Decisions

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Decisions published

22/09/2020 - Shared Anti-Fraud Service - Update ref: 1395    Item Deferred

Decision Maker: Audit and Governance Committee

Made at meeting: 22/09/2020 - Audit and Governance Committee

Decision published: 12/10/2020

Effective from: 22/09/2020

Decision:

The Shared Anti-Fraud Service (SAFS) Officer presented a report updating the Committee on recent SAFS work. He said some activities, such as face-to-face training, remained suspended due to COVID-19. However, SAFS was still able to support the Council, such as through post payment assurance on grant payments given during the pandemic, and work with external bodies to counter phishing scams. Whilst the Officer responsible for SAFS casework specifically relating to East Herts District Council was on maternity leave, her caseload had been covered by other Officers. There had been a reduction in referrals to SAFS during the pandemic. This was addressed by a fraud awareness campaign which reached 350,000 residents, and saw visits to the fraud reporting webpages increase significantly.

 

The Chairman and Councillor Ward-Booth asked about any fraud that had been uncovered as part of the COVID-19 grant scheme, and whether the particular time pressure of this exercise meant that Officers were forced into ‘taking chances’.

 

The SAFS Officer said that a number of potentially fraudulent payments had been identified, but in relation to the volume of payments that had been made, the level of fraud represented  a very low proportion of the total payments. Members should be assured that Officers and the Council had performed well, and where there were doubts over applications, further enquiries were made or more supporting evidence requested from applicants.

 

The Chairman asked about the reference in the report to International Fraud Awareness Week. He also asked what ‘proactive’ fraud referrals were considered to be, and whether the SAFS Officer foresaw that these would constitute a larger proportion of referrals in future.

 

The SAFS Officer said the International Fraud Awareness Week was an opportunity for the Council to take advantage of wider publicity to make residents aware of how to report potential fraud locally, and also protect themselves against fraud. Proactive referrals were instances in which SAFS had itself discovered potential fraud - such as by carrying out data matching exercises - rather than reacting to referrals from Officers or the public. Members were advised that the level of such proactive referrals depended on SAFS’ resources, and the number of external referrals remained an important source of work.

 

Councillor Corpe asked about the third key performance indicator (KPI), which was highlighted in amber on the report, despite action on referrals being taken within an average of two days at present. He asked whether, if this was an average response time, did this mean there were some referrals actioned outside of the target timeframe and, if so, what was the percentage of such referrals.

 

The SAFS Officer said that the KPI was highlighted in amber because although the target was currently being met, this could change. He said that he would respond to Members on the other point after the meeting as he did not have these figures to hand, but every urgent referral was actioned within two days and every other referral within a week.

 

The Chairman said that although costs had increased, the SAFS still represented good value for money, given the savings achieved through the prevention of fraud. He asked about the progress of the Fraud Hub and in particular whether this would be an additional cost to the Council and when it would be established.

 

The SAFS Officer said the Fraud Hub would cost the Council approximately £4,000 a year. He explained that the Council was required to take part in the National Fraud Initiative every two years, which was conducted by the Cabinet Office. Large scale data analysis was undertaken in order to identify possible fraud, which was then fed back to the Council to act upon. It generally took around five months for this feedback to be given following the initial snapshot, by which time SAFS had often already acted upon this possible fraud.

 

Members were advised that the Fraud Hub aimed to replicate this process at a local level, which would allow the Council to act upon this information more quickly, increasing its value. The implementation date would need to be discussed with the Head of Legal and Democratic Services and the Head of Strategic Finance and Property, and a meeting was scheduled to address this.

 

RESOLVED – that the work of the Council and the Shared Anti-Fraud Service in delivering the 2020/21 Anti-Fraud Plan be noted.

