A presentation was given by the Arup Representatives.
The Chair sought more detail on river ferry services and if COVID-19 had impacted upon the plans highlighted within the presentation. The Arup Representatives explained that river ferry services had been covered within the report and that Arup had looked at Port of Tilbury and London Gateway to check the provisions available for a ferry service. Regarding the impact of COVID-19, the plans highlighted in the presentation were pre-COVID-19 but would need to be looked at again at a later date particularly for funding needs.
Councillor Spillman noted that the presentation did not give any new information that was not already in the public domain and thought more in-depth information could have been given such as a plan to reduce pollutants in Thurrock. He queried how Arup compared to other similar organisations. Arup Representatives explained that the information given was a high detailed summary of the work undertaken with Council officers so far. The baseline assessment was the first stage and could not ask certain questions such as the implications of a development and the second stage of the assessment would pick up other details as part of the Local Plan process. As an organisation, Arup had completed 15 Local Plan infrastructures across the country on a Local Authority level and strategic level. There was a wide range of skill sets in Arup and would be able to share some of the work that they had recently completed.
Councillor Rice sought detail on whether golf would be included in the plan for sports facilities; a private hospital; plans for the lower part of Grays; a crematoria for Thurrock; and the East Facing Access Slip. Arup Representatives explained that the plans for sports were based on the standards set by Sport England which had moved away from the standards for golf but could be looked at qualitatively and the same could be done for the provision of a private hospital. There had been discussions raised on the potential provision of a crematoria which was covered in the full report and the East Facing Access Slip was also covered in the report. The plans for the lower part of Grays was to be covered by Council officers.
The Vice-Chair sought more detail on how the 30,000 homes to be built would link in to job opportunities; how much of those 30,000 homes would be for social housing; how community driven sports clubs such as Grays Athletic FC could be supported in the Local Plan; the Grays Underpass; plans for schools as there would be more homes; and whether Integrated Medical Centres (IMCs) would reduce the number of GPs available in Thurrock. Arup Representatives answered that sports facilities had been covered within the report and that the Grays Underpass was reflected as a priority in the baseline assessment in the presentation. With the plans for schools, capacity issues had been considered along with any known planned improvements of schools and new schools alongside major new site allotments as part of the Local Plan. Regarding IMCS, discussions had been held with the CCG, as part of the baseline stage, and their strategy was for medical provisions to be placed across the Borough. The next step for Arup was to consider the impact on GP provision and how it would reduce pressure in existing GP surgeries.
Regarding housing, officers explained that Thurrock Council had been working with the other South Essex authorities on a strategic housing market assessment study that covered housing needs going forward to 2020 along with affordable housing needs and how these would be addressed would be considered. The information gathered would help to demonstrate the reason for affordable housing need, the level of that housing need and the mechanisms for that. Officers added that a transport baseline study would also sit alongside the infrastructure study at some stage and would consider issues such as sustainable transport modes. Regarding Councillor Rice’s earlier query about golf, officers explained that a report covering the issue of health would be going to Cabinet in autumn.
Councillor Anderson questioned whether there were considerations over the way people would be living post COVID-19. Arup representatives explained that new strategies would be formulated where needed and these would be discussed with the CCG.
The Task Force discussed the flood risk assessment outlined in the presentation and the climate change strategy which looked into flooding mitigation. An updated flood risk assessment would be brought back to the Task Force. There were discussions on whether bus companies should be brought in to give their viewpoints who would be brought into assessments at the next stage. There was a discussion on the green infrastructure network which were linear connections between green spaces with benefits such as flood risk mitigation and better public walking and cycling routes. The s106 contribution set aside for Grays Athletic FC was queried which officers would look into.