Agenda and minutes

Venue: Board Room 5 - Brent Civic Centre, Engineers Way, Wembley HA9 0FJ. View directions

Contact: Joe Kwateng, Democratic Services Officer  Email: joe.kwateng@brent.gov.uk 020 8937 1354

Items
No. Item

1.

Declarations of interests

Members are invited to declare at this stage of the meeting, any relevant disclosable pecuniary, personal or prejudicial interests in the items on this agenda.

Minutes:

None.

2.

Introductions

Minutes:

At the start of the meeting, as this was the first meeting of the Resources and Public Realm Scrutiny Committee, the Chair invited members to introduce themselves and give a reason for their interest in the work of the committee.

3.

Deputations

Minutes:

None.

4.

Annual work programme 2016-17 pdf icon PDF 109 KB

This report sets out the scope of the Resources and Public Realm Scrutiny Committee’s draft work programme for the next municipal year 2016-17. The work programme covers a broad range of items and policy areas across corporate resources, regeneration and environment, transport and community safety and was selected by members of the committee based on criteria for effective scrutiny. It also sets out the remit for the committee and its responsibilities for scrutiny.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair drew attention to the work programme and reminded the committee of the process that had been introduced for deciding on the items for inclusion. The committee noted that the Borough Commander would be invited to the meeting scheduled for 6 September 2016 and that Councillor Tatler would be chairing the task group on child sexual exploitation group.

5.

Development Management Policies pdf icon PDF 323 KB

On 16 January 2016 Full Council approved submission of the draft Development Management Policies Development Plan Document to the Planning Inspectorate for examination. Subsequently, hearing sessions on the Plan were held on 3 and 4 May 2016. Having taken account of all the representations, both in writing and at the Hearing, the Inspector has advised the Council to consult on proposed Main Modifications to the Plan for a 6 week period ending 26 July. The committee is requested to consider the proposed Main Modifications.

Minutes:

Paul Lewin (Planning Policy and Projects Manager) introduced the report which reminded the committee that on 16 January 2016 Full Council approved submission of the draft Development Management Policies Development Plan Document to the Planning Inspectorate for examination. Subsequently, hearing sessions on the Plan were held on 3 May and 4 May 2016. Having taken account of all the representations, both in writing and at the Hearing, the Inspector advised the council to consult on proposed Main Modifications to the Plan for a six week period ending 8 August. The report from the Strategic Director, Regeneration and Environmental Services requested the committee to consider the proposed Main Modifications.

 

Paul Lewin reminded the committee that this was the Development Management Plan for the borough, replacing the Unitary Development Plan and that at an advanced stage amendments had been requested and he outlined the areas concerned.

 

Members questioned ways of including in DMP 14 requirements for infrastructure provision at an early stage of housing development or at pre-planning stage, the definition of affordability in terms of housing and whether the levels were realistic, particularly for existing residents, and what were the mechanisms in place to reach the maximum target of 50% of housing in a major development to be affordable.

 

Paul Lewin clarified that DMP 14 was specifically concerned with potential uses of employment sites, many of which were small. The requirements for housing development were covered by wider policies plans and strategies, both borough and London wide however CIL funding could be spent on infrastructure. Regarding affordability, Paul Lewin referred to national planning guidance regarding social rent and the market. He acknowledged that the definition of affordable rented dwellings, as up to 80% market rent, was debateable as to providing an affordable product that met local needs however efforts were made to ensure that the rents were below Benefits Cap levels. The committee agreed that that affordability in Brent needed to be considered and Councillor Mashari (Lead Member, Regeneration and Growth, Employment and Skills) confirmed that it was under debate, including the need for housing development. Paul Lewin advised that the Strategic Housing Market Assessment testing revealed that 50% of the population could not afford to meet their housing needs on the open market in Brent. Efforts were made to cap rents to affordable levels but instead the definition of rents had extended and was increasing. Paul Lewin clarified that the 50% affordable policy was London wide and a viability assessment could be carried out to establish if the percentage of affordable housing in a development was a maximum level. Most sites would not be able to achieve more than 50% and he felt that to increase the percentage would not be feasible.  Councillor Mashari added that discussions were taking place with the interim Head of Planning over the possibility of members having more involvement and influence at an earlier stage in the planning process.

 

Members raised the question of public houses under DMP 21 and Paul Lewin clarified that it  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Task Group on Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and Section 106 pdf icon PDF 165 KB

This task group has been requested by the Scrutiny Members to ensure Brent Council is achieving the best financial outcomes for the borough with its current CIL and section 106 agreements.  The purpose of the task group is to analyse and the current CIL and S106 processes with a view to ensuring that communities and councillors are engaged in the making of funding decisions. The review was concerned with the CIL and S106 policies, engagement with communities and members and funding collection and allocation.  The review also focused on the future of planning in Brent and looked at the South Kilburn development.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report from the Director of Performance, Policy and Partnerships advised that the Scrutiny Committee had established a task group on Community Infrastructure Levy and Section 106 to ensure the council was achieving the best financial outcomes for the borough with its current agreements, to analyse and the current processes with a view to ensuring that communities and councillors were engaged in the making of funding decisions.

