Agenda and draft minutes

Regeneration & Economic Development Scrutiny Panel - Wednesday, 17th March, 2021 7.00 pm

Venue: Virtual - link on front of the agenda

Contact: Penelope Williams 020 8132 1330  penelopewilliams1958@gmail.com 

Items
No. Item

1.

Welcome and Apologies

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting.

 

2.

Declaration of Interests

Members are asked to declare any disclosable pecuniary, other pecuniary or non pecuniary interests relating to items on the agenda. 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest. 

3.

Meridian Water - Addressing Local Needs pdf icon PDF 218 KB

To receive a report and presentation for discussion on the way that the Meridian Water projects are addressing local needs. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The panel received a presentation from Jamie Eagles and Ian Freshwater (Senior Regeneration Officers) updating members on the Meridian Water Programme and addressing local needs.

 

1.            Presentation

 

The following key points were highlighted during the presentation: 

 

·         One of the key aims of the Meridian Water Project was to make sure there were benefits for the existing residents in the area, who were situated in one of the most deprived parts of the country. 

·         Research had been carried out, based on the recent Enfield Poverty and Inequality Commission and through mapping local indices and key data, to help the project find ways to meet the needs of the local community. 

·         Major health inequalities had been identified. The team were working closely with health partners, including the Clinical Commissioning Group and had identified a need to improve GP services: a new surgery was now planned as part of Meridian One, the first stage of the project, as well as a community garden which should benefit health and wellbeing. 

·         Economic inclusion was also key factor, providing opportunities for the young and reskilling older people, as well as the need to support economic recovery, following the pandemic.  The Enfield Skills Academy will train up to 810 residents per year in construction skills. The Troubadour Skills Academy will be training and employing up to 450 people per year:  6 kickstart places had already been confirmed. Twenty five percent of employment in construction and commercial spaces will go to Enfield residents and the Meridian One will employ 45 apprentices and create 145 local jobs.  All jobs will be paid at a London Living Wage. 

·         Two thirds of the ground floor space, on the development, will be either commercial property or community assets owned by the Council.  These spaces will support the creation of high quality, ethical, inclusive and sustainable jobs for local people and to serve local community needs. 

·         Community assets would be developed to serve the whole community;  projects such as the new station with regular train services, as well as a new primary school, gym and health facility.  An Infrastructure Delivery Strategy was being put together.

·         The aim was to provide some high-quality parks and open spaces which were vital in promoting good health and wellbeing. “Park life on your door- step” was one of the key pillars of the project.  As part of the phase one scheme, Vistry will be developing a community garden.  There will also be two smaller parks connected by a green link – a visible green walking route through the site - and by 2024, two new large parks.  These would be open to both visitors and the existing communities.  Another key priority was to open up access to the Lee Valley Regional Park.

·         Social value outcomes had been secured from key contractors which would feed into the Meridian Water Social Value Strategy which will go to Cabinet for approval later in the year. 

·         Thanks to the partnership with Vistry, a Community Chest fund consisting on an initial  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

Meridian Water Scrutiny Workstream - Review of Recommendations pdf icon PDF 242 KB

To receive a report updating members on the implementation of the recommendations from the scrutiny workstream review into Meridian Water. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The panel received a report and presentation from Peter George (Programme Director Meridian Water) updating them on progress against the four themes in the recent Scrutiny Workstream Report.  Copies of the presentation slides can be accessed through the Council website. 

 

1.            Presentation

 

Peter George highlighted the following from his presentation which included information on housing, density/open space, employment and the financial model: 

 

·         Since the last scrutiny meeting, the results of the Government’s Housing Delivery Test had been released which showed that over the last 3 years Enfield had delivered only 56% of their housing targets. This was below the Government’s requirement of a 75% target.  Not enough homes were being built.  This target figure was also about to be increased from 800 homes a year to 1,200.

·         Meridian Water had been judged to be able to provide 5,000 homes and 1,500 jobs, but there had always been an ambition to build 10,000 homes and create an extra 6,000 jobs.  Meeting this ambition would depend on the re-designation of industrial land on the eastern part of the site.  The Local Plan had recently issued a call out for sites and the team had put forward their proposals for housing on this area and were hopeful this would be included in the new Local Plan. 

·         If Meridian Water could not accommodate 10,000 homes, it would further impact on Enfield’s ability to meet its overall housing targets. 

·         Government had granted £170,000 in funding for infrastructure works and Vinchy had been commissioned to do £90,000 worth of work.  This would also help unlock the potential of the land for housing.

·         A reserve matters planning application had recently been submitted and Vistry were due to start work on the first 300 homes in April or May of this year.  The first homes would be ready to move into within 12 months. 

·         A second planning application, for around 650 homes was due to be submitted this Summer, and the Council were finalising terms with Vistry to deliver another 250 homes on a second site that will deliver 100% affordable housing and 3,000 square meters of workspace.  Two more sites which could deliver a further 1,000 homes would be marketed later in the year. 