 

Wards affected: (All Wards);

Lead officer: Suhel Nagori


20/10/2020 - East Herts Council’s response to the Planning White Paper (NKD20/17) ref: 1396    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Executive Member for Planning and Growth

Decision published: 09/10/2020

Effective from: 28/10/2020

Wards affected: (All Wards);

Lead officer: Laura Guy


09/09/2020 - 3/20/0245/FUL - Erection of 61 dwellings (including 24 affordable dwellings) accessed from Manor Links, together with associated highway works, landscaping, ecological enhancement works, utilities, drainage infrastructure and parking at Land East of ref: 1390    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Development Management Committee

Made at meeting: 09/09/2020 - Development Management Committee

Decision published: 07/10/2020

Effective from: 09/09/2020

Decision:

The Head of Planning and Building Control recommended that in respect of application 3/20/0245/FUL, planning permission be granted subject to a legal agreement and the conditions detailed in the report now submitted. It was also recommended that delegated authority be granted to the Head of Planning and Building Control to finalise the detail of the legal agreement and conditions.

 

The Principal Planning Officer, on behalf of the Head of Planning and Building Control, drew Members’ attention to the late representations summary and details of specific schemes for the Section 106 funding. Members were advised that these details should be added to the recommendation in respect of the Section 106 legal agreement.

 

The Principal Planning Officer said that not all of the objections had been included in the report or the late representations as Officers only ever included a short summary of objections as these were available in full elsewhere. She said that the impact of the new driving range was not being considered as this was the subject of a separate planning application.

 

Members were advised of a request that all construction traffic be routed through the golf course. The Principal Planning Officer said that a condition requiring a construction and management plan was proposed as part of the application. She confirmed that it was not reasonable to condition access across the golf course as this was not within the ownership of the applicant and there was access directly to the site.

 

Members were advised that the two accesses would comprise two cul-de-sacs with a central small green area which contained a footpath link to allow access from one side of the development to the other. The Principal Planning Officer said that the two access ways were located between existing properties from Manor Links and would be adopted by the highway authority.  The minor roads would be private and would be a shared surface and the proposed dwellings that backed onto the existing bungalows on Manor Links would also be bungalows.

 

The Principal Planning Officer said that the layout plan accorded with the site masterplan and she detailed the breakdown of the proposed housing mix. She also detailed the percentage of rental and shared ownership dwellings and the proposed locations of the tenure mix.  She described the design as appropriate to this location and said that there would be 66 percent shared ownership dwellings and 34 percent rental properties within the proposed 40% affordable housing.

 

Members were advised that the proposed designs were appropriate to this location and the bungalows had been designed so that all accommodation was on the ground floor with some limited usable loft space.  The Officer said that some of these units had been redesigned so that loft conversion was less likely.  She said that there should be no significant overlooking of the bungalows on Manor Links.

 

The Principal Planning Officer said that permitted development rights would be removed to prevent dormers or roof additions in future without planning permission.  She highlighted a number of examples of street scene elevations and explained that this edge of town development would include some cycle parking and electric vehicle charging points.

 

The Principal Planning Officer said that adequate garden and amenity space and parking was proposed and the proposed number of units was not excessive for this site. She said that Hertfordshire Highways were satisfied with the development in terms of highway impact and Officers believed that there would be no overshadowing or overlooking as a consequence of this development.

 

Members were advised that appropriate levels of financial contributions were proposed towards infrastructure.  The Principal Planning Officer said that an off-site ecological area would lead to a net gain in biodiversity in accordance with policy.  She said that this would be a sustainable form of development and the application was therefore recommended for approval subject to the prior completion of a Section 106 legal agreement and conditions.

 

Mr Stripling addressed the Committee in objection to the application.  Mr Weedon spoke for the application.  Councillor Wilson addressed the Committee as the local ward Member.

 

Councillor Ruffles asked for clarification as to which sections of highway would be adopted by the County Council.  He welcomed the bungalows in this modern time and on this particular site they were very importantly positioned to protect the existing bungalows off site. He welcomed this addition to the housing stock in East Herts and asked whether removing permitted development rights was the only protection against these bungalows becoming something bigger or higher in future.

 

Councillor Stowe asked for some clarity regarding the floodplain as the Town Council had said the site was on floodplain and the Lead Local Flood Authority had said it was not. He asked whether the dwellings would be built above the last known level.  He asked whether there would be a condition removing the permitted development rights from the car ports and garages on this site.

