Agenda and minutes

Place Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 30th June, 2022 10.00 am

Venue: County Hall, Usk - Remote Attendance. View directions


No. Item


Election of Chair


Councillor Lisa Dymock.


Appointment of Vice-Chair


Nominations were received for Councillor McConnell and Councillor Lucas (and Councillor Brown – declined).


Councillor Lucas was appointed as Vice-Chair, following a vote.



Declarations of Interest


Councillor Dymock declared an interest in the Castle Meadows petition, as the former Cabinet member for MonLife, and having met with Friends of Castle Meadows.


Public Open Forum


No public submissions were received.


Discussion on the Committee's Forward Work Programme pdf icon PDF 245 KB

Additional documents:


Items proposed by the committee were the Chepstow High Street closure, the Council’s plans for flood prevention and protection, the way in which active travel arrangements are made, how the new school in Abergavenny is to be used as a community hub and that information communicated, the revised Local Development Plan, the regeneration of high streets, Monnow Street in Monmouth (with part of the levelling up bid coming), Active Travel, the Council’s approach to placemaking, how to leverage the considerable civic capital of the county for the benefit of the wider county and population, looking at some of the issues falling under the working groups, supporting retrofitting and insulation for houses, and affordable housing.


Mark Hand responded that the RLDP indeed sits well in this committee, and that there is lots of work coming up on it. This year the Council has to create a new Flooding strategy, which will be an ideal piece for the committee to scrutinise; the Update paper on Section 19 (flooding investigation reports) might be of interest. High streets are going through various processes e.g. Transforming Chepstow Masterplan – work will be forthcoming. There is lots of Active Travel work between Highways and MonLife. Regarding Active Travel and Castle Meadows, the committee will need to ensure there’s no overlap with Planning. On a question about local issues in Chepstow and Abergavenny.


Councillor Chandler asked if local issues will also be covered by area committees. Mark Hand did not have the details, and will come back to the Councillor about it.



Pre-decision Scrutiny of the Wye Valley Villages Future Plan pdf icon PDF 86 KB

Additional documents:


Roger Hoggins presented the report and answered the members’ questions with Mark Hand.




Could we have a further explanation of funding and costs?


The Wye Valley study was seen as opportunity to bring community councils together. It was looked on as a testbed, in a sense, and had the added benefit of having a physical boundary as it is located in the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – they then had input and helped significantly with the funding. All work and consultation came to £49k, but other reports might not need to be as extensive and therefore as costly. The community councils involved have raised their precepts to raise funding to contribute towards new signage.


Other villages might be interested, so what are the pros and cons of this approach?


By bringing the community councils together, they acted together, which helped them to work towards a common goal. One of the weaknesses of this approach is if one of the community councils says they no longer agree or wish to take part. There’s no talk of it currently, but it is a risk. Signage was a good example of positive collaborative work, albeit on a relatively small matter: there are now signs everywhere informing the public that they are in the AONB, each with backgrounds related to the individual villages, thus helping to create an identity for the AONB and the villages within it. We’ve been able to act collectively in bringing forward the villages for the speed management issues; similarly, with the village halls, we will be able to work across the Wye Valley area. Whether other community councils wish to operate collectively is something that could be explored but in this case, being in the AONB brought them together more easily and logically. It seems to bring more confidence to the community councils to be more proactive in their areas. We are trying to create a culture in which community and town councils are proactive in working with the County Council, rather than operating as individuals.


Active Travel funding tends to focus on town centres, rather than villages – there doesn’t seem to be consideration about Active Travel linking villages with towns?


The term ‘Active Travel’ should have been stated as pedestrians and cyclists. Joining villages to towns is a good point. It probably needs to be raised elsewhere at some point but yes, currently, funding is geared principally towards town centres.


How long did it take to do the work?


The process started in October 2019 in Tintern when we put together an agenda and sought support from community councils. We went to Catbrook to write the terms of reference, then worked around local villages in various meetings. The process stalled somewhat with the pandemic. Some stakeholder engagement happened over Teams and the broader public consultation was online. The report was finally submitted to the steering group in March 2022.


How much does this work link in to the RLDP, and what effect  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Pre-decision Scrutiny of the Regeneration Funding and Delivery Plan 2022-2025 (prior to going to Cabinet on 27th July 2022) pdf icon PDF 288 KB


Mark Hand and Daniel Fordham presented the report and answered the members’ questions.




Why is Chepstow not mentioned in the first recommendation, when it’s listed in Appendix B?


The first recommendation doesn’t include Chepstow as it was agreed last year, with the work already underway and its completion assumed. The second recommendation concerns pausing on a decision about strategic projects until we know a decision on funding in the Autumn. The third recommendation is to endorse the list at Appendix B, which includes those projects in Chepstow.


What does ‘Chepstow Shopfront enveloping’ mean? Are there grants for improving shopfronts or things like repairing the clock on the Herbert Lewis building? What has happened with the planning application for that building?


Welsh Government recently published its revised framework for the Transforming Towns Placemaking Grant for the next three years. A broad range of projects are covered, including grants for commercial properties and potential private refurbishment of them, grants for relatively small public realm schemes, potential for funding green infrastructure projects, town centre-focussed connectivity projects, and others. Our projects in this list are equally broad, reflecting this.


Regarding enveloping, over the last 2-3 years we have delivered funding for a programme of shop fronts in Caldicot; there are 3 or 4 completed projects to improve commercial buildings, with 2-3 more potential grants lined up for this year. This proposal is to roll out that grants approach to rundown commercial buildings in town centres to Abergavenny, Monmouth and Chepstow. Generating take-up is challenging so the amounts being sought are relatively low. There aren’t specific projects relating to empty properties currently listed in the Placemaking grants proposals, though it is on our radar to perhaps tackle through other mechanisms. Last year we brought empty properties back into ‘meanwhile’ use – that would be an option again, or there are options here for longer use. For example, in Caldicot, there is a project to bring back into use a long-term empty property in the 7-43 Newport Road building, as part of the Levelling Up fund proposals.


Are we looking to go out to new members about properties that they are concerned about?


Not specifically. There are annual surveys on vacant retail units and the Chambers of Commerce provide us with regular information. We held a series of quarterly meetings with Chamber and Town Council reps during Covid which we would like to resurrect: this is a space where members can tell us about things that are happening and issues in their towns.



Chair’s Summary:


The recommendations were agreed.



Petitions Received - to recommend actions to the Cabinet

Additional documents:


The petitions were presented. Following a discussion, it was agreed that the committee will refer the petitions to the Cabinet Member and Chief Officer but request written feedback to the Place Scrutiny Committee on the actions that will be taken to address the issues raised in the petitions and how the community and petitioners will be updated on those actions.



To confirm the following minutes:


Economy and Development Select Committee - 3rd February 2022 pdf icon PDF 379 KB


Economy & Development was tabled but none of today’s members were present. Proposed as an accurate record by Councillor Davies, seconded by Councillor Lucas.


Strong Communities Select Committee - 10th March 2022 pdf icon PDF 476 KB


Strong Communities was proposed by Councillor Dymock, seconded by Councillor Lucas.


Next Meeting


Thursday 15th September 2022.


The time of the next meeting will change to 12.30, with a 12:00 pre-meeting.