Venue: Council Chamber, Rushcliffe Arena, Rugby Road, West Bridgford. View directions
Contact: Democratic Services
Declarations of Interest
There were no declarations of interest.
The minutes of the meeting held on 21 September 2022 were approved as a true record and were signed by the Chairman.
The Service Manager Economic Growth and Property provided an update on actions from the last meeting:
Report of the Director – Development and Economic Growth
The Economic Growth Officer and the Corporate and Commercial Projects Officer presented an update to the Group about the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) and the Rural England Prosperity Fund (REPF).
The Economic Growth Officer confirmed that the funding was announced in September 2022, following which much work had taken place to set out a proposed programme of expenditure going forward.
The Economic Growth Officer noted that UKSPF and REPF replaced existing EU funding and had the goals of building pride in place and increasing life chances across the UK. She explained that the EU funding had supported business support and skills, for both local projects, such as £1.6m for Bingham Chapel Lane Enterprise Centre and wider projects across the D2N2 area, such as the Growth Hub.
The Economic Growth Officer said that UKSPF provided allocated funding for each local authority over three years, rather than through a competitive bidding process for specific projects. She noted that the funding had three overarching investment priorities, being community and place, business support, and people and skills, and had forty one interventions below those priorities, with a range of expected outputs and outcomes for those interventions. She said that funding could be allocated to both capital and revenue initiatives and that local authorities were encouraged to work collaboratively.
In relation to REPF, the Economic Growth Officer explained that this replaced the previous EU LEADER funding and had only been awarded to rural areas, which included Rushcliffe, Bassetlaw and Newark and Sherwood districts within Nottinghamshire. It was capital grant funding only and would commence in April 2023 for two years.
The Economic Growth Officer explained that the Council had identified some Rushcliffe principles for the funding which included ensuring projects supported delivery of the Councils Corporate Plan, that funding supported projects across the Borough, demonstrated value for money and were deliverable. This was particularly important in year one due to the tight timescales. She added that much reporting would be required as part of the programme, demonstrating value for money, added value for projects that otherwise wouldn’t be delivered, and a need for the project.
The Economic Growth Officer said that stakeholder engagement had been done through the Strategic Growth Board as well as with wider stakeholders including through local growth boards and discussions with identified groups.
The Economic Growth Officer confirmed that the high level Investment Plan for UKSPF had been submitted to Government on 31 August 2022 and approval for it had been received in November 2022. The Addendum for the REPF had been submitted in December 2022 for which the Council was awaiting approval.
The Economic Growth Officer outlined a range of projects that had been approved for the first year of funding, including, benches and improvements to the café at Rushcliffe Country Park, energy audits for the Council’s properties, funding to support reed clearance along the canal to improve water retention, implementation of a digital support toolkit for high streets, funding to support increased police patrols at Ratcliffe on Soar ... view the full minutes text for item 12.
Report of the Director - Neighbourhoods
The Ecology and Sustainability Officer and the Principal Policy Planner presented an update to the Group about hedges and hedgerows in the Borough.
The Ecology and Sustainability Officer explained that the Council had passed a Motion to protect and enhance hedgerows in the Borough of Rushcliffe and had requested that a review of the legal and policy framework be conducted.
The Ecology and Sustainability Officer said that the legal and policy framework that was within the control of the Council sat largely within two areas, being the Rushcliffe Local Plan, as part of the Core Strategy and Local Plan Part 2, and the Hedgerow Regulations, which identified hedgerows which were important and to which the Council could apply notice that they need to be retained and required application to remove. The Ecology and Sustainability Officer noted that there was a strict definition of which hedges could be covered which did not include garden hedgerows and required a certain number of species to live in it or for it to have historical importance.
The Principal Policy Planner referred to the Local Plan Core Strategy policy 17 which sought through planning applications to achieve an increase in biodiversity as a result of new development and also to ensure that new development provided new biodiversity features and improved existing biodiversity features, which included hedgerows.
In relation to the Local Plan Part 2 policy 38, the Principal Policy Planner said that this identified specific biodiversity areas within the Borough and if planning applications were submitted within those areas, it gave the Council the mechanism to seek specific types of improvements to biodiversity, including through hedgerows.
In relation to the mapped biodiversity opportunity areas, the Principal Policy Planner said that they covered a significant portion of the Borough, including around East Leake and Stanford Hall, and provided a description of what was there and what could be improved.
In relation to Planning Applications, the Principal Policy Planner said that consultation with the Ecology and Sustainability Officer and the Landscape Officer would take place for relevant planning applications, for advice on what features the Council should seek to retain and on any potential bio diversity enhancements it should try to achieve.
The Principal Policy Planner advised that the Council sought to retain hedgerows as much as possible where they contributed to the character of an area or where they provided biodiversity asset. He said that whilst it was not always possible to protect them, for example where their removal was required to facilitate access to a site, the Council would seek to negotiate replacement within the development scheme and to achieve a net gain.
The Ecolgy and Sustainability Officer explained that the Environment Act 2021 contained a legal requirement for biodiversity net gain through land planning, and although this element had not as yet been enacted it was expected to be by November 2023.
The Ecology and Sustainability Officer said that biodiversity net gain required that an environment be in a measurably better state than it ... view the full minutes text for item 13.
Report of the Director – Finance and Corporate Services
It was RESOLVED that the Group consider its Work Programme and that the following items for scrutiny were agreed.
8 March 2023
· An Update on the Fairham Development.
The Chairman asked whether updates were available for previous work programme items which could be brought to future meetings.