 

Councillor Crystall asked whether there would be fibre broadband to the door and he sought clarification as to whether the Section 106 NHS funding would be valid in this case. The Principal Planning Officer said that the main access would be adopted and maintained to County Council standards. She said that withdrawal of permitted development rights to secure retention of bungalows was the only reasonable option as including this in a Section 106 agreement would be unfair to future occupiers.

 

Members were advised that this site was not within the flood plain or within flood zones one or two.  The Principal Planning Officer said there would a condition to prevent any change of use in respect of garages and car ports.  She stated that the NHS funding in the Section 106 agreement was a valid request and Members were advised that a condition had been applied requiring that details be submitted in respect of fibre broadband to the door.

 

Councillor Kaye referred to the short term impact of construction traffic and welcomed the fact that some of the properties would have solar panels. He welcomed the bungalows and the affordable housing as key to this application in many ways and concluded by stating that this was a relatively attractive development.

 

Councillor Beckett said this was probably the best quality small scale development to have come forward in Bishop’s Stortford, particularly when compared to Bishop’s Stortford North and Bishop’s Stortford South.  He stated that he felt for the residents of Manor Links with their quiet neighbourhood of bungalows.  He referred to the traffic impacts which could not be underestimated and he asked whether a condition could be applied requiring that construction traffic uses the first entrance onto the site for both developments and utilises the proposed extension to the driving range to go around the existing tree line.  He asked whether the developer would be amenable to speed humps to reduce the speed of motorists post development.

 

Councillor Redfern asked how homes were for social rent and how many would be shared ownership. She referred to paragraph 8.8 on page 60 of the report and expressed concerns that overdevelopment of other strategic sites was being used to justify even more development on this site. She said that having fewer units would have allowed for more space to accommodate a play area.

 

The Principal Planning Officer said that an equipped play area could not be requested based on the proposed number of units. She said that the green space would serve as a local area of play and a more formal arrangement would need to be fenced and Officers did not feel that this would be appropriate in this location.

 

Members were advised that further mitigation for the construction of this development would be provided in the form of a construction management plan and a very specific condition would be assessed by Environmental Health Officers and by Hertfordshire Highways in order to secure a very safe access that would not cause harm.

 

The Principal Planning Officer said that speed humps had not been requested by the County Council and residents often did not like speed impacts due to their impact. She said that 61 units compared to 50 could be considered to be over and above what Officers would consider to be around or in the region of but in planning terms this was acceptable unless there were good policy reasons to refuse as this was an allocated site in the District Plan.

 

The Service Manager (Development Management) said that the removal of permitted development rights for the bungalows was about as far as the Committee could legitimately go and the bungalows had been specifically redesigned to be at a low level.  He said that alterations to include dormers or additional stories would be considered to be out of character in such a uniform line of dwellings.

 

Councillor Kemp said that he was very pleased with the design and location of the bungalows and he was particularly pleased that two of these bungalows were for affordable rent.  He said that he would be interested to know how the density of this development for 61 units compared to other similar developments and he was also interested to know whether the original plan for this development had included so many bungalows.

 

Councillor Kemp commented on the routing of traffic via the first access off Manor Links and he had noted that the roundabout at the end of this road might be a better option for heavy and residential traffic onto Dunmow Road.  He commended the developer for their approach to sustainability and the fabric first approach and the planned use of solar panels.

 

Councillor Bull welcomed the bungalows and expressed some concerns over the plans for adoption of the new roads.  He commented on the security of the golf course and sought some clarity around the link road.  The Principal Planning Officer said that there was originally expected to be bungalows on the site adjacent to the bungalows on Manor Links.  She said that this was not the densest of developments and it was mid-range in terms of density.

 

Members were advised that the proposals were clearly of a higher density than the housing on Manor Links and Officers would not expect this development to replicate that density.  The Officer said that there was no access proposed through the golf course to the site.

