a) Notice Invoking the Call-in.
b) Record of the Decision of the Property, Housing Planning (Development) and Planning (Strategic) Portfolio Holder.
c) Documentation sent to the Property, Housing Planning (Development) and Planning (Strategic) Portfolio Holder.
The Sub-Committee considered a decision of the Portfolio Holder for Property, Housing, Planning (Development) and Planning (Strategic) dated 29 September 2006, which had determined that the former Vaughan School should be de-listed.
At its meeting on 12 September 2006, the Strategic Planning Advisory Panel had received a report of the Director of Strategic Planning, advising of the need to de-list the Vaughan Centre as the building was no longer fit for purpose. A recommendation from the Strategic Planning Advisory Panel was referred to the Portfolio Holder for Property, Housing, Planning (Development) and Planning (Strategic) for decision. The Portfolio Holder had agreed to the recommendation to de-list the Vaughan Centre. A call?in notice was subsequently received, calling in the decision relating to the de-listing of the Vaughan Centre. This decision had therefore been referred to the Call?In Sub?Committee for consideration under the call-in procedure.
The decision had been called-in on two grounds: inadequate consultation with stakeholders prior to the decision and that the decision was contrary to the policy framework of the Council
The Portfolio Holder for Property, Housing, Planning (Development) and Planning (Strategic) and the Leader were both unable to attend the meeting. In accordance with the Appendix to the Executive Procedure Rules 4C, (Delegated Powers of Portfolio Holders (Temporary Arrangements)) the Leader of the Council had temporarily transferred responsibilities and power to the Portfolio Holder for Urban Living – Public Realm, who attended the meeting. A letter had been circulated to all Members notifying them of this temporary transfer. Four of the six signatories and the Ward Councillor also attended the meeting.
Members considered the notice invoking the call-in procedure, the record of the Portfolio Holder’s decision and the documentation sent to the Portfolio Holder to inform her decision. In addition, an extract from the Unitary Development Policy (UDP), Section D12; Locally Listed Buildings and a motion regarding Locally Listed Buildings, which was passed at Council on 20 January 2005, was tabled by the signatories.
The Members of the Sub-Committee considered the call-in notice and an officer was invited to explain the reasoning behind the recommendations to his report and to respond to the grounds for call-in, and a Member representing the signatories to the call-in notice was invited to explain the reasons for the call-in.
The Director of Strategic Planning reported that the Vaughan Centre, a locally listed building, was no longer fit for its operational purpose by People First and a way forward to utilise the site was sought. The proposed option was to de-list the site but to maintain it for one of three Neighbourhood Resource Centres. This was possible through submitting an application to the Development Control Committee with a case to de-list and demolish (if necessary) the site. The officer explained that not only were the cost implications significant, but that the planning application could take six to nine months to progress. There was no certainty the application would succeed and the Neighbourhood Resource Centre project would therefore be delayed. A report to the Strategic Planning Advisory Panel would expedite matters, save time, expense and uncertainty for the project. He advised out that consultation was not necessary for the de-listing of the site, and was never carried out.
A Member representing the signatories to the call-in stated that the call-in of this decision should be upheld on the grounds of inadequate consultation with stakeholders prior to the decision, and as the decision was contrary to the policy framework of the Council. He referred Members to Section D12 of Harrow’s UDP and stated that although there was no need to consult, it was good practice to consult with stakeholders including the Harrow Heritage Trust. He indicated that community groups using the centre were concerned in terms of security and loss of facilities. He added that it would have also been helpful to consult with the Ward Councillors. The Member stated that the site was of architectural interest and was fundamental to Harrow’s heritage and sought to preserve the status. He further explained that the locally listed site had townscape value and that there would be a significant loss to the community. He requested that the decision to de-list the site be referred to Cabinet for re-consideration.
The Portfolio Holder for Urban Living – Public Realm, responded that as there was no requirement for consultation it was not carried out. The Portfolio Holder advised that this issue had been discussed in depth at the Strategic Planning Advisory Panel and that it was permissible for the Portfolio Holder to agree the proposal under such circumstances. The Portfolio Holder also advised Members that the UDP was only guidance and therefore the decision to de?list the Vaughan Centre was not contrary to the policy framework of the Council.
Some Members of the Sub-Committee had mixed views concerning the lack of consultation and expressed concern, although acknowledging that was not statutory. It was felt that stakeholders, residents, Ward Councillors and the community groups using the premises should have been consulted as a matter of good practice. Other Members queried why no representatives of stakeholders, residents or Ward Councillors had attended the Strategic Planning Advisory Panel to present their case. The Strategic Planning Advisory Panel was an open public meeting and the agenda had been published on the internet, so attending that meeting would have been an appropriate forum to lobby the Members. The general view by Members was that the decision was not contrary to the policy framework of the Council.
RESOLVED: That the grounds for the call-in be rejected and the decision of the Portfolio Holder for Property, Housing, Planning (Development) and Planning (Strategic) to de-list the Vaughan Centre be implemented.