Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: The Breckland Conference Centre, Anglia Room, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham, NR19 1EE


No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 152 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 16 October 2023.


The minutes of the meeting held on 16 October 2023 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.



To receive apologies for absence. 


An apology was received from Councillor Cowen.


Urgent Business

To note whether the Chairman proposes to accept any item as urgent business, pursuant to Section 100(B)(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972.


Nothing to report.


Declaration of Interests

The duties to register, disclose and not to participate for the entire consideration of the matter, in respect of any matter in which a Member has a disclosable pecuniary interest are set out in Chapter 7 of the Localism Act 2011.  Members are also required to withdraw from the meeting room as stated in the Standing Orders of this Council.



Councillor Hewett said that under the Local Plan Update (Agenda item 12) he had a site which was included within the site-specific part of the Local Plan.  It was not deemed to be a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest by the Monitoring Officer who confirmed he had no conflict of interest and could participate on that item.



Non-Members Wishing to Address the Meeting

To note the names of any non-members who wish to address the meeting.


The Chairman welcomed all Members to the meeting.  


Chairman's Announcements (If Any)




Breckland Community Funding Applications (Standing Item)

To consider the grants put forward (if any). 


Councillor Ashby informed Members that there would be an opportunity for further match-funding applications in Spring 2024.


Councillor Atterwill asked when there would be funding available as there had not been any funding rounds open this year. 


Councillor Ashby responded that there had been funding provided through the inspiring communities activity, and it was hopeful that further match funding could be available for the final quarter of this financial year, pending the emerging budget.



Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme Review pdf icon PDF 123 KB

Report of Councillor Philip Cowen, Executive Member for Finance, Revenues & Benefits.


The Chairman, Councillor Sam Chapman-Allen presented the report that asked Members to review the Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme (LCTRS) for 2024-2025.


Councillor Jermy was pleased to see that the proposal was to retain the changes that had been made in the previous year as he thought they had worked very well.  However, he was aware that there were some vulnerable residents who struggled financially and were not aware of the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.  He also asked if there was sufficient capacity in the team to be able to deal with the claims in a timely manner.


The Leader said he would write to the Chairman of the Overview & Scrutiny Commission to suggest the item was discussed in more detail to ensure that residents were not slipping through the net.



1)     That Cabinet considers the annual review of the LCTRS scheme and approves the LCTRS scheme for the 2024-25 year with no changes.


2)     Do nothing.


Reasons for Recommendation(s)

To ensure that the principle of everyone making at least a small contribution towards their Council Tax charge was maintained.


To maintain a level of Council Tax income to continue to provide funding for services at all levels.


There was other support available for those on low incomes and impacted by the cost-of-living crisis within the Housing Team and those affected should also be signposted to maximise benefit take-up, have discounts and exemptions reviewed and provided Exceptional Hardship Payments where there was a need.


RESOLVED that Cabinet considered the annual review of the Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme (LCTRS) and approved the LCTRS for the 2024-25 year with no changes.



Q2 Finance, Performance & Projects Report pdf icon PDF 326 KB

Report of Councillor Phillip Cowen, Executive Member for Finance, Revenues and Benefits, Councillor Alison Webb, Executive Member for Customer and Corporate Services and Councillor Paul Hewett, Executive Member for Property, Projects and Procurement.


Additional documents:


Councillor Alison Webb, Executive Member for Customer and Corporate Services, said the Quarter 2 performance report highlighted some of the great work that the Council had been doing, but it also highlighted some areas which required improvement. 

In particular Councillor Webb was pleased to see an improvement in time taken to respond to Complaints. Quarter 1 saw a response rate of 96%, however Quarter 2 saw that increase to 100%. 

Members also heard that the response rate to Freedom of Information requests had increased to 93% (88% in Quarter 1) and work continued to find the root cause of the delays.


Councillor Hewett, Executive Member for Property, Projects and Procurement added that there were currently 39 live projects and since the previous report, work had been ongoing to ensure that projects were prioritized accurately to allow for adequate Member oversight.   He identified 3 key projects; the first being the temporary accommodation housing investments project which had seen a total of 11 properties purchased across the district to provide temporary accommodation for homeless households.  10 properties were occupied with the final property being available in the coming weeks.


Feasibility studies had been completed as part of the Solar project and a report had been received outlining options available to potential installation of solar panels at key strategic council owned sites.


The third project was the early intervention service improvement project.  This was a new project commissioned to review ways in which housing and communities could collaborate better to improve the process of complex housing cases to ensure a more efficient solution could be found to meet the needs and requirements of the ever-changing client base.


Councillor Hewett went on to read a statement on behalf of the Executive Member for Finance, Revenue and Benefits that outlined the financial performance for Quarter two.  The report showed an increase in the forecast of revenue overspend anticipated to be £507,000.  The forecast variance had increased by £80,000 despite savings that had been made and shared within the report.  These pressures were not of the Council’s own making, and gave reassurance there whilst there were challenging times ahead was confident that the Council would continue to rise to the challenge to allow businesses and residents to thrive. 