 

The task group chair, Councillor Farah, in introducing the task group report, advised that the review was concerned with the CIL and S106 policies, engagement both with communities and members, funding collection and allocation.  The review focused on the future of planning in Brent and looked at the South Kilburn development and the aim was to get the best outcomes. Meetings had taken place with officers, the voluntary sector and with developers at South Kilburn and he hoped the recommendations would be taken forward.

 

Mr Faraz Baber (Sudbury resident and task group member) outlined the challenges faced by the task group in understanding how CIL receipts were collected and the process for distribution. There was difficulty in establishing accountability and assuring residents that they would gain.  He felt there was a need for a clear plan and understanding how developers could help Brent develop positively particularly in coming years with decreased government grants. Mr Baber drew a connection between CIL and development management policies discussed earlier in the evening and felt there was a need for early discussions between developers and members over development proposals. Members noted that staff changes had caused some delay in getting information.

 

The committee heard that the task group members had discussed the difference between CIL and S106 funding and the view was put that S106 had a wide remit and clear and transparent information should be available to Planning Committees when they were making decisions. Regarding affordable housing, the 50% target was not being met and it was suggested that the council could decide to place greater emphasis on S106 to help achieve the target. Councillor Mashari (Lead Member, Regeneration and Growth, Employment and Skills) advised that efforts were being made to recruit staff to lead on CIL.

 

The committee commended the work and commitment of the Sudbury local residents, asked how lessons learned could be communicated to other areas through Brent CONNECTS and workshops and it was suggested that a route map be prepared and circulated. Members heard that a presentation and check list were already available and on the council’s website and it was suggested that information be circulated to support ward discussions. The committee discussed the former ward working funding as an alternative vehicle and were reminded that CIL had the advantage of being for the entire ward instead of for successful community group bidders.

 

The committee discussed recommendation 26 in the task group report which suggested that consideration be given to creating independent review experts to advise the Planning Committee on some of the more complicated and difficult planning applications in particular, existing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Brent Council's financial position pdf icon PDF 2 MB

A presentation will be delivered to the committee members at the meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor McLennan (Deputy Leader of the Council) introduced Archa Campbell (Head of Finance), Althea Loderick (Strategic Director, Resources) and Minesh Patel (Head of Finance) and who gave a presentation on the current context of the council’s financial position. The committee heard about local government sources of income, the likelihood of future reductions, Brent’s financial position as at February 2016, budget savings previously agreed, further savings required, and the impact of Council Tax changes and also new legislation. Councillor McLennan drew attention to the budget timetable and reminded the committee that the budget had been set for two years to allow more flexibility and time for an overall strategy to be in place. The committee requested that the budget timetable be amended to include scrutiny by this committee in January 2017.

 

Members in discussion raised questions on the increasing Council Tax base and the impact on collection rates, the effect of business rate devolution on new services, the protection of existing services and how schools could protect special educational needs provision from forthcoming Dedicated Schools Grant restrictions proposed under the review of the national funding formula. Minesh Patel responded that council tax collection rates were currently at 98%, the council had new responsibilities and there would be gains and losses. Consultation was still taking place on the national funding formula and some aspects of SEN support would be protectable should schools not be able to provide. Councillor McLennan stressed that strategies needed to be in place to ensure that funding was spent appropriately. Minesh Patel confirmed that national minimum wage increases had been taken into account and agreed to confirm the minimum recommended level of reserves for a local authority. The committee supported the continuation of the two year budget cycle. Discussion took place on the possibility of a Council Tax rise and Councillor McLennan advised that work would take place on options.

 

The recent EU Referendum was raised and the potential impact of the decision for the UK to leave the European Union. Minesh Patel assured that that planning was taking place and that the council would have a greater understanding of the impact within a few weeks’ time. The committee also questioned whether, in the light of NHS England’s £22bn efficiency savings by 2020/2021 target, what was the likelihood of the NHS being able to fund the social care gap across NWL (approximately £145m). The committee heard that the request had been made to NWL and the council was committed to funding PREVENT and social care. Councillor McLennan added that Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) was a priority and that the Health and Wellbeing Board would be most involved. Following the decision to leave the EU, Councillor McLennan assured that communication with stakeholders would be maintained and members kept informed of the impact on the council’s finances.

 

The committee discussed the possibility of increasing the council tax and questioned the reasoning behind the council’s suggestion that if required to take on more responsibilities, transport would be the preference.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Annual Scrutiny report pdf icon PDF 99 KB

The Annual Scrutiny report is a summary of the work conducted by the Scrutiny function throughout the year.  This includes task group work, questions and decisions made by the committee.  The 2015-16 report also provides an outline of the programme of work and task groups planned for the upcoming scrutiny year 2016-17.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The committee received the Annual Scrutiny report which summarised the work conducted by the Scrutiny function throughout the year, including task group work, questions and decisions made by the committee.  The 2015-16 report also provided an outline of the programme of work and task groups planned for the upcoming scrutiny year 2016-17.

 

RESOLVED:

 

that the Annual Scrutiny report be noted.

9.

Any other urgent business

Notice of items to be raised under this heading must be given in writing to the Head of Executive and Member Services or his representative before the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 64.

Minutes:

None.

10.

Date of next meeting

The next scheduled meeting of the committee is on Tuesday 6 September 2016.

Minutes:

The next meeting was scheduled for 6 September 2016.