Venue: Civic Suite, Pathfinder House, St Mary's Street, Huntingdon PE29 3TN
Contact: Mrs Lisa Jablonska, Elections and Democratic Services Manager, Tel No. 01480 388004/e-mail Lisa.Jablonska@huntingdonshire.gov.uk
Note: (ON THE RISING OF THE CABINET)
To receive from Members declarations as to disclosable pecuniary and other interests in relation to any Agenda Item.
Councillor D J Mead declared a non-statutory disclosable interest in Minute No. 14 by virtue of his employment, remained in the meeting and took no part in the discussion and voting on the item.
Councillor S J Criswell declared a disclosable interest in Minute No. 14 by virtue of family ownership of a site identified in the proposed Local Plan and left the meeting for the duration of the discussion and voting on the item.
Mr J Dewis will present a petition on behalf of 158 signatories regarding the proposed closure of St Ives Squash Courts. The petition statement is as follows:-
“It has recently been advised that Huntingdon District Council has decided to close all the squash courts at the One Leisure St. Ives Outdoor Centre. This would have a devastating effect on the participation levels in the St. Ives area.
This was advised to the St. Ivo Racquets Club (’the club’), the squash and racket ball club based in St. Ives, which operates from the courts. The club aims to encourage affordable community participation in squash and racket ball sports, for social through to county-standard players and from junior to senior levels. It is not-for-profit, run by volunteers.
The club has been advised in a letter from One Leisure dated Friday 22 March 2019, that is after the decision had already been made by the Council. The club has still to view any public records related to this decision. The club is extremely concerned about the lack of a public consultation process prior to this decision being made. Neither the club, representing the largest single group of players, nor individual users have been afforded an opportunity to present the case to continue supporting squash and racket ball facilities in St. Ives.
St. Ives has a long and proud history of squash and racket ball, the St. Ivo Racquets Club formed in 1975. The club has a very low membership fees to encourage participation from the whole community, activities include weekly club nights open to all, where coaching is provided. The club runs two county standard teams, the first team won the Cambridgeshire 2nd division title in March 2019. The courts in St. Ives are some of the last publicly accessible courts in the area. Children have immediate access to affordable facilities for a rewarding sport, which can prepare them both physically and mentally for the future. The sport is universally accepted as a fantastic fitness work out, and its appeal stretches across the ages from the youngest just old enough to hold a racket to those in their seventies. However, courts are needed in St. Ives to provide good local community access.
A functional training facility is proposed in place of the four squash courts. Neither a sporting nor business case for this change of use has been made public yet. There is already a One Leisure gym in St. Ives, the result of a recent multi-million-pound investment.
The last public courts in the area would be two courts at Huntingdon. The additional time and distance for St. Ives based players to travel would inevitably lead to a further decline in participation when the community should expect the opposite for the good of the health and well-being of our community. If the proposed closure goes ahead, St. Ives would have been reduced from eight to no courts in a relatively short time, and Huntingdon / St. Ives combined reduced from ten courts to ... view the full agenda text for item 13.
The Chairman invited Mr J Dewis to present a petition submitted on behalf of 158 signatories regarding the proposed closure of St Ives Squash Courts.
Mr Dewis opened his address by introducing himself as Chairman of St Ivo Squash Club and provided an outline to Members of the history of the Club with the current facility at One Leisure St Ives Outdoor Centre an active sports facility used by the Club that was unique by virtue of the availability of four identical courts with a viewing balcony. The Club was an active user of the facility and together with school usage contributed to the overall attendance at the facility. He further explained that many other centres had a smaller number of attendees in comparison.
Mr Dewis outlined the Clubs’ devastation and disappointment at the proposed closure of the squash courts following the receipt of an email on 22nd March 2019 informing them of the proposals to repurpose the squash courts to create a ‘Training Shed’ facility. Members further noted their concern that there had been no consultation with the users affected by the proposal and they had not had sight of a Business Plan to support this approach following a refusal of a Freedom of Information request.
Members were appraised with the potential funding required to improve the current squash courts and Mr Dewis also provided background to previous funding, including a grant that had contributed to the upkeep of the venue over the years. Despite the drop in usage over the last few years, Members were advised that the Club had 320 current squash users and suggested that an easy solution to improve the facility to increase participation was to replace the flooring in the venue.
Mr Dewis concluded his remarks by outlining their willingness to work with the Council and One Leisure to support the continuance of provision of such a facility that was vital to the diversity of sports, as well as being vital for the health and well-being of residents.
Councillor J M Palmer, Executive Councillor for Partnerships and Well-Being, thanked Mr Dewis for his submission and recommended that he be invited to present his proposal to the Overview and Scrutiny Panel (Customers and Partnerships) with comments forwarded onto the Cabinet for a final decision on the re-purposing of the squash courts, whereby the points raised in his submission would be given full consideration.
Councillor T D Alban, Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Panel (Customers and Partnerships) invited Mr Dewis to make a presentation to their Panel at their meeting on 13th June 2019.
Executive Councillor for Housing, Planning and Economic Development to present a report seeking approval to adopt the Huntingdonshire Local Plan 2036, including main modifications and the Huntingdonshire Local Plan Policies Map.
(A copy of Appendices 1-3 are attached separately to the Agenda).
(See Minute No. 12 for Members’ interests).
The Council considered a report and separate Appendices by the Planning Service Manager (Growth) on the adoption of the Huntingdonshire Local Plan to 2036 (a copy of which is appended in the Minute Book), this included main modifications and the Huntingdonshire Local Plan Policies Map.
With the aid of a PowerPoint presentation (a copy of which is appended in the Minute Book) Councillor R Fuller, Executive Councillor for Housing, Planning and Economic Development, acquainted Members with the background to the preparation of a Local Plan being at the heart of the planning system. The Local Plan provided a framework for development of housing, the economy, community facilities and infrastructure up to 2036, as well as a basis for conserving and enhancing the natural and historic environment and adapting to climate change.
Members noted that an estimated 250K new homes were needed across the country every year to meet the unmet housing need, which has seen an increase as a result of increased levels of overcrowding, affordability issues, impaired labour mobility and increased levels of homelessness.
It was explained that the Huntingdonshire Local Plan to 2036 was tailored to meet the needs of the District and although aspirational, was realistic in terms of meeting the development and infrastructure needs over the life of the Plan. Members were acquainted with the differences between the existing Development Plan, encompassing a larger suite of documents with a number of policies many years old and out of date that would all be replaced by the new Local Plan to 2036.
The Council were acquainted with the process of production of the Local Plan that commenced in 2011, including the statutory consultations and engagement strategies with communities of Huntingdonshire prior to the submission of the Local Plan to the Planning Inspector. Members were reminded that all interested parties across the District had an opportunity to put forward modifications during the Examination in Public by the Planning Inspector and the Inspector’s Report highlighted few issues with the Plan, as well as singling out several of the proposed policies for their strength and quality.
A comparison was made with several neighbouring authorities and the delay in the examination of their Local Plans, compared with the swift progress made at Huntingdonshire from submission to examination. With that in mind, Councillor Fuller paid tribute to his Portfolio predecessors, former Councillors N J Guyatt and R Harrison and Councillors D B Dew and G J Bull who had all assisted in shaping and guiding the Plan over the years. He also placed on record his thanks to Mr A Moffat, Ms C Kerr, Ms C Bond and their Teams and referred to their dedication in delivering such an important document that they should be proud of what they have delivered for the people of Huntingdonshire. He reported that it had been a pleasure to work with such a dedicated, knowledgeable and inspirational team of Officers in their efforts to get the Plan completed. ... view the full minutes text for item 14.