Agenda item

Spalding Gypsy & Traveller Site

At the last meeting of the Panel, Councillors expressed concern regarding the delay in starting work on the Spalding Gypsy and Traveller site and requested further information (minute 9 refers) (report of the Housing Landlord Manager is enclosed).

 

The Portfolio Holder for Housing and the Housing Landlord Manager will be in attendance.

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the Housing Landlord Manager, which provided the Panel with an update on the progress of the Spalding Gypsy and Traveller Site.

 

Land off Drain Bank North, Spalding had been acquired for the development of a Gypsy and Traveller site for permanent occupation, and planning permission for the site had been granted.  Work had been undertaken to discharge the pre-commencement planning conditions attached to the planning permission.  Condition 10 had been the most difficult to resolve and had been the cause of much of the delay.  It stated that ‘prior to the commencement of the development hereby permitted, details shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority for the provision of passing places and the execution of structural repair work to Drain Bank North.  The works, as approved, shall be completed prior to commencement of the use of the permitted development’.

 

In March 2015, the Planning Manager and the Housing Landlord Manager had met with senior highway officers to discuss work required to satisfy condition 10, and following further design work by the Council’s engineers, a satisfactory scheme was agreed in principle.  More detailed estimates of the costs of delivering the site were provided, and it was anticipated that the costs of the highway work could be accommodated as the total costs did not exceed the figures agreed within the Cabinet report of 15 January 2013.   

 

The specification for the site was now nearing completion; tenders would be sought from contractors for the development of the site; and Western Power Distribution had finalised their quotation for the provision of an electrical supply to the site.  The quotation had been accepted, but was subject to a 20 week lead-in period from acceptance (this timing would be the largest unknown factor in the process). 

 

It was therefore currently anticipated that work would commence on site during November/December 2015 with completion of the site in February/March 2016.  These dates could not be confirmed however until Western Power Distribution had provided their programme of work, and a contractor had been appointed to undertake the site development work.

 

The Panel considered the information, and the following issues were raised:

 

·         Why could this not have been dealt with purely as a Planning issue?  Why had Lincolnshire County Council (LCC) become involved?

o   LCC had been consulted at the outset as works had to be undertaken on land owned by them. 

 

·         Why had it taken so long to resolve the issue?

o   Officers agreed that it had taken a long time.  It was hoped that the Authority would shortly be in a position to release the discharge.

 

·         Following a breakdown of the costs, would there be any budget remaining to provide a transit site in the same location? Councillor Newton had made this suggestion at a Council meeting – had further consideration been given to this?

o   The budget position was still the same as detailed in the report to Cabinet.  The position regarding a transit site was unknown and officers would therefore clarify this and report back to members.

 

·         Was the cost to the Authority for the passing places only, or for the whole road?

o   Within Condition 10, it had always been clear that the applicant’s expense (the Authority) would be not just for the passing places, but also for the execution of structural repair work. 

 

·         If completion of the site was anticipated to be in early 2016, this would suggest that the road would be re-surfaced around this time also.  Members felt that this would not be the right time to be undertaking this work.

o   The road had to be re-surfaced prior to use of the permitted development.  The work could be delayed however, this would then delay occupation of the site.  This would ultimately be a decision for members/the Portfolio Holder.  All parties, including the travellers would have to be involved in order to negotiate a date to occupy the site.

 

·         Additional land at the proposed site had been purchased by the Authority to be used as necessary. Could the Authority be confident that residents could not occupy this additional land, and would remain in the area identified for their use.

o   Under legal agreements, the travellers could not legally move onto this additional area.

 

·         When would responsibility for the road no longer be the responsibility of the Authority?

o   The site and access road responsibilities would be conferred to travellers at an agreed time.  Essentially, the majority of the area would be a land swap.  This would all be agreed before the site was handed over.

 

·         There had been a lot of negativity around the delay in resolving the road issue and occupation of the site.  This had to be addressed.

o   The Portfolio Holder for Housing replied that the main concern now was to keep costs down, whilst fulfilling the Authority’s obligations to the residents of Gosberton Clough.  She would take note of comments made by Panel members, and commented that she was confident that the whole process would be completed within budget.

 

AGREED:

 

a)    That the position regarding whether a transit site would be incorporated on the site at Land off Drain Bank North be clarified;

 

b)    That members’ concerns regarding the time of year that the resurfacing of the road could take place (potentially January/February 2016) be noted;

 

c)    That a date for occupation of the site be negotiated with the travellers, to take account of concerns regarding the roadworks as detailed at (b) above;

 

d)    That the Authority ensures that travellers should only occupy the area designated within the site, and that all detail of the conferring of responsibility for the land and the roadway to the travellers be agreed, prior to handover; and

 

e)    That members noted that the Portfolio Holder for Housing would be responsible for negotiations.

 

(The Housing Landlord Manager and the Portfolio Holder for Housing left the meeting following discussion of this item).

Supporting documents: