Mrs Nicki Elks queried the risk of legal challenge with the delivery of the document following the use of ‘less prescriptive’ wording changes made to the updated draft Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), as set out in Appendix A to the report and considered that these changes gave the developer space to change the vision going forward. Mrs Elks suggested that this also applied to areas of the Councils ownershipas well where the proposed changes increased the risk of failing to deliver the intent with the SPD produced by the Council In conclusion, she suggested that, if the Council was minded to adopt the proposed changes, reassurance be provided to ensure the vision would not be altered.
Mr Patrick Davies queried the content of paragraphs 3.3 and 3.4 of the report and stated that the public Informal Policy Group (IPG) meeting on 14 May 2018 had not been publicised on the Council’s website. Mr Davies queried that at the public IPG meeting, a handout was provided that did not reflect the challenge or changes to the SPD that the Council were now proposing. He questioned why the Council had not gone public in detail about the changes and why the IPG had met in private with the public not being advised about the legal challenge.
In response to Mr Davies concerns, the Leader advised that the minutes of the IPG were open to the public to view on the Council’s website when they became available.
Mr Terry Gould stated that the development of this area of the City was important to the entire District. Mr Gould made reference to the provision of bus stops and raised alternative approaches that should be investigated particularly around consideration of the bus hub at Friarsgate. In addition, he also made reference to the access to the café in Kings Walk and suggested an alternative arrangement, Mr Gould reiterated the concerns previously expressed and considered that the original wording of the SPD should remain, as set out therein.
Mr Tim Fell suggested that as the Committee was required to scrutinise the lengthy content of the SPD, both this Committee, and Cabinet, should consider postponing its decision to ensure there was adequate time to address all the matters raised.
Councillor Horrill introduced the Report and its appendices on behalf of the IPG. The SPD set out the 18 months of work and represented the clear vision and objectives for the site that had been the aspirations of the City and District, following the response of 2,500 residents, partners and businesses during a three and a half month consultation period.
Councillor Horrill reported that the changes reflected in the updated draft SPD had been thoroughly reviewed to ensure they did not conflict with the Local Plan and were tethered to the Council’s Planning Policies to ensure the document was robust; the Council was the majority landowner with over 80% of the land in its ownership. Furthermore, it was reported that the updated draft SPD had been considered and endorsed the Central Winchester Regeneration IPG, who had spent significant time reviewing the content of the document in its entirety over a period of many months.
During questions and debate, the Leader, together with the officers present, responded to detailed questions, as summarised below:
(i) It was noted that the updated draft SPD continued to remain compliant with legislation and the Council’s Legal Services Manager had deemed it appropriate for the SPD to be adopted lawfully;
(ii) The Council had tasked the Central Winchester Regeneration IPG with producing this an SPD. Advice had been taken from Counsel who hadreviewed and agreed the changes to the document which forms a legal SPD for adoption;
(iii) In response to questions regarding the changes to the language of the SPD it was reported that none of the material content of the SPD had changed since the draft made available in October. The language contained in the SPD had been updated following legal advice to ensure a sound and adoptable document was prepared.
(iv) To address comments that people had not been advised of the outcomes of the IPG meetings regarding changes to the SPD, each informal and public meeting of the Central Winchester Regeneration IPG had been minuted. The Leader clarified that she met informally with every Member of the IPG to ensure all Members were working collectively to reflect the detailed vision and objectives of the residents of Winchester.
(v) To address the points raised during public participation in relation to alternative bus services, it was reported that the IPG were working closely with Hampshire County Council who were conducting the Movement Strategy and that other options would be investigated in respect of the bus hub and public transport links.
(vi) The Council was committed to securing housing on site with a requirement to seek 40% affordable housing provision. This matter would be considered by Cabinet (Central Winchester Regeneration) Committee. It was noted that the provision of adequate open space for recreation also needed to be addressed.
In conclusion, the Leader reiterated that the updated draft SPD positively reflected the significant input received from the public for the regeneration of this area of the City.
1. That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee raise the following issues for consideration by Cabinet:
(a) that the updated draft SPD is a sound document and adoptable given the process undertaken;
(b) that the updated draft SPD aligns with existing Local Plan policies;
(c) that the housing proposals and commitment to 40% affordable housing be welcomed but the importance of affordable housing and green space being onsite was emphasised;
(d) that the wording associated with pedestrianisation, be
(e) that the Committee welcome the opportunity to consider any proposed delivery model; and
(f) that the wording showing as removed in paragraph 1.1.3 of Appendix 1, remain in the updated version, as follows:
“It will be a material consideration in determining applications within the CWR area”.