Agenda and minutes
Venue: Holiday Inn, Manor Lane, Maidenhead, SL6 2RA
Contact: Karen Shepherd 07766 778286
Video Stream: Click here to watch this meeting on YouTube
Apologies for Absence
To receive any apologies for absence
Apologies for Absence were received from Councillors Baldwin, Davies, W. DaCosta, L. Jones, Luxton, Reynolds, and Taylor.
Councillors Hill, C. Da Costa, Price and Singh attended the meeting virtually therefore they were unable to take part in voting on any item.
The Mayor stated that he was delighted to be back in person after 16 months of online meetings. He commented that, to say the past year had been challenging and heart breaking for borough communities and businesses was an understatement; but the spirit and tenacity shown by everyone living and working in the Royal Borough during this period had been inspiring.
He thanked every single person who had been involved in the battle against the terrible virus. The army of residents, volunteers and voluntary organisations who worked tirelessly alongside council staff to support borough communities. Care home staff who continued to give loving care despite the many difficulties. NHS staff on the front line, alongside care home staff, who toiled horrendously long hours to save as many as they could, and the work now of the NHS and Public Health in distributing the vaccine to so many people in such a short amount of time.
The Mayor announced that the deadline for the Garden in Bloom competition had been extended by two weeks, to 14 July 2021, given plants were flowering later than usual this year. Winners would receive a certificate and rosette and a £20 voucher for Braywick Nurseries. He thanked Maidenhead Chamber of Commerce for funding the scheme.
To receive any declarations of interest
Councillor Brar declared a Personal Interest in the item ‘Statement of Licensing Policy – Five Year Review’ as she was a licensee.
The deadline for public questions (directly relating to an item on the agenda) is 12noon on Thursday 24 June 2021.
For information contact Karen.email@example.com or 07766 778286
(The Council will set aside a period of 30 minutes to deal with public questions, which may be extended at the discretion of the Mayor in exceptional circumstances. The Member who provides the initial response will do so in writing. The written response will be published as a supplement to the agenda by 5pm one working day before the meeting. The questioner shall be allowed up to one minute to put a supplementary question at the meeting. The supplementary question must arise directly out of the reply provided and shall not have the effect of introducing any new subject matter. A Member responding to a supplementary question will have two minutes to respond).
No public questions had been received.
To consider the above report
Members considered how the Council’s Development Management Panels should be structured, and related changes to the Council’s Constitution
Councillor Coppinger explained that in May 2020 the Council agreed to establish a single Development Management Panel because of lockdown restrictions. Furthermore, all meetings were held virtually so that all residents had the opportunity to attend. He believed that this had worked exceedingly well and in some ways it was a great pity it could not continue. Many residents and Parish Councils had said that for the first time they could clearly see the maps and plans that were shown.
All good things must come to an end, and the council had now returned to physical meetings. A group of` Councillors from both the Borough and Parishes had been formed to discuss the future arrangements and it was important to note that their views had been fully incorporated into the proposals. The group had agreed that the purpose of their deliberations was to:
· Ensure defensible and sound planning decisions which support our placemaking agenda.
· Ensure public visibility and transparency of the decision-making process on applications of local significance and strategic importance to give the public confidence in the decisions
· Ensure public engagement in and understanding of the process
· Ensure robust and simple procedures which were adaptable to changing circumstances.
The council had also received a petition with some 197 signatures which had been taken into account. The choices that were discussed and debated were to stay as was, move to two panels, or keep one but with a larger number of Councillors.
The main criticism of a single panel was that it did not allow the decision-makers to be held accountable by those affected by their decisions, although of course it was not possible to have every ward represented even with two panels. The main concerns with two panels was that it increased the risk that policies would be interpreted differently by the panels and of course it increased the cost in terms of officer time.
There had been benefits of running the single panel; the main one being that it had reduced the risk of different interpretation of policy and of course lower cost. However, given the views of the working party and the feedback from many residents and individual Parishes the proposal was to return to two panels
If the proposal was supported, the move to two panels would occur from 1 August 2021 albeit with a number of very sensible procedural improvements
However there had been concern over the choice of names for the panels. Officers preferred to no longer be town-specific but wished to have more general terms. He had supported this but had met with concern from Members. He was going to propose that the panels made their own decisions but quite rightly it was pointed out that this could cause total confusion especially to residents.
Councillor Coppinger proposed an amendment to amend the names of the two committees to Windsor and Ascot Development Management Committee and ... view the full minutes text for item 10.
To consider the above report
Members considered adoption of the Windsor Neighbourhood Plan.
Councillor Coppinger explained that this would be the sixth Neighbourhood Plan to be adopted following Ascot, Sunninghill & Sunningdale, Hurley and the Walthams; Eton and Eton Wick; Old Windsor and Horton and Wraysbury.
He commented that what was especially encouraging with the plan was the way they had engaged with the community through a series of events, surveys, presentations and meetings. In addition, two formal Regulation 14 consultations were undertaken. Following the procedure, the draft plan was examined by an independent examiner who recommended that, after a number of minor changes, the plan could proceed. In December 2020 Cabinet of the Royal Borough approved the Neighbourhood Plan going to referendum.
The referendum was held as part of the elections on 6 May 2021 in the areas covered by the Neighbourhood Plan. The results were clear: 4984 in favour, 617 against.
