Report of the Democratic Services Officer
The committee welcomed Councillor Jenny Hollingsworth, Portfolio Holder for Growth and Regeneration to discuss a range of issues relating to her area of responsibility. John Robinson, Chief Executive also attended the meeting.
Councillor Hollingsworth addressed a range of questions and topics that had been sent to her in advance of the meeting.
Employment and Skills - Apprenticeships and work placements
Until recently apprentices were not employed by the authority but through the Apprentiship Training Agency. Upon completion of the programme the training arrangement ceased as did their employment with the ATA. There is no formal tracking of apprentices once the apprenticeship ends. The recent change in the apprenticeship model has resulted in the current group of apprentices mainly comprising of existing employees. It is not always possible to guarantee ongoing employment and with a contacting work force this has become even more difficult. Currently the programme has a strong practical relevance to work with the Council and equipping candidates to compete in a competitive jobs market.
There are two types of work experience placement, school age and working age. There is an active programme of school age work placements and up until December there have been nine opportunities above the internal target of six. Placements are made through direct contact by a young person or by referral through the YouNG programme. There is no formal evaluation of the placement other than an informal discussion between the team manager and the student. Other outreach work is undertaken with schools to help pupils prepare for work for example attending schools to assist with mock interviews and information days.
There is a target of sixteen adult work experience placement each year. In the year 2016/17 twenty six placements were facilitated. About half were with PASC from a programme run by Babbington College. The remainder of the placement were from the DWP partners in Job Centre Plus.
Inward Investment – Support for small businesses
Small businesses can access arrange of support from the Council including bespoke property searches for new or on the move accommodation as well as assistance with recruitment and training. The Council facilities one to one business support surgeries from the Civic Centre with business advisors from the D”N” Growth Hub. The Council effectively promotes grant funding and financing opportunities , training and networking opportunities to the business community via direct mailing, Keep me Posted alerts and bespoke meetings and existing business networks,
The issue of the increase in the number of empty shops in Arnold was raised, the reason for this is unclear, however the regeneration of Arnold market could increase footfall and halt this decline.
Housing Development – Planning Protocol
The draft Planning Protocol has been subject to a consultation exercise which closed in February and may be refined in view of the comment received. The Greater Nottingham Joint Planning Authority will periodically review the effectiveness of the Protocol.
Currently the Council owns seven flats over shops which are used for temporary accommodation. One was recently bought back into use following extensive repairs and upgrading. In addition the Council leases four properties from Derwent Living. Use is made of Rushcliffe Borough Council’s temporary accommodation and currently there are six families housed there.
The Council owns very little land suitable for residential development. The largest site is at Killersick Lane and once the emerging Local Plan is adopted officers will progress development options for the site. Other Council land is limited to small parcels of land capable of supporting one or two homes where appropriate planning permission will be sought prior to sale.
Delivery of allocated housing sites.
These are always under constant review and officers follow up to see why building hasn’t progressed. The main push is on those sites that are in the ownership of other public bodies. Those in private ownership are always more difficult to progress, all have different reasons for delaying development.
Affordable Housing – Definition
Affordable housing includes
· Social Housing provided by councils and registered providers (RPs) which are at or below the local housing allowance
· Affordable rent, which can also be offered by Councils and RPs, is set at a rate which is 80% of current market rent.
· Intermediate housing which is designed to facilitate home ownership such as discounts for sale and shared ownership.
The full definition is set out in the National Planning Policy Framework 2012.
Gedling Housing Development Company
Officers have consulted with other Councils which have established or are in the process of establishing Local Housing Companies. Options are currently being reviewed particularly in the specific circumstances of limited land availability, viability and finance options. Housing Companies can assist in accelerating the delivery of housing and can create income to reinvest in Council services.
Transportation - Progress of Gedling Access Road and tram extension
Agreements have been reached on the acquisition of key land parcels. Precommencment planning conditions have been discharged. Further details including landscaping works, temporary lighting, highway design code, noise assessment, historic building recording, and footpath diversions will be subject to public consultation and approval by Planning Committee in due course. Balfour Beatty has been selected as the preferred contractor and main works will start autumn 2018 with completion 2020.
An initial study has been undertaken to assess the feasibility of a tram extension to Gedling. Work is now being progressed with Nottingham City Council with a view to preparing a business case.
Town Centre Management and development.
Notts. Police agreed the sale of the old Carlton Police Station. It is understood the buyer proposes to retain the existing building and may have a residential and office element, subject to planning permission. Regeneration of Carlton Square is progressing. Options include improvement of the Gedling Borough Council owned car parks, discussions with Waypoint the shopping centre owners to review the extent of possible works and joint delivery, and plans to demolish the derelict cottage.
· Note the report, and
· Thank Councillor Hollingsworth for an interesting and informative report