·         The provision of green open space was integral to the project and one of the intended key legacy features for the area.  The Meridian Water Environmental Sustainability Strategy set an ambition to achieve 30% green open space and to be carbon neutral by 2030. 

·         Planning permission and funding was in place for two new major parks to be delivered by Vinchy.  This would be equivalent to the size of 12 football pitches.

·         It was not possible to make up the open space deficit in the whole wider area, as this would take 75% of the Meridian Water site.

·         Green connectivity across the site was an aim, as well as improving local access to the neighbouring Lee Valley Regional Park. This park was very underused at present and encouraging local people to make  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Improving the Planning Processes pdf icon PDF 102 KB

To receive a presentation for discussion on the work being carried out to improve the Council’s planning processes. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The panel received a presentation from Vincent Lacovara (Head of Planning) on the development of an improvement plan for the Council’s planning service. 

 

1.            Presentation

 

The following points were highlighted in the presentation: 

 

·         The planning department were at an early stage in developing a service improvement plan.  Much had been achieved since 2018 when two halves of the service were combined (development management and strategic planning and design) but there were more improvements to be made and challenges ahead. 

·         The views of the Regeneration and Economic Development Scrutiny Panel were welcomed. 

·         All the teams in the department were working together to improve delivery, working more across teams, rather than in silos. 

·         One of the problems that the service had had was in recruiting planning officers.  This had improved from a 50% vacancy rate in 2018 to a handful of vacancies now.  The numbers of agency staff had also been reduced. 

·         Service capacity had been increased including the creation of a new design team and the setting up of a Design Review Panel.

·         Performance had improved significantly recently against statutory and corporate targets.

·         Challenges included perception and image of the service, customer services, communications, responsiveness and accessibility, the Government changes to the planning and building control systems, performance issues in enforcement, impact of Covid, the need to improve service culture, recruitment and retention of staff, budget pressures, the need to support good design and outcomes through a pre application service and an inconsistent delivery of housing targets. 

·         Lots of work had been done improving the determination of applications but more needed to be done at the pre-application stage.

·         The Council would like to be recognised as one of the best planning authorities in London, positively and proactively engaging with communities and stakeholders to enhance places and enable good growth. 

·         The key themes for an improvement plan included improving communications, culture and morale, resources and capacity, team structure, policies and processes, performance management, learning and development, technology, customer journey and commercialisation. 

·         The key areas of focus included team culture, member engagement, customer service, planning committee training programme, pre application and PPA service, planning enforcement, ongoing recruitment and a commercial plan. 

 

2.            Questions/Comments

 

2.1       Thanks to the officers for the report and support for the proposals to address the problems, as there was a feeling that significant improvements were needed, particularly in customer service.  Many residents complained that they were unable to speak to planning officers in person. 

 

2.2       Concern in relation to the culture of the organisation and its perceived neutrality. There was a perception that Council favoured private developers.  This was not the case. 

 

2.3       Concern that the Council was too slow to address enforcement issues and that developers were able to game the system and get away with inappropriate development.      

 

2.4       Progress on improving the culture of planning had been made, starting by bringing together the whole team, combining the expertise of existing officers as well as bringing in new people.

 

2.5       Neutrality was key to the planning process.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Joyce and Snells Estate Regeneration pdf icon PDF 133 KB

To note for information a report updating members on the progress being made on Joyce and Snells Estate Regeneration. 

Minutes:

The panel received and noted the report updating members on the Joyce and Snells Estate regeneration scheme.  The project had been delayed due to the pandemic, but a report was due to go to Cabinet in July and a further update would be provided to the panel later in the year. 

7.

Minutes of the Meeting held on 10 February 2021 pdf icon PDF 172 KB

To receive and agree the minutes of the meeting held on 10 February 2021. 

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 10 February 2021 were received and agreed as a correct record. 

8.

Workprogramme 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 78 KB

To review the work programme and the items which have been considered over the past year. 

 

To suggest items for inclusion in the work programme for 2021/22. 

Minutes:

NOTED

 

1.            The work carried out over the past year from the 2020/21 work programme. 

2.            The view of the chair that she felt that the year had worked well.  Members had been able to make in depth and insightful commentary on the issues under review and to pose challenging questions.

3.            Any suggestions for items to be considered as part of next year’s programme should be emailed to the Chair or the committee secretary.  They would then be considered for inclusion in the work programme by next year’s panel. 

4.            There would be an additional meeting to consider local plan policy at a workshop session on 14 April 2021.

9.

Dates of Future Meetings

 To note the dates scheduled for future meetings as follows:

 

·         Wednesday 14 April 2021 (workshop on local plan policies)

Minutes:

NOTED the dates scheduled for future meetings:

 

·        Wednesday 14 April 2021 - workshop on Local Plan policies.

 

The chair thanked everyone for their help and support over the past year and said that she had enjoyed being chair of this committee.  It had been an insightful and engaging experience.  Members, in turn, thanked the chair.