Agenda item

Questions to the Executive

For a maximum of 40 minutes duration.


The Chairman invited questions to the Executive.


Mrs Apel asked whether following the Cabinet’s declaration of a Climate Emergency could green measures such as solar panels in new buildings such as the new Lidl’s be a requirement of a planning permission. Mr Over explained that a planning application for solar panel roofing at the site would be submitted shortly.


Mr Oakley explained that during the recent unauthorised occupation of Tangmere Airfield a number of illegal and antisocial activities took place including:


·       Fly tipping

·       Human fouling

·       Intimidation of allotment holders

·       Verbal abuse of a CDC officer


He asked what approaches has CDC taken or will undertake to Sussex Police to ensure the Police take a more robust approach to the use of their S61 powers to remove travelling groups and minimise the impact on residents and the environment. Mr Briscoe agreed that the Police should take their more powers more seriously in this case. He agreed to come back to Mr Oakley with a response.


Mr Johnson asked what the process is for asking supplementary questions as some supplementary questions were allowed at the Annual Council meeting but not others. The Chairman explained that supplementary questions are allowed at the Chairman’s discretion and time is a consideration. Mrs Shepherd added that a Public Question Time leaflet is available on the website and public questions are limited to 15 minutes per meeting.


Mr Hughes with reference to the council’s website asked whether reference to starter homes as an affordable housing option could be removed if the option is not being pursued. Mrs Rudziak responded and explained that the Government initiative had never taken off so it would be removed from the website.


Mrs Bangert with reference to library closures asked to what extent could the Local Plan mitigate West Sussex County Council (WSCC) cuts to ensure community facilities such as the Southbourne Library are maintained. Mrs Taylor responded and explained that the cuts were not foreseen when the Local Plan process began three years ago however the needs of local communities would need to be addressed as part of the Local Plan Review process. She explained that Mrs Bangert could make representation to WSCC with regard to the effects of the closure on the local community.


Mr Brown with reference to Southern Water Waste Water Treatment Works what representations have been made by the council to Ofwat and could representation be made to Southern Water and/or Ofwat under the duty to cooperate. Mr Frost explained that representations to Southern Water and/or Ofwat would be appropriate once assurance has been given that the infrastructure in the district area is unaffected.


Mr Evans asked with reference to Government targets for 0 emission cars by 2022 what provision has the council made to meet the target and will the Local Plan take the requirement into account. Mr Dignum responded and explained that a grant had been received for electric car points in district car parks. He added that there is a new Air Quality Action Plan and consideration was also being given to air pollution from tailbacks into car parks such as Little London. Mr Frost added that a number of council projects would be addressing the requirement in the coming year.


Mrs Sharp asked whether the Council could do more to make a more level playing field between out of town and inner city shopping to revitalise the city centre and suggested considering an impact assessment to determine the effect on city centre vitality by continuing to develop Barnfield Drive and the Southern Gateway with more shops and considering putting pressure on Central Government to reduce business rates on increasingly struggling in-town shops and increase rates on increasingly valuable out of town sheds and internet companies.


As Mrs Sharp had submitted the question in advance Mrs Taylor read the following response:


The policies of the adopted Local Plan seek to ensure that the city centre retains its role as the focus for retail activity. Consequently, Policy 28 of the Plan restricts edge and out of town proposals primarily to bulky goods which require larger units and which will not harm the vitality and viability of the city centre.  


The District Council has been focusing additional support to the inner shopping city area with the following activities:


·       Appointment of Events & Promotions Officer

·       Retail Mentoring Programme to support independent high street retailers in Chichester City and our rural towns / retail centres.

·       New Shop Front Grant Scheme to improve external improvements to the retail premises of independent businesses – eligibility via Retail Mentoring Programme and funds still available

·       Investment in Visit Chichester

·       Enabling Grant programme

·       Economic Development -Business Contact Programme


Firstly, the development at Barnfield Drive has planning permission. The planning applications were not required under Government policy in the NPPF to be accompanied by an impact assessment but assessments were nevertheless submitted and independently tested by consultants on behalf of the Council. These showed that by imposing restrictions on the uses and size of units permitted, the development would not have an adverse impact on the city centre.


Secondly, when planning applications are submitted for the development of Southern Gateway these will be subject to the ‘Sequential Test’ and ‘Retail Impact Test’ (as appropriate) as set out in the NPPF and to the retail policies of the Local Plan to ensure that proposals that come forward are complementary to and do not have a significant adverse impact on the city centre.


