To discuss the following matters raised by the local councils.
(a) Community Grant Aid Scheme
To consider the attached report.
(b) Planning Applications
To consider how the new system for receiving representations from local councils is working in practice.
Although local councils have also requested information on how they can influence the progress of Section 106 Agreements, if any, on masterplanning under the new Local Plan, the Committee is advised that the Council’s Constitution Working Group will be reviewing its approach to Section 106 Agreements as part of its ongoing work programme. The Service Director (Planning Services) is of the view that it would not therefore be appropriate for consideration of this issue by the Committee at the present time.
(c) Environmental Concerns
To report on the District Council’s current deterrent arrangements for anti-social behaviour/loitering and the use of fixed penalty notices or on-the-spot fines for incidences of fly-tipping.
(d) Air Quality
To note the attached report in relation to local air quality and pollution from idling vehicles.
(e) Essex Highways
To consider the role and responsibilities of Essex County Council and Epping Forest District Council and the influence that the District Council can bring to bear on Essex Highways with regard to the maintenance of signs and heritage signs, as a result of the removal of the finger post at Berwick Lane, Stanford Rivers.
(f) Street Lighting
To consider progress on Essex County Council’s proposals for the extension of operation of local street lighting operation and the funding of all-night lighting on a selective basis.
(a) Community Grant Aid Scheme
Assistant Community Health and Wellbeing Manager, G Gold, was in attendance.
The report outlined guidance for organisations providing services in the community, cultural or sport sectors within the Epping Forest District that wanted to apply for a community grant from the Council. A budget of £83,450 was annually set aside with priority given to those groups that met the Council’s key areas. Where applications submitted by various organisations already had support from local councils, this played an important part in the decision. Although a grant was provided to the Redbridge Samaritans, it did provide support to the Epping Forest District. All applications were considered by the Community and Partnerships Portfolio Holder on whether to approve, refuse or defer (pending further information) an application and decisions were made quarterly. Local councils were also provided with publicity information to help promote the scheme.
The Chairman acknowledged that this Council was one of the few local authorities that still provided grants. He had been at the Grant Aid Celebrations held in the Council Chamber on 12 March when over fifty people from twenty-five different organisations had attended.
The Vice-Chairman, C C Pond, asked if organisations making an application were also required to specify if they had applied to a local council. G Gold replied that an organisation would be asked if they had received local council support and would be looking for groups to achieve as many funding sources as possible.
That the Committee noted the operation of the Council’s community grant aid application processes.
The Chairman advised that as the Service Director (Planning), N Richardson, was in attendance for this item, he would bring forward item 7, Planning Process Review, and item 8, Epping Forest District Local Plan – Progress.
(b) Planning Applications
Planning delegations had been covered extensively at the Local Councils’ Liaison Committee last September, and officers were of the opinion that this seemed to be working well. Although less planning applications were coming to the Area Planning Sub-Committees, the same number of applications were being determined by officers after being assessed against the Adopted Local Plan and the emerging Local Plan. All representations, including those from local councils, were taken into consideration. While some local councils were particularly good at notifying Planning when they were going to attend and speak at a planning committee, if this was not made clear, then applications would not be going to committee, but instead dealt with under delegated powers if no other objections had been raised. Also despite a local council stating it had a strong objection to an application, if no one else had objected then it could still be determined by officers under delegated powers.
Local councils had also requested information on how they could influence the progress of section 106 agreements, particularly on masterplanning under the new Local Plan. N Richardson advised that this was not being considered by committees at the present time.
North Weald Parish Councillor, S Jackman, said that her parish council used ‘strong’ objection in its representations but would always give with a good reason for this at a planning committee.
Theydon Bois Parish Councillor, E Burn, said that her parish council and Epping Town Council gave a lot of detail in their comments and the policies they had also applied in consideration. Theydon Bois also indicated that they would attend and speak at a meeting if it was appropriate for an application to go to committee. However, the Monitoring Officer had advised further that once an agenda was published, local councils also needed to check if any applications it had objected to were on that agenda and phone in at the appropriate time and register to speak. N Richardson said it was very important for local councils to look at the planning committees’ agendas when they were published on the Council’s website and then register to speak with Democratic Services by 16.00 on the day before the meeting.
Nazeing Parish Councillor, K Carter, asked if local councils would be able to attend a member briefing on S106 agreements on 28 March 2019. N Richardson replied that the briefing was for District Members only at this stage. The workshop would be webcast.
Sheering Parish Councillor, R Morgan, was pleased that S106 agreements were being looked at as Sheering Parish Council had to wait over two years to receive S106 monies it was owed and that there was now a dedicated District S106 officer.
Waltham Abbey Town Clerk, K Richmond, asked if Planning intended to consult with local councils about S106 agreements before any decisions were made. N Richardson replied that he would see what transpired from the members workshop. If this was in relation to what would be going into a planning application, he was sure this would be explored. There were a few local councils that were suggesting at an early stage of the Local Plan process, local infrastructure improvements might be beneficial, and he was hoping that this would be a better mechanism for those comments to come through.
Chigwell Parish Councillor, R Alvin, asked if the Council would be moving towards introducing the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) after the Local Plan had been adopted. N Richardson replied that no decision had been made on this yet. Once the Council had a new Adopted Local Plan, hopefully by the end of this year, then this could be looked at, but it also depended on whether the Government released the pooling restrictions on S106 monies.
D Macnab would liaise with the Planning Services Portfolio Holder, Councillor J Philip, to see if the workshop slides could be circulated to local councils, subject to his agreement.