Agenda and minutes

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Items
No. Item

1.

Election of Chair.

Minutes:

Simon Howarth was appointed as Chair.

2.

Appointment of Vice-Chair.

Minutes:

Paul Pavia was appointed as Vice-Chair.

3.

Declarations of Interest.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

4.

Pre-decision scrutiny of the Gypsy, Traveller and Showperson's Accommodation Assessment 2021 - 2033. pdf icon PDF 154 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Stephen Griffiths presented the report, with additional comments from Mark Hand. It was noted that the report omitted the mention the involvement of Opinion Research Services Ltd., a social research organisation that assisted with the preparation of the report.

Challenge:

In 3.1.2, where it mentions the current need for 8 pitches – are they included in the 13?

Yes, the 13 pitches includes those 8. In 3.1.1 there is a summary of what the 13 pitches comprise.

One of the sites is described as ‘overcrowded’?

There is confusion about what ‘overcrowded’ means. It’s talking about adults on a pitch who should have their own caravan, rather than being in a wider family caravan. It doesn’t mean that there are literally too many people in the caravan.

Can the definitions of static caravans and pitches be clarified?

Welsh Government guidance defines a pitch. The easiest way to think of a pitch is as a house plot, with garden space, parking space, etc. There tends to be a static home that provides living room-style accommodation. Normally there is a separate block for utility and for toilets. The younger children tend to be in the main static caravan with the parents, and older children in another. So it is like a house with different bedrooms. The guidance suggests that as a minimum one static caravan, perhaps two touring caravans, space to park two vehicles, and a garden area. But they do vary, as houses do. We have to look at the family’s needs and the site.

It would be helpful for a multidisciplinary team that worked on the private site policy because there could then be a plan that ticks the boxes for both Planning and Licensing. Assistance through Planning Aid would also be very helpful. Would it not be better to work this way?

Joint working is a really good idea and we will pick that up. We can work with the applicants jointly with Environmental Health but they are separate regulatory systems – so we can’t refuse planning applications because they don’t comply with Environmental Licenses, and vice versa. So in that sense, we could never have a planning policy that requires it to comply with other legislation – that wouldn’t be legally permissible. But in terms of working practices – getting everything aligned before that stage – that is something we will look to do.

How likely is it that the demand will change, especially for those who travel from site to site? How often do they usually stay long term?

The draft GTAA is valid until 2026, so it will be revisited then and if anyone has moved out of the county that will be reflected. We won’t know until then.

Is legislation the same as in England? It is changing in England – will that affect Wales?

Yes, it has now changed in England to say that anyone who has stopped travelling is no longer a traveller. It is going through the Court of Appeals process. There is  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Pre-decision scrutiny of the Local Housing Market Assessment, prior to submission to Welsh Government. pdf icon PDF 153 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mark Hand presented the report and answered the Members’ questions, with additional contributions from Ian Bakewell and Cabinet Member Bob Greenland.

Challenge:

People with disabilities are disproportionately represented among those seeking social housing. Welsh Government has said the mix between social and mass market housing should be 45%/55%, Stats Wales say 47%/53%, but in the last 5 years Monmouthshire has achieved 18%/82%. The report says we need to build 467 affordable houses each year, which would mean also building 2128 mass-market houses, following the 18-82 ratio. How is that achievable and what is the impetus for increasing the ratio of social housing?

2000+ homes per year is not deliverable, and Welsh Government’s ratio is not used anywhere in Wales as an LDP target. The NDF, now called Future Wales 2040, talks about a need for 47% of homes built to be affordable, for the first 5 years of its life. It also talks about that growth being directed largely to Newport and the valleys. Those sites are less viable than in Monmouthshire. It will be impossible for those areas without heavy public subsidy. The minister promotes inclusion of affordable housing-led sites in local development plans. The hard fact is that the level of affordable housing we’re talking about is well below what the LHMA says.

The Housing Allocation policy and its discord with the current report: the former says that if someone has savings exceeding £16k they will be put into Band 4, which effectively means they will never get social housing. But this report says that a deposit of at least £30k is needed, and an income of £48.5k, to be able to afford an entry level property. Those two facts are at odds with each other. Did the two departments work together on this?

Yes, we are working very closely together, and both policies are written by the same department. Adults Select Committee received the policy change a few months ago. There was a need to review the financial resources section. The policy is worked on the basis of targeting those with the greatest need. There’s a section in the policy that relates to having sufficient financial resources and therefore, arguably, there’s a lower need for social housing. We made a number of changes in that section. We increased the amount of savings to £16k and the income threshold to £45k, and we increased the banding around that. In the new policy, someone would be in Band 4, rather than Band 5. We also built in the caveat that we wouldn’t count benefit income or a lump sum from, for example, leaving the Armed Forces. The figures we came to were based on average Monmouthshire property prices. Another important consideration is that we aren’t always talking about purchasing property but also accessing rental properties. The new policy has only been in place relatively recently – we can review it as we move forward.

The report mentions needing 467 affordable houses per annum but it doesn’t mention the number  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

To consider the Local Development Plan Growth and Spatial Options (appendix 3 to follow). pdf icon PDF 644 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Following a brief introduction from Mark Hand, Craig O’Connor and Rachel Lewis presented the report and delivered the presentation.

Challenge:

Regarding Growth Option 5, stating ‘opportunities for carbon neutral development’ isn’t strong enough in light of the climate emergency – this option should go no further until carbon reduction can be addressed more clearly.

Climate Change needs to be balanced against the housing crisis. Through the LDP, we will be able to build the most sustainable homes ever: sustainable drainage, renewable energy, energy efficiency, etc. In Monmouthshire, we have a huge amount of land that we can build on. We will address Climate Change via our Green Infrastructure policies and introducing renewable energy on homes. If we are to address all of these things then it is with a balanced approach. Welsh Government has a target of 30% of people working from home by 2025-30, which will reduce commuting; the pandemic has shown that this can be done. Looking at our town centres, perhaps we will see hubs whereby people can live and work more locally. So we are looking to address the transport point as well.

Reducing outward commuting and increasing local job opportunities need to be central to plans, along with an increased focus on local (non-meat) food production.

Yes, livestock versus crops is a good point but we wouldn’t have remit of that within the LDP. Agriculture is broadly outside the planning system. But we would have the remit with regards to allotments and community planting – those would be relevant to the plan.

There is concern about the increased pressure on the natural environment. A Green Wedge policy has previously been suggested.

We will do a Green Wedge review and working with colleagues throughout the region to get a methodology together, going alongside the LDP. It is important to note that the Growth and Spatial options are a starting point, with other policies to follow. All of these elements will be looked at, and protecting the landscape is a key part of that.

There is concern about infrastructure. Realistically, a bypass for Chepstow will take at least 10 years, for example.

Yes, Members and officers are concerned about existing infrastructure but this growth will mean financial contributions that will allow some of those services to be sustained in the long term as well. This plan is a starting point, and there will be an infrastructure plan alongside it that will consider how we sustain that level of growth, along with a Local Transport Plan, to ensure we have the right infrastructure to support this level of growth.

If houses are distributed evenly then won’t areas like Raglan, for example, add to the Climate Change problem by residents commuting from there to Bristol or Cardiff?

Affordable housing is needed across the county. The LHMA has indicated that we need this level of housing across the area, and this is key to meeting our objectives.

Spatial Option 1 is more in line with the National Development Framework that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Adults Select Committee Forward Work Programme. pdf icon PDF 511 KB

8.

Economy and Development Select Committee Forward Work Programme. pdf icon PDF 532 KB

Minutes:

Councillor Pavia proposed that Procurement be added to this list, which was agreed by the Members.