Agenda item

Appendix

Minutes:

Place and Economic Development Committee – Managing Director’s Update

6th September 2021

 

Matters arising

As a point of information the Committee noted that the City had decided not to bid to become the next City of Culture. It was asked where this decision had been made and recorded. It was confirmed that it had not been a matter for this meeting, but a written response would be provided to Members.

This matter has not been the recent subject of an agenda item for any officer or Member meeting.

Quarter 1 Performance Report 2021/22

Review of the SWDP - confirmation requested of proposed delay

Agenda item for 6th September PED Committee.

City Centre Masterplan, update requested, also had the archaeology report been completed as the Archaeological Officer had left the City Council?

Progressing - expected to be finalised end of Autumn 2021

Awaiting final archaeology reports (internal review needs to be progressed) as well as integrated drainage report (model has been built and various options/scenarios are currently being run/explored, with a target date of 15th October 2021 for completion).

Planning applications determined within 8 weeks, clarity requested on whether due to staff and /or covid

Whilst there have been no direct incidents of Covid 19 within the DM team, the requirement to work from home has had an significant impact upon it operational, particularly with respect of the more junior officers in receiving the day-to-day support associated with working within the office.

The indirect impact of Covid 19 is more significant as it has resulted in a marked increase in the numbers of applications being received by WCC (a 23% increase in cases); a phenomenon being experienced across the county. This is probably due to the people working from home more and wanting more space (generating an increase in domestic extension applications) and the stamp duty holiday and the associated surge in the housing market.

This increase in the numbers of the applications has exacerbated the issue of current vacancies within the DM team with officers experiencing very high numbers of cases, particularly with respect of the ‘Other’ application which includes domestic extensions, thus going some way to explaining the dip in performance.

In terms of staffing, to address the above issues, an Interim Senior Planner has been appointed, starting today (6th Sept.)  and we are in the process of securing a further interim Planning Officer with interviews taking place this week. In this respect, the Council has been actively trying to appoint interim support for some time but, due to the surge in application numbers nationally this has proven to be very difficult with a real shortage of potential candidates.

In terms of the permeant posts, we are currently in the process of shortlisting candidates to the Assistant Enforcement Officer post and are currently going out to advert for a Planning Officer.

In addition to the above, the Director is currently engaged with the Head of Planning in reviewing staffing needs/structure within the team. 

Appeals of major planning decisions allowed, is this just one appeal?

Yes, one appeal.

Employment Skills and Strategy Review

In responding to questions from Committee Members on the DWP Youth Hub, long term provision of skills and training to meet future needs of business and key sectors and details of the programme delivered by Young Solutions, the Economic Development Officer agreed to provide additional information in relation to these items to Members.

Additional information has been circulated separately to Members.

Officers are currently awaiting Youth Hub details from DWP. These are expected this month and will be provided to members as soon as available.

The Young Solutions Seek & Reach Programme has been funded for twelve months by the City Council and this has also formed a part of the Vestia/WCT CRF bid (we currently await a decision from government). Work is also underway with The Arches team to design a live brief project for the NEET cohort.

Details of the WLEP Employment & Skills Board Employment & Skills - Worcestershire LEP (wlep.co.uk)

Future High Street Fund - Intervention 4: Property Enhancement Scheme (The Cross and Angel Street)

Clarification on the level of funding referred to in paragraph 3.5

The level will be 75% of the total costs of the works up to up to a maximum of £30,000 per application. In exceptional cases where an additional level of investment would realise significant additional benefits for the overall FHSF programme, officers may recommend a greater sum/proportion.

What steps would be taken if property owners decide not to take advantage of the scheme.

If a property requires significant improvement and the owner does not wish to make any enhancements, officers will consider other options including CPO (with appropriate legal advice) and make recommendations to Members.

 

David Blake