Questions submitted by the Public
To consider any questions submitted by the public. (The deadline for questions is 4.30 pm on the Wednesday before the meeting – please contact Democratic Services by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01795 417330).
The Mayor advised that there were 2 questions from public. Mr Kay was not present at the meeting and his question was read out by the Mayor. The question and response were circulated to Mr Kay after the meeting.
Question 1 – Mr Collins
Policy DM3 of the Local Plan states at some length the areas in which development proposals are expected to contribute to the Council's net-zero carbon by 2030 targets. There is little detail: Has the Council produced specific requirements of new housing stock in the light of the climate and ecological emergency, for example in terms of minimum thermal insulation standards, proportion of roof given to solar panels, installation of EV charging points: How is developers’ conformity to such requirements monitored, how are the results to be made public and what sanctions are employed in the event of a company disregarding what the Council has decided?
Response – Cabinet Member for Planning
The Council has worked with the Consultancy Square Gain to produce a set of Sustainable Design & Construction Standards to inform the Local Plan Review and in particular Policy DM3. This document can be found here:
The document sets out the specific standards sought (eg for operational energy, operational carbon, renewable energy and carbon offsetting as well as Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) and Home Quality Mark standards) and the mechanisms for measuring and monitoring.
With regards to EV charging, the approach is set out in the Swale Borough Council Parking Standards Supplementary Planning Document, here:
Chapter 8 of the emerging
Local Plan Review The Swale Borough Local
Plan Review February 2021 explains
the approach to monitoring policies in the Local Plan (through the
Authority Monitoring Report) and Appendix I sets out the indicators
and targets for each Local Plan policy, including DM3.
Standards would be enforced through regular Planning and Building Control enforcement procedures.
Does the Council have a programme to retrofit Council-owned properties with high levels of insulation and where suitable, heat pumps? Is it enforcing minimum energy efficiency standards in the private-rented sector?
A written response would be provided.
Question 2 – Mr Kay
In view of reports that SBC is to provide £75,000 in a grant to the West Faversham Community Association to fund its expansion plans:
· The Association’s financial statements have been published on the Charity Commission website charity shown an adverse record (even before COVID-19
· Over the past three years they have had a net negative movement in funds of over £499,000 and this is prior to impact from COVID-19
· At 31 March 2020 the net current assets of the Association were £20,266 in deficit and the Association had £206,628 of loans repayable over future years
· The cash and loans position of West Faversham was £157,974 worse in just one year (even before COVID 19)
· The last published financial statement shows a figure for prior year adjustments of £29,406 and the explanation suggests that the organisation’s administration is unsatisfactory
· The plans are completely contrary to the vision and project that was put into place after extensive public consultation to build a proper community centre run by residents for residents, for which £3 million in grants was obtained and which had an Official Royal Opening
· The expansion plans involve destroying approximately £500,000 of facilities regularly used by the community
· Many organisations that hundreds of residents attended have been told that they cannot use the Centre anymore.
Would the Cabinet Member please state whether the Council was aware of the points set out above, and why a grant was awarded to fund such a high risk unnecessary project, that destroys existing facilities?
Response – Cabinet Member for Communities
Mr Kay thank you for your question.
A comprehensive business plan had been received from the West Faversham Community Association which was proposing the expansion of its current community centre, with a new building at the rear of the site, and repurposing some of the current building. In their submission to the Council it was highlighted that external funding of close to £600k had been raised. There was an examination of the business case and it was agreed to allocate initially £25k from the Council to feasibility work and this has been paid. There is a further £50k allocated provisionally but not yet paid.
By definition the Special Project Fund is intended to assist in making community based projects financially viable and that has a degree of risk.