in undertaking consultation and engagement with local residents.

 

Members were advised that Epping Forest District Council carried out a significant amount of public consultation and engagement. The Council relied on the support of other organisations to assist its efforts in this regard, not only by providing responses in their own right but also by helping the authority to raise awareness of consultation through their own channels of communication. The Council had adopted a Public Consultation and Engagement Policy, which identified and registered all public consultation carried out by the authority during the year and all planned consultation for the following twelve months. Members noted that an annual report was made to the Governance Select Committee, which scrutinised the methods, costs and effectiveness of consultation. As the Council had to find cost effective ways in which to consult and engage with its stakeholders, the adoption of a common, co-ordinated approach to public engagement improved efficiency and helped to provide value for money.

 

The Committee noted that, when engaging with the public about a service, policy or any other issue, the focus of the District Council was on finding out the needs, concerns, priorities or satisfaction levels of current and potential service users. The Council was always keen to give people a voice in decisions that concerned them, as this was an effective way of helping them to become involved in improving their quality of life and the services provided by the Council. Members noted that effective public involvement could also help to improve local democracy through openness, transparency and accountability, whilst also enhancing community integration and cohesion.

 

The District Council reported that the slides from Mrs. Loftis’ presentation would be published on its website, alongside the minutes from the meeting.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(1)         That the report be noted; and

 

(2)         That the valuable role that local councils can play in helping the District Council to publicise consultation exercises amongst local residents, businesses and other stakeholders through Parish-based newsletters, noticeboards, meetings, websites, social media and other local communication tools etc., be endorsed.

 

15.

Epping Forest District Local Plan - Progress pdf icon PDF 98 KB

(District Council) To consider the attached report setting out the current position with regard to progress on the development of the new Local Plan for the Epping Forest District.

 

Minutes:

The Committee received a comprehensive report setting out the current position with regard to progress on the development of the new Local Plan for the Epping Forest District.

 

The District Council reported that it had not been possible to meet the previous timetable for the development of the new Local Plan and that the timings for each of the key stages had slipped by about a year, although a revised programme leading to adoption of the Local Plan in September 2018 was now considered to represent a realistic and achievable timetable. The Committee noted that, as a result of the revised Local Development Scheme that had been agreed by the District Council’s Cabinet on 11 June 2015, the next Local Plan consultation stage on the draft plan preferred approach would be undertaken during summer 2016.

 

Members were reminded that a series of member (including Town and Parish Councils) briefing and workshop sessions had been arranged in relation to the development of the new Local Plan, to inform members of emerging key issues that the draft Local Plan would need to cover and to ensure that Member views and concerns might be taken account of in the drafting of Local Plan policies.

 

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the report be noted.

 

 

16.

Community Wedding Venues

Minutes:

The Committee was advised that Essex County Council was seeking to identify a suitable local venue to take over the provision of a Community Wedding Venue, which was presently provided at through the Registration Office in Epping. A consultation exercise was currently being undertaken that could result in the closure of the facilities at Epping Registration Office and the County Council were therefore looking to arrange a suitable replacement venue as soon as possible.

 

Members noted that the concept of a Community Wedding Venue was to provide a discounted wedding venue that allowed couples to undertake a formal wedding ceremony without a need to arrange a reception etc. The discounted rate for the service was shared between Essex County Council and the venue on a roughly equal basis. The type of venue that Essex County Council was seeking to identify would be able accommodate up to 60 people, would be fully accessible to the public and did not offer other wedding ceremonies in the same room (other rooms in the venue could be used for more expensive ceremonies) and was ideally available from Monday to Saturday.

 

The District Council reported that Essex County Council were happy to discuss its requirements in more detail with individual local councils.

 

17.

Calendar of Meetings 2016/17

Minutes:

The District Council reported that it was currently developing its calendar of meetings for the next municipal year, which would be approved by the Council at its meeting on 15 December 2015.

 

Members were advised that the calendar had developed over time to meet the needs of the authority and that, where possible, meetings of particular committees were standardised on a particular night of the week. The Committee was therefore asked to indicate is preferred evening for meetings to be held during 2016/17.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That, wherever possible, meetings of the Liaison Committee be held on a Monday evening during 2016/17.

 

18.

Date of Next Meeting

To note that the next meeting of the Committee will be held at 7.30pm on 29 March 2016.

Minutes:

The Committee noted that the next meeting would be held at 7.30pm on 29 March 2016.