Issue - meetings

Vacant and Surplus Land - Options Appraisal

Meeting: 12/02/2008 - Cabinet (Item 29)

29 Vacant and Surplus Land - Options (Agenda item 8) pdf icon PDF 76 KB

Report of the Executive Member for Economic and Commercial.

Additional documents:


The Land Management Officer presented the report which requested the release of £130,000 revenue funding and that power be given to the appropriate Director to offer a contract to a consultant(s) offering best value to submit planning applications on 11 vacant and surplus Council-owned sites; and commence negotiations with developers and housing associations to achieve the maximum commercial return, once the Council’s procurement process had been adhered to.


A paper was circulated which illustrated two cost scenarios.


The Executive Member for Environment supported the recommendation as she felt that there was a desperate need for further social housing in the area.


The Leader of the Opposition said that this appeared to him to be an exercise in antagonism. Four of the 11 sites, were in his Ward, including Howlett Close and Boyd Avenue.  He asked whether any consultation had taken place as, to his knowledge, neither he, Dereham Town Council, and more importantly the residents themselves had been consulted.


He highlighted one of the plots in question that was currently a delightful piece of open amenity space which he felt should not be replaced with concrete.   He reminded Members that, according to national standards, Dereham was already short of 21 acres of brownfield sites and rather than losing valuable amenity space for those residents, there were other, more suitable sites in the area that he knew of that could be utilised.


The Opposition Leader further recalled a statement from the Executive Member for the Cabinet Office during a previous meeting about the Council not hiring any further consultants.


The Executive Member for Community Services felt that there was a real need for the provision of open space and that for the public to be consulted.


In response, the Leader said that, at a Scrutiny meeting held in 2005, the Opposition Leader had recommended that the land at Howlett Close should go forward to Registered Social Landlords (RSLs).  He reminded Members that all that was being asked was for valuations to be carried out on the said pieces of land.  Each plot of land would then have to go through the planning process where full consultation would have to take place. 


The Leader of the Opposition pointed out that he was just reflecting the views of the public he represented, whatever the political party, and irrespective of whatever he might have said at a meeting held in 2005.  He still felt that this matter had been wholly misconceived.


On the use of consultants, the Leader clarified that what the Executive Member of the Cabinet Office had actually said was: “that the Council would not be using consultants as a replacement for full-time posts but would employ them to engage in particular pieces of work”. 


The Executive Member for Commercial Services reminded Members that a long and thorough consultation process had been carried out through the former Scrutiny Panel (Economic).  The Land Management Officer confirmed that a full consultation process had followed recommendations from the Panel.  The recommendations had then  ...  view the full minutes text for item 29