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Election of the Deputy Chairman of the Joint Committee
Following the cessation of the former Deputy Chairman’s term of office as a member of Colchester Borough Council, to now elect the Deputy Chairman of the Joint Committee for the remainder of the 2022/2023 Municipal Year.
It was moved by Councillor Carlo Guglielmi, seconded by Councillor Julie Young and:-
RESOLVED that Councillor David King be elected Deputy Chairman of the Joint Committee for the remainder of the 2022/2023 Municipal Year.
Apologies for Absence and Substitutions
The Joint Committee is asked to note any apologies for absence and substitutions received from Members.
Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Joint Committee Member Councillor Mike Bush (TDC), TDC’s Designated Substitute Member (Councillor Jeff Bray) and CBC’s Designated Substitute Member (Councillor William Sunnucks).
Councillor Julie Young submitted apologies on behalf of Councillors Molly Bloomfield and Tim Young, her fellow Ward Members for Greenstead (Borough of Colchester).
To confirm and sign as a correct record, the Minutes of the previous meeting of the Joint Committee, held on Monday 28 February 2022.
It was moved by Councillor Tom Cunningham, seconded by Councillor Carlo Guglielmiand:-
RESOLVED that the Minutes of the inaugural meeting of the Joint Committee held on Monday 28 February 2022 be approved as a correct record and be signed by the Chairman.
Declarations of Interest
Councillors are invited to declare any Disposable Pecuniary Interests or Personal Interest and the nature of it, in relation to any item on the agenda.
There were no Declarations of Interest made by Members of the Joint Committee on this occasion.
To report to the Joint Committee, some of the notable issues raised in the representations received from the public and other interested parties to the consultation on the first draft Development Plan Document i.e. ‘the Plan’ for the Garden Community under Regulation 18 of the statutory plan making process.
To highlight, for information, particular issues raised in the representations that may require the Councils to consider changes to the Plan, undertake or commission further work or analysis to inform possible changes for the Joint Committee’s consideration.
The Joint Committee had before it a comprehensive report (A.1) which reported some of the notable issues raised in the representations received from the public and other interested parties to the consultation on the first draft Development Plan Document (DPD) (‘the Plan’) for the Garden Community under Regulation 18 of the statutory plan making process.
The report also highlighted, for Members’ information, particular issues raised in the representations that might require changes to the Plan to be considered, or the undertaking or commissioning further work or analysis to inform possible changes for the Committee’s consideration.
The report was introduced by Mr Gary Guiver, Acting Director (Planning), Tendring District Council.
It was reported that public consultation on the first draft of a Plan for the Garden Community had commenced on 14 March 2022 and had closed on 25 April 2022 during which Officers had held a number of face-to-face engagement events, which had been attended by around 180 visitors.
The Councils had received responses from 193 individuals or organisations, raising approximately 620 comments on different elements of the Draft Plan. All of those representations had been published on the Garden Community engagement website in June 2022 for public view thereby allowing interested parties to see what others had said in full.
Members were aware that, as part of the statutory plan-making process, the Councils were required to take the representations received at the Regulation 18 stage into account when preparing the final version of the Plan for the Regulation 19 stage, when the Plan would be published for a further round of consultation and thence submitted to the Secretary of State in order to begin the independent examination process.
The Joint Committee was informed that the issue of the ‘green’ buffers between the proposed new development as part of the Garden Community and the neighbouring settlements had been raised as a concern. Almost half of all the responses received, mostly from local residents from the Wivenhoe area, had written in objection to the prospect of development taking place on land south of the A133 as indicated for the expansion of the University of Essex in ‘Approach B’ in the Draft Plan. However, the representations from both the lead developer, Latimer, and the University had argued that neither Approach A nor Approach B was appropriate and that more land was going to be needed for development, potentially south of the A133. The Community Liaison Group had put forward an alternative approach, and other community related organisations, such as Town and Parish Councils, had also expressed strong views. Officers would review and consider the planning issues involved and were not in a position at this stage to recommend any specific changes to the Plan, but would undertake and commission further work in order to ensure that any future decision on this matter was informed by supporting evidence.
