Agenda item

Any other Business that the Chairman considers urgent


COLPAI Development - Motion

A Member commented that, as the Committee were already aware, he wished to propose a motion. He clarified that he had already circulated an email to all members of the Committee on this matter alongside some relevant background.


MOTION -  That application 20/00748 for the discharge of Conditions 43 and 46 relating to the delivery and servicing plan for the school, and application 20/00747 for the discharge of Condition 44 relating to the delivery and servicing plan for the residential / commercial part of the project, both be determined by this Committee instead of under delegated authority, as the contentious nature of these applications makes it appropriate for them to be determined by elected members.


By way of background, the Member highlighted that residents of Golden Lane Estate who were his constituents were concerned that the effect of these applications if approved would be that the large refuse bins for the COLPAI development would be placed for an indeterminate time awaiting collection directly next to the entrance of a residential block where they would be unsightly and may cause smells and attract vermin and fly-tipping. Secondly, to collect this refuse, lorries would need to manoeuvre in a cul-de-sac which would be unsafe for road users and pedestrians and would block access to the estate for all vehicles including emergency vehicles. The Member encouraged others to visit the site for themselves to see the potential issues. Finally, it was noted that residents were concerned that similar arrangements would exist for all of the school’s delivery lorries.


The Member went on to acknowledge receipt of a response to these concerns from the Director of Community and Children’s Services which arrived shortly before this meeting began but stated that, even from a quick reading of this, he could see that there were a number of major issues of concern to residents that were still to be determined. He reported that local residents had now opposed these proposals for at least the last two years, during which time they had repeatedly pointed out that the refuse collection and servicing could all be undertaken from roads on the other side of the development where none of these issues would arise. They felt so strongly about the negative impact that these proposals would have on their lives that they had commissioned a report from a traffic planner and engineer at personal cost. In these circumstances, the Member stated that he felt that the large number of objections lodged (almost 60 to date) should be heard and that the planning decision ought to be made by elected members and not delegated to Officers. He hoped that all Members would agree that this was appropriate and support this motion as they had done two years ago when they had supported the fact that a discharge of a condition in relation to the retention of trees on the COLPAI site boundary should be decided by the Committee and not under delegated authority.


The Motion was seconded. The Member seconding stated that there were a significant number of objections and that, had this of been a planning application, it would certainly have exceeded the threshold a number of times over. She understood that, whilst there was no reference to the number of objections received for an approved scheme of delegation, it was open to the Committee to reserve the right to call in a decision. Given the strength of feeling here, it was felt appropriate to do so in this case.


Another Member spoke to support the motion. Firstly, he recognised that there was already a precedent here concerning the discharge of the decision on the retention of trees, he also noted the number of objections received from residents and felt that it was perfectly reasonable of them to expect their elected representatives to opine and decide upon this matter. Having said this, the Member did, however, seek reassurance from Officers that this would not further delay the opening of the school beyond September 2021, noting that this was already behind schedule and that the school had already faced many obstacles to date.


Another Member also spoke in support of the motion as far as it related to COLPAI. He did, however, question why condition 44 was included here as he stated that he was not aware that the waste management for the residential tower had ever been controversial or the subject of complaint. He added that the waste would be handled straight onto Golden Lane.


A Member supported the motion and stressed that this development had been extremely contentious with residents. She therefore felt that the matter was worthy of discussion by this Committee/elected Members and underlined that this was a matter of public confidence and transparency.


Another Member spoke in support of the motion. He added that the substantive discussion here was around the satisfaction of the conditions around the 106 agreement which was clearly a matter of great public interest and concern. He therefore felt that it was incumbent upon this Committee to look at this matter in more detail and to ensure that the correct decision was made. He agreed that this should not, however, compromise the opening of the school in any way given that pupils and parents had already spent a considerable amount of time using temporary facilities and had expressed educational concerns around this.


With regard to the implications for the opening of the school, the Interim Chief Planning Officer and Development Director reported that it was critical that a decision was made on these matters by May 2021 and he had therefore tasked his Officers with meeting this deadline to bring the matter to Committee .With regard to condition 44, Officers explained that this was important as a similar number of objections had been received for this application.


The Member who had proposed the motion questioned whether a virtual site tour or in-person site visit could be arranged ahead of the Committee considering these applications. Officers undertook to provide either of these in due course and in accordance with what restrictions permitted.


RESOLVED – That the Motion be carried and that application 20/00748 for the discharge of Conditions 43 and 46 relating to the delivery and servicing plan for the school, and application 20/00747 for the discharge of Condition 44 relating to the delivery and servicing plan for the residential / commercial part of the project, both be determined by this Committee instead of under delegated authority.


Beech Street Tunnel

A Member stated that she wished to flag the issues that the Beech Street Tunnel had been causing for some residents on the Barbican Estate in terms of receiving deliveries and getting taxis as referenced within the minutes of the last Streets and Walkways Sub-Committee meeting.  She noted that issues were currently being dealt with individually as and when they arose but sought some assurances from the Chair that a more holistic approach could be taken going forward so that residents were not left without vital supplies such as medication and that the Beech Street Tunnel was a success.


The Chair reported that he and the Deputy Chairman and the Deputy Chairman of the Streets and Walkways Sub-Committee were fully aware of these issues and added that he had said publicly, from the outset of this scheme, that he would not be afraid to alter and amend plans if necessary. Officers commented that they were aware that there were still some changes that needed to be made to the experimental scheme such as work to open up the central reservation which was already in train and would provide a fundamental improvement to the access controls in the area. Officers added that they were looking at moving towards a permanent scheme and that a report to the last meeting of the Streets and Walkways Sub-Committee had set out a way forward on this. Any issues raised at this stage would help inform this permanent scheme and Officers continued to work to ensure that appropriate messaging was put out to the communities and businesses that relied upon Beech Street in terms of access. They encouraged anyone with any points to raise these with the appropriate Officers.


A Member noted that Google Maps had now updated instructions for Beech Street. He added that, whilst there had been some issues with signage, the real problem seemed to be that large logistics operations relied upon electronic maps, many of which seemed to suggest that you could not enter the tunnel. Officers noted that this was a point well made and suggested that the recent success with Google Maps could be used to encourage other providers to make similar alterations and finesse their messaging. It was noted that this remained a work in progress.


Low Impact Exercise Surfaces

A Member who had raised a question on this matter at the last meeting of this Committee reported that Officers had now responded to him to suggest that they would be looking at low impact exercise surfaces and seeing whether this would fit within the City Public Realm Manual. He added that one of the aspects of this was to analyse whether this particular material was robust enough. He reported that the City Corporation already owned and had installed an athletics track on Hampstead Heath so there was corporate experience of working with this material.


A Member reported that the Department of Transport were rolling out some projects around the country and that Slough had been selected to trial ‘sponge streets’ in the near future. She added that this might also be welcomed in the City going forward in terms of absorbing water run-off from large buildings.