Question from Councillor Mrs Thompson
Is the Leader able to please confirm how much of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is being set aside from the major housing developments to fund the Bus Station redevelopment/ St Sidwells Point?
Question from Councillor Mrs Thompson
In the absence of a Planning Solicitor at a meeting of the Planning Committee is the Leader able to confirm who would be the appropriate person able to give legal advice and interpret the Constitution at Planning Committees should a legal query or point of order be raised as per the example queried on 3 December 2018 by Cllr. Yolonda Henson?
Question from Councillor Mrs Thompson
Could the Leader please confirm how many
agreed Planning Consents for housing developments in this municipal
year have not met the City Council's policy of 35% affordable
Question from Councillor Mrs Thompson
Could the Leader please confirm if Chairs of
Committees when chairing meetings are able to effectively
unilaterally override all other Standing Orders by way of Standing
In accordance with Standing Order No. 8, the following questions were put by Councillor Thompson to the Leader.
Question - Is the Leader able to please confirm how much of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is being set aside from the major housing developments to fund the Bus Station redevelopment/ St Sidwell’s Point?
The Leader responded that in accordance with the Executive Resolution on 10th February 2015 a total of £8m of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) had been set aside for the St Sidwell Project and the new Bus Station: £4 million was being set aside for the Leisure Complex and £4 million for the bus station making £8 million of CIL in total. He added that Devon County Council had not offered any contribution.
Councillor Thompson asked a supplementary question and referred to the level of development in Pinhoe and said that they would also like to benefit from CIL. She enquired what percentage of CIL was set aside for Pinhoe.
The Leader advised that he was unable to advise what the percentage was, but the resolution was that the CIL would be shared around the city rather than be given to one particular area. The new Leisure Complex and Bus Station would benefit everyone in the city. He agreed to provide the requested information on the breakdown of the CIL in due course.
Question - In the absence of a Planning Solicitor at a meeting of the Planning Committee, is the Leader able to confirm who would be the appropriate person able to give legal advice and interpret the Constitution at Planning Committees should a legal query or point of order be raised as per the example queried on 3 December 2018 by Councillor Yolonda Henson?
The Leader responded that the Planning Officers were experts in the planning field, and there was no reason why they should not be able to deal with any planning related questions which may be posed. It was part of the duties of the Democratic Services Officer, who is in attendance at all committee meetings, to offer any necessary procedural advice.
Councillor Thompson asked a supplementary question and said that one of the questions that she would have asked and which was not clarified clearly at the Planning meeting, was the argument of the classification of C2 and C2A, in relation to the Ribston Avenue application. She wished to seek legal clarification on whether it was possible, giving the circumstances of moving from one class to another, that class use for C2 was for a residential institution and C2A was for a secure residential institutions and not clarified in a legal context. She asked if it was possible through the scheme of delegation to move from C2 to C2A and if that matter could that be clarified.
The Leader stated that the officers at the Planning meeting had made it clear what was being voted for. It was not a secure unit and that was what the officers advised and Members voted upon.
Question - Could the Leader please confirm how many agreed Planning Consents for housing developments in this municipal year have not met the City Council's policy of 35% affordable housing?
The Leader responded that there has been one application approved since 1 April 2018 that did not achieve 35% affordable housing. This was the Royal Academy for the Deaf Education site, and reduced affordable housing (28%) was agreed due to the application of Vacant Building Credit. He referred to recent legislation in relation to the level of social housing that could be built where there were already existing buildings.
One further application has been approved since 1 April 2018, however it is still subject to a Section 106 agreement so technically does not have permission yet. This is land at Sandrock, Gipsy Hill Lane and 23% affordable housing was agreed due to viability issues.
Councillor Thompson declared an interest in respect of Sandrock, Gipsy Hill Lane, Exeter.
Question - Could the Leader please confirm if Chairs of Committees when chairing meetings are able to effectively unilaterally override all other Standing Orders by way of Standing Order 49?
The Leader responded that Chairs of Committees were trusted to run committee meetings appropriately and fairly given the circumstances presented to them. Put simply, they were asked to act reasonably and it was therefore highly unlikely, that any Chair would unilaterally override standing orders.
Councillor Thompson stated that she understood that Standing Order 49 allowed the Chair not to be challenged, and her question was in respect of the Planning Committee meeting held on 3 December where there was not the opportunity to ask any questions in accordance with Standing Order 19A. In view of the response from the Leader, it seems that approach was incorrect and there should have had been the opportunity to use Standing Order 19A. Councillor Thompson asked the Legal Officer to comment.
The City Solicitor and Head of HR stated that the Chair of the Committee was entitled to run the Committee as they saw fit.
Question - I note the Planning Application 18/0873/FUL for the secure unit
was deemed Class Use C2 in the presentation. Are you able to
confirm how this was established given the guidance as attached?
This was a point of clarification which I wished to seek from one
of the speakers but I was denied this opportunity by the
The Leader responded that the officer report laid out in some detail why the use was considered C2. This was on page 26 of the report.
