Venue: Council Chamber, Rushcliffe Arena, Rugby Road, West Bridgford. View directions
Declarations of Interest
There were no declarations of interest.
The minutes of the meeting held on 4 October 2023 were approved as a true record and were signed by the Chair.
The Corporate and Commercial Projects Officer presented an update to the Group about Management of Open Spaces on New Developments
The Corporate and Commercial Projects Officer said that prior to 2000 the Council had adopted all open spaces with no cost to developers, that between 2000 to 2011 the Council had adopted open spaces with a commuted sum from developers and, that from 2011 it no longer adopted open spaces, with developers being required to submit an open spaces management scheme as part of their planning application. She said the Council’s current approach was the one most commonly taken by local authorities.
The Corporate and Commercial Projects Officer highlighted some of the main concerns raised by residents about management company practices, including in relation to transparency and fairness with a lack of awareness of fees and billing; quality of maintenance work and; poor customer service with no right to challenge or hold the management company to account. She said that some management companies included clauses that allowed residents to take over management of their open spaces.
In relation to national activity, the Corporate and Commercial Projects Officer referred to the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill which was introduced to Parliament in November 2023 and on which it was due to report by 1 February 2024. She explained that key aspects of the Bill were that it would likely grant leaseholders the same rights as freeholders and would also create a New Homes Quality Board and Code, which would require developers to provide clear and accurate information about management services and charges and ensure that buyers knew that they should appoint an independent legal adviser.
The Corporate and Commercial Projects Officer explained that while the Council had limited powers, it could act as a facilitator and encourage good practice and build closer relationships with developers at an earlier stage in the process, inviting them to attend the Council’s Growth Boards (for example Fairham and Bingham) and support residents’ groups in making contact with management companies. The Council would also explore development of a Good Practice Code.
Mr Wadell from Greenbelt presented an update to the Group about Greenbelt Management Company. He said that the company had been operating for 25 years in the UK and originated from Strathclyde Council in the mid-1990s, ultimately becoming fully autonomous. The company had evolved over time to take on new work and bring in new specialists as open spaces became more complex, including amenity spaces, sustainable urban drainage features and biodiversity net gain commitments. He said that the company initially funded adopting sites through commuted sums from developers but due to the increased complexity of spaces it had moved to requiring residents to pay management fees.
Mr Wadell explained that Greenbelt had a standard form of agreement with developers that could be flexed to suit particular sites and that the company predominantly took ownership, or a long lease, for sites. He said that the company looked to implement long term plans, including ecological plans, for ... view the full minutes text for item 14.
The Service Manager Economic Growth and Property introduced this item and explained that it followed on from discussions at the Growth and Development Scrutiny Group in September 2022 where information had been provided by Severn Trent Water and the Environment Agency. She said that Members had expressed interest in receiving an update from Nottinghamshire County Council in their role as flood authority and as such Mr Smith was attending this meeting. Representatives from Severn Trent and the Environment Agency had also been invited to attend but unfortunately Environment Agency representatives had had to send their apologies due to commitments with the current flooding. They had said that they would be happy to attend a future meeting instead. Severn Trent may not have capacity to attend.
Mr Smith from Nottinghamshire County Council presented an update to the Group about the County Council’s role as Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA).
Mr Smith provided information about Storm Babet and said that approximately 1200 properties had been internally flooded, spread across 79 areas, with 28 properties being in Rushcliffe. He said that over 100 roads had been closed making access to affected areas difficult.
Mr Smith explained that the role of the LLFA was to coordinate flood risk management across Nottinghamshire, coordinating with the various agencies involved, including Severn Trent Water, the Environment Agency and town and parish councils. He said that the LLFA managed surface water only and was a statutory consultee on surface water only to the local planning authorities and the County planning authority for major applications. He said that it could not comment on issues such as river or sewer flooding.
Mr Smith informed the Group that the County Council maintained a register of assets that had a critical impact on flood risk in the County, such as culverts, to ensure that they were adequately maintained and it issued land drainage consents and compliance checks. He said that the County Council published and developed a Local Flood Risk Management Strategy and Action Plan and that it worked with communities to raise awareness of flood risk and support them in how to become more flood resilient. The County Council also delivered the Capital and Revenue Flood Risk Management Schemes programme
The LLFA was required to carry out a Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment Review (PFRA) every six years and as part of the recent review it had rewritten documentation to bring it up to date, in line with current policies and to include analysis of potential future flood impacts and information about who to contact for advice about various concerns. The documentation was published in July 2023.
Mr Smith said that the County Council owned a suite of four drones for which it had seven qualified pilots and that it used them for a variety of work including to help with flood surveillance work and inspecting assets He said that the County Council would be happy to share these resources with partner agencies where possible.
In relation to property flood resilience, Mr ... view the full minutes text for item 15.
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. She confirmed that representatives from Severn Trent and the Environment Agency would be invited to attend the next meeting in March 2024.
Members of the Group suggested future scrutiny items of an update on Development of the Economic Growth Strategy and an update on Management of Open Spaces, subject to matrices being submitted to 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:
Action Table 3 January 2024