Contact Member: Cllr Laura James
Report detailing the findings and recommendations of the SS9 Task & Finish group.
The Chair thanked Cllr James for her work in Chairing the Policy SS9 Task and Finish group and then proposed that, due to the confidential nature of the information to be discussed, the committee pass a resolution that, by virtue of paragraphs 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting. This was approved.
On resumption of the open session the Chair confirmed that committee had discussed a report presented by the policy SS9 task and finish group and agreed to refer a number of recommendations to Cabinet.
Resolved: the Committee
· Invite the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Major Projects to attend a future meeting of the Committee and provide an update in relation to ongoing progress with the Leisure Park;
· Refer the following recommendations to Cabinet for consideration and response:-
I. Policy SS9 should remain unchanged in the Local Plan Update. However clarity and confirmation is sought as to whether there is an agreed legal definition of ancillary retail;
II. The committee recommends that additional checks and balances need to be introduced to Cabinet decisions on large projects with values greater than £100m. A root and branch review of the procurement process for large projects is required linked to oversight and scrutiny;
III. The committee feel that evidence presented displays a significant planning risk with regards to conflict with the town centre trade, and potentially a commercial/financial risk on the town centre as well. There is a need for a structured process of oversight before, during and in retrospect on all future large projects valued in excess of £100m, to support the Cabinet through the decision making process. Such would benefit openness, transparency and good decision-making best practice. Further, it is suggested that the Chief Executive take responsibility for all major projects reviewed annually in their appraisal.
· The Committee further request that Cabinet consider the following work suggestions:-
1. It is suggested that the Retail Impact Study and Leisure Needs Assessment in support of the revised Local Plan must include and cover the changing nature of the retail sector and assess not just the retail opportunities but the impact caused by accessibility and parking fees, and to acknowledge the holistic nature of the modern day ‘retail/leisure experience’;
2. Policy SS8 Basing View needs to be reviewed as to whether it can include a requirement to protect the Town Centre subject to the provisions of the Development Agreement relating to Basing View;
3. That the wording in Policy EP3 be reviewed to ensure Festival Place and The Malls remain protected as the ‘jewels in the crown’ and the heart of Basingstoke’s retail offering;
4. Basingstoke Town strategy should recognise and take account of all other retail centres and retail parks throughout the Borough, which offer not only shops but also restaurants and cafes;
5. The Scrutiny process needs to be more robust, including how decisions on major projects are reviewed during and not simply after the event;
6. Papers and reports issued for scrutiny in the case of the Leisure Park were not as comprehensive as the bundle of papers reviewed by the Panel and so it is suggested that there needs to be greater transparency in scrutiny;
7. A review of the procurement process for large projects must be undertaken;
8. The Constitution should be amended to require robust oversight of major projects through the formation of a specific Overview Committee for Major Projects; and
9. Leisure park proposals should be appraised to ensure that they do not compete with the Town Centre.
· The Committee further recommend consideration of 9 confidential work requirements (as detailed under Appendix 1 of the report).