Agenda item

Questions under Rule 11.2


Councillor Ecclestone submitted a question asking “I note that I asked a question at the last full council meeting as to whether TVBC intended to be compliant with the spirit of the Conservation Area rules with regard to lighting, paving and seating/fixtures at the Town Mills Riverwalk devel. The response was vague with a glib observation that I had been on the ATC Planning committee which had raised no objection. In fact the ATC Planning committee had raised four objections. However on the specific matter of the seating, I note that the filings and documents for 19/01263/FULLN show a disparate number of different designs for the same space, including some sort of S-shaped bench which most definitely is not Conservation Area compliant and neither are most of the other seat designs. This seat is not shown in other versions (see attached). In fact the Design & Access statement does not once mention the words "seats".”


“Are conceptual designs related to a planning application (when it pertains to TVBC) merely that and able to be discarded or over-ruled when it comes to final execution? Would this laissez-faire attitude to detail be tolerated from a private developer?”


“Can TVBC reassure councillors and residents of Andover that it will not flaunt the rules of the Conservation Area when it comes to the fittings, paving and accoutrements of the Riverside Walk project?”


The Planning Portfolio Holder responded that the question was very similar to the question asked at the recent Council meeting. The development of the Town Mills Riverside project came directly from the Andover Vision who identified making more of the river in the town centre as its number one priority. Throughout the process of developing the scheme, partners and local people have been consistently engaged through the Andover Vision


The Planning Portfolio Holder confirmed that the proposed development was given very careful consideration by officers and Members of the Council, and was satisfied that the Town Mills development was fully compliant with the requirements of the Town and Country Planning (Conservation and Listed Building) Act 1990 and the Councils own planning policies which required development to either preserve or enhance the appearance of the Conservation Area.


The Planning Portfolio Holder confirmed emphasised the development requiring planning permission must be carried out in accordance with the approved plan and that the Council would ensure any development taking place was fully compliant with both National and local planning policies and that any development will either enhance or preserve the character and appearance of the conservation area.  The Council would fully involve and consult with the community on the development proposals for the Riverside Walk project just as it has done on the Town Mills project.


Councillor Ecclestone submitted a question asking “It has come to my attention that a gym operator, I Can, shall shortly be moving operations from premises at Charlton lakes to the Rendezvous.


This involves ten exercise machines in a circuit. If true then this will totally occupy the Rendezvous and effectively alienate the community hall from use by the public. I note that this hall has sometimes been charged to the Andover Levy.


Can you please confirm or deny as to whether the hall is being alienated from community use to occupation by a single tenant?”


The Finance Portfolio Holder responded that the use of The Rendezvous had declined in recent years. A total of 104 bookings took place in 2017/18, falling to 70 bookings in the whole of 2018/19, falling further to only 56 bookings in 2019/20. Of these bookings a large number were from a single organisation which relocated to the Upper Guildhall partway through 19/20.


Given the extremely low use of the venue, officers had been exploring alternative options including marketing the venue for lease with a commercial agent. Officers were now in the process of negotiating draft terms of a lease with a potential occupier, subject to any necessary planning consents. The draft terms of that lease were commercially sensitive.


Councillor Ecclestone asked a supplemental question enquiring as to whether The Rendezvous would continue to be included in the Andover Levy.


The Finance Portfolio Holder responded that there was no specific line in the Andover Levy for The Rendezvous and that the Andover Levy was used to part fund community venues across Andover.


Councillor Meyer submitted a question asking “Of the £71,513,567.00 income/profit this Council received from the Large Scale Voluntary Transfer to the then Testway Housing in March 2000, how much of this income/profit has been reinvested in social housing provision of any kind?”


The Housing and Environmental Health portfolio Holder responded that the Large Scale Voluntary Transfer (LSVT) of council housing stock occurred in Test Valley some 20 years ago.


The capital receipt that was received on completion of the LSVT formed part of the Council’s overall capital financing arrangements. It was therefore not possible to directly link any specific capital expenditure with a particular capital receipt. However, details of the capital programme, including Affordable Housing projects, were regularly reported throughout the financial year. From the point of the LSVT, the Council’s role became that of an enabler of affordable housing and TVBC has been able to demonstrate a good track record of delivery, at times exceeding the delivery of all other Hampshire authorities. Over the past 6 years, the Council had enabled in excess of 200 affordable homes per annum and in 2015/16 and 2016/17, Test Valley delivered more affordable homes than any other Hampshire authority including the unitary authorities of Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight.


Councillor Meyer asked a supplementary question. “How much of the income, if any, has been spent on Social Housing Provision an how much has the Council spent on private rented accommodation?”


The Housing and Environmental Health Portfolio Holder confirmed that he did not have those detailed figures in front of him and reiterated that it was not possible to directly link a lot of the expenditure.  It was confirmed that a response by email would be provided.


Councillor Coole submitted a question asking “Councils-led Andover Emporium/Department Store/Covered Market.Does the Council Leader support the introduction a Councils-led Emporium/Department Store/Covered Market within Andover Town Centre, to encourage new local start-up businesses and increase Town Centre footfall, with the Town and Borough Councils working in partnership to deliver it?”


The Leader responded that following the Council’s purchase of the Chantry Centre, the Council had already introduced easy in/easy out terms to encourage and enable business start-ups, utilising the vacant units in the centre. The initiative had been very well received with a number of businesses utilising the opportunity to open in the centre.


The Council was also working closely with Andover BID, who were planning to open a unit in the centre from which a number of local artisans and businesses would have an outlet to showcase and sell their products.


The Chantry Centre also provided flexibility to accommodate seasonal and pop up events. Plans were already underway to accommodate a Christmas pop up market on the Saturdays in December in a vacant unit in the centre.


Councillor Coole asked a supplemental question regarding plans to encourage national concessions to increase footfall.


The Leader responded that the Council was open to speaking with any retailers who were considering Andover as a location and that this was driven by market forces. The Council had a number of different initiatives underway to encourage new businesses and increase town centre footfall in Andover.


Councillor Coole submitted a question asking “100 years ago this year, Andover's Cenotaph was dedicated in the High Street by Major General Seely, Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire. With the Masterplan approved to restore Andover’s Old Town street patterns, is it not also time to restore the Cenotaph back to the High Street, and should we not erect a new Churchyard Memorial, in memory of the sacrifices all our Public Servants make, in protecting our Communities?”


The Leader responded that when previous discussions had occurred in relation to suggestions to move Andover’s Cenotaph back to the High Street, it was usually met with divided opinion across the town, with some wanting the memorial to be amongst the hustle and bustle of the High Street, whilst others prefer the quiet solemnity of its current location.


The Cenotaph was located in the Garden of Remembrance in 1956; some 64 years ago and consequently, most people have only known it to be in its current location in their lifetimes.


Test Valley did not have any current plans to move the Cenotaph.


Councillor Coole asked a supplemental question enquiring as to whether the reason for moving the Cenotaph was to allow for extension of the Guildhall which had not taken place and asking whether the Council would undertake a consultation on the location of the Cenotaph.


The Leader responded that there was to be any meaningful public consultation on this matter then the public need all the information for them to contribute to that consultation. It was incumbent on those who wished to see the Cenotaph moved to provide that information which would need to include details of how the Cenotaph would be moved and how this would be done without damage, what would happen to the Second World War Memorials situated on the wall directly behind the Cenotaph, and the opinion of St Mary’s Church.