Councillor Clarke asked that Members were briefed on the early intervention service improvement project as soon possible.


Members noted the contents of the report and appendices.


Houses In Multiple Occupation Licensing Policy pdf icon PDF 146 KB

Report of Councillor Claire Bowes, Executive Member for Housing and Homelessness.

Additional documents:


Councillor Claire Bowes, Executive Member for Health and Housing presented the report that asked Members to approve the Licensing Policy for Houses in Multiple Occupation.


Houses In Multiple Occupation provided the greatly needed housing options for people who cannot afford to live in self-contained accommodation or who benefit in other ways from sharing a dwelling with other people.   Breckland Council encourages the use and provision of these but wanted to ensure that they were safe and well managed.

Part 2 of the Housing Act 2004 and subsequent regulations require Councils to licence houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) with 5 or more people living in them.  Licence conditions require safety standards, including fire safety, and standards for the number of kitchen and bathroom facilities.


A licence would last for up to 5 years and the Council would be able to cover its costs in implementing and running the licensing scheme through a licence fee.  The Policy had also been updated to enable officers to set licences for one-year and three-year periods for those properties or Landlords, which require additional monitoring instead of the typical five years.


The Chairman added his thanks to the Housing Team and said it was important to have a robust Policy with flexibility and discretion to allow Housing Officers to set the licenses for one-year and three-year period, particularly for those who needed extra support to ensure that the Landlord were providing a safe and secure accommodation for those that needed it.



1)     Approve the Policy

2)     Do not Approve the Policy.


Reasons for Recommendation(s)

To bring the policy up to date with legal and practice changes and provide clarity for Landlords.


RESOLVED that the Houses in Multiple Occupation Licensing Policy be approved.


Public Health Funerals Policy pdf icon PDF 113 KB

Report of Councillor Claire Bowes, Executive Member for Housing and Homelessness.


Additional documents:


The Executive Member for Housing and Homelessness, Councillor Claire Bowes, presented the report that asked Members to approve the Policy on how Breckland Council manages its duties under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984.


The policy clarified both the responsibilities and limitations of Breckland Council so that it was clear to the public, partners and council officers, and included how full costs were recovered from the deceased person’s estate, where possible.




1)     Approve the Public Health Fuenral Policy

2)     Do not approve the Public Health Funeral Policy


Reasons for Recommendation(s):

When someone dies it is often a difficult period for everyone who is linked to the deceased.  Some people do not have anyone who is capable of or available to arrange their funeral and the Coroner’s Office or a Funeral Director needs arrangements to be made.


Whilst the Council’s duties are set in legislation it is sensible to explain what these are in a policy so that the public, partners and officers can refer to these duties and easily understand them.


RESOLVED that the Public Health Funeral Policy be approved.


Local Plan Update pdf icon PDF 227 KB

Report of Councillor Sarah Suggitt, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Strategic and Operational Planning.

Additional documents:


Councillor Sarah Suggitt, Executive Member for Strategic and Operational Planning presented the report that sought approval to undertake a further public consultation on the emerging Local Plan: Full Update, for a period of 8-weeks and to approve the revised Local Development Scheme.


The report set out the next key stage in the preparation of the full update of the Local Plan.  It has been built on the extensive and continuing community engagement that has been progressing since March 2023 which has included community events, commonplace portal and surveys, youth based events community place-based and virtual-based events. 


Decisions would need to be made as to whether to continue with the development strategy that was set out in the current local plan and to consider how much future development should be focussed on the Market Towns and how much should be directed towards the larger, more sustainable villages within the District, or whether a new strategy should be considered that sought to maximise the development of previously developed land such as the Robertson Barracks in Swanton Morley, and the Abbey Estate in Thetford.


It was noted that the consultation did not imply the suitability or otherwise of sites and did not allocate sites. 


It was proposed that the consultation would take place on the documents set out in Appendix 2 of the report for a period of 8 weeks. 


Councillor Hewett commended the extensive and detailed report that explained the consultation process. Whilst it seemed a long a slow process it was important that Members and colleagues sought a balance between local needs and the planning policy.


Councillor Atterwill asked when the consultation period would commence.  It was confirmed, subject to approval, the consultation would commence on 10th December 2023 for a period of 8 weeks, to take into account the Christmas period.


Councillor Atterwill had also noted that under the Alternative Development Strategy Scenario regarding the Robertson Barracks (para 7.1) there had been some text missing at the bottom of the page. 


Andrew D’Arcy, the Planning Policy Manager apologised for the error and added that if the Robertson Barracks was a preferred option, then to maximise the use of that site as the capacity that was put under the call for sites was between 500 – 2000 dwellings.  If the capacity is lower than 2000 dwellings, as an example, 1000 dwellings, then the other 1000 dwellings would need to be allocated amongst other settlements.


