Agenda and minutes

Housing, Economy and Business Committee
Tuesday, 19th June, 2018 7.30 pm

Venue: Civic Offices - St Nicholas Way, Sutton, SM1 1EA. View directions

Contact: Fiona Bywaters, Committee Services Team Leader  Tel.: 020 8770 4990, Email:  committeeservices@sutton.gov.uk

Link: Audio Recording

Items
No. Item

1.

Welcome and Introductions

Minutes:

The Chair, Councillor Jayne McCoy, welcomed those present to the meeting.

2.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Joyce Melican with Councillor Mo Saqib attending as substitute.

3.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

No interests were declared.

4.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 87 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meetings held on 23 January and 13 February 2018.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED: that the minutes of the meetings held on 23 January and 13 February 2018 be agreed as an accurate record.

5.

Measuring HEB Performance pdf icon PDF 120 KB

This report sets out how the performance and financial data relevant to the Housing Economy and Business Committee is monitored and scrutinised using the Council’s performance management system (Pentana).

 

Indicative timing: 10 minutes

Minutes:

Scott Funnell, Head of Environment Strategy, presented the report. Following the presentation, Members requested that a refresher training be provided on the Pentana system.

 

Members made the following suggestions:

·         that a KPI be included relating to the number of businesses in difficulty.

·         that KPIs be included on the number of major applications received and the number of those which have requested pre-application advice.

RESOLVED: that

1.    The current performance indicators available for the Committee to monitor be agreed as the list in Paragraph 4.1, taking into account the suggestions made by Members.

2.    The performance dashboard be presented to members in a session in advance of committee meetings and findings reported to committee.

3.    A review of the performance indicators be undertaken and suggested changes reported at a future meeting.

6.

Council Tax Reduction Scheme Annual Review 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 163 KB

This report sets out the latest position in respect of the Authority’s Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS), which was initially introduced on 1 April 2013 following devolution of the previous national council tax benefit scheme to Local Authorities.  The Council’s CTRS was most recently reviewed and consulted upon during 2016/17 and was revised with an implementation date for these changes of 1 April 2017.

 

Under the government guidance the local scheme should be reviewed each year. This report details the final expenditure on the scheme in 2017/18 along with the estimated expenditure for 2018/19.

 

Indicative timing: 30 minutes

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Julie Turner, Assistant Director (Interim) - Business Services, presented the report.

 

Members discussed their concerns of the banding process and any adverse effects. The Assistant Director responded that there was only one formal complaint directed at the scheme which was resolved. It was felt feedback was positive and call volume had reduced on the matter.

 

In response to questions, the Assistant Director confirmed an obligation to notify a change in circumstances, that there was a proactive approach to engaging with residents where arrears were concerned and that anomalies were reviewed with a penalty potentially imposed. It was further confirmed that schemes were locally devolved and certain discounts were a statutory obligation. Further discussion focussed on the existence and promotion of the hardship fund as well as the work of the Welfare Reform Outreach Team.

 

In response to negative feedback in the survey (that supporting evidence cannot be uploaded online), the Assistant Director outlined the alternative regular channels available such as post or email. An acknowledgment is made of any claim for council tax reduction.

 

Further attention was given by Members to paragraphs 7.1 to 7.4 of the report (Care Leavers) and the Assistant Director responded that further detail could be provided to the proposed task and finish group.

 

Membership of the task and finish group was suggested as Councillors McCoy, Fivey, Bartolucci, Melican and Hicks.

 

RESOLVED: that

1.    The outturn of the scheme in 2017/18 be noted.

2.    A task and finish group be established to review the council tax reduction support offered to care leavers and the impact of inflation increases.

3.    Any options for change are consulted upon with the outcome of the consultation and any recommended changes returning to a future meeting of this committee for agreement.

4.    Authority be delegated to the Strategic Director - Resources, in consultation with the Chair of the Housing, Economy and Business Committee, to agree proposed options for consultation.

7.

Task and Finish Group for Empty Property Exemptions pdf icon PDF 88 KB

This report requests the need for a Task and Finish Group to undertake a review of the options available to: adopt a higher percentage amount of council tax payable for long term empty dwellings up to a maximum percentage of 100%, and to decide whether to remove the current 10% discount for empty furnished properties.

 

Indicative timing: 10 minutes

Minutes:

The Committee took the report as read. Members suggested that the task and finish group operate in conjunction with that already agreed under the previous item. The membership would be the same (Councillors McCoy, Fivey, Bartolucci, Melican and Hicks), with the addition of Councillor Eric Allen.

 

RESOLVED: that

1.    A task and finish group be established to review the proposed options.

2.    The task and finish group reports the outcome and recommendations to the next meeting of the committee for decision.

8.

Beddington Village Conservation Area Appraisal pdf icon PDF 115 KB

This report presents the draft character appraisal for the Beddington Village Conservation Area (‘CA’). It identifies the distinctive character and appearance of the CA and the notable buildings and key elements that make an important contribution to the quality of Beddington Village. The draft Beddington Village CA Character Appraisal (‘The Character Appraisal’) has been prepared in consultation with the local community and, if approved, would be used as a material consideration in the determination of planning applications.

 

Indicative timing: 20 minutes

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Dean James, Senior Planner, presented the report.

 

Members enquired as to an apparent disparity between the designated conservation area boundary (Appendix A) and the maps in the character appraisal (Appendix B) in particular with regards to boundaries around Richmond Green. The Senior Planner clarified the boundary change, which took place through the Local Plan process, and which the maps in Appendix B pre-dated. Further detail was provided as to the meaning of the conservation area designation in planning policy terms and debate ensued as to the removal of the Kingston Gardens Estate from the conservation area as part of the Local Plan process.

 

In response to questions, the Senior Planner highlighted a wealth of historic information available on the conservation area, to which residents could be signposted. Advice was also provided should Ward Councillors wish to explore potential conservation area (re-)appraisals in their localities.

 

In response to concerns raised in debate, the Senior Planner reminded committee that the designation of a conservation area was an objective process prescribed by Historic England. The Chair proposed that any remaining concerns be discussed with the community and brought back to committee if required.

 

RESOLVED: that the draft Beddington Village Conservation Area Character Appraisal be approved for use as a material consideration in the determination of planning applications within the Conservation Area.

9.

Local Plan Technical Guidance pdf icon PDF 132 KB

On 26 February 2018, the council adopted the Local Plan. The plan introduces three new policies which include requirements to use a numerical measures to assess the effect of new development and how to mitigate that development: the carbon offset fund, the biodiversity calculator and the greenspace factor. As an aid to developers, the council has produced a Building A Sustainable Sutton - The Local Plan Technical Guidance Note to explain how these elements of the Local Plan should be evaluated and calculated. In addition, it is noted that there is no policy guidance which explains to developers how the council will approach a situation where development may not be able to contribute towards the carbon offset fund without compromising the amount of affordance housing the scheme could deliver. This report, therefore, asks Members to agree the approach to deciding between competing requirements from developments secured through legal agreements and specifically whether affordable housing should receive greater priority.

 

Indicative timing: 20 minutes

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Duncan Clarke, Strategic Planning Manager, presented the report accompanied by Patrick Whitter, Senior Planner.

 

Members queried the forecasted accrual of the carbon offset fund and differences to the London Plan. The Strategic Planning Manager explained the complexities of such a forecast and referred to collections in a neighbouring London authority for reference. A further question was raised as to the predicted frequency of use of the biodiversity calculator to which it was responded that this may be minimal as only two sites in the Local Plan were designated on greenfield land.

 

Further debate focussed on affordable housing delivery (on which the guidance note would have no detrimental effect), both in Sutton and across London, as well as the principles of carbon offsetting in terms of financial viability. In response, clarification of recommendation 2.2 was provided by the Strategic Planning Manager.

 

Members queried how the carbon offset fund would be spent. The Strategic Planning Manager referred to a proposed initial list of solar PV schemes in the borough, as included in the report. Officers confirmed the data in the report came from the 2015 Housing Standards Viability Report produced for the London Mayor and London Plan 2016.

 

Detail was provided by officers on the examination-in-public of the Local Plan, after queries were raised with regards to two sites in the Beddington area: Sheen Way and Prologis. It was confirmed that at the Local Plan Examination-in-Public, the Planning Inspector had instructed the council to re-designate Metropolitan Open Land at Beddington Farmlands for industrial land. The council de-designated only one of three possibilities: the land owned by Kennet Properties but which has since been sold to Prologis. Sheen Way is an allocated site for a school.

 

RESOLVED: that

1.    ‘Building A Sustainable Sutton - The Local Plan Technical Guidance Note’ be approved for use in the determination of planning applications and as a living document so that it can be amended to conform with any national and regional guidance which is adopted in the future. Any subsequent conformity changes will be delegated to the Strategic Director in consultation with Chair. Substantive changes to the document will be referred back to the HEB Committee.

2.    The principle that the delivery of affordable housing will take priority over the carbon offset fund in circumstances where a financial viability report, which is robust and with reasonable assumptions which reflect all policy requirements, shows that not all the planning obligations set out in the Planning Obligations Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) can be met, be endorsed.

3.    Subject to the recommendations above, it be agreed that the prioritising of affordable housing will be written into the revised Supplementary Planning Document which will follow, which will update SPD4 in the light of national, regional and local planning policy changes, particularly in relation to affordable housing. 

10.

Rents for Housing Revenue Account New Build Properties pdf icon PDF 118 KB

This report summarises the national regulations around the setting of rents for the Council’s new build properties and justification for our proposals.

 

Indicative timing: 30 minutes

Minutes:

Simon Latham, Assistant Director - Housing, Planning and Regeneration, presented the report.

 

Members queried whether the properties were subject to right to buy. The Assistant Director confirmed that they were, after a qualification period of three years. Further definition was also provided by the Assistant Director in respect of the table in paragraph 5.2 (rent comparison) and referred to the financial implications in paragraph 6.2.

 

Members enquired how the figure between 60 and 65% would be decided and were again referred to the detail of section 5 in the report (options considered). Further information was also provided on building council homes within the borough in the London context and committee discussed projected investment return.

 

In debate, Councillor David Hicks motioned amending the recommendation to include  ‘aiming for 65% and taking into account other costs such as service charges’ as seconded by Councillor Jayne McCoy, upon which the committee voted.

 

RESOLVED: that the rents for the HRA new council house build programme are set between 60% and 65% of market rents annually, aiming for 65% and taking into account other costs such as service charges.

11.

Any Urgent Business

The Chair must approve the reason for urgency.

Minutes:

No urgent business was raised.