As members will be aware the Business rates paid by businesses are a combination of the Rateable Value set by the Valuation Office and the Business Rate multiplier set centrally by the Government. The Government have recognised the current pressures on the high street and has recently announced a number of measures to assist the High Street including changes to business rates which allows retail businesses occupying premises with a rateable value of less than £51k to apply for rate relief of a third for two years. This 30% discount applies to shops, cafes, restaurants, bars and pubs and within the Bid area of the city 177 businesses have qualified for this discount including 145 shops.


With regard to increases rates on out of town and internet companies, this is a national issue and the Local Government Association lobbies the Government on behalf of all Councils.


Mrs Sharp asked a supplementary question regarding whether support would be given to start-ups and community groups using empty shops. Mr Dignum responded and explained that a proposal for a pop-up shop in a property owned by the council would be coming forward shortly.


Mr Moss asked whether following the Council’s agreement to support the WASPI proposal during public question time could the letter to Government be copied to the Leader of WSCC and the local MP. Mrs Taylor agreed to take up the suggestion.


Rev Bowden requested a timetable of when decisions would be made regarding the cities pavements. Mr Dignum explained that a discussion had taken place at a recent Steering Group involving the council, WSCC, Chichester City Council and the BID and the options available would be reported back to the Group shortly. Rev Bowden requested a copy of Mr Dignum’s full written response.


Miss Barrie asked whether CDC would consider mounting a challenge to the Minister on the District’s housing allocation under NPPF Footnote 9 and taking into account the extenuating circumstances given:


-      The UN report on Climate change and sea level rise

-      The Natural England position on nitrate vulnerable zones

-      Pending the outcome of Glover Review


As Miss Barrie had submitted the question in advance the following response was read by Mrs Taylor:


NPPF Footnote 9 which was replaced by Footnote 6 within the latest iteration of the NPPF refers to specific policies that protect areas or assets of particular importance that could represent a reason for restricting development within the context of the general presumption in favour of sustainable development.


In this context and responding to the 3 points raised in the question:


-        ‘The UN report on Climate change and sea level rise’ - Is taken into account through the Local Plan Review evidence base, including Habitat Regulations Assessment and Strategic Flood Risk Assessment.

-        ‘The Natural England position on nitrate vulnerable zones’ - Will need to be addressed by the Council as part of the development of the evidence base for the Local Plan Review, working with Natural England and the Environment Agency.

-        ‘Pending the outcome of Glover Review’ – This review relates to National Parks and we will need to take account of any policy implications arising from its findings.


At this time, there are not considered to be extenuating circumstances which suggest that the housing requirement for the Local Plan Area cannot be met. However this position will need to be kept under review over the next months as our evidence base is updated and discussions with bodies including Natural England and Highways England continue.


Mr Bell asked whether the use of the word Chichester could be included or excluded from events licensed by the Council in order to make sure the word is used for events with the Chichester Vision in mind. Mr Briscoe agreed that Chichester should be a brand and agreed to look into the possibility with officers.


Mrs Hume explained that the council iscurrently in the process of reviewing the Local Plan and in the DPIP meeting last week urgent concerns were heard from members. Although the details of the Local Plan discussions are strictly confidential at this stage what is not secret is that there are severe concerns about sustainability and infrastructure, as a direct result of historic planning policy.Mrs Hume then asked if over the coming months, the council would be working with expert consultants to produce a robust evidence base for the revised Local Plan so that it passes the necessary tests. She suggested that during this process, it would be incumbent on the council to scrutinise and challenge the dysfunctional parts of our existing policies.She asked if council staff and consultants could therefore be asked to produce a special report, using the evidence that they encounter in the course of their research, which can then be shared with the public, the building inspectorate and central government.


As Mrs Hume submitted her question in advance the following response was read by Susan Taylor:


The Authority’s Monitoring Report (AMR) is prepared on an annual basis by this Council and provides information and data relating to the performance, implementation and effects of the adopted Local Plan policies. The monitoring of these policies is also informing the preparation of the policies in the Local Plan Review. It is important to note that the planning policies of this Council have to also be prepared in accordance with national planning policies. For instance, recent Governments have sought to reduce the obligations/costs imposed on developers in construction and therefore they have limited councils abilities to prescribe certain standards for construction. This Council will continue to actively explore opportunities to pursue the highest standards of construction and sustainable forms of development.