Members were also made aware that a notable number of respondents had also objected to Approach B in respect of a potential Knowledge Gateway expansion north ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
To provide an update on the Evidence Base required for the Tendring Colchester Borders Development Plan Document including evidence already gathered and further work that is underway.
Members had before them a report (A.2) which provided the Joint Committee with an update on the Evidence Base required for the Tendring Colchester Borders Development Plan Document (DPD) including evidence already gathered and further work that was underway.
The report was introduced by Colchester Borough Council’s Lead Officer for Planning, Housing & Economic Growth (Karen Syrett), who informed the Joint Committee that this report related to report A.1 considered earlier on in the meeting report which had highlighted a number of issues where decision-making would need to be informed by more robust information and evidence. The following additional studies were being compiled and would be made available to Members and Officers during the evolution and finalisation of the Plan. This additional work would consider all relevant issues and provide appropriate justification for the final approach.
Approach to Land Use & Type of Place
Various issues and concerns had been raised about the proposed boundary of the Garden Community, the scale and locations of certain land uses, and the nature of place that was being proposed. The following work was being taken forward which would provide additional evidence to enable robust decisions to be taken:
· Strategic Framework/Masterplan & Strategic Design Guide/Code
The approach to the Garden Community would continue to evolve and become more detailed through an on-going master planning process. To date, work on master planning had considered the baseline position (including constraints and opportunities analysis), the overall spatial vision and some initial land use and masterplan options. Going forward additional strategic master planning work would be undertaken by the Councils to illustrate, justify and set the basis for land use proposals to be set out in the Final Plan to be submitted.
It was acknowledged that at this stage of planning for the Garden Community, it was not possible (primarily due to the extent, cost and time required to undertake all of the detailed technical site survey and design work that would be required - which was the responsibility of site developers to inform their planning applications), for further master planning and related policies in the DPD to contain precise details of design, layout and appearance of the new buildings and spaces that would be delivered. Instead, the additional strategic master planning work illustrated how development could be brought forward and provided further direction to developers to enable them to prepare appropriate and more detailed proposals.
The Draft Plan (Policy 1) had included specific wording to require a comprehensive approach to development that met the Councils’ high expectations for design and quality and the key principles that underpinned the development of Garden Communities. It set out the requirement for proposals seeking planning permission to adhere to a ‘Strategic Masterplan’ and ‘Strategic Design Code’ for the whole site and more specific and detailed ‘Neighbourhood Masterplans’ and ‘Neighbourhood Design Codes’ for the relevant neighbourhoods. The draft Plan set out that those Masterplans and Design Codes would need to ultimately be approved by the Councils before planning applications could be approved.
To provide an update on the progress toward delivering a Rapid Transit System serving the Tendring Colchester Borders Garden Community and wider Colchester area.
The Joint Committee had before it a report (A.3) which updated it on the progress toward delivering a Rapid Transit System (RTS) serving the Tendring Colchester Borders Garden Community and wider Colchester area. Though the Joint Committee’s Terms of Reference precluded decision making on the RTS (which was being brought forward by Essex County Council working closely with its partners) it was recognised as an important component of the overall transport infrastructure requirements related to the Garden Community.
The report was introduced by Ashley Heller, Head of Transport for Future Communities, Essex County Council, who was assisted by Ian Turner, Principal Transportation & Infrastructure Planner (ECC) and Martin Whittles, an Associate at Ringway Jacobs.
The Joint Committee was aware that the successful Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) bid in 2019 had secured funding for infrastructure works related to the provision of a new RTS for Colchester. A RTS would be in place to connect the Garden Community with the University of Essex, Colchester Town Centre, Colchester Railway Stations, Colchester Hospital, Community Stadium, Northern Gateway Sport Park and the existing Park and Ride site in north Colchester. This would provide a high frequency, efficient public transport system with priority over general traffic within the Garden Community. The final route within the Garden Community would be confirmed and agreed with the Councils through the strategic masterplan process.
