This report sets out a response to an issue, raised by Councillor Hubbard, concerning an update on the Strood Development Works.
The Committee considered a further Member’s item from Councillor Hubbard concerning Strood development works.
Councillor Hubbard addressed the Committee on his Member’s item and welcomed the work that had been undertaken since the meeting on 13 June 2019. He stated that whilst residents had signed up to the Council’s goal to regenerate Strood this had not been at the cost of the health and property of residents and he referred to the problems concerning dust experienced by residents in Canal Road. He stated that officers did not regularly visit the site and too few staff were available to monitor the activities of the contractors.
Councillor Hubbard also expressed concern as to comments made by Senior Members of the Council on this issue at the Council meeting on 18 July 2019.
He then referred to the residents at Kingswear Gardens and expressed a view that it was insufficient for officers to say that the residents would be consulted upon development plans at such time as a planning application was being considered and he requested that senior officers hold a meeting with Moat and Orbit Housing Associations and residents of Kingswear Gardens.
The Director of Regeneration, Culture, Environment and Transformation and Deputy Chief Executive thanked Councillor Hubbard for acknowledging the work undertaken since 13 June 2019. He advised that the Head of Planning had met with both Councillor Hubbard and Mr Haywood and that this had proved a useful discussion. The larger meeting requested by the Committee at recommendation b) on 13 June 2019 had been arranged for Friday 16 August 2019. Other actions requested by the Committee on 13 June 2019 were being progressed.
Concerning Kingswear Gardens, the Director of Regeneration, Culture, Environment and Transformation and Deputy Chief Executive advised that whilst there had been discussions at a strategic level, no specific proposals had been progressed by either Moat or Orbit Housing Associations for the site. He advised that both Housing Associations had undertaken initial consultations, and there had not been any further movement since then.
The Director of Regeneration, Culture, Environment and Transformation and Deputy Chief Executive confirmed that whilst the Development Brief and Draft Medway Local Plan identified broad aspirations there were no development proposals which could be discussed with residents affecting properties in Kingswear Gardens.
The Committee discussed the report and a Member expressed concern that residents at Kingswear Gardens considered that they were not being involved in the future of their properties and that this was causing anxiety and affecting their health and wellbeing. It was considered that the Council should take a more proactive approach and, with both Housing Associations, meet residents. It was suggested that even if there was no information as to plans directly affecting their properties, it would be helpful to inform residents of the wider development proposals for Strood.
In the light of the discussion, the Director of Regeneration, Culture, Environment and Transformation and Deputy Chief Executive agreed that even though there were no planned development proposals affecting Kingswear Gardens, relevant officers would engage with Moat and Orbit Housing Associations with a view to holding a consultation meeting with residents of Kingswear Gardens so that there could be dialogue concerning the wider proposals for Strood as suggested during the debate and as a means of providing some level of reassurance. He also agreed to invite Ward Councillors to the meeting.
Another Member commented that residents in a number of residential properties in Canal Road were also affected and he suggested that invitations to attend the meeting be expanded to include residents in Canal Road.
a) noted the responses to the items raised in the Member’s item.
b) noted that officers will set up a meeting to discuss issues with appropriate Members, including Ward Councillors, residents and both Housing Associations in order to fully understand residents’ concerns and to take appropriate action and/or provide assurances concerning the impact of the Strood development works on the health and lives of residents in Kingswear Gardens and Canal Road and if appropriate to take forward any lessons learnt to other future development works.