Agenda item

Public Question Time

In accordance with Chichester District Council’s scheme for public question time and with reference to standing order 6 in Part 4 A and section 5.6 in Part 5 of the Chichester District Council Constitution, the Cabinet will receive any questions which have been submitted by members of the public in writing by noon on the previous working day. The total time allocated for public question time is 15 minutes subject to the chairman’s discretion to extend that period.


Please note this deadline may move to noon on Thursday 26 September 2019 subject to the decision made on item 16 at the Council meeting on Tuesday 24 September 2019.


Mrs Lintill invited Mr McBride to ask his question:


How can the 500 plus Chichester district residents that responded online to the Chichester Local Plan be confident that their views will be properly taken into account in its final version, given the only people who supported the Plan were site owners and housing developers?


Mrs Taylor provided the following response:


Thank you for your question. In response to the last Local Plan consultation we received over 3200 responses from 729 business, organisations and individuals. It is the case that the majority of responses were either objections or comments. Nonetheless 486 supporting representations were received.  Whilst those with a direct interest in development formed the bulk of these, supporting points were also made by other individuals and organisations, including Historic England, Natural England, the sustainable transport charity Sustrans and the Theatres Trust.  Full details of all representations are available on the council’s website. All of the representations received will be taken into account as the Local Plan progresses. It is the case however that the consideration of consultation responses must be made with reference to the issues raised rather than the number of objections received.  


Mrs Lintill invited Mr Maber to ask his question:


Given the recent and unfortunate revocation of our Playing Out Order for South Street, Our Chichester Playing Out / Car Free Day Campaign is delighted to announce that Eco Cinema Chichester are hosting a community, multi-organisation get-together for a short film and discussion evening on Monday 4th November, at 7:00 p.m. At the time of writing, the venue is yet to be confirmed because Eco Cinema's usual home (The Friends Meeting House, Priory Road) is too small for the anticipated number of people. That includes many of the 80+ business owners and managers from the South Street area. Two representatives from WSCC have confirmed they are happy to join us on 4th November towards successful Playing Out / Car Free Events in 2020.


Question:  Could CDC confirm that you are able to join us on 4th November, please?  Our agenda is building on the lessons now learnt (water under the bridge) and looking forward. We are particularly keen to meet with your Events Dept., please?  It would also be really helpful for someone from your Safety Advisory Group to say a few words, please? Furthermore, would CDC please consider allowing us to use the CDC Logo on our promotional material, please?  I imagine there are strict guidelines but given that our volunteers are promoting so many outcomes being actively worked upon by CDC, we look to you for endorsement, please?


Mrs Graves provided the following response:


Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, we had to make the difficult decision to revoke the road closure for the Chichester Car Free Day event on South Street but like you the Council wishes to look forward. We understand that the event organisers are very disappointed and we would like to work closely with them on any future events they may wish to plan and I am pleased to confirm that the District Council’s Divisional Manager for Communication, Licensing and Events as well as the District Council’s Events and Promotion Officer and Cllr Martyn Bell will be attending the November meeting in order to give advice.


The Divisional Manager will be able to speak about the role of the Safety Advisory Group at that meeting but the Council would make the following comments about the role of the Safety Advisory Group (SAG).


The role of SAG is separate from the operational management of an event. It is the event organiser/management team that will ultimately be responsible for the health and safety planning. The SAG is there as an advisory capacity. It provides independent advice to event organisers, who retain the legal responsibility for ensuring a safe event. One of the important roles a SAG can perform is to bring all relevant partners together to assist and support on event planning in order that event organisers fulfil their statutory obligations and stage safe and successful events.


SAGs are delivered consistently with Guidance adopted by Local Authorities across West Sussex and in accordance with the recently revised UK Good Practice Guide published by the Emergency Planning College earlier this year. There are Strategic Objectives of the SAG and defined Terms of Reference however it is acknowledged that each Local Authority will possibly have a different administrative system in place for the notification and licensing of events and as such a single system cannot necessarily cater for every eventuality. However this Local Authority welcomes early notification and engagement with event organisers to ensure wherever possible the most appropriate advice and support is given.


With regard to the District Council’s logo, the Council does not normally allow the use of its logo on events arranged by external organisations, following the meeting on the 4th of November and as further details of the event are confirmed, this can be considered further by the District Council.


Mrs Lintill invited Ms Towers to ask her first question:


No one can be in any doubt that there is a housing crisis in this country and Chichester is not immune to this. We have one of the highest ratios of house price to incomes at 14:1, a high percentage of second homes, rising numbers of homeless and an increasingly aging population as young people and families on ordinary incomes cannot afford to stay in the area. One of the respondents to our Local Housing Needs Survey said that his household income of £45k was not enough to purchase a new build with Help to Buy. He would have needed an income of £80k or a very large deposit.  Last week there was an opportunity at full Council to put in place some measures which might have gone some way to alleviate these problems.

