Venue: Abbey House, Abingdon OX14 3JE
Contact: Candida Basilio, Democratic Services Officer 07895 213820
Apologies for absence
There were no apologies for absence.
To review the notes of the last informal meeting held on 26 September 2022.
The informal notes of the meeting held on 26 July 2022 were amended as requested and are also attached for noting.
The informal notes of the meetings held on 26 July and 26 September 2022 were reviewed by committee
Committee noted the informal notes and no amendments were raised.
Declarations of interest
To receive any declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests in respect of items on the agenda for this meeting.
Urgent business and chair's announcements
To receive notification of any matters which the chair determines should be considered as urgent business and the special circumstances which have made the matters urgent, and to receive any announcements from the chair.
Chair was notified that Councillor Bartholomew had to leave the meeting at 8pm.
To receive any questions or statements from members of the public that have registered to speak.
To review the attached scrutiny work schedule. Please note, although the dates are confirmed, the items under consideration are subject to being withdrawn, added to or rearranged without further notice.
There will be a review of the work programme in the new year. A lot of items had been completed in recent months.
It was requested that chair enquire about quarter 1 budget monitoring figures.
A member asked about the Cornerstone and EV charging report - when would these be coming forward. Dates would be provided by officers when known.
Scrutiny Committee is presented with a Cabinet report on CIL charging schedule, and is asked to give consideration to the documents, for comments to be given the Cabinet Member for Planning.
Cabinet member for Planning introduced this report.The charging schedule was developed from a working group and inspector opinion.
There was increased CIL charging opportunities as viability was varied. There were new charging zones, 1-3. Planning Infrastructure Team Leader and the Major Applications Team Leader were present to assist with questions.
A member commented that they were glad to see variable rates, they have risen which was good to cope with the new house building.
Clarification was wanted on the exemption of retirement homes in viability studies. Officers explained that the exemption was in zone 2. Independent living was charged, not care homes.
A member suggested inclusion of a table to show the change in CIL proposed, a comparison. Officers explained that we had an infrastructure funding gap, and we looked to contribute to closing the gap. The index values were from 2016 so out of date. Major Applications Team Leader had included figures on page 38 to show the percentage uplift.
On a conversation on sewage infrastructure – it was confirmed that this wasn’t directly related to CIL.
A member suggested whether social and affordable housing could be transferred to the housing delivery vehicle – officers explained that it was the decision of Council.
Overall members were pleased to see charging allocated to new categories of development. The cut off dates for charging would be after 3 January 2023, the new rate would apply on planning decisions taken on and after that date.
A discussion around Didcot and Berinsfield zone 2 – the exemptions were queried. Officers explained that the uplift on value of land was lower on brownfield sites. Flats over three storeys high were exempt too. CIL rate will be mandatory, and we cannot drop or add charges. Education can be included now too. The CIL system was protected by regulations and CIL team chase non-payment to ensure that developers pay the mandatory charge. There were staged payments also.
The committee’s main concern was around developments that were deemed non-liable for CIL. Members were concerned about potential loopholes that some developers could potentially find, in applying for a CIL non-liable development, and then later changing the plans to a CIL liable development. Committee were concerned with how the change was flagged so that a change from non-liable to liable could be captured and to start appropriate charging of CIL. It was commented that such warnings should be part of the document. The example given in debate was if a developer applied for planning permission for a care home (CIL exempt) and then applied for change of use/amendment to an independent living / retirement residential development (where the profit would be much higher due to high-cost apartments for sale).
Officer suggested the addition could be placed in footnotes, informatives or explanatory notes and suggested it was a minor change to examiner and shouldn’t need to be resubmitted but would need to check with the examiner to be certain. CIL payments to be made from the date of planning ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
Scrutiny Committee is presented with a Cabinet report on Developer Contributions SPD and is asked to give consideration to the documents and comments may be given to the Cabinet Member for Planning.
Cabinet Member for Planning introduced this report, supported by the Planning Infrastructure Team Leader and Principal Planning Policy Officer.
Committee discussed health contributions and the balance between CIL and S106 and other contributions for health, considering the additional heath needs for care homes and elderly residential homes. It was explained that S106 was a case-by-case assessment and would cover health funding. Officers directed committee to Dev 8, (see page 135 in the pack 4.47) and this broadly satisfied queries.
Some concerns raised about what adequate sewage provision was and the committee discussed how we assess and challenge Thames Water data given and the experts who sign off the infrastructure as being adequate for handling new housing developments. Members cited their own experiences of parish issues around housing and sewage flooding. Independent assessment of data was suggested and metrics of what ‘adequate’ means. Officers directed members to paragraph 4.88, page 149 of the meeting pack, which discussed work with utility providers. The SPD can’t make policy it’s a supplementary document.
On the Beechcroft development, a member noted that the developer was not required to provide first homes, was that law? Principal Planning Policy Officer responded that there was a national statement on that, with a link to guidance in the SPD. Local interpretation was given as well. National guidance was that care homes do not need to provide for first homes / an affordable element. Developers tend to go for offsite provision rather than onsite. Onsite was preferred if possible.
Chair summed up discussion by suggesting that we should consider planning applications and hold to account those responsible for signing off utilities infrastructure capacity as being adequate. If there was a case of flooding we should be digging out applications and holding those people to account.
Committee noted the Developer Contributions SPD and provided comments as above to officers and the Cabinet Member for Planning.
Exclusion of the public
To consider whether to exclude members of the press and public from the meeting for the following items of business under Section 100A and 100I of the Local Government Act 1972 on the grounds that:
(i) It is likely that there will be disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Schedule 12A, and
(ii) the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
The item for discussion was confidential in order to potentially discuss site purchasing and was a sensitive topic in early discussion stages.
Some however felt it should be public, transparent, as no finances were detailed in the report.
Committee voted in favour of going into confidential session.
Graveyard and Crematorium Provision
This report provides Scrutiny Committee with an update on the consideration of potential options around crematoria, graveyards or alternative burial provision and current capacity.
Committee considered a report on graveyard and crematorium provision, and provided their recommendation to Cabinet.