Councillor Redsell thanked Officer for the report in the agenda and stated as part of the key local plan deliverable for 2021 was affordable housing and this was only affordable if residents were able to afford it. Councillor Redsell stated there was no reference to bungalows being built in Thurrock in the report as bungalows could free up those big four bedroom homes that have only one person living in them. Councillor Redsell also stated that the river should be included into the transport needs as this could be a great opportunity for the borough. Sean Nethercott said that bungalows were part of the housing mix and would need to make sure that the Council was delivering different types of housing. In regards to the river there was an approach that would be taken forward which was the managing the growth and there would be an opportunity for significant development and to create open spaces for recreational needs.
Councillor Redsell questioned whether Grangewaters could remain and build two storey flats around the area so residents could continue to enjoy the area. Sean Nethercott stated that Grangewaters would be looked at as a whole to be used as a recreational area and would form part of the local plan process and would be reporting back to the committee later in the year in terms of the options under design.
Councillor Kerin referred to the references in the report on “Green Spaces” and how COVID had demonstrated that green spaces were important and questioned what more could the local plan do to protect those urban green spaces. Sean Nethercott agreed that urban green areas needed to be protected with development needs being met elsewhere and this was the opportunity to remodel, refurbish and improve existing areas that would contribute to meeting the needs of local communities. That connections to the wider green spaces could be created along the urban fringe where significant opportunities would enable this to happen as part of the planning process. All members agreed that green spaces were important and should be protected and agreed that brown field sites should be looked at imaginatively to see what could be achieved. Councillor Kerin referred to the “Return to Offices needed” on page 22 of the report and stated this would not be a council decision but that of those businesses but questioned what could the Council do to support businesses and communities that would be affected from the lack of footfall from people not returning of offices. Sean Nethercott agreed and stated that this should have formed part of a question in the report. That this was a factor that would need to be taken on board and when planning spaces were created they are adaptable and flexible that could be converted to different uses going forward. That the local plan had to be seen as the first step in that journey to deliver something better for Thurrock.
Councillor Redsell referred to new housing development planning applications that go to Planning Committee should include conditions that green spaces would be finished off. Leigh Nicholson stated that more control over developments would be delivered as part of this scheme.
Councillor Watson stated there were no reference to social housing and agreed there should be especially when considering decanting into social housing to undertake estate renewal. Councillor Watson was pleased to hear that green spaces would be kept but not particularly pleased to hear that Grangewaters would be taken. That the amount of HGV traffic in South Ockendon was unbelievable and that infrastructure could not cope. All members agreed that it was important that investments were made to infrastructure. Councillor Watson referred to the green space that was used at the Culver Centre that would now be lost and gone forever and that should not happen in other areas of green space. Sean Nethercott stated that Grangewaters would not be taken away if it would harm the assets that where there already and would not look to take forward developments in any location across the borough unless the infrastructure could be funded by the development or be funded by a combination of funding from Government or Government agencies. The local plan would also not be signed off by an inspector unless it was deliverable and could be evidenced. That this was a real opportunity to be clear on the development of the borough and what the communities needed.
Councillor Watson stated that social housing and the Thurrock fairness panel should be included into the local plan.
Councillor Kerin stated that the type and quality of housing needed to be considered and questioned whether there was any progress since the last comment made on the 8 March to identify the type of housing. Sean Nethercott stated that the South Essex Strategy Housing Market Assessment study was the top mechanism and technical work to identifying the mix of housing types and housing needs. This work would take up to the Autumn when numbers would be available for the overall housing needs and affordable housing, which would then be broken down into different market segments. Alongside this a piece of work would be undertaken on site assessment to look at all the sites that had been promoted through the local plan process.
Councillor Collins raised several questions on housing allocations, provisions in place for Thurrock residents, building of council houses and whether houses could be set aside to which the chair requested that an item be added to the work programme “Model of Housing” with the appropriate officers attending to present the item.
Councillor Collins then raised several questions on flooding, drainage and power to which the chair requested that an item be added to the work programme “Flooding, Drainage and Power” with the appropriate officers attending to present the item. Councillor Redsell also raised the question as to whether schools were using wind turbines or whether these could be used by schools to which Leigh Nicholson stated that through the local plan these questions could be asked for this plan and in the next plan period and how these initiatives could be involved to future proof the plan.
Councillor Redsell thanked all members for their contribution this evening.