Can you explain why you did not choose to commit to raising the minimum percentage of affordable homes from 30% when all the evidence points to that necessity? Or why you have not made a commitment in principle to building Council Houses, subject to the necessary scrutiny. Is this Council putting developer profits before the housing needs of its residents?


Mrs Graves provided the following response:


Thank you for your question


The points you raise are under consideration as part of the local plan review and renewal of the Housing Strategy. A review of the housing target sought on larger sites is underway as part of the emerging new Local Plan.  Any requirement for affordable housing has to be justified by reference to evidence of need and consideration of the impact upon development viability and deliverability. It also needs to be balanced against the requirement for CIL.  Technical work to investigate the impacts of seeking 40% affordable housing on larger sites has been commissioned and there was a member’s workshop on 5th September which included the findings of the Housing & Economic Development Needs Assessment and the Local Plan Viability study. These will be part of the evidence base that informs the emerging Local Plan.


The emerging Local Plan is subject to debate and scrutiny by DPIP and Cabinet before being considered by full Council and therefore it is considered there is already a mechanism in place for this issue to be addressed.  Ultimately the affordable housing target sought in the new Local Plan will need to be justified by evidence and considered “sound” by an independent Planning Inspector.


Regarding the building of houses the Council set up a Housing company and transferred its housing stock in 2001 to what is now Hyde Housing Association. We continue, however, to work with registered providers to deliver affordable housing by means of quota on market sites and also using commuted sums as grants to enable additional affordable homes to be delivered over and above that delivered on market sites. Our current Housing Strategy has a target of 140 affordable homes per annum so over the first four years of the strategy to March 2019, our target was to deliver 560 affordable homes. In fact we have exceeded our target and delivered 662 new affordable homes. It is expected that we will again deliver above our target this year. The Council also work proactively with community led housing groups by offering support and funding. The target for affordable homes delivery will be reviewed as part of the new Housing Strategy to be in place from April 2020. In addition the suggestion that the Council should build homes directly has been referred to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee for further consideration.


Mrs Lintill allowed Ms Towers to ask a supplementary question. Ms Towers asked whether the council would consider varying the CIL schedule. Mrs Lintill confirmed that it was already being reviewed.


Mrs Lintill invited Ms Towers to ask her second question:


One in ten Chichester houses are now second homes and the Council confirmed that 1,193 or 2 percent of all homes were left completely empty last year, including those for social rent. It is encouraging that in Agenda Item 7 you propose to tax such homes at the maximum allowed. What other measures will you take to ensure homes are brought back into use and will you be creating an Empty Homes Policy?


Mrs Graves provided the following response:


Thank you for your question.


With regard to your second question the official district statistics are published by Government using the Council Tax Base Return completed by CDC. There are:


  • 57,800 properties in the district
  • 3,150 properties are second homes, approximately 5.4% or 1 in 18 homes
  • 675 properties are empty and vacant for less than 2 years
  • 75 properties have been empty for over 2 years of which 34 have been empty for over 5 years.


Agenda item 7 is recommending that CDC charge the maximum and offer no discounts for second and empty homes and charge the maximum premiums of 100% for properties empty for over 2 years and 200% for properties over 5 years.


The Council also offers Empty Homes Assistance to property owners as an incentive to bring empty properties back into use. The amount available is 100% of the cost of works, up to a maximum of £10,000. Conditions include:


·         property must be let through the Council's Homefinder Scheme

·         works cannot be part of an insurance claim

·         the property must be at least 10 years old

·         works must be completed within 12 months of assistance being approved

·         following the works being done, the Council selects the tenants for the next 10 years


Mrs Lintill allowed a supplementary question. Ms Towers asked if Mrs Grave’s response formed part of an Empty Homes Policy. Mrs Rudziak confirmed that although the council has no specific Empty Homes Policy there is an overarching Housing Strategy which is under review and will be brought before the Overview and Scrutiny Committee in the new year.


Mrs Lintill invited Mr Kerry-Bedell to ask his question:


Given the Government’s commitment to mitigating the effects of two degrees Celsius global temperature increase and the 5 metre sea level rise due to climate change and, given Chichester Council's May declaration of a Climate Emergency, how many of the 4,000 houses currently allocated in the danger zone on Chichester’s coastal plain, East West corridor and Manhood Peninsular will be relocated north, into the safe zone above the East West railway line?


Mrs Taylor provided the following response:


Thank you for your question. It is worth noting that the official UK sea level rise projections are between 0.53m and 1.15m by 2100 in a high carbon emissions scenario and between 0.37m and 0.83m in a medium carbon emission scenario. Nonetheless climate change and flooding are key considerations for the new Local Plan.  The Council is still considering the development strategy to be proposed in its emerging Local Plan, with the intention is for a revised draft Plan to be consulted upon in March 2020. 


Mrs Lintill allowed a supplementary question. Mr Kerry-Bedell asked about the South Downs National Park unmet housing need. Mrs Lintill confirmed that the council had not yet agreed to take the unmet need.