The Leader highlighted that
there were two exempt appendices to the report, but felt that as
long as these were not directly
discussed, the meeting could remain open.
There had been one question submitted by a non-Executive Member. Councillor Piccolo asked the following question to Councillor Coxshall, relating to Item 17 on the agenda: Can the Portfolio Holder outline how his new plans for Stanford le Hope station will benefit residents? As Councillor Coxshall was unable to attend, the Leader replied that the Stanford Le Hope Transport Hub was a significant project to deliver much improved station facilities in Stanford Le Hope for residents, businesses and commuters. He added that the original design of the scheme with a cantilevered deck proved to be an expensive design, requiring complex engineering solutions to be delivered all of which pushed the scheme much beyond the existing budget available. He clarified that consequently the scheme had been under review to identify alternative design and construction options that could deliver a high quality design within the available budget. The Leader stated that the options included identifying additional land that could, if secured, result in much improved public realm outside of the station and a dedicated bus turnaround/waiting area on land in the vicinity as well as much needed additional parking provision.
Councillor Piccolo was invited to ask a supplementary question and asked the following question: since the Labour administration sold Sandpits carpark, Stanford-le-Hope residents have been struggling to park, and there has been a lack of infrastructure links in the town. Can the Leader assure me that the proposed purchase of land will reduce the stranglehold of capital landowners in the town?
The Leader replied that the proposed acquisition of land would increase both commuter parking and parking for residents wishing to access the town centre, as well as a new bus turnaround location. He stated that although the new station car parking would not be as convenient as Sandpits for access to the town centre, it would still provide parking within walking distance. He stated that parking and development of the station was long overdue.
The Leader introduced the report on behalf of Councillor Coxshall and stated that this report was a fantastic opportunity to improve Stanford-le-Hope station, after the loss of Sandpits carpark, the increase of commuters, and the expansion of DP World. He felt that this report would deliver the required improvements to the station at a timelier pace, and would reduce the need for a complicated design. He mentioned that the new design would not require a complicated cantilever bridge, changes to Mucking Creek, and would not encroach as much on resident’s houses. He added that the new design would also provide better bus turnaround facilities, so workers at the port could access the buses more easily, and would increase commuter and town-centre parking. He apologised to the residents of Stanford-le-Hope for the delay in the implementation of the project, but felt that it was better to get the project right first time, rather than increasing spending and the risk of flooding with the original design.
Councillor Hebb added that the new proposed design would benefit residents more, as it would save bricking over the River Hope, which was a large part of the identity of Stanford-le-Hope, and did not affect residents near the station as much as the original design. He commented that this proposal was a partial resolution after the sale of Sandpits and would unburden the local infrastructure and highways. Councillor Maney echoed the comments made and felt it was important to get the scheme back on track. He commented that he hoped the Compulsory Purchase Order option would be a last resort, and the Leader commented that it was, although would be used if necessary.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet:
1. Noted the regeneration and financial opportunities presented by the potential acquisition of land identified in Appendix A.
2. Delegated authority to the Director of Place and Director of Finance, Governance and Property in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Regeneration to commence negotiations and seek to agree final terms for the acquisition of the site and to enter into any such agreements necessary to conclude the acquisition of the site.
Reason for decision: as outlined in the report
This decision is subject to call-in