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Apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Knight and Lofthouse.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 6 February 2023 (circulated previously) be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.
Declarations of Interests.
(Please telephone the Corporate and Community Services team to prepare a form for your signature before the meeting. Interests must be re-declared when the item is called, and Councillors must leave the room if necessary).
The following declarations of interest were announced:
Councillor Pearson, an “other registrable” interest in item 9, as she was a trustee of the Ilfracombe Community Land Trust.
Councillor L. Spear, an ‘other registrable’ interest in Item 16, as she was a member of Braunton Parish Council.
Councillor Wilkinson, a non-registrable interest in Item 9 as he was a Member of the Mortehoe Parish Council and 16 as he was a trustee of the Community Led Land Trust of Mortehoe and Woolacombe.
Councillor Yabsley, an ‘other registrable’ interest in Item 7 as he was a Devon County Councillor.
An Asset and Property Management Update Report on Green Lanes Shopping Centre
Presentation by Praxis Real Estate Management
The Committee received a presentation by Praxis Real Estate Management Ltd regarding an Asset and Property Management update report on Green Lanes Shopping Centre.
RESOLVED that at 10:05 am the meeting be adjourned to allow Praxis to seek legal advice on whether information they would be disclosing in their presentation was commercially sensitive.
The meeting resumed at 10:08 am and it was confirmed that there was no sensitive information involved in the presentation.
The Committee received the following highlights:
· The team of 6 introduced themselves. Green Lanes had a team of 40 working on all areas of the running of the asset.
· The Praxis team held a retail and regeneration portfolio of 11 commercial projects and 8 Council portfolios and they had never lost a mandate.
· The experience the Praxis team had for dealing in the regeneration of town centres.
· The site had been acquired for £8.2m in November 2021, the centre had some significant issues due to previous lack of investment and passive management.
· The rationale for acquiring the centre was based on this being a once in a lifetime opportunity, the investment into the centre would avoid the risk of further deterioration of the centre, address issues with the glass roof and water leaks, which the centre was known for, and the opportunities to improve the Joy Street and Boutport Street entrances.
· There were 9 vacant units and the service charge had spiralled when the Council acquired the Centre.
· Rent collection rate was at 63% prior to Praxis coming in.
· The shopping centre investment market had seen improved liquidity, with a jump in the number of deals fuelling a bounce in volumes that had continued into 2023.
· £156bn was transacted nationally last year, with the Quarter 4 of 2022 activity the third highest over the last 10 years.
· The start of 2023 had seen a strong investor appetite to shopping centre acquisitions albeit it was expected this would stabilise.
· Praxis had three steps to their approach of the centre:
Ø Step 1 short term – asset stabilisation; included rent collection increased to 97% and engagement with tenants
Ø Step 2 medium term – evolving the vision; sustainability strategy, list of capital projects, regenerate the former BHS and M&Co. units.
Ø Step 3 long term – delivery; continue to engage with tenants, deliver capital projects, atriums, floors and other centre enhancements.
· The removal of the glass pyramid atriums would alleviate the biggest problem of leaking water. To improve aesthetically the centre completion of the replacement of the floor tiles was recommended.
· In terms of sustainability, replacing all the halogen lightbulbs with LED would reduce energy consumption.
· Every year Green Lanes used around £140,000 of energy and emitted 80 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide emissions. Praxis were aiming to reduce emissions down ultimately to carbon net zero.
· Solar panels if installed on the car park roof would provide a pay back in 3-4 years.
· The long-term prospects of the centre would be determined by what the Council wanted ... view the full minutes text for item 110.
To consider the notice of motion submitted by Councillor Tucker to Council on 22 February 2023 that has been referred to the Strategy and Resources Committee for consideration (attached). Minute extract of Council held on 22 February 2023 (to follow).
The Committee considered the Notice of Motion on Potholes and minute extract of Council (circulated previously) submitted by Councillor Tucker to Council on 22 February 2023 that had been referred to the Strategy and Resources Committee for consideration.
The Chair invited Councillor Tucker to address the Committee in relation to an update on the motion following its consideration at Council on 22 February 2023.
Councillor Yabsley re-declared his other-registrable interest in the item, as he was a Devon County Councillor.
Councillor Tucker highlighted the following:
· Due to a lack of maintenance the regions roads were in a bad state.
· Since the council meeting where the motion was raised the national media had run the story.
· A national newspaper had printed a double page spread on the issue of potholes and a separate paper had printed the sad story of a cyclist who tragically had lost their life due to hitting a hole in the road. Councillor Tucker would pass these to the Chair for reference.
· Local cycling groups had spoken with Councillor Tucker advising him that it was hard to find a road in North Devon that did not have holes.
· According to Devon County Council March was peak pothole month as the cold weather tended to cause more damage.
The Chair invited Councillor Saxby, MP for North Devon to address the Committee.
Councillor Saxby advised the Committee that she had taken the matter up with Highways. She wanted to give assurances that the matter was being discussed and that three other Devon MP’s had raised the issue with the Government. Teams were being deployed to Devon to carry out pothole repairs. One Local Authority had installed technology on the undercarriages of its Waste and Recycling vans that detected the formation of damage to roads and were able to get ahead of issues before they occurred.
(a) the MP for North Devon to raise the issue of road maintenance funding with Government;
(b) Team Devon be asked to speak to MP’s for their respective areas regarding the issue;
(c) North Devon Council support Devon County Council in any campaign they might undertake to persuade Government to provide more funding for pothole repairs and road resurfacing to be undertaken on a more regular basis; and
(d) That a letter be written to the Chief Executive of Devon County Council, Leader of Devon County Council, Councillor Hughes (Portfolio Holder and Lead Member for Devon County Council Highways repairs) and the MP to lobby the Minister to give Devon County Council a fair slice of funding to undertake highway repairs in North Devon and to put pressure on Devon County Council to start the repairs on the pot holes as soon as possible.
Report by Head of Customer Focus (attached).
The Committee considered a report by the Head of Customer Focus (circulated previously), regarding the Rural Settlement List.
The Head of Customer Focus highlighted the following:
· The Rural Rate Relief Scheme helped qualifying small general stores, post offices, food shops, public houses and petrol stations. It was intended to safeguard rural communities and preserve the future of village life by supporting the service they provided to local people. To qualify for relief, properties had to be situated within a designated rural settlement area of less than 3,000 people.
· The list of qualifying Rural Settlements with a population of fewer than 3,000, was shown at Appendix A of the report.
· This list had remained the same for a number of years.
RESOLVED that for the purposes of Rural Rate Relief, of the rural settlements as listed in Appendix A of the report be approved.
Report by Service Lead – Affordable Housing (attached).
The Committee considered a report by the Service Lead – Affordable Housing (circulated previously), regarding Funding to Deliver Affordable Housing via Community-Led Housing Models.
The Service Lead – Affordable Housing highlighted the following:
· There were eight formal Community Land Trusts in North Devon with two Parishes considering becoming Community Land Trusts.
· This gave the opportunity to provide around 141 affordable homes led and driven by local people in small communities.
· Government had not renewed the Community Housing Fund and so other ways of funding this initiative had to be found.
· The Community Land Trusts network, Middlemarch, Officers of North Devon Council and Team Devon had all been lobbying Government to continue funding. A discussion had taken place with a Housing Minister who recognised the importance of Community Land Trusts to deliver housing and ways the Government could tackle the loss of funding.
· £3.8 million would be the total required sum to borrow to complete the remaining 8 projects in the pipeline
· Table 1 at paragraph 5.1 of the report listed the 8 future projects that required funding.
· Table 2 of the report detailed the potential revenue and capital sources available to fund future projects which totalled £611,602.
· Officers would continue to work on identifying funding sources and report this back to a future committee meeting.
Councillor Pearson re-declared an “other registrable” interest and left the room after she had addressed the Committee.
In response to questions, the Chief Executive advised the following:
· The 67% drop in available privately rented accommodation had not changed.
· If you looked at a map showing where the Community Land Trusts were you would find a big cluster in North Devon. This was testament to the hard work by the teams to get them up and running.
· The loss of available accommodation to rent was not all as a result of holiday homes but also due to Landlords leaving the market.
(a) the allocation of £611,602 from funding sources as outlined in section 5, table 2 of the report be approved for the delivery of additional new build social rents delivered through community-led housing models across North Devon, namely:
(i) Parracombe build costs gap-funding alongside Registered Provider/Homes England funding as set out in 4.9.1 of the report; and
(ii) Ilfracombe build costs contingency alongside Registered Provider/Homes England funding and Brownland Release Fund as set out in 4.9.1 of the report.
