Agenda and draft minutes

MOVED FROM 5TH JULY 2022, Scrutiny Streets, Environment & Homes Sub-Committee - Wednesday, 20th July, 2022 6.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Town Hall, Katharine Street, Croydon CR0 1NX

Contact: Simon Trevaskis  Email: simon.trevaskis@croydon.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1/22

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 515 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 15th March 2022 as an accurate record.

 

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 15th March 2022 were agreed as an accurate record.

 

2/22

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Luke Shortland, who sent Councillor Nikhil Sherine Thampi as a substitute.

3/22

Disclosure of Interests

Members and co-opted Members of the Council are reminded that, in accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct and the statutory provisions of the Localism Act, they are required to consider in advance of each meeting whether they have a disclosable pecuniary interest (DPI), an other registrable interest (ORI) or a non-registrable interest (NRI) in relation to any matter on the agenda.  If advice is needed, Members should contact the Monitoring Officer in good time before the meeting.  

 

If any Member or co-opted Member of the Council identifies a DPI or ORI which they have not already registered on the Council’s register of interests or which requires updating, they should complete the disclosure form which can be obtained from Democratic Services at any time, copies of which will be available at the meeting for return to the Monitoring Officer.

 

Members and co-opted Members are required to disclose any DPIs and ORIs at the meeting: -

 

·     Where the matter relates to a DPI they may not participate in any discussion or vote on the matter and must not stay in the meeting unless granted a dispensation.  

 

·     Where the matter relates to an ORI they may not vote on the matter unless granted a dispensation.   

 

·     Where a Member or co-opted Member has an NRI which directly relates to their financial interest or wellbeing, or that of a relative or close associate, they must disclose the interest at the meeting, may not take part in any discussion or vote on the matter and must not stay in the meeting unless granted a dispensation.  Where a matter affects the NRI of a Member or co-opted Member, section 9 of Appendix B of the Code of Conduct sets out the test which must be applied by the Member to decide whether disclosure is required.

 

The Chair will invite Members to make their disclosure orally at the commencement of Agenda item 3, to be recorded in the minutes.

 

Minutes:

There were none.

 

4/22

Urgent Business (if any)

To receive notice of any business not on the agenda which in the opinion of the Chair, by reason of special circumstances, be considered as a matter of urgency.

 

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

 

5/22

Sustainable Communities, Regeneration & Economic Recovery Directorate Overview pdf icon PDF 475 KB

This report provides an overview of the Sustainable Communities, Regeneration & Economic Recovery Directorate to inform the development of the Committee’s work programme including key priorities for the year; budget; performance; key risks and mitigations.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Sub-Committee considered a report set out on pages 15 to 22 of the agenda, along with a supplement, which provided an overview of the Sustainable Communities, Regeneration & Economic Recovery Directorate to inform the development of the Committee’s work programme for the coming year. The report was introduced by the Corporate Director, Sustainable Communities, Regeneration & Economic Recovery by way of a short summary.

 

The Cabinet Member for Streets and Environment thanked the emergency services and officers for their response across the borough and in difficult circumstances in the last few days. The Cabinet Member for Streets and Environment went through their initial priorities in post including Graffiti Removal, working with community groups, residents’ associations, and parks Friends Groups. This work was to identify these groups’ priorities and to rebuild trust and relationships with the Council. Work had begun on ‘Clean Up Croydon’ and the Veolia contract to identify issues and develop plans with officers.

 

The Cabinet Member for Planning and Regeneration introduced themselves and stated that they were looking at improvements that could be made in the Planning Service with the Planning Advisory Service review due to be published imminently. The Sub-Committee heard that the Town Centre Regeneration plan was being updated to bring it in line with current circumstances.

 

The Chair stated that they would not be focussing on a number of areas as these would be substantive items at future meetings of the Sub-Committee or Scrutiny and Overview Committee. The Sub-Committee had attended an officer briefing on Grounds Maintenance and a summary of this had been published in the Supplementary Agenda as an Appendix to this item.

 

The Chair asked about departmental priorities and why these were so high level and lacked outcome focus; it was asked whether a business plan would be developed to focus these with concrete objectives. The Corporate Director of Sustainable Communities, Regeneration & Economic Recovery agreed that these were high level but that more detailed Service Plans had been produced by Heads of Service and these would all be reviewed as part of the business planning process to ensure these were in line with the emerging priorities of the Elected Mayor.

 

The Sub-Committee directed questions on ‘Clean up Croydon’ and asked when copies of the Service Improvement Notice and Plan for Veolia would be provided and were informed that these would be provided following the meeting. The Improvement Notice had been delivered in February 2022 and focussed on three key areas which were missed collections, repeat missed collections and delivery of containers; these had been a point of contention and the notice was in line with the contract as part of the escalation process which had triggered the production of a Service Improvement Plan. There had been a 45-50% improvement in missed collections, although this did fluctuate, but was travelling in the right direction and regular conversations were taking place with Veolia. There were challenges in the industry around staff recruitment and retention as well as recruitment of HGV drivers. Incentives were in place  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5/22

6/22

Revocation of Croydon Suburban Design Guide Supplementary Planning Document 2 (SPD2) pdf icon PDF 100 KB

The Streets, Environment & Homes Scrutiny Sub-Committee has asked to review the decision taken by the Executive Mayor at Cabinet to recommend the revocation of the SPD2 to Council with a view to understanding the possible risks and next steps.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Sub-Committee considered the report set out on pages 23 to 216 of the agenda which had been approved by the Executive Mayor at Cabinet and recommended the revocation of the Croydon suburban design guide supplementary planning document (SPD2) to Council. The report was introduced by the Cabinet Memberfor Planning and Regeneration by way of a short presentation prepared by the Head of Spatial Planningand Interim Head of Growth Zone and Regeneration.