Members were informed that a key feature of the RTS was the incorporation of Park and Choose facilities (P&C), provision of which had been included in the Draft Plan. The concept for P&C was to be developed as part of, and support for, the RTS being delivered. P&C extended the concept of park and ride (P&R) to include choice and work as a central hub for other modes. Principally this would be cycle or electric cycle hire but in time could be extended to electric scooters, e-cargo, etc. It could also provide space for users to store their own bicycles. Providing choice could appeal particularly to nearby potential users travelling to the University of Essex, but also to those travelling to destinations in Colchester further away from RTS halts and interchanges.
The ultimate aim was to introduce a system akin to a trackless tram. This combined the advantages of light rail with the practicality and flexibility of bus rapid transit. The system could also be built up incrementally, growing alongside future housing and economic growth. It adapted readily to early adoption of autonomous vehicle technology, and, in time, the main trackless trams would co-ordinate with automated pods to take passengers to final destinations.
It was understood that the public transport provision would need to be of a high quality from the outset. Achieving high shares for trips being undertaken by sustainable modes would be crucial in ensuring that growth in the housing supply occurred sustainably. The RTS should offer easy interchange with existing modes of public transport across the town, along with being well-designed to facilitate walking and cycling.
It was noted ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
To consider the attached Planning Probity Protocol (Appendix A) related to the functions of the Tendring Colchester Borders Garden Community (TCBGC) Joint Committee. The Protocol describes how the Councils will deal with planning applications and other planning practices within the TCBGC area.
Members considered a report (A.4) which presented to it the proposed Planning Probity Protocol (Appendix A) related to the functions of the Tendring Colchester Borders Garden Community (TCBGC) Joint Committee. The Protocol applied and focused on the functions and responsibilities of the Joint Committee for determining planning applications within the TCBGC area. Executive functions, not connected with the DPD process or otherwise delegated to the Joint Committee, but nonetheless related to the TCBGC would remain with each Council to exercise.
The report was introduced by Lisa Hastings, Deputy Chief Executive & Monitoring Officer (Tendring District Council).
Members of the Joint Committee were expected to observe the requirements and principles as set out in the Protocol at all times when involving themselves in the planning process. The planning system relied on Councillors and Officers acting in a way which was fair and was clearly seen to be fair. This included acting in accordance with planning law in all instances, and paying due regard to national and local policies, in addition to all other “material planning considerations”.
It was acknowledged that each of the Councils forming the Joint Committee had their own locally adopted Members’ Code of Conduct, which must always be complied with first by the Members from those respective authorities, particularly in respect of declarations of interest.. Those Codes were, however, very similar and based upon the national Nolan Principles.
It was recognised that decision-makers must not fetter their discretion by approaching the decision to determine a planning application with a closed mind. It was a legal requirement to approach the determination of a planning application with an open mind in order to prevent a legal challenge for pre-determination or bias. Decisions needed to be taken in accordance with the Section 1 of the Local Plan and the Development Plan Document unless material considerations indicated otherwise. Members should come to a decision only after due consideration of all of the information reasonably required upon which to base a decision.
The Joint Committee was aware that Officers were responsible for carrying out their duties in compliance with the Royal Town Planning Institute Code of Conduct, in particular, that Officers must not make or subscribe to any statements which went against their own professional standards.
Members were advised that care would be needed when there was contact with applicants, developers and objectors. Certain structured meetings could occur where there was transparency, consistency and fairness to all. Members could express any view on the merits or otherwise of the proposal presented, though they should never state how they or other Members intended to vote at a joint committee meeting.
Councillors were further advised that they should explain to those lobbying or attempting to lobby them that, whilst they could listen to what was said, it might subsequently prejudice their impartiality, and therefore their ability to participate in the Joint Committee’s decision making, if they made any sort of promise to vote one way or another or expressed such a firm point of ... view the full minutes text for item 8.