Reports to be considered by District Executive on 6 October 2022
Members considered the reports within the District Executive agenda for 6 October 2022 and raised comments and questions as detailed below. Responses to most questions and comments were provided at Scrutiny Committee by the relevant officers - except any marked by an asterisk.
Planning to support the release of phosphate credits within the Somerset Levels and Moors Ramsar catchment to unlock stalled housing developments (Agenda item 6)
· One member expressed frustration that Councils need to do this. He felt that it is a failure of government for not regulating water companies sufficiently. He added that Councils now need bring in policies like this to lock up agricultural land which could otherwise be used to produce food. He felt strongly that the water companies are selling the mitigation for the issue, despite causing the issue in the first place and concluded that the situation is unfair.
· It was understood that the district councils in Somerset are bringing in their own policies regarding phosphates and planning policy, will there be a county wide approach to this when the unitary authority comes in being next year?
· What about the future? By locking in land to offset phosphates now, are we limiting availability of high-grade land for future generations?
· If a national policy/solution to this issue comes forward, would South Somerset landowners get a refund on the credits they bought to offset the phosphates though the SSDC scheme?
· How critical is this 15% in terms of land supply? Are we talking about major development being held up, or small sites/single dwelling applications?
· Workforce planning: Are planning and legal teams prepared for the spike in workload expected from Dec 22– Mar 23?
· What else is the Council doing in terms of retrofitting in existing properties/developments to reduce phosphate levels?
· How much agricultural land will be locked up? Can we make sure this doesn’t include high grade land that can be used for food production?
· Do we run the risk of developers opting to build outside of South Somerset to avoid the phosphate credit fee?
· Scrutiny members requested more updates and members briefings.
The 'Making' of the North Cadbury and Yarlington Neighbourhood Plan (Agenda item 7)
· When will the CIL contribution change to 25% (from 15%). Is it when DX approve the recommendation or is it after the referendum, presuming residents are in favour?
· The Chairman acknowledged the huge amount of work that goes into making Neighbourhood Plans and congratulated all who were involved.
Public Space Protection Orders: Yeovil (Agenda item 8)
· *Has the extension of the PCPO through Yeovil Country Park last year resolved the problems in that area? Members asked for more detail on incidents in Yeovil Country Park prior to, and since the PCPO extension was enforced.
District Executive Forward Plan (Agenda item 9)
· *S106 - Members of Scrutiny committee expressed frustration at the absence of any recent updates on S106 funding and allocation at SSDC.
· *Do we have a confirmed date for the Full Council to receive an update on Opium Power Ltd?