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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 11/07/2006
PLANNING PROJECTS AND USE OF PLANNING DELIVERY CAPITAL GRANT 2006/07



Summary & Purpose
The report explains two projects that could be brought forward with the use of the capital element of the Planning Delivery Grant awarded for 2006/2007.

The projects are

a) A Visioning Workshop for Farnham to support the Town Councils' Urban Safety Management Initiative and future planning policy work on the Council's own Local Development Framework.

b) Surveys of urban areas that might be under threat from tree loss with a view to protecting such important character through the creation of new Tree Protection Orders.

Authority is sought from the Executive to commit funding to these projects from the capital element of the 2006/7 Planning Delivery Grant.

APPENDIX Q
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

EXECUTIVE - 11TH JULY 2006
_________________________________________________________________________
Title:
PLANNING PROJECTS AND USE OF PLANNING DELIVERY CAPITAL GRANT 2006/07

[Wards Affected: All]
_________________________________________________________________________
Summary and purpose:

The report explains two projects that could be brought forward with the use of the capital element of the Planning Delivery Grant awarded for 2006/2007.

The projects are

a) A Visioning Workshop for Farnham to support the Town Councils' Urban Safety Management Initiative and future planning policy work on the Council's own Local Development Framework.

b) Surveys of urban areas that might be under threat from tree loss with a view to protecting such important character through the creation of new Tree Protection Orders.

Authority is sought from the Executive to commit funding to these projects from the capital element of the 2006/7 Planning Delivery Grant.

Environmental Implications

The Visioning Workshops are seen as a key step in the implementation of the Urban Safety Management proposals developed by Traffic Research Laboratories (TRL) on behalf of the Town Council. The objective of that work is to improve the town centre environment through balancing transportation issues against other environmental and social considerations. The workshop will also provide a valuable building block for further policy development work by the Council in relation to future Local Development Framework.

The tree survey work aims to provide additional protection to the special wooded character of the Borough’s built environment.

Social and Community Implications

The visioning workshops would be a real opportunity for key stakeholders in the community to explore a shared vision for the Town that will help shape future decisions that impact upon it.

E-Government implications:

There are no direct e-government implications other than it is anticipated that the web site will be used to assist communication on these projects and their outcomes.

Resource and legal implications:

The resource implications are explained in the body of the report.
The methodology and outcomes of the Visioning Workshops will need to be captured so that outputs can be fed into future LDF work.

_________________________________________________________________________
Introduction.

The Planning Delivery Grant Capital Element

1. The capital element of the grant is 81,641. Projects already committed that are derived from the Service Plan and Local Development Scheme are as follows.

Projects Committed
IT Development Projects
14,390
Display Equipment Council Chamber
4,000
Phase 2 S106 Leisure Contributions
15,000
Planning Policy Surveys, Consultations
15,000
SX3 Consultancy
1,000
Total Committed
49,390

2. This leaves a balance of 32,251 yet to be committed.

The Urban Safety Management Project

3. The request for assistance from the Town Council is set out in Annexe 1 to the report, which includes an outline of the workshops proposed by Local Futures.

4. The background to this request concerns the action planning to implement Urban Safety Management proposals developed by Traffic Research Laboratories (TRL) on behalf of the Town Council. In particular there is a range of possible actions from quick and easy, to difficult and controversial. In terms of the effectiveness of those actions on improving the safety and environment in the town centre the quick and easy options are recognised as being less effective in achieving significant improvements in safety or the environment, whilst the difficult and perhaps controversial are likely to more effective. TRL have recommended to the Town Council that it will be important for a common vision to be shared by three main agencies involved in the implementation of proposals, namely the Town Council, Surrey County Council and Waverley Borough Council. The support of the community at large will also be an important ingredient.

5. In considering how such a shared vision might be reached, the help of the Local Futures Group was explored. The Local Futures Group has specialised in providing a wide range of data sets to help discuss future scenarios. The advantage of such an approach is that discussion is rooted in some objectivity rather than pure blue-sky thinking. Given the future pressures and changes Farnham is likely to face due purely to changes that are taking place around it, it is important that Farnham is in a position to respond appropriately to these forces. In this context, a shared future vision for the town will be valuable in helping shape all of the agencies' policies impacting on the town and in particular the LDF.

