Report of the Director of Planning and Property attached.
The Cabinet Member for Planning, Regeneration and City Deal (Councillor Bill Evans) and the Director of Planning and Property (Jonathan Noad) presented an update on the work of the portfolio since May 2019 and responded to members’ comments and queries.
Key priorities for the portfolio were centred around the Local Plan, which was a significant project for all authorities, Masterplans for Leyland, Penwortham and Bamber Bridge, and meeting deadline targets for determining planning applications.
Looking ahead, priority would still be given to work on the Local Plan but applications for major developments were also anticipated, which would require significant attention.
Members were interested to note that the portfolio had been involved in the relief efforts against COVID-19, with the council’s Investment and Skills team providing general support to businesses within South Ribble, including authorising grants. Potential impact on the housing market was also acknowledged and the portfolio may need to emphasise the subject of affordable housing as a result.
COVID-19 had also resulted in changes to planning policy which could impact the work of the portfolio. For example, new proposals on house-building were anticipated and contractors were now permitted to work longer hours which could breach planning conditions.
Additional monitoring would be required to ensure adherence to conditions and there was still a requirement to apply for a variance of conditions.
In response to a request for an update on the Penwortham and Bamber Bridge Masterplans, members were informed that all work was currently focused on the Leyland Masterplan to meet the requirements for Town Deal funding but that work on the Penwortham Masterplan would begin within the current financial year.
Queries were raised regarding the membership of the Town Deal Board and members were advised that this included the Cabinet Member for Planning, Regeneration and City Deal, a representative from the Conservative Group, the Chair of Leyland My Neighbourhood Forum, the Leader of the Council and a member of Farington Parish Council.
In response to a question as to why there was no representative from Lancashire County Council (LCC) on the Board, it was stated that the Council had written to LCC regarding membership and an officer was appointed as representative.
Some concern was expressed that a hot food takeaway had recently been approved by the Planning Committee and that this contradicted advice from the Director of Public Health. It was felt that greater consideration should be given to this advice when determining applications on takeaway premises in South Ribble.
Further information on the Council’s homelessness strategy was requested and would be provided to the committee following a meeting on the matter in late July 2020.
Members queried progress in the extra care facility project and were informed that the Cabinet Member had visited a similar facility in Chorley and that two potential sites in South Ribble had been identified for the facility. A report would be provided to Cabinet in September 2020.
The Scrutiny Committee expressed interest in visiting the facility in Chorley and asked if this could be arranged.
An update on progress in unlocking the Pickering’s Farm site for development was requested and members were informed, in response, that the masterplan was due to be presented to the Planning Committee and applications would soon be submitted for the cross-borough link road and the development.
The Chair thanked the Cabinet Member and Director of Planning and Property for their attendance.
That the Scrutiny Committee
1. wishes the Cabinet Member well with his portfolio priorities over the next 12-18 months
2. looks forward to progress being made on the masterplans for Leyland, Penwortham and Bamber Bridge
3. requests consideration be given to a planning policy on hot food takeaways in light of the Director of Public Health’s advice
4. requests an update on the homelessness strategy be provided to members and;
5. welcomes the offer of visiting the extra care facility in Chorley.