Councillor Thompson asked a supplementary question and stated that the classification was a variance to the Delegated Briefing, such meetings are held in private. She understood that the minutes were available for public perusal, but she sought information as to how that could happen.
The Leader repeated his response and stated that the officer report set out in detail the classification of C2 and he had nothing further to add.
Question - Would the Planning Application 18/0873/FUL re applicant Cygnet Health Care presented to the Planning Committee 3 December 2018 for consideration within Use Class C2 Residential Institutions and NOT Use Class C2a Secure Residential Institutions, allow the facility to accept patients detained under the Mental Health Act for admittance to a Secure Residential Institution (if the Consent obtained re. 18/0873/FUL is not defined as a Secure Residential Institution within the Use Class under the Town & Country Planning Act)?
The Leader responded that the matter of whom the hospital admits was entirely separate from planning considerations. It was a matter for the NHS Trust as commissioner and Cygnet as care provider. He understood that along with all other units of this type, the majority of patients would have been detained under the Mental Health Act although some may attend voluntarily.
In respect of the use class, he advised that the Council took legal advice before concluding that the hospital would fall within use class C2.
Councillor Thompson asked a supplementary question about there being no guarantee that the C2A classification would not change through delegated authority.
The Leader stated said that the proposal for the Ribston Avenue application was a C2 classification.
In accordance with Standing Order No. 8, the following question was put by Councillor Holland to the Leader.
Question - Exeter City Council believes that all children, young people and adults have the right to be safe, happy and healthy and deserve protection from abuse. The council is committed to safeguarding from harm all children, young people and adults with care and support needs using any council services and involved in any of their activities, and to treat them with respect during their dealings with the councils, our partners and contractors.
‘’Will the Leader of the Council help me understand how this important policy was then applied to the decision to grant Planning Permission for a secure unit in Ribston Avenue barely 7 days later?’’. Will the Leader of the Council agree that Safeguarding is a Material Consideration on matters of planning?
The Leader responded that the safeguarding obligations do not apply to the Council’s role as Planning Authority. Planning decisions had to be in accordance with all relevant national and local planning policy and other material considerations (which have largely been historically established through case law). Safeguarding per se had not been heard of as being a material consideration.
Even if it was material, the officer recommendation would have been no different. All patients at the hospital would have been subject to a risk assessment which would be the appropriate way to mitigate this concern.
The Safeguarding Policy was concerned with protecting children, young people and adults with care and support needs from harm under the Care Act 2014. This clearly included vulnerable adults with mental health needs who may require residential care within a community setting.
Given that 1 in 4 adults in the UK are diagnosed with a mental illness each year; that suicide was the leading cause of death amongst men over 50; and the South West had the highest suicide rate of any region in England; this Council should welcome the addition of new specialist mental health facilities and be at the forefront of efforts to reduce prejudice towards those suffering from mental illness.
In accordance with Standing Order No. 8, the following questions were put by Councillor Prowse to the Leader.
Question – What is the current position of the Riverside pool? Can the Leader update the Council?
The Leader responded that the majority of the repairs from fire damage were nearing completion. However the building contractor had uncovered defects to the building structure in the pool area and the roof that would require additional works. These defects could not have been identified earlier as they had only come to light as materials have been removed to prepare for fire damage repairs. A further building survey was underway to ensure that any further defects were identified now so that we would be able to rectify the situation and get the pool open as soon as was practicable.
Question - Does the Leader know of a date of the likely re-opening of the Riverside pool ?
The Leader stated he did not but he expected to be able to give more detail about timeframes early in the New Year when officers had assessed the technical reports and agreed the work programme with the contractors.
Question - Who is the current builder engaged in the re-instatement ?
The Leader responded that Faithfull and Gould are the Council’s project managers and Kier are the main building contractor.
Question - Pursuant to my questions at the previous full Council meeting is the Leader able to report on any progress on Chester Long Court. What date did the first tenant move in ?
The Leader responded that the first nine tenants moved into Chester Long Court on 10 December 2018 – the letting process was continuing for all properties;
Question - Given the delay is it the case that the Council has in effect lost revenue from unoccupancy as a result of the builder’s error?
The Leader responded that the building was not accepted by the Council (Practical Completion) until all works had been completed – the general construction works and the automatic opening vents (AOV) which caused the delay. As such, the rent accounts only become live at the point of Practical Completion. Additionally, the contractor did not charge preliminaries to the end of the last agreed extension of time due to the further delays in completing all construction works; and
Question - Are we likely to seek recompense?
The Leader responded that the Council was currently assessing the liability position regarding the failure to install AOV’s. Account needs to be taken of the Liquidated Ascertained Damages (LADs) which the Council could charge for late delivery, but this would be off-set by the agreement of the contractor to charge full preliminaries to the end of the last agreed extension of time (July 2018).
Question – Since the decision was taken to dispose of the Clifton Hill site, has there been any enquiries from speculative developers?
The Leader responded that there had been.