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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Remote Meeting via Zoom

Contact: Kate Clark  Email: committee@folkestone-hythe.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

20.

Appointment of chairman

The committee must appoint a district / parish councillor to chair the meeting.

Minutes:

Proposed by Councillor Hobbs,      

  

That Councillor Mrs Jenny Hollingsbee be appointed Chairman for the meeting.  

 

Agreed by all Members.   

 

21.

Declarations of interest

Members of the Council should declare any interests which fall under the following categories:

 

a) discloseable pecuniary interests (DPI)

b) other significant interests (OSI)

c) voluntary announcements of other interests

 

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

22.

Minutes

To receive the minutes of the meeting held on 14 January 2021.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 14 January 2021 were submitted and approved. The Chairman, Councillor Mrs Hollingsbee, agreed that her electronic signature could be added to the minutes.  

 

23.

High Street Fund

A presentation covering the Council’s High Street Fund and plans to support  re-opening  of high streets across the district.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

A presentation was given by the Economic Development Senior Specialist which provided members with an update on the high street fund.              

The Fund was launched in October 2019, and 11 district High Streets; Folkestone, Hythe, Cheriton, Sandgate, New Romney, Dymchurch, Hawkinge, Sellindge, Lydd, Lyminge and Elham, are eligible to apply. Maps of eligible high street areas can be found on the Folkestone Works website: https://folkestone.works/.

The objectives of the Fund are to: 

 

      Bring empty high street properties back into commercial use.

      Upgrade and adapt existing properties to improve appearance and street scene.

      Improve townscape.

      Introduce innovative products to support commercial operations.

 

Grants from £5,000 to £50,000 are available and can be up to 50% of total project costs (capital expenditure) 100% may be considered for special cases.  Grants are only issued on the completion of project works.

 

To date 33 projects have been awarded an HSF grants, and 11 projects have already been successfully delivered. The pandemic has caused delay in the delivery of some projects and therefore it had been decided the scheme should be extended for an additional 12 months meaning it is now due to end in March 2022. Seven new applications had been received and were now being processed.

 

Members were also given a briefing on the Folkestone Town Centre Place Plan, the key elements of which are: 

 

·         To provide a collective vision for the Council, partners, stakeholders, and community.

·         To celebrate and build upon the great work and investment to date.

·         Recognise the town’s inherent strengths and position Folkestone for the future.

 

Key themes within the Plan included; promoting investment and development opportunities; establishing a civic ‘heart’ & purpose - “One public estate”; creating public spaces and broader leisure provision for residents and visitors; delivering a shift in transport movements & maximise accessibility; encouraging town centre living as a vital component of a vibrant mixed use with an appropriate evening economy; creating an exemplar in sustainability and reaping the benefits of compact growth; to foster a dynamic/flexible employment environment transitioning away from a solely retail lead economy; promoting future town centre animation, markets, management and maintenance; inform wider review of Licensing Policy; place branding and promotion; identifying the challenges, issues and the potential solutions; consider impacts of national policy; funding opportunities, and developing an Action Plan for Folkestone Town Centre.

 

Public engagement was a key element to developing the Plan and therefore a webpage was to be launched before the end of March giving details of the Plan and how people can put forward their views. An important part of that will be, a public engagement event taking place on 19 April 2021. Parish Council members were therefore asked to promote the public engagement event in their area, by speaking to local people and putting up publicity posters on their parish noticeboard.

 

The Plan will be taken forward by a multi-disciplinary team made up of representatives from relevant Council Departments and there would be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.

24.

River Stour Water Quality - Planning Considerations

A presentation outlining potential planning impacts as a result of an issue of water quality raised by Natural England.

 

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

A presentation was given by the Chief Planning Officer which detailed the water quality problems being caused within the Stodmarsh Wetland Nature Reserve.  The Stodmarsh water environment is internationally important for its wildlife and is protected under the Water Environment Regulations and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations, as well as national protection for many parts of the floodplain catchment.

 

The Chief Planning Officer said, evidence had been found which indicated there were high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus input to this water environment with evidence that these nutrients were causing eutrophication at part of these designated sites. This process made it difficult for aquatic insects, invertebrates, or fish to survive, in turn removing a food source from the food cycle. Natural England had advised the Council that it should avoid the potential for any further deterioration in the water quality of the Stodmarsh European designated site pending further investigations as to the cause of the eutrophication. That had direct consequences for some new development proposals within parts of Folkestone & Hythe District.

 

The Chief Planning Officer said, the advice from Natural England covered all areas within the Stour Operational Catchments, to include the Little Stour and Wingham, Lower Stour and Upper Stour sub-catchment areas. Specifically, within the Folkestone and Hythe District, affected parishes included Stelling, Elmstead, Elham, Lyminge, Stowting, Monks Horton, Sellindge, Lympne, Standford, Postling, Acrise, and Swingfield.

 

The Chief Planning Officer said possible solutions included on-site waste water works; Land off-setting i.e. taking agricultural land out of active use to reduce the nutrients that wash off the land; Water polishing – reed beds; upgrading the existing Waste Water Treatment Works and management of the Stodmarsh SPA.

 

The Chief Planning Officer said because of its protected national and international status, the council is under a legal obligation to ensure it does not allow any development within the Stodmarsh SPA which would make the current situation worse. This places the Council under an obligation to assess whether planning applications would lead to a 'likely significant effect'. This could lead to a Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) being carried out which would in turn generally include an Appropriate Assessment (AA). Natural England must be consulted on the findings of an HRA and there was a duty for the Council to consider their response. When moving to the appropriate assessment stage, an established principle in case law was that AAs must use the 'precautionary principle'. An appropriate assessment must enable the local planning authority to apply the regulation 63(5) "integrity test" on a "precautionary basis".

 

The Chief Planning Officer said therefore, for developments within the scope of the NE Advice, the council would need to carry out an HRA to establish the nature and scale of potential impact on the designated sites at Stodmarsh. That would include the need for an AA, which developers would be requested to draft and submit for approval as appropriate, considering the views of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.