6. The Town Council has not specified how much assistance it requires and it is unknown at this time how much, if anything, Surrey County Council are able to contribute.

7. In this context, it is recommended that Officers be authorised to negotiate with the Town Council a contribution of up to 15,000 and that the Town Council is encouraged to seek a contribution from Surrey County Council towards the project.


Tree Preservation Order Survey Project

8. The Waverley Borough Local Plan 2002 recognises the need for sustainable development that makes the best use of previously developed land within urban areas and contributes to the special and distinctive character of the towns and villages.

9. In order to protect, maintain and enhance the Borough’s environmental quality, the Local Planning Authority needs to be able to exert a certain level of development control.

10. Key Note Policy Aim 2 recognises that the strongest environmental protection should be given to assets that would be impossible or very difficult to replace. The distinctive character of individual areas should be maintained or enhanced by development that makes a positive contribution to an area retaining the important features on a site. Development that has an adverse impact on the local environment will not be permitted.

11. Trees are a major feature of Waverley’s urban and semi-rural landscape. The Council wishes to conserve existing trees and woodland and encourage sustainable management practices:

12. The thrust of these policies has been carried forward into the Council’s submission Draft Core Strategy that encourages the protection of the natural environment. Policy CP8 states that the biodiversity of the Borough will be protected and enhanced. For the foreseeable future, policies D6 and D7 are being saved for development control purposes.

Principal Issue

13. In September 2005, the British Standard 5837 for Trees in Relation to Construction – Recommendations was re-issued. The Standard takes account of advances in arboricultural knowledge and understanding gleaned over the past 15 years. In particular it recognises the need for planning appropriately to retain significant trees within sustainable development. The standard gives clear recommendations as to minimum acceptable distances for construction activity in relation to trees.

14. The Council is already facing a significant problem in ensuring that trees form a material consideration during the planning process. The holistic management of the urban forest to enlarge and improve the urban tree canopy and thus obtain the economic, ecological and social benefits of trees, is being seriously challenged.


15. Current levels of tree protection primarily relate to trees that have previously been subject to potential threat in the past. Many trees within the urban environment, external to conservation areas, therefore have no level of protection afforded to them prior to them being subject to development applications that may impact upon them.

16. In order to ensure maximum potential financial gain from a proposed development plot, unethical developers are undertaking the felling of prominent trees of significant public amenity prior to submitting planning applications. The revised British Standard places clearer recommendations and greater onus on developers to ensure sustainable building layouts in relation to on-site trees. In the light of this industry recognised recommendations it is anticipated that the loss of trees not currently subject to protection will escalate.

Way Forward

17. The Development Control Team’s Tree and Landscape Section has identified a number of areas where this type of development pressure is most focused and is having/will have the greatest landscape impact. It primarily consists of single dwellings on relatively large plots of land that developers see as having potential for an increased number of dwellings.

18. It is considered expedient in the interests of public amenity, in accordance with the Local Planning Authority’s duty under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, to begin an objective survey of areas under threat from tree removal from development pressure. The survey will be undertaken with the aim of safeguarding the retention of significant trees and groups of trees through the making of tree preservation orders.

19. Current workloads do not enable ‘in house’ resources to allocate sufficient time to undertake the required surveying. It is therefore proposed to employ an external consultant arboriculturalist to undertake this work. Existing resources will be utilised to cater with resulting administrative workloads, dealing with the making and confirming of new orders and correspondence and objections. The estimated cost of this work is 10,000.

Recommendation

It is recommended that

1. officers be authorised to negotiate a contribution of up to 15,000 towards the Farnham Visioning workshops to assist the Farnham Town Council to progress the Urban Safety Management proposals; and

2. an external arboriculturalist be employed to undertake tree surveys in areas considered to be under threat from future development, with a view to making those trees of significant public amenity the subject of Tree Preservation Orders.

