Agenda item

Minutes from the meeting of the Planning Policy Committee - 1 June 2021

To receive the minutes from the meeting of the Planning Policy Committee held on 1 June 2021 in relation to recommendations from that Committee in relation to the Delivery of West Bank Strategic Allocation.

 

Due to timing, these minutes will be circulated separately to the agenda.  To view the Officer’s report – please click on this link – Report

 

Minutes:

The Chair introduced this item explaining that at Minute 42 [Delivery of West Bank Strategic Allocation] there were two recommendations for this Committee to consider. It was explained that the minutes had been provided to the Committee as a supplement pack which had been uploaded to web on 15 June 2021.

 

The Director of Place was invited to explain the recommendations to the Committee. He outlined that this item related to West Bank, Littlehampton and that this strategic site allocation in the Local Plan had not been delivered due to a variety of challenges and so consequently an alternative plan of action was now proposed which where the recommendations that had been resolved by the Planning Policy Committee on 1 June 2021. The issue for this Committee was that there was a cost associated with that alternative strategy which had not been budgeted for and so this was why this Committee was being asked to approve the funding required to allow the actions approved on 1 June 2021 to be taken forward. Members’ attention was drawn to the second recommendation for it to consider which was for the Council to accept financial contributions from third parties to support the delivery of Recommendations (1) and (2) approved on 1 June 2021.  The Director of Place confirmed that he had been in discussion with a number of third parties [third party landowners] and that financial commitments had been made totalling £50,000 towards the cost of this work and that there might be other contributions that could come forward in due course.  Members were asked to reflect on this in considering the two recommendations which were before them.

 

(At this point in the meeting, Councillor Walsh redeclared his Personal Interest made at the start of the meeting).

 

            There were key concerns expressed by several Members relating to spending £100k on this project despite this site being an allocation in the Council’s Local Plan. The concerns were centred around the sea defences at Clymping breaking through and the flooding that had extended up to the A259 and to other parts of the road, making this land extremely floodable. Another issue was the cost of the required flood work which had been estimated to be in the £30-40m mark which would be an additional cost on top of buying the land and developing it. Based on such facts, there was great uncertainty that this land would ever be an attractive proposition and so there was a reluctance to spend up to £100k on what was seen as a risk. It was acknowledged that if the decision was made to not pursue this work, there was no alternative suggestion of where this housing might go if de-allocation was pursued. This was therefore a difficult decision for the Committee to make and it had to consider the amount of money to be spent on potentially an undevelopable piece of land.

 

The Committee was reminded that £50k had since been committed from external funders and so the recommendation before the Committee needed to be amended in terms of the £100k supplementary estimate which should now read £50k.

 

Many of the points being raised by the Committee were a repeat of the debate that had taken place at the Planning Policy Committee on 1 June 2021.  The Chair reminded Councillors that the matter before this meeting was to decide whether to recommend to Full Council that a supplementary estimate of £50k be approved, not the merits around whether this was a suitable site or not.

 

The Chair asked if this decision had to be considered today and whether it should be deferred pending the outcome of the bid made to the Community Renewal Fund. The Director of Place confirmed that any deferral would mean that four months of valuable work would be lost.

 

Following further discussion, Councillor Cooper then proposed the recommendations, amended to show a figure of £50k, and this was seconded by Councillor Roberts.

 

 The Committee

 

RECOMMEND TO FULL COUNCIL – That

 

(1)          should any application for funding for this project submitted to the UK Community Renewal Fund be unsuccessful, then a supplementary budget of up to £50,000 to fund the cost of recommendations (1) & (2) approved by the Planning Policy Committee on 1 June 2021, be agreed as the Councils contribution to the cost of the project; This equates to a Council tax equivalent of £0.80 for a typical Band D property; and

 

(2)          the Council accept financial contributions from third parties to support the delivery of recommendations (1) and (2) approved by the Planning Policy Committee on 1 June 2021.

 

Supporting documents: