This report sets out responses to issues raised by Councillor Hubbard, concerning the impact of the regeneration in Strood, both the Strood Waterfront Project and Strood Town Centre Project.
Mr Haywood, a resident will be also be in attendance to address the Committee on this issue.
The Committee considered a Member’s item placed on the agenda at the request of Councillor Hubbard concerning the impact of various regeneration projects in Strood.
Mr Haywood, a resident of Commissioners Road, Strood was present at the meeting and was invited to address the Committee on residents’ concerns regarding works at Commissioner’s Pit.
Mr Haywood informed the Committee that he was representing residents in Commissioner’s Road, Wingrove Drive, Cranmere Court and Kingswear Gardens who were affected by the development works in Strood. He also referred to the impact of the works on local businesses.
He stated that having two major redevelopment works carried out simultaneously had exacerbated the adverse impact on local residents, affecting their daily lives and reducing their quality of life and their health and wellbeing. A copy of his statement to the Committee had been circulated at the meeting.
The most common issues related to noise, vibration and dust and he outlined the problems being experienced by residents, supported by photographs and video footage.
The Head of Planning informed the Committee that prior to the commencement of the meeting, he had agreed to meet with Mr Haywood to discuss matters of concern raised by residents.
In response to questions, Mr Haywood stated that as a way forward, he would like to see a meaningful plan for the future of the development sites so that they were not left as dust bowls, more rigorous enforcement of the planning conditions at the Commissioner’s Pit site requiring damping down and the introduction of an effective complaints procedure.
He advised that residents had previously submitted complaints to the Council on a range of issues at the development sites, including working hours and vibration but overall, residents were not satisfied with the Council’s response.
Residents had also contacted the contractors direct where possible but the Commissioner’s Pit site was too dangerous for residents to enter.
Councillor Hubbard then addressed the Committee on his Member’s item and in particular referred to the impact of the recent works in Strood Town Centre and the development brief for Strood Waterfront and its impact upon the residents of Kingswear Gardens. He submitted a number of proposals for consideration by the Committee.
The Director Regeneration, Culture, Environment and Transformation and Deputy Chief Executive thanked both Mr Haywood and Councillor Hubbard for attending the meeting and speaking on behalf of local residents.
He stated that the development works in Strood were a critical part of the regeneration of Medway and, given the scale of the works, it was inevitable that there would be an element of disruption and congestion, and he apologised for this.
Referring to the works in Strood Town Centre, he advised that prior to these works, an extensive communications programme had been undertaken to ensure that individuals were fully aware of the road closures. The works were now almost complete and there would be no further daytime or weekend closures of the High Street. In addition, he advised that discussions concerning mitigation had been undertaken with the Riverside Tavern as far back as 2016.
The Committee discussed the concerns raised by both Mr Haywood and Councillor Hubbard and sought information as to how the Council had addressed issues affecting local residents concerning air quality, noise, vibration and dust.
The Committee was informed that planning conditions required the submission of a Contractor’s Environmental Management Plan (EMP) which set out how dust would be controlled during construction works to protect air quality and how noise and vibration levels would be minimised to avoid impact on residents and wildlife. EMP’s were public documents.
The Head of Planning confirmed that the Council had received complaints from residents which had been investigated by either officers from within the Planning Section or from Environmental Health. Where there had been problems, action had been taken to minimise disturbance to residents.
A Member expressed concern that despite officers stating that they had responded to complaints, residents were clearly unhappy with the responses received and had therefore considered it necessary to attend this meeting to outline the problems that they were experiencing. Whilst he welcomed the offer of the Head of Planning to meet with Mr Haywood, he considered there was a lack of clear communication and suggested that there should be a single point of contact for residents concerning the regeneration works in Strood. He also expressed concern about how residents’ complaints had been processed and asked how they had been investigated and how often officers had visited the sites.
In response, the Head of Planning reiterated that a number of complaints had been received by both his Planning Team and Environmental Heath and all had been investigated and a response provided. In some instances, the complaints had been substantiated and the contractors had been requested to change delivery times or take action to damp down the area so as to reduce dust. However, he pointed out that just because residents were unhappy with the response that they had received, it did not mean that their complaints had not been investigated.
