Agenda item - Member Involvement

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Agenda item

Member Involvement

To consider the following matters raised by Members:


(a)          Petitions: To receive any petitions referred from Full Council or submitted directly to the Committee;


(b)          Written Questions: To consider any written questions;


(i)            King Alfred- Councillor Druitt


(ii)          King Alfred- Councillor Druitt


(iii)         Churchill Square- Councillor Druitt


(c)          Letters: To consider any letters;


(i)            Support Swift Boxes- Councillor Wealls


(d)          Notices of Motion: to consider any Notices of Motion referred from Full Council or submitted directly to the Committee.




(i)            King Alfred- Councillor Druitt


42.1      Councillor Druitt put the following question:


“How much more time is the council willing to give Crest Nicholson to consider the viability of the King Alfred development, and to what extent has Brexit played a part in the uncertainty surrounding the scheme's viability?”


42.2      The Chair provided the following reply:


“Since receiving the formal offer of £15.2m of Housing Infrastructure Funding in September 2018, the Council has continued to work closely with Crest Nicholson to resolve outstanding commercial matters, and thus progress the project. Increasing costs, a levelling of residential sales values, and ongoing uncertainty around Brexit, have impacted scheme viability in the 3 year period since Crest’s appointment. It is recognised that there is now a pressing need to conclude matters and the Council has sought Crest’s firm commitment to enter the Development Agreement by the end of 2018. A report is due to be presented to the Policy Resources & Growth Committee at its next meeting on 6th December”


42.3      Councillor Druitt put the following supplementary question:


“It has been reported in the local press that Crest had failed to meet the deadline, could the Chair confirm whether that is the case?


42.4      On behalf of the Chair, the Executive Director, Economy, Environment & Culture provided the following reply:


“Crest did respond to the deadline of 24 October and there had been further correspondence since to progress matters”.


(ii)          King Alfred- Councillor Druitt


42.5      Councillor Druitt put the following question:


“If the Administration had maintained the King Alfred Project Board is there a possibility that the project may have benefited from closer scrutiny, allowing us to have progressed, one way or another, passed the current stage?”


42.6      The Chair provided the following reply:


“Individual Project Boards were replaced in 2016 by the Strategic Delivery Board that oversees, coordinates, and scrutinises all of the Council’s major projects. The Board receives a written progress update as a standing item at each meeting and receives more detailed reports and presentations at key stages as necessary. The Board has paid close attention to the King Alfred project, the difficult financial backdrop, and the proposals put forward by the developer during the past 2 years, and considered a detailed report at its meeting on 6th November”


(iii)         Churchill Square- Councillor Druitt


42.7      Councillor Druitt put the following question:


“In light of the news that shops are closing at a rate of 14 a day, and with so many empty shops already in Western Road and surrounding streets, is it not time to re-think the expansion of Churchill Square?”


42.8      The Chair provided the following reply


“Whilst the national picture for retail remains one of overall decline in high streets, analysis shows that for those with new business models and where locations remain attractive the picture is very different.  Brighton is fortunately regarded by retailers, and retail landlords, as one such place and the evidence bears this out, as vacancy rates remain at 5% in Brighton & Hove, compared to a national rate of 12%.

In terms of UK venue retail rankings, Brighton ranks 9th as a major city location, beaten only by Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Cardiff, Nottingham and Edinburgh.  Retailers in Brighton also trade well and typically over 7% above the chain average. Retailers therefore remain much focussed upon finding outlets in Brighton.

Given the strong performance of Brighton for retailers, the main challenge for the Churchill Square expansion would be developing a new shopping destination that will work for the new business models of retailers and ensures that the new centre meets their changing requirements.  As consumers are refining what they think is a good shopping experience, the stores and retailers are adapting, meaning the timing is right to begin learning from successful models elsewhere.  We can therefore take this opportunity to develop a retail environment more attuned to the shopping and leisure needs for the new century rather than the last”




(i)            Support Swift Boxes- Councillor Wealls


42.9      The Committee considered a Letter from Councillor Wealls requesting that the installation of swift boxes be set out in Planning Policy. The Letter was presented by Councillor Nemeth on Councillor’s Wealls behalf.


42.10   The Chair provided the following response:


“Planning policy at both a national and local level strongly supports the need to protect and conserve biodiversity and to seek enhancements, including measures to extend existing and support new or isolated habitats. These general principles are clearly set out in the adopted City Plan Part One Policy CP10 Biodiversity.

The Draft City Plan Part Two Policy DM37 – Green Infrastructure and Nature Conservation builds upon the adopted City Plan Part One and  specifically requires proposals for new development to protect and prevent damaging impacts to and, where possible to seek to enhance, protected and notable species and habitats. The supporting text to the policy explains that enhancement opportunities should focus on Brighton & Hove’s local Biodiversity Action Plan habitats and species (Swifts are identified as a priority species). The text also explains that consideration should be given to the protection of native species and the provision of roosting/nesting boxes for bats/birds including for swifts, house martins and swallows.

The Supplementary Planning Document SPD11 Nature Conservation and Development (SPD 11) includes a clear procedure for identifying existing nature conservation features which may be affected by development and also for quantifying the amount of new nature conservation features which should be delivered either on or off the development site.

There is therefore a very clear and positive planning policy framework which can be used for supporting and enhancing biodiversity in the city, including the city’s swift populations. These measures are normally secured by conditions attached to planning consents on major planning applications.

In terms of requiring a standard planning condition for all urban developments to install swift boxes it should be noted that this may not always be appropriate and not applicable to planning applications for changes of use, or for small scale alterations. There may also be issues such as orientation, height, exposure and possibly proximity to known swift nesting sites that would need to be considered in new build development.  Planning officers will normally seek advice from the County Ecologist in such matters and it is noted that there is helpful advice / links on the RSPB and Swift Conservation websites.

The representation referred to in your letter from the RSPB on the Draft City Plan Part Two is noted and welcomed. All the consultation responses received on the Draft City Plan Part Two will be fully considered in taking forward any further changes to the Plan towards formal adoption.

As Chair of this Committee I will request that Officers liaise with colleagues to establish to what extent council house repairs, maintenance and refurbishment programmes are incorporating ways of supporting the city’s swift population”.


42.11   RESOLVED- That the Committee notes the Letter.

Supporting documents:


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