________________________________________________________________________
Background Papers (DoPD)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.
________________________________________________________________________

CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: John Anderson Telephone: 01483 523298

E-mail: jaanderson@waverley.gov.uk

ANNEXE 1

Request from Farnham Town Council for assistance.

Dear Steve/John,

Engagement of Local Futures on visioning work relating to Farnham

As indicated in the message below, John Fisher has provided an outline proposal of how work on the Vision for Farnham might be progressed. In essence, John has identified a four stage workshop based process at an estimated cost of 5,000(plus VAT and expenses) per workshop (i.e. total cost of 20,000 plus VAT and expenses).


I am conscious that such an approach would support and complement the work which Waverley will be required to carry out to satisfy the Local Development
Framework process as discussed in our recent meeting. However ,as officers of the Town Council we have concerns that the cost of the project may be difficult to justify to the full Town Council considering our investment to date( 32,000) on the TRL report. I would therefore appreciate an indication as to whether Waverley may be in a position to share the cost of this project which will clearly contribute towards achieving the objectives of both the Borough and Town Council. I would welcome any further comments or observations you may have before we agree a date to discuss this matter further with members.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Nick Goddard

Assistant Town Clerk(Environmental Services)



From: John Fisher [mailto:John.Fisher@localfutures.com]
Sent: 18 April 2006 17:56
To: Nick Goddard
Subject: A vision for Farnham!

Nick

Further to our recent meeting I have summarised below how we might be of assistance in developing a vision for Farnham Town Centre. As discussed at the meeting, my recommended approach is a four stage process, generally in workshop mode (half day sessions), aimed at engaging key partners and shaping a vision to which all the main agencies are committed.

Stage 1: The State of Farnham: During the first stage we suggest establishing an evidence base for the vision, by analysing local conditions - economic, social, environmental - set within a national context. Since Waverley Council has recently subscribed to our on-line Local Knowledge service this will be a relatively cost effective exercise, and will provide firm foundations for the visioning exercise, highlighting local strengths and weaknesses. It will also help in connecting the Town Centre vision with the ambitions of the local Community Strategy.

Stage 2: Future Drivers of Change: Next we assess the 'Drivers of Change' that are likely to affect things in the future, and work with participants to highlight future opportunities and threats. We highlight the importance and uncertainty of the drivers, and assess their potential impact on current conditions (hence the robustness of existing strategies).

Stage 3: Scenarios: This stage involves the development of future scenarios. It is, again, workshop based and draws on the Future Drivers of Change analysis and other insights to develop future scenarios for Farnham Town centre. These are designed to provide compelling alternative views of the future, highlighting local implications and impacts. They also challenge the participants to consider potential future realities and, under the right conditions, their preferred options.

Stage 4: Vision and Strategic Priorities: This final stage is designed to identify strategic priorities, set within the context of an overall ‘vision’. We use a variety of techniques to identify key elements of a vision and generate an overall vision statement, and then work with participants to agree the main aims/objectives and priorities for action.

Our preferred approach is fairly flexible and, as you will see, involves a combination of presentations/information and facilitated exercises, with the work undertaken primarily in workshop settings involving your major partner organisations. The headline findings are then written up at the conclusion of each session. Key to our approach is the shaping of a vision that is recognised by all partners and to which they are all committed.

Our fee for each of the workshops is 5,000 (+ VAT and expenses). This would include the preparation of materials, presentation of the findings (and facilitation) at the workshops and write-up of the outputs.

While this is very much our recommended approach, I would be happy to discuss variations on the approach. For example, if you feel that 4 seperate sessions will take up too much of your partners time it may be possible to run the sessions back-to-back, taking two days in total complete the exercise.

I do hope this is of interest and there are any queries please do let me know.

Best regards

John
Please note our new address
John Fisher, Director
Local Futures Group
30 Little Russell Street
London
WC1A 2HN
tel: 020 74407360

Comms/exec/2006-07/071