Venue: Council Chamber, Rushcliffe Arena, Rugby Road, West Bridgford. View directions
Declarations of Interest
There were no declarations of interest reported.
The minutes of the meeting held on 8 March 2023 were approved as a true record and were signed by the Chair.
The Chair proposed a change in the order of which the items on the agenda would be discussed, switching item 6, Review of Rushcliffe Oaks Crematorium with item 5, Biodiversity Net Gain. This was agreed by the Group.
Role and Remit of Growth and Development Scrutiny Group
The Service Manager – Economic Growth and Property will provide a verbal update
The Service Manager – Economic Growth and Property informed the Group of it’s Terms of Reference, and the purpose of the Group to positively and proactively contribute to the ongoing success and management of the Council.
It was noted that the Group will achieve this by:
· Overseeing significant projects in the Borough to ensure deliverables are met and growth-related outcomes achieved
· Scrutinise infrastructure development to ensure development is progressed ion a timely manner and any obstructive barriers are removed or negotiated
· Review the growth in demand for Council services, ensuring all residents can access the services they need
· Consider projects and initiatives to promote economic vibrancy, local democracy and community leadership with local towns and villages
· Review the Council’s policies and strategies as appropriate prior to adoption
The Group were advised that the Service Manager – Economic Growth and Property would support and attend the Group meetings.
Report of the Director – Development and Economic Growth
The Rushcliffe Oaks Manager delivered a presentation that provided the Group with a brief background of the Rushcliffe Oaks Crematorium project and information on its current position, future plans and areas for development.
The Group were advised the crematorium opened for business on 3 April 2023, which was later than had been expected due to delays around Covid and supply chain issues.
The Rushcliffe Oaks Manager advised the Group that there are 4 members of staff, Manager, Senior Attendant and two Attendants who were recruited into post over the past two years, allowing time for training and setting up all required processes, procedures and risk assessments. It was also noted that a member of the Streetwise Team is based at the crematorium full time to take care of the ground’s maintenance.
Since opening the doors of the Crematorium it was reported that there has been a steady rise in take up of cremation services and as with any new facility, the first few months have focused on building an excellent reputation and good relationships with partners. Feedback from funeral directors has been positive, with some travelling some distance and returning to use Rushcliffe Oaks over crematoriums nearer to them. The Rushcliffe Oaks Manager expressed that by far the most rewarding feedback has come from families who have got in touch to say thank you. The Rushcliffe Oaks Manager explained that it is difficult to quantify customer feedback due to the sensitive nature of the business.
The Rushcliffe Oaks Manager provided information in respect of communication and engagement with site visits for industry colleagues, local businesses, Councillors and officers prior to opening and an open day scheduled for all on Saturday 22 July 2023. Adverts had been placed in local brochures and where appropriate the team will look to get involved in local events and have aspirations to set up a ‘Friends of Group’. Social Media pages were set up to give updates during the build phase and since opening regular posts are created to give out relevant information.
The Rushcliffe Oaks Manager advised the Group of some of the memorialisation options that the Crematorium currently offer including a memorial tree sculpture, engraved slats on a curved bench and curb stones to name a few, all sourced locally using local materials. The Group were asked to consider other ideas to offer in the future.
Members asked specific questions relating to the memorialisation and how quickly are the items on offer likely to fill up and what were the plans to future proof these facilities. The Rushcliffe Oaks Manager explained that statistics for take up of memorialisation’s is around 4% and Most are offered as a lease whereby it can be renewed or collected by the family. In addition, the team were looking at other options for example turning ashes to glass in the way of a keepsake.
Members commented on waiting times for funeral services and how distressing this can be for families and where current users were coming from, suggesting ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
Report of the Director - Neighbourhoods
The Senior Ecology and Sustainability Officer delivered a presentation to the Group which provided information on the Environment Act 2021 and the new Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) requirements for planning under the Act and what this will mean for the Council.
The Group were given a brief explanation of what Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is as follows:
‘BNG is an approach to development, and/or land management, that aims to leave the natural environment in a measurably better state than it was beforehand’
The Senior Ecology and Sustainability Officer advised the Group that the BNG aspects of the Environment Act 2021 does not come into force until the Secretary of State authorises it, this is expected to be from November 2023 and would mandate Biodiversity Net Gain into the planning process. The Group were advised that the Minimum mandatory gain will be set at 10%, however local authorities would be able to vary this upwards if desired. The mechanism for delivery is within on-site or off-site habitat secured for at least 30 years and as a last resort there will be statutory credits where units for delivery are not available for which revenue generated would only be used at the discretion of the Secretary of State and Natural England.
The Group were asked to note the developments baseline and post intervention biodiversity unit values which are calculated using a standardised Biodiversity Metric, (an extract of the spreadsheet was provided for information), a register for off-site net gain sites will also be mandated. It was also noted that BNG does not change the existing ecological legal protections.
The Senior Ecology and Sustainability Officer outlined the Council’s proposal for sites that the Council regards as strategically significant and formally identified in local strategies, these are development sites which are within or immediately adjacent to:
· Designated Priority Sites for example, designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) or a Local wildlife Site (LWS).
· Listed Green and Blue Infrastructure sites as identified in the Greater Nottingham Blue and Green Infrastructure Strategy (January 2022)
· Focal areas identified within the Rushcliffe Biodiversity Opportunity Mapping report
· Sites managed with nature conservation as a major priority as identified in the Rushcliffe Nature Conservation Strategy
The Group were asked to note that it is proposed that all Biodiversity Net Gain provided within Rushcliffe but outside areas listed above will be regarded as ‘Location Ecologically desirable but not within a local strategy’. Biodiversity Net Gain outside of Rushcliffe will be regarded as ‘Area/compensation not in local strategy’.
The Senior Ecology and Sustainability Officer explained the BNG procedure at Rushcliffe expressing the first part would be completed at the approval stage for a planning application prior to determination of the planning permission. The Ecologist Officer would check the BNG Metric and BNG initial plan, for all major developments and provide comments and recommendations to planning which would then be discharged by way of planning conditions. At post development ongoing site monitoring would continue. Smaller ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
Report of the Director – Finance and Corporate Services
The Service Manager – Economic Growth and property presented the report of the Director – Finance and Corporate Services, which detailed the proposed Growth and Development Scrutiny Group Work Programme for 2023/24.
The Group requested that a further review be provided for Rushcliffe Oaks Crematorium as it was felt that it had been too soon to comment on the performance of the facility at this early stage. It was agreed that the Growth Scrutiny Group meeting expected to be scheduled for June 2024 would be a more appropriate time for review. It was noted that this would be referred to the Corporate Overview Group for approval.
Councillor Grocock requested whether an item on Nottinghamshire’s activities in respect of people and skills and the impact these have on Rushcliffe residents could be considered for scrutiny by the Group. The Service Manager – Economic Growth and Property advised that a Scrutiny Matrix would need to be completed and approved by the Corporate Overview Group.
It was RESOLVED that the Work Programme detailed below be approved by the Growth and Development Scrutiny Group:
4 October 2023
· How the Borough works with partners to plan for the infrastructure required to support growth
· Review of the Growth Boards
· Work Programme
3 January 2024
· Sewerage Infrastructure and Discharge within Rushcliffe
· Management of Open Spaces
· Work Programme
6 March 2024
· Work Programme
Action Table – 19 July 2023