 

Councillor Fernando shared the concerns of Councillor Ruffles regarding the permitted development rights.  He said that it was positive that cabling for electric charging was going into all of the properties.  He commented on the likely output and installation levels of solar panels and the likely benefits of this regarding this development.  He referred to residents’ concerns in respect of the driving range and the risk of golf balls in the new development.

 

Councillor Crystall expressed some concerns regarding the biodiversity calculations of the developer were regarded as a bit thin by the consultees.  He said that one of these figures was just 0.85 positive in terms of a net gain.  He asked whether this figure could be increased to avoid the biodiversity increase becoming a negative outcome.  He commented on which authority was responsible should levels of NOx rise above acceptable standards in this area.

 

Councillor Kemp said he was glad to see Section 106 funding for the NHS and he asked for some clarification as to why this funding was considered to be valid under Section 106 rules. The Principal Planning Officer said that the existing driving range could not be used if this development went ahead and the implications of the new driving range were the subject of a separate application.

 

Members were advised that the biodiversity assessment proposed an increase of 0.85 percent.  The Officer said that there was no set amount in legislation as to the amount of net gain that should be provided, simply that a net gain should be provided.   The Service Manager (Development Management) said that the situation as regards emissions and building regulations was separate to the planning process.  As regards building regulations approval, the authority could be from any inspector or company approved to clear building regulations at the time the application was approved.

 

At the invitation of the Chairman, the Legal Services Manager confirmed that 61 dwellings fell within the region of about in reference to the District Plan allocation of 50 dwelling for this strategic site.  Also at the Chairman’s invitation, the Principal Planning Officer referred Members to the summary of late representations in respect of concerns from residents in terms of how these had been addressed.  She said that as regards whether the development was COVID safe, there were no policies on this and any requirements on this could not be imposed on the developer.

 

The Service Manager (Development Management) said that the government had not brought any new design requirements re making schemes COVID safe.  He said that there were precedents for strategic sites in terms of the numbers of units exceeding the allocations in the District Plan.  He said density was essentially a matter of design and the planning inspectorate had applied flexibility around those design issues.

 

Councillor Kemp proposed, and Councillor Stowe seconded, a motion that application 3/20/0245/FUL be granted subject to a legal agreement and the conditions set out at the end of the report and delegated authority be granted to the Head of Planning and Building Control to finalise the Section 106 legal agreement and conditions.

 

After being put to the meeting and a vote taken, this motion was declared CARRIED.

 

RESOLVED that (A) planning permission be grantedsubject to a legal agreement and the conditions set out at the end of this report; and

 

(B)   authority be delegated to the Head of Planning and Building Control to finalise the Section 106 Legal Agreement and conditions.

Wards affected: Bishop's Stortford All Saints;


06/10/2020 - Compulsory Purchase Order Request - Options Appraisal Process ref: 1394    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Executive

Made at meeting: 06/10/2020 - Executive

Decision published: 06/10/2020

Effective from: 15/10/2020

Decision:

That the recommendations in the restricted report be approved, in that Officers be authorised to explore CPO options and report back to Executive and Full Council.

Lead officer: Helen Standen


06/10/2020 - Quarterly Corporate Budget Monitor - Q1 June 2020 ref: 1393    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Executive

Made at meeting: 06/10/2020 - Executive

Decision published: 06/10/2020

Effective from: 15/10/2020

Decision:

(A)The net revenue budget forecast overspend of £100K in 2020/21 be noted as shown in Table 1 of the report; and

(B)The revised capital budget for 2020/21 is £73.985m, of which 3100K is estimated to be carried forward to future years, be noted.

Lead officer: Bob Palmer


06/10/2020 - Harlow and Gilston Garden Town: Sustainability Guidance and Checklist ref: 1392    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Executive

Made at meeting: 06/10/2020 - Executive

Decision published: 06/10/2020

Effective from: 15/10/2020

Decision:

(A) that the draft Harlow and Gilston Garden Town

Sustainability Guidance and Checklist be agreed for a six week

period of public consultation between October and

December 2020.

Lead officer: Kevin Steptoe