There was however a minor change to be made to the Plan following the vote. This was because clarity was asked for by a landowner in that a privately owned open space was marked as a public park. The landowner was very happy with the public usage but quite rightly wanted the word public removed.
Councillor Coppinger thanked all those involved for their commitment and unfailing enthusiasm.
Councillor Rayner thanked all involved for their commitment and dedication over a number of years. It was no easy task and required lots of skills. She quoted from the vision statement:
In 2034 developments in the WNP area have provided a more attractive and a better place to live, work and visit. It has protected and enhanced the character of the area as part of the wider historic (market) and royal town of Windsor.
Councillor Rayner felt this perfectly encapsulated the vision for the town.
Councillor Davey commented theta the document had already been used to get a planning application for a 5G Mast refused. It was a planning document that was worth its weight in gold and was already serving residents.
Councillor Tisi congratulated the dedicated team of local volunteers who gave their time freely. The plan would help preserve the town and protect its future.
Councillor Knowles commented that it was a brilliant effort by the volunteers. It had already been effective in relation to a 5G mast and an appeal registered in the last couple of days. Having a Neighbourhood Plan in place gave residents something to use to describe the effect rather than woolly words.
Councillor Stimson highlighted that the Plan talked proactively about sustainable roots and outlined in detail the green spaces and how they could be enhanced and protected.
It was proposed by Councillor Coppinger, seconded by Councillor Rayner, and:
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That Council notes the report and:
i) In accepting the result of the referendum, agrees to ‘formally make’ the Windsor Neighbourhood Plan Part of the Development Plan for the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead and;
ii) Delegates authority to the Executive Director of Place and Head ... view the full minutes text for item 11.
To consider the above report
Members considered a dispensation to remove the requirement that Members must attend a meeting (physically) at least once in any six-month period.
Councillor Johnson explained that the Section 85 of the Local Government Act 1972 stated that a Member of a local authority loses office if they did not attend a meeting (physically) at least once in any six-month period. This requirement was suspended by the April 2020 regulations brought in as a result of the global pandemic. The government had unfortunately not given councils the ability to continue with virtual meetings post-6 May 2021. The report therefore proposed a dispensation to continue the suspension of this requirement until 31 August 2021. He felt the proposal was a fair and sensible way forward to ensure no councillor was unfairly impacted whilst the pandemic continued.
Councillor Rayner commented that the proposal would allow Members to continue with their work until covid restrictions were lifted. A lot of lessons had been learned during the pandemic, with some benefits that should be considered in future.
Councillor Werner welcomed the common-sense solution. The hybrid system that had been developed seemed to work well and he hoped it would continue even after the end of restrictions, for the benefit of both Members and residents.
It was proposed by Councillor Johnson, seconded by Councillor Rayner, and:
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That full Councilnotes the report and:
i) Agrees a dispensation until 31 August 2021 to remove the requirement that Members must attend a meeting (physically) at least once in any six-month period.
Referrals from other bodies
To consider referrals from other bodies (e.g. Cabinet)
Members considered adoption of the Housing Strategy 2021-2026 for publication.
Councillor McWilliams reminded Members that the strategy had been to Cabinet twice and through a public consultation. A number of workshops had been held at the outset to establish the principles. The updated version included commitments around creating better accessible properties for disabled residents and including homeworking. It also reiterated the commitment to refresh the commitment to an empty homes strategy. There was more emphasis on working with landlords to improve the private rented sector. There were some significant changes since the last Cabinet version, which included a specific incentive for development partners and other developers to bring forward carbon neutral and carbon positive technology. The council would also seek to retrofit the existing stock where possible.
It was critical for the council to deliver on its sustainability and climate change targets whilst also improving the housing market in the borough. There was a need for more general affordable housing for residents and for those who wished to come into the borough and add their skills and passion to the area. There was also need for a greater amount of affordable rented and social rented units. The RBWM Property Company was bringing forward a number of schemes to achieve this.
If the proposals were adopted, a senior panel of registered providers would be established to bring forward key joint strategies and drive up the number of affordable rented and social rented units. The report also proposed a better way of aligning nomination allocation policies for those wishing to move within the borough.
Councillor Werner stated that he would support the report, but he was disappointed as he felt it was not a strategy paper but a position paper and lacked detail. He had expected it to include specific targets for the number of affordable units to be brought forward. The document also missed out the actual consultation results which were needed to compare with the action plan. The carbon neutral proposal was welcomed but again he would like to see targets. Councillor Werner also stated that he would be interested in other Members’ thoughts on the proposed changes to planning rights.
Councillor Walters commented that the strategy was full of good intentions, but he did not see how the shortage of affordable housing would be addressed in practice. The solution would be policy H03 in the local plan that required 40% affordable housing in developments between 10-500 dwellings. Over 500 units the requirement was 30%.
Councillor Knowles commented that it was a well-thought-out strategy. He raised a concern with the online housing register that although initial allocations worked fairly well, it did not work when people wanted to move to a different size property because their circumstances changed. He acknowledged that this was a result of the legislation rather than a council policy but urged Councillor McWilliams to shine a spotlight on the issue.
Councillor Rayner commented on ... view the full minutes text for item 13.