Meeting started at 6.30pm but a number of members could not make it (mainly clashes with other meetings). I arrived at 7pm, while they were finishing with comments from the last minutes (last meeting reported HERE).
Below are my observations (as for the Planning Forums I attended). In dark red are my personal comments.
Report on Wandsworth Local Strategic Board Meeting
Over the £250m budget, £55m will have to be saved within 5 years (on things considered non-essential). Several options have been outlined:
- looking at services (it was acknowledged that the Council will look different in 5 year time);
- trying to protect staff (but saving is implemented through small changes in policy – e.g. first sick day not paid);
- outsourcing/delivering with volunteers (the Big Society?)
The Council is committed to low tax and does not expect any consequent raise.
They are not considering a “super-Council” (merging with other Councils) idea, but agree with sharing services between Councils when possible.
Report on meeting with Town Centre Partnerships Board Chairmen (26th August)
The Chief Executive reported a lot of enthusiasm from partners (“brilliant“, “very successful model“, “influence policy“, “better integration with business“).
It was said that TCP should concentrate on:
- Business rates (back to the Council responsibility?)
- Employment law
3 Police stations are closing.
Local Development Framework
The Proposed Submission versions of the DMPD (Development Management Policies Document) and SSAD (Site Specific Allocation Document), which provide detailed policies to support the delivery of the Core Strategy, are still under public consultation up to the 11th December 2010.
The Clapham Junction Action Group has submitted a contribution that you can read HERE.
Additional comments following the response of the Council officers are also published HERE.
The discussion focused mainly on the definition retained for the percentage of A1-retail vs A3-restaurants/cafes and the consequences for small businesses.
The current SSAD document states:
“Measures to protect the character of Northcote Road, with its small scale, independent shops and lively bars and restaurants, will be pursued, including enhancement of the street market, in consultation with local residents, shoppers and businesses.“
In addition, the Core Strategy Policy PL13 says:
“h. Measures which help maintain the distinctive character of Northcote Road as a specialist retail and restaurant area will be supported, including improvements to the pedestrian environment and enhancements of the street market.”
Further material can be found in CS policy PL8 (“Town and local centres – the 5 town centres, together with local centres, to be the focus for shopping and complementary activity.“), with:
- Local Output Indicator 22 ‘Amount and percentage of completed retail development in town centres and local centres by type’
- Local Output Indicator 23 ‘Retail schemes granted planning permission and in the planning pipeline. Proportion of schemes and floorspace located in Town Centres’
- Local Output Indicator 24, 25, 26 ‘Proportion of A1 retail units in Town and Local Centre Frontages’
Some arguments raised were:
- the current policy of setting a limit for the %A1 vs %A3 can force small businesses to close down, leaving premises empty;
- why 10% instead of 5 or 20? It is an arbitrary figure;
- chains can afford law advice;
- 5 years ago TCP thought they needed enforcement to protect small business;
- the current policy is designed for a boom situation; with the current crisis premises can be left empty as the “wrong” class of business wants to apply;
- some retails (chemist,…) are essential.
Some suggestions to improve the policy:
- if a shop is empty for a certain period of time, the % level could be abandoned for a single application (but there is a risk for big businesses to be able to afford empty premises to get their licence),
- change the delivery rule: only small delivery vans or maximum 1 big delivery per week to prevent chains.
The Clapham Junction Town Centre Partnership manager will draft a submission to the consultation and will circulate amongst the board members for approval.