Venue: Virtual Meeting on Zoom. View directions
Contact: R. Perrin Tel: (01992) 564243 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
1. This virtual meeting is to be webcast. Members are reminded of the need to unmute before speaking.
2. The Chairman will read the following announcement:
“I would like to remind everyone present that this meeting will be broadcast live to the internet (or filmed) and will be capable of repeated viewing (or another use by such third parties).
Therefore by participating in this virtual meeting, you are consenting to being filmed and to the possible use of those images and sound recordings for webcasting and/or training purposes. If members of the public do not wish to have their image captured they should ensure that their video setting throughout the virtual meeting is turned off and set to audio only.
In the event that technical difficulties interrupt the virtual meeting that cannot be overcome, the Chairman may need to adjourn the meeting”.
The Democratic Services Officer reminded everyone present that the meeting would be broadcast live to the Internet, and that the Council had adopted a protocol for the webcasting of its meetings.
To confirm the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 27 September 2021 and any matters arising therefrom.
That the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 27 September 2021 be taken as a correct record.
(P Maginnis) This is a short presentation to demonstrate the DevelopMe Hub, an employability platform, which has been implemented by the West Essex Partnership (Epping, Harlow, Uttlesford). The platform has a range of employment, career, skills resources to assist our residents when looking for work, thinking about changing career and developing their skills.
The Service Director – Corporate Services, P Maginnis gave a short presentation on the DevelopMe hub.
She advised that the online hub was there to support residents across Epping Forest, Harlow and Uttlesford authorities who were looking for jobs or training opportunities, a change of career, to further develop their skills and provide personal development. The hub contained interactive tools, e-learning content and the latest job opportunities which aimed to help residents navigate their way through the job market and grow in confidence.
The link below provided a short video introduction to the DevelopMe hub.
Users were required to register for the service at https://westessex.careercentre.me/auth/signup/epping-forest/?AuthToken=25283980-E802-4585-9C28-14CA5AB5F400
The website was still in its early stage of development and the intention was to ensure it provided a list of local jobs.
The Committee asked the following questions:
· Would local jobs be posted on the website? The Service Director advised that it was the intention, although further work was required on how the jobs advertisements would be upload, updated, and removed.
· Would there be an age limit? The Service Director advised that there was no age limit to serves.
· Was there any information on apprenticeships? The Service Director advised that it had an area dedicated to apprenticeships and further resources for 16–24-year-olds.
Epping Forest District Local Plan - Progress
(Nigel Richardson) To report to the Committee on the current position of the new Local Plan for the Epping Forest District.
The Service Director – Planning Department, Nigel Richardson gave the Committee an update on the Local Plan.
He advised that all representations to the main modifications had been submitted to the Planning Inspector and the Council had been informed that a response would be received in the first quarter of the 2022, with the final report probably due in May/June 2022 which would be presented to the Council for adoption.
The Committee asked the following questions.
· Would purdah effect whether the Council would hold a meeting to adopt the Local Plan? The Service Director advised that they had received legal advice on this, and it had been determined that purdah would not be an issue because the decision would be to adopt the Local Plan and not make any alterations to what had already been publicised.
· Could the Planning Inspector ask for more modifications? The Service Director advised that it was possible, although as the Council had already responded to the all the main modifications it was felt it would be unlikely.
· Could the Local Plan be found unsound? The Service Director advised that he would find it unlikely that the Local Plan would be found unsound at this point because there had been no indication from the Planning Inspector to suggest that outcome.
· Could the officer advise whether the Council was on target with the amount of housing developments that had been set out in the Local Plan including windfall developments? The Service Director advised that the Council recorded the number of planning applications made and this figure could be provided. It was noted that the Local Plan had included sites which would take the developments above the 11,400 figures, although this had been to ensure that the required figure of housing could be reached, and the windfall factor would be taken over and above.
· How much money had been collected from 106 Section agreements that had been associated with the Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and how it would be spent? The Service Director advised that it had been set out in the Interim Air Pollution Mitigation Strategy which the Council had recently adopted. The Council had dealt with the backlog of applications and some monies had been collected, although he did not have the figures to hand.
Issues Raised by Local Councils
To discuss the following matters raised by the local councils:
i. Sustainability in New Builds- EFDC has a sustainability checklist that applications for both major and minor new developments should include. However, at Parish planning meetings we are seeing the majority of applications for new builds coming before us lacking this completed checklist. What procedures do planning officers have in place to remedy this lack of documentation going forward?
ii. Failure of planning applications to adhere to Essex Parking Standards-The SV Local Plan states the Essex Parking Standards (not policy T1) should be the starting point for all new planning applications until localised parking standards are adopted. No date has been given for any consultation on these localised standards so far. In the meantime, we are seeing planning applications recommended for approval that fail to comply with EPS with no explanation as to why officers consider these applications need not be policy compliant. What can be done to ensure non-compliant applications are refused in these situations?