The Head of Planning agreed that it would be beneficial for the residents to have one point of contact for their complaints, one at the Council and one at each of the development sites.
The Chairman requested that both he and Councillor Stamp be invited to attend the meeting between officers and Mr Haywood and subsequently Councillor Steve Iles also asked to be included in this meeting as Ward Councillor.
The Chairman requested that copies of noise and vibration level recordings be provided at the meeting between officers and Mr Haywood.
The Head of Planning also agreed to invite the Site Managers of both developments to the meeting and to provide a briefing note to the Committee on the outcome of the meeting.
The Head of Regeneration Delivery reported upon the monitoring of noise and vibration levels at the Strood Waterfront development and suggested that the Site Manager of Commissioner’s Pit be requested to address how noise and vibration levels are monitored at that site when attending the meeting with Mr Haywood and officers.
A Member sought information as to whether the Council had any legal obligations to those residents that claimed that the vibration of the development works had caused damage to their properties, whether the Council had been proactive in offering hardship relief to the Riverside Tavern and whether it was possible to provide the residents of Kingswear Gardens with a timescale for the potential development of this area.
In response, the Legal Advisor informed the Committee that the development works had the benefit of planning permission and were therefore not unlawful. She was unable to provide advice to individuals on the potential for taking legal action and advised that residents would be required to seek their own legal advice.
The Head of Regeneration Delivery outlined the action that had been taken by the Council to ensure that vehicular traffic was signposted to the Riverside Tavern and confirmed that throughout the development, temporary parking provision had been put in place for those visiting the public house. He also confirmed that once the redevelopment works were complete, the Riverside Tavern would have its own dedicated permanent car park. The possibility of Business Rate Relief for the Riverside Tavern was currently being considered.
The Director Regeneration, Culture, Environment and Transformation and Deputy Chief Executive referred to the development brief for Kingswear Gardens and informed the Committee that the development of this site was an aspiration for the future but no firm proposals had yet been developed. He confirmed that the Council had been in discussions with both Orbit and Moat Housing Associations concerning this site, and this had been communicated with residents at that time. However, there were no plans to progress development of this site at the current time and he provided an assurance that the Council and both Housing Associations would fully engage with residents in the development of any proposals for the site.
At the conclusion of the debate the Director Regeneration, Culture, Environment and Transformation and Deputy Chief Executive provided a summary of the issues raised and those that could be taken forward.
The Committee considered a request that the Development Brief for Strood Waterfront be updated so that it showed Kingswear Gardens Estate as being excluded from the development but on being put to the vote, this was not supported.
In addition, the Committee considered a request for there to be a temporary suspension of work at the Strood Waterfront development so that policies could be put in place that would address the health and wellbeing of local residents but on being put to the vote, this was not supported.
a) thanked both Councillor Hubbard and Mr Haywood for attending the meeting and representing residents’ concerns as to the Strood development works.
b) noted that the Head of Planning will be organising a meeting with Mr Haywood and relevant officers of the Council to discuss residents’ concerns and that invitations will also be sent to the Chairman and Opposition Spokesperson of this Committee, Councillor Steve Iles as Ward Councillor and both Site Managers. The outcome of the meeting be conveyed to Members of the Committee by way of a briefing note.
c) noted that information concerning noise and vibration recordings will be made available at the meeting referred to at b) above.
d) noted that the Head of Planning has agreed to identify a single point of contact at the Council for residents concerning the Strood development works and that he will also progress a single point of contact for residents at both development sites.
e) noted that officers will facilitate a meeting between Moat and Orbit Housing Association and residents concerning any future plans for Kingswear Gardens and the outcome of such meeting be reported to the Committee.
f) noted that the expenditure of Local Growth Fund grants from the Local Enterprise Partnership, along with outcomes and objectives are monitored by the Kent and Medway Economic Partnership and agreed that monitoring reports for the Strood development works will be shared informally with the Committee.
g) agreed that a briefing note be supplied to the Chairman and Opposition Spokesperson on the action points arising from this meeting in advance of the meeting with Mr Haywood.