(iii) One year of set-up grant of £600 for each of the 9 Community Land Trusts/parishes in the community-led housing pipeline;
(iv) The residual balances of capital and revenue funding available as set out in section 4.10 of the report be used to help further schemes progress be noted;
(b) Officers continue to work to support the formation of Community Land Trusts in the North Devon community-led housing programme and continue to identify funds available to progress their work;
(c) When the identified Community Land Trusts in the North Devon community-led housing programme were in a position to proceed, further reports come ... view the full minutes text for item 113.
Report by Service Lead – Affordable Housing (attached).
The Committee considered a report by the Service Lead – Affordable Housing (circulated previously), regarding the Advertising and Allocation of Shared Ownership.
The Service Lead – Affordable Housing highlighted the following:
· Homes England had ceased the requirement to advertise and allocate Shared Ownership homes via the Help to Buy system (previously known as Help to Buy Southwest) from 1 March 2023.
· The Council needed to reflect this change in its Affordable Housing Supplementary Document and Section 106 Affordable Housing template. As well as retrospectively applying this change to former signed Section 106 completed affordable housing schemes.
RESOLVED that the amended policy wording as outlined in paragraph 4.9 of the report, for documents outlined in paragraph 4.11 of the report reflect that the Help Buy system will cease to exist from 1 April 2023 as per Homes England changes for the advertising and allocation of Shared Ownership be approved.
Report by Service Lead – Affordable Housing (attached).
The Committee considered a report by the Service Lead – Affordable Housing and the Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive (circulated previously) regarding Local Authority Housing Fund (LAHF).
The Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive highlighted the following:
· The Department for Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities launched a new £500m Local Authority Housing Fund in December 2022.
· Of this fund North Devon Council had been allocated £1,001,081 of capital grant funding to provide settled and sustainable housing for those unable to secure their own accommodation who were under the Ukraine and Afghan Schemes.
· A Memorandum of Understanding had to be signed by mid-March 2023.
· The funding would provide 9 additional units of temporary accommodation, available for meeting the refugee need that arose and also reducing the cost of temporary accommodation provision.
· Officers had put forward three options:
Ø Option 1: The purchase of 3 open market units (2 x 2 or 3 bedroom homes and 1 x 4 bed home) and the construction of 6 modular units.
Ø Option 2: If the modular build element in option 1 could not be delivered in time, the purchase of 9 units on the open market.
Ø Option 3: If options 1 or 2 could not be delivered, delivery through a Registered Provider. Officers had spoken with Registered Providers in the North Devon area and many were interested in this fund, some via possible stock sale enquiries from developers.
· Following further research into the 3 options; Officers were proposing Option 2 – the purchase of 9 units on the open market as the most viable option at this time.
· With option 1 having been discounted due to time scales meaning it would miss the deadline to spend the funds, November 2023.
· The resource implications were detailed in section 5 of the report.
· Going forwards the Council was intending to establish alternative housing delivery models. This would allow the Council to potentially switch a property from temporary accommodation to settled accommodation (a licence to an Assured Shorthold Tenancy) without the tenant being displaced. The Council had already used this model in an initiative to help care leavers, with positive results.
· The Council would need to gap-fund 60% of the capital required amounting to around £1,230,000. A separate report on increasing the capital acquisition of temporary accommodation with a request to vary the Council’s capital programme by a further £2m had been approved at Full Council on 22 February 2023. Therefore, pending option 1 and/or option 3, as mentioned above and set out at paragraphs 4.5.1 – 4.5.3 in the report being delivered; the capital programme funding already approved for temporary accommodation can be used as the element of match funding from the Council towards delivery of the Local Authority Housing Fund.
In response to questions, the Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive gave the following replies:
· If the Council did not accept this grant, the impact on the Council to provide temporary accommodation housing would be greater. A larger ... view the full minutes text for item 115.
Report by Service Lead – Home Adaptations, Improvements and Energy Efficiency (attached).
The Committee considered a report by the Service Lead – Home Adaptations, Improvements and Energy Efficiency (circulated previously), regarding Financial Policy for the Better Care Fund.
The Service Lead – Home Adaptations, Improvements and Energy Efficiency highlighted the following:
· The current Policy was approved at the Strategy and Resources Committee meeting of 12 April 2021.
· In 2015 the Government introduced the Better Care Fund in an attempt to bring health and social care together in an integrated way. The fund was a combination of Government funding from the Department of Health and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and included the grant allocation for disabled facilities grants.
