Presented by David Moore, the report provided an update on the progress of the Housing Delivery Programme. He referred Members to the added site of River View and said that the site was in Chadwell St Mary and not Corringham as the report stated.
The questions and comments provided by Lynn Mansfield were read out by Democratic Services:
· The River View site was a welcome addition and Chadwell St Mary had the right infrastructure.
· Lynn Mansfield was pleased to see the removal of the 5 sites.
· Regarding Broxburn Drive in the site options list in appendix B, Lynn Mansfield asked what type of dwellings would be on site. The site was small and would be difficult to fit 60 dwellings into the site. Would the dwellings be flats and would these be high rise or low rise flats? She also asked the type of dwellings that would be on other sites as well.
Officers answered that the number of the dwellings assigned to each site in appendix B were only indications and had not been finalised yet. The type of dwellings would be a mix of low rise flats and houses.
Referring to the Broxburn Drive site, the Vice-Chair sought clarification on whether the site proposed was where the garages were. Keith Andrews confirmed that there were garages that ran parallel to the railway line and the site had potential for development, in fill or an extension of the existing blocks of flats. The site had not gone out to consultation yet.
Councillor Redsell asked if remaining sites had been through the community engagement process yet. David Moore confirmed that these had been through the early investigatory works, and with River View, the site list was now 16 sites. Once each site was fully investigated, these would then go out to consultation which was currently delayed due to the government guidelines in place for COVID-19.
Referring to paragraph 3.3, Councillor Abbas asked if the final total of homes to be delivered would be 703. David Moore pointed to paragraph 3.4 and said that the final number of homes would be up to 708 but that if more sites were identified, these would be reported to the Committee. He went on to say that there were housing targets to reach and that as part of the consultation process, Members and residents were made aware of the identified sites and that their comments and objections were taken into account. These helped the service in the process of identifying suitable sites.
Noting the locations of the identified sites in appendix B, Councillor Abbas asked why these had all been identified in the west side of the Borough and not the east side. David Moore explained that the sites had been identified from different sources, as explained in the November 2019 paper to Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee, but the choice of sites were influenced by the Local Plan as the east side of the Borough was mainly Green Belt which could not be built on.
Councillor Piccolo questioned if the stage of involving residents at the start of the process of identifying and confirm suitable sites was new as residents had not been involved in this process before. David Moore confirmed that it was and that the service was aiming for a more transparent process which would give residents the opportunity to comment on potential sites. It enabled the service to look deeper into the sites and to decide if the site should be removed after hearing comments from residents. This helped the service to save on time and costs before too much investment was made into the site. Councillor Piccolo commented that this new stage in the process had given residents the assumption that the sites were already confirmed for development to which officers confirmed that sites were identified at that stage.
Noting the removal of the 5 sites mentioned in the report, the Chair queried whether the sites would return at a later date. David Moore confirmed that the 5 sites had been removed from the current list and would not return to the same list.
Referring to 3.1, the Chair asked what the criteria was for the removal of sites and noted that the council’s criteria was that open and green spaces would not be used for development sites. She went on to mention that Enborne Green was similar to the other 5 sites that had been removed. David Moore said that Enborne Green had not been a part of the consultation process with the 5 sites that were removed. It had been the Portfolio Holder for Housing’s decision to remove those 5 sites from the list and the process in place did allow for sites to be taken on and off the list. There was a criteria that enabled the service to look at how sites were currently being used and whether the space there was being used. Residents were consulted as a part of this process.
Referring to 3.10 in appendix A, the Chair sought clarification on the process for taking sites on and off the long list of sites for development as some sites that remained on were similar to those taken off. David Moore pointed to 3.9 in appendix A and explained that significant changes were made in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Housing which were reported back to the Committee. Comments from residents through the consultation process were taken into consideration as well. The Chair did not feel the process was followed very well.
Referring to the site list on appendix B, the Chair questioned how many homes would be for social housing and how many of the sites would be managed under Thurrock Regeneration Limited (TRL). Keith Andrews answered that the general principle adopted was that land that was on the Council’s Housing Revenue Account (HRA), homes developed on this land would be for social housing. If the land was within the General Fund, it was expected that the land would be offered to TRL and that the Council’s planning policy would expect 35% of those to be affordable homes which was the same expectation from other private developers. An estimated number could be calculated through these assumed general principles. The Chair felt an estimated calculation was needed to give the Committee assurance that there would be social housing available from these sites. Keith Andrews said that the proportion of homes from TRL would be 35% as this was within the Council’s planning policy. For other sites, the service could only make the assumption based on the land position within the General Fund and HRA. However it was to be noted that other factors could affect this and that TRL had its own decision making board.
The Chair questioned what the current position was with the Culver Centre site. Keith Andrews said that the transfer of the site was currently with the Secretary of State but the expectation was that it would be agreed. As for the valuation of the land, it would come to the Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee for it to be agreed before it was moved onto Cabinet for approval. The Chair thought the decision would be for Full Council to make as it was a transfer of land. Officers would confirm if the decision would go to Full Council or Cabinet.
Regarding potential sites, the Chair commented that the service could speak with residents and Ward Members who may have potential sites for development in mind. She felt this would provide a more fully open and transparent step to the process of identifying sites for development. David Moore said that Members were welcome to let the service know of potential sites for development which could be looked at against the criteria. Sites would need to be filtered through the consultation process so that resources could be managed effectively as there were not staff to check every potential site.
Referring to appendix B, the Chair pointed out site number 12 – Manor Way, and said that the site was Elm Road Park, not Manor Way. She went on to say that the site was well used and that it was an open space. She also pointed to site number 13 – Bridge Road and said that it was Richmond Road. Officers noted the Chair’s points and would amend the names of the sites.
The Chair asked if there were any sites that would go out to consultation before the next Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting and if any of the sites were in the process of going through a planning application. Keith Andrews said that the Culver Centre and Field site was the closest to go to the planning application stage as it had gone through two stages of consultation already. The Whiteacre site was also on a similar trajectory.
Referring to the CO1 (Civic Offices) site, the Chair questioned if this was dependent on the Council selling this site. David Moore explained that with the extension of CO2 in the Council’s Civic Offices, CO1 would become redundant as council staff would move from there to CO2. The plan was to demolish CO1 and to be redeveloped as housing. The Chair sought further detail on what funds would be used to develop the houses on the site and if some of the funds would be sought from the funds that was being used to develop the extension of CO2. David Moore explained that there was a team in place that was developing the extension of the CO2 and the team for CO1 was currently looking at funding options for the site. There had been suggestions of putting the site into the Future High Street Funding bid to develop it as housing but it had not yet been decided, nor had there been any decision as to whether the site would be developed by TRL.
There was further discussion on encouraging Officers to include Members in the consultation process and to ensure names of the sites were accurately named. The Chair noted the list of sites and stated that she still did not agree on the green spaces such as Enborne Green being included in the sites list for housing development and would continue to voice this concern throughout the consultation and planning stages.
Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee:
Noted progress on the list of housing development sites to be
taken forward for further detailed work, involving engagement with
stakeholders and communities.
1.2 Commented on the proposal to add the site known as River View to the site options list agreed in February 2020.
1.3 Noted the removal of sites at Callan Grove, Ridgwell Avenue, Derry Avenue, Garron Lane/Humber Avenue and Springhouse Road from the sites option list.