Councillor Atterwill went on to ask if there had been any sustainability work to review the Robertson Barracks as a development site prior to going to consultation, and as the ward member would like to see that information.


Simon Wood, Director for Planning and Building Control said that the document aims to establish principles on how development throughout the district is allocated, and that the sustainability or ability of the site to be developed has not been considered as yet in that level of detail.  The Barracks would be developed in one form or another and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 112/23


Breckland Design Guide pdf icon PDF 179 KB

Report of Councillor Sarah Suggitt, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Strategic & Operational Planning.

Additional documents:


Councillor Sarah Suggitt, Executive Member for Strategic and Operational Planning presented the report which sought Cabinet approval for the Breckland Design Guide Supplementary Planning Document and requested that the guide was issued for public consultation for a period of 8 weeks.


The design guide offered guidance to developers on what would be expected from their scheme and provided a tool to enable planning officers to turn down badly designed development.  It was a district-wide guide and covered both market towns and villages and provided guidance with illustrated examples which were considered important to residents.  The design guide also acted as a template for neighbourhood planning groups to develop their own guidance based on those design issues which were most relevant to them at a local level.


Rachel Gibbs, a Senior Planning Policy Officer gave a presentation to Members on the overview of the guide which covered 6-key themes.


Councillor Bowes thanked Rachel for the work on bringing the guide to a final draft which was exciting and would enable the Council to be better equipped for planning and design across the district.


Councillor Hewett expressed how the design guide was very clear and would ensure that residents could live in homes that would complement the environment for both now and in the future.


Councillor Clarke welcomed the design guide and asked when the Planning Committee would begin to see a reflection of the design guide within applications. 


Simon Wood, Director of Planning and Building Control said the document would provide more certainty for developers going forward.  An Agent Forum was planned for mid-December where the design guide would be discussed with developers and planning agents.  In addition, briefings would be provided to Planning Committee Members as well as the Chairman of the Planning Committee on how to use the document.


Councillor Kiddle-Morris also congratulated the Officers and the Members who had been involved in preparing the document and hoped that it would aim to prevent houses all looking the same.


Councillor Jermy also agreed it was a positive document and was particularly pleased to see the section on Nature and Biodiversity as there were so many more things that could be done at the design stage to support the environment.  However, he was disappointed with the local and regionally sourced materials section, as, for example, there had not been any element of flint built into the Kingsfleet development in Thetford.  Flint was an important local feature to Thetford and by ensuring local features were used would make areas identifiable and unique.


The Director of Planning and Building Control empathised with the point, and the design guide would ensure any development responded to the context and where it was situated.


Councillor Bambridge applauded the document but was disappointed to see there was no reference to clay-lump cottages which were significant to the middle area of Breckland.  Simon Wood said he would discuss the point with the consultants on how to best deal with that point.



1)     Consult on the draft  ...  view the full minutes text for item 113/23


Thetford Conservation Area Appraisal pdf icon PDF 285 KB

Report of Councillor Sarah Suggitt, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Strategic and Operational Planning.


Councillor Sarah Suggitt, the Executive Member for Strategic and Operational Planning provided Members with an update on the progress of the Thetford Conservation Area Appraisal and sought approval to begin formal consultation.


The appraisal would provide an updated analysis of the special characteristics of the conservation area and together with the conservation area management plan would set out an approach to preserve and enhance the conservation area through the development management process. 


The Thetford Conservation Area Appraisal was able to be bought forward with thanks to leverage of external funding including monies raised by Thetford Town Council from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a new cultural master plan for the Town.


Consultation would be carried out by the consultants, Percil, with support from Breckland Council and would be available on the Breckland Council website across January and February 2024 for review and comment by residents.


Councillor Jermy said that Thetford had an amazing history and by agreeing the conservation area would help to protect and preserve the area.



1)     To approve the recommendation.

2)     Do Nothing.


Reasons for Recommendation(s)

The production and adoption of the Conservation Area Appraisal for Thetford town centre would allow the Council in its role as the Local Planning Authority to determine relevant applications in accordance with up to date and relevant guidance. The recommendation would ensure that it was a usable and practical document that fulfilled its requirements to the public.


RESOLVED that the public consultation of the draft Thetford Conservation Area Appraisal consultation be approved, and delegated authority to the Assistant Director Economy & Growth, in consultation with the Executive Member for Strategic & Operational Planning, any minor changes to the pre-consultation version and arrangements for the consultation exercise.



Next Meeting

To note that the date of the next meeting of Cabinet will be held on Monday 8 January 2024 at 9.30am in the Anglia Room, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham, NR19 1EE.


The arrangements for the next meeting on Monday 8 January 2024 at 9.30am in the Anglia Room, The Conference Centre, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham, NR19 1EE were noted.