· The revised Policy set out 8 grants that would be available:
Ø Mandatory Disabled Facilities Grants
Ø Stair Lift Grant
Ø Bathroom Adaptation Grant
Ø Accessible Homes Grant – General
Ø Accessible Homes Grant – Contribution
Ø Accessible Homes Grant – Moving
Ø Health Homes Grants
Ø Warm Up Grants
· The Health Homes Grants would include an element of energy efficiency works.
RESOLVED that the revised North Devon Council’s Financial Policy for the Better Care Fund as set out in Appendix A of the report be approved.
Report by Head of Place, Property and Regeneration (attached).
The Committee considered a report by the Head of Place, Property and Regeneration (circulated previously) regarding approval of North Devon Council (Off Street Parking Places) Order and Subsequent Proposed Amendment to Account for the Change to Long Stay Car Park at Seven Brethren.
The Head of Place, Property and Regeneration highlighted the following:
· There were two elements to this report, a letter of objection received from the National Trust and the relocation of the long stay car park at Seven Brethren.
· A hybrid planning permission had been granted in November 2022 which included full planning permission for the relocation of the long stay car park.
· At its meeting of 5 December 2022 the Strategy and Resources Committee agreed to approve the North Devon (Off Street Parking Places) Order 2023.
· In accordance with this the Council consulted with statutory consultees and published all relevant notices in the North Devon Gazette on 11 January 2023.
· The Council received a number of objections to the proposal to allow motorhomes in Croyde car park and so in response to this the proposal was removed from the Off Street Parking Places Order.
· A letter was received from the National Trust in relation to the proposal to allow motorhomes at the Council’s Mortehoe car park, which was leased from the National Trust. The National Trust considered that this was a breach of the Council’s lease of that car park and therefore, in light of this, the proposal was removed from the Off Street Parking Places Order.
· The objections were not considered controversial and the Council served the Notice of Making for the Off Street Parking Places Order on 7 February 2023 due to come into force on 15 March 2023. The Off Street Parking Places Order was shown at Appendix A of the report.
· The planning permission was for the replacement of the long stay car park (including number of spaces) on a like for like basis. The proposed long stay car park and events area (temporary toleration site) had been designed to accommodate the loading requirements of the Fair, and to ensure no unnecessary obstacles that would further hamper its use.
· On 7 December 2022, the Council entered into a conditional contract with Tarka Living Limited to deliver this scheme; to include the car park and the residential development, as detailed in paragraph 1.1 of the report.
· The contract with Tarka Living Limited was programmed to go unconditional on 28 February 2023 with enabling works commencing on 28 March 2023.
· The enabling works included the provision of the new long stay car park and this was programmed to be ready for operational use on the 1 July 2023. The Development Agreement does not allow work to commence on the current long stay car park until the new car park was in place (to ensure continuous provision) and required the existing car park to be available for the 2023 Fair should the new car park not be ready.
· Alongside the provision of the relocated car park, ... view the full minutes text for item 117.
Report by Chartered Legal Executive Officer (attached).
The Committee considered a report by the Legal Executive Officer (circulated previously) regarding the Extension of the Ilfracombe Harbour and Adjacent Streets Public Safety Protection Order (PSPO).
The Senior Solicitor and Monitoring Officer highlighted the following:
· The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act (2014) created provision for Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPO’s) to be made.
· In part to address the problems of ticket touting the Council had decided in 2018 to introduce a PSPO along the Harbour at Ilfracombe.
· No evidence had been received of issues continuing since the order had been in place.
· The revised order was due to be in place by the end of March 2023.
· Responses had been invited by way of consultation from key stakeholders and the public for the period 13 February 2023 to 27 March 2023.
· The proposal was also due to be advertised in a local newspaper from 15 March 2023.
RESOLVED that delegated authority be given to the Head of Place, Property and Regeneration, in consultation with the Leader and the Senior Solicitor and Monitoring Officer, to make the Public Spaces Protection Order in relation to Ilfracombe Harbour and roads adjacent to it, as per the Order show at Appendix A of the report, following conclusion and the consultation period referred to in paragraphs 4.13 and 4.14 of the report be approved.
Report by Senior Corporate and Community Services Officer (attached).
The Committee considered a report by the Senior Corporate and Community Services Officer (circulated previously) regarding the Community Councillor Grants Strategy 2023-2027.
The Senior Corporate and Community Services Officer highlighted the following:
· At the council meeting of 22 February 2023 it was agreed to allocate £42,000 budget for Community Councillor Grants.
