Cabinet Scrutiny Committee
I attended Cabinet Scrutiny Committee under Standing Order 34, a rule in the Council's Constitution that allows any member to attend any meeting and ask questions having previously notified the Chair of their intention to speak. I wanted to ask the portfolio holder (Cllr Alistair Beales) and lead officer more questions about the proposed link road.
I asked questions about the impact of failing to secure further funding from LEPs, or obtaining planning permission, given that it will cost in excess of £300k to make the scheme 'shovel ready'. The Portfolio Holder explained that there was risk involved in this expenditure but that if successful the proposed housing developments would bring in capital receipts for the Borough Council.
The proposed housing developments are much needed in the area and along with houses for sale should include social and affordable housing. I expressed concern that a cabinet report from October 2012 mentions that the council was seeking to go against its own policy by putting all of the social housing in a concentrated area off Columbia Way, and that this would not need the access road to open up the development land, as Cllr Beales had said that the additional social housing would be one of the benefits of the link road in an earlier answer. The Project Officer confirmed that the current proposal for housing developments retained the 'pepper-potting' model where the social and affordable housing required by policy (around 15% of any good sized development) is interspersed with the saleable properties.
Overall, the proposal will enable the opening up of development land which might otherwise remain unused at a time when there is a real housing need across West Norfolk and brings other benefits in terms of traffic and air quality management to the town centre and Gaywood so I am broadly supportive as long as the grant funding is forthcoming and social housing will be provided as promised.
At late notice before this month's Full Council meeting, I was asked to attend a work related meeting in London which prevented me from attending the Council meeting. Normally, I would not let such late changes to work schedules affect my attendance at council meetings, especially knowing that important issues such as council tax support were due to be debated but this came at a time when my organisation is making the first steps toward merging with a simulate organisation in London and it was important that I was involved in this process.
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