 

Members asked for clarification on the implementation status of the London Plan 2021 and heard that this was in place as current policy, including the relevant housing and small site targets. The Chair asked about how identifying areas of gentle intensification related to SPD2 and it was clarified by the Cabinet Member for Planning and Regeneration that these were contained within the Local Plan and not SPD2, even though the desire to move away from density driven development was identified in the report as a reason for the proposed revocation. The Sub-Committee queried why revocation was proposed before replacement supplementary planning documentation on residential extensions and alterations was ready to take its place, as was thought to be plan making best practice and carried reduced risk of poor quality residential extension and alterations. It was further asked whether this alternative approach was considered. The Cabinet Member for Planning and Regeneration stated that once the political decision had been taken to fulfil this election promise, this was the best way to achieve it in the view of the Executive.

 

The Sub-Committee understood that since the SPD2 had been adopted in 2019, there had been a number of planning policy changes and that alterations to the document were needed. The Director of Planning & Sustainable Regeneration informed the Sub-Committee that legal advice had been that no authority existed for the partial revocation and this was not possible. Members were advised that new guidance on residential extensions and alterations would be written as soon as possible, taking into account planning policy changes on design codes and design guidance. The Sub-Committee were informed that policy on residential extensions and alterations was in place would the position (including local planning policy and the London Plan) should SPD2 be revoked. The Head of Spatial Planning and Interim Head of Growth Zone and Regeneration restated that there was still a development plan and guidance at a national and London Plan level in place that could be used in the absence of SPD2 to determine applications.

 

The Chair queried whether the newresidential extensions and alterations guidance would incorporate changes expected at the London Plan level and heard that this was not the case and that the guidance would be brought forward as soon as possible and that national government’s focus on design and design quality, the national design code and guidance would be taken into account; these emphasised local authorities producing their own design codes and guidance. The new document would be checked against any new planning developments and the priorities of the Executive.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6/22

7/22

Housing Directorate Overview pdf icon PDF 396 KB

This report provides an overview of the Housing Directorate to inform the development of the Committee’s work programme including key priorities for the year; budget; performance; key risks and mitigations.

Minutes:

The Sub-Committee considered a report set out on pages 217 to 224 of the agenda which provided an overview of the Housing Directorate to inform the development of the Committee’s work programme for the coming year. The Cabinet Member for Homes introduced the paper with a short summary adding that close work with residents to deliver quality and value for money services would be their priority. The Sub-Committee were informed that this would be a process that took time but that a new Corporate Director was in place to bring stability and leadership to the directorate. Work was underway on re-procurement of the Responsive Repairs Contract which had been reported to the Scrutiny and Overview Committee before approval by the Mayor at Cabinet; the Residents’ Charter had also been approved at Cabinet. There had been detailed discussions with the Housing Improvement Board regarding the Housing Improvement Plan which would be reshaped and reinvigorated incorporating the views of residents. A project manager had been appointed to look at Regina Road, as well as a member of staff to focus on voids and an officer to work on customer engagement.

 

The Sub-Committee asked about previous poor service provided to residents and asked whether there had been consideration of compensating residents; the Cabinet Member for Housing reminded Members that this had been a recommendation of the Scrutiny and Overview Committee and was awaiting a response from the Mayor.

 

Members highlighted the burden on residents of private sector rents and poor-quality private housing and asked about licensing in the private rented sector. The Sub-Committee heard that the previous landlord licensing scheme renewal had been rejected by the Secretary of State as it was not backed by enough data and as there was not a housing strategy in place. The Cabinet Member for Housing stated that any new scheme would take time to develop and emphasised the importance of the private sector providing quality affordable housing. Members heard that there were examples of the Council prosecuting rogue landlords under other legislation and encouraged any known issues to be reported.

 

The Sub-Committee asked about plans to address backlogs of complaints that had been reported by tenants. The Cabinet Member for Housing explained work to catch up on complaints was ongoing but that the department was currently overstretched, demoralised and with a large number of vacancies. Progress was being made alongside development of key performance indicators (KPIs) which would also be reported to the Tenants and Leaseholders Panel. The Head of Homelessness & Assessments informed Members that, on the homelessness side, it was known that there were common complaints, and these were being looked at to improve the strategies being used. It was explained that a different kind of service was required and there needed to be greater openness with residents about what was and was not possible.

 

The Chair raised concerns around the General Fund and other authorities placing people into emergency accommodation in Croydon; there had been previous pilots to address this but the results  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7/22

8/22

Scrutiny Work Programme 2022-23

The Streets, Environment & Homes Sub-Committee is asked to consider which items should be provisionally added to the work programme as a result of the discussions held during the meeting.

Minutes:

It was proposed by the Chair and seconded by Councillor Foster that the meeting continue till 9.45pm.

 

RESOLVED: That the guillotine be extended by 15 minutes.

 

The Sub-Committee noted that the following items were in the draft Work Programme for the coming year:

 

  • Future of Healthy Neighbourhoods
  • Reviewing the Mayors Pledges
  • Active Travel
  • Veolia Contract
  • Sustainable Communities
  • Purley Pool Options Appraisal
  • Environment Bill Responsibilities
  • Environmental Enforcement
  • Biodiversity Strategy
  • Implications of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill
  • Temporary Accommodation
  • Train Services and Operators