· The Council recognised the value that Voluntary and Community Groups added to the lives of residents of North Devon, and Community Councillor Grants offered a way for Councillors to help support those groups and the local Community. Voluntary and Community Groups were often at the heart of our communities and were essential to improving the delivery of public services and improving community cohesion.
· Community Councillor Grants from North Devon Council could also be used as match-funding for organisations to attract other funding from external sources.
· The Community Councillor Grants were administered in accordance with the Community Councillor Grants Strategy. The current policy expired in 2023; therefore, a review had been undertaken of the strategy.
· A new strategy needed to be in place prior to the elections taking place in May 2023 so the scheme would be ready to open.
· Minor changes had been made to improve the way the Council processed Community Councillor Grant applications by increasing the transparency of the scheme and clarifying the criterion and procedures for processing.
· The revised policy could be found at Appendix A of the report. On page two of the policy the addition of Parish and Town Councils to be added to the list of organisations who could apply to the fund.
In response to a question, the Senior Corporate and Community Services Officer advised that paragraph 4.4.1 could be amended to allow for un-constituted groups, without a bank account to apply to the fund using a Town or Parish Council as the conduit.
RESOLVED that the updated Community Councillor Grant Strategy 2023 -2027 be approved subject to the following inclusions:
(a) Parish and Town Councils being included in the list of groups that are eligible to apply for the fund on page 2 of the strategy and under the heading “When a grant cannot be given” that bullet point For a grant on behalf of another group or Charity who had responsibility for delivering the project” be amended to also include “with the exception of Parish or Town Councils who may be used as a conduit for an un-constituted group without a bank account”
Report by Parks, Leisure and Open Space Officer (attached).
The Committee considered a report by the Parks, Leisure and Open Space Officer (circulated previously) regarding Approval and Release of S106 Public Open Space Funds – Atherington, Bishops Nympton, Heanton Punchardon, Mortehoe, Witheridge and Braunton.
Councillors L. Spear, Wilkinson and Yabsley re-declared their interests in this item.
The Parks, Leisure and Open Space Officer highlighted the following:
· Atherington were intending to install an adventure play area and sensory garden at Atherington Playing Fields.
· Bishops Nympton Parish Hall were intending to purchase and install an Air Source Heat Pump and Solar PV at the Parish Hall.
· At Braunton, North Devon Homes were intending to install new play equipment and safety surfacing at Barn Park Play Area.
· Mortehoe Parish Council were intending to install new play equipment and improved stake facilities at Woolacombe Play area, Mortehoe Play area and Meadow Playing Fields.
· Witheridge Village Hall were intending to install new play area fencing.
· Braunton Parish Council were intending to install new play equipment and make public realm improvements at Recreation Ground.
· Braunton Parish Council working in partnership with Knowle Community Group were intending to install new play equipment at Knowle Play Park.
Councillors Yabsley, Wilkinson and L. Spear all left the room for the vote.
(a) £23,744.27 be allocated to Atherington Parish Council towards the construction of an Adventure Trim Trail and Sensory Garden at Atherington Playing Field.
(b) £20,000 be allocated to Bishops Nympton Parish Hall towards the purchase and installation of an Air Source Heat Pump and Solar PV.
(c) £17,122.95 be allocated to North Devon Homes towards the purchase and installation of new adventure play equipment and safety surfacing at Barn Park Play Area, Hart Manor, Braunton, (Heanton Punchardon Ward).
(d) £30,117.06 be allocated to Mortehoe Parish Council to purchase and install new play equipment at Woolacombe Play Area and Mortehoe Play Area; and improved skate facilities at Meadow Playing Fields, Woolacombe.
(e) £17,000 be allocated to Witheridge Parish Council to purchase and install play area fencing at Witheridge Village Hall.
(f) £66,371.77 be allocated to Braunton Parish Council to purchase and install new play equipment and make public realm improvements at Recreation Ground, Braunton.
(g) £6,928.90 be allocated to Braunton Parish Council to purchase and install new play equipment at Knowle Play Park, Winsham Road, Knowle; and
the capital programme be varied by £181,284.95 and that funds
be released, subject to Funding Agreements upon such terms
To note the urgent decision(s) that have been made by the Chief Executive in accordance with paragraph 3.45, Annexe 2, Part 3 of the Constitution (attached).
The Committee noted the decision that had been made by the Chief Executive in accordance with paragraph 3.45, Annex 2, part 3 of the Constitution (circulated previously) regarding 47 High Street, Barnstaple.