iii. Failure of planning applications to meet Local Plan policy on affordable housing provision- The government has published clear principles on how viability statements should be assessed, presented and considered in terms of decision making and transparency. Adhering to these guidelines assists in ensuring that developments are compliant with local affordable housing policy. Applications have come before us that do not adhere to either the government guidance or local policy. What can be done to ensure officers reject non-compliant viability statements and thus refuse applications that do not deliver 40% on site affordable housing rather than recommend approval for non-compliant proposals in these situations?
iv. Sustainability in New Builds - EFDC has a sustainability checklist for newbuilds. What is the point if nothing is being done to ensure the carbon neutral by 2050 (amber) or by 2030 (green) standards are achieved in new builds rather than the bare legal minimum (red column) being acceptable? How are the proposals on the checklist being enforced e.g. who is checking what proportion of site waste is being recycled, whether sustainable heating methods promised are actually being installed?
v. Democratic representation in the planning process - Permitted Development rights were amended in Aug 2020 to allow up to an additional two storeys on top of many buildings under PD rather than a full planning application being needed. This has led to applications for additional flats on top of existing flats being granted under prior approval by a single officer. These have not come to an Area Planning committee, even when a large number of objections were submitted. This seems undemocratic. The EFDC constitution allows for Prior Approval applications to be decided at committee at the discretion of the Chief Planning Officer so there is a process in place for such contentious and impactful decisions to be considered. What is being done to ensure this category of prior approvals for PD will be decided in future by committee rather than a single officer?
vi. Planning ... view the full agenda text for item 17.
The Chairman advised that items (i) and (iv) would be taken together as they related to a similar matter.
i. Sustainability in New Builds
The Development Management Service Manager advised that the Council had a Sustainability Checklist as part of the Council’s validation requirements and this had been in place for a year. Initially it had been quite difficult to get applicants and agents to submit these forms, although it was nearly at 100% now. The suitability statements were being published on the Council website and where they form part of the submission bungled and mention in any planning approval documents were consulted on.
He advised that it was difficult to produce planning conditions in relation to the sustainability statements that complied with the Government guidance on applying lawful planning conditions. Therefore, the monitoring and enforcement of the sustainability issues fell into the 106 Section process and procedures. There had been internal officer discussions regarding how best to gain compliance, although the Council was required to assess the sustainability over three stages which were; the planning application phase; as built; and after occupation.
It was noted that the main policies had been set out in the draft Local Plan and the Sustainability Guidance sat behind the policies.
The Committee asked the following further questions.
· At what point did the sustainability statement become available to the Parish/Town Councils? The Development Management Service Manager advised that the Sustainability Checklist and statements had to be submitted with the application, which were then considered by a policy officer. There was a small opportunity for the Council to requested additional information but once the consultation on the application had begun all documentation would be available on the Council’s website.
· Why a Parish Council had received several applications without the required checklists and if they did have the sustainability statements why were the minimum requirements were suggested? The Development Management Service Manager advised that those without checklists may have been associated with the backlog of SAC application which had been validated several years ago and fell outside this requirement. The Council was not allowed to retrospectively ask for the suitability requirements. It was noted that following a request from a District Councillor, all the SAC applications were consulted on again, which had allowed for some voluntary submissions. Regarding the minimum requirements, it would be very hard for the Council to refuse an application on the sustainability guidance because it was guidance, therefore it involved a discussion around suitability in conjunction with the other planning merits.
· Would the sustainability guidance become policy? The Service Director advised that the Council had recently adopted the EFDC Sustainability Guidance Volume 3 (Extension & Refurbishments) on 7 March 2022, which provided the technical and practical guidance which would take time to embed. The Development Management Service Manager advised that two of the Council officers would be attending a zero carbon and sustainability training as well.
· How would demolishing an old building and building a new one be weighed against a viable conversion ... view the full minutes text for item 17.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
It was commented that any Parish or Town Councils which held markets should look at the District Council’s Market Policy, which was being presented to the Cabinet in the near future. Consultations documents had been sent to Town and Parish Councils although it was felt that two weeks to response was not nearly enough time as the Parish and Town Council had monthly meetings and could not submit a full representation.
It was noted that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee were due to consider the Market Policy at their next meeting on 31 March 2021.
Furthermore, if any Town or Parish required further advice concerning Charter Markets , the Clerk at Epping Town Council may be able to assist.
The Chairman, Councillor H Kane advised that this would be her last meeting as she would be stepping down as Chairman of the Council in May 2022. She thanked members of the Committee for there contributions. The Vice Chairman thanked the Chairman on behalf of the Committee.
Dates of Future Meetings
To note that future meetings of the Committee will be held virtually at 7:00 pm on;
Monday 26 September 2022; and
Monday 20 February 2023.
It was noted that the next meetings of the Committee would be held virtually on Monday 26 September 2022 and Monday 20 February 2023, although the Committee Officer had noted comments made via email to change the day and times of these meetings.