Appointment of New Chief Executive
Our Chief Executive Jack Hegarty retired on 31 July after 35 years in local government – the last 5.5 years of which were spent in charge of Malvern Hills District Council.
He has been replaced by Vic Allison MBE, who was Deputy Managing Director of Wychavon District Council and now steps up to be Joint Chief Executive of both Wychavon and Malvern Hills District Council.
Vic has worked in local government since the late 1980s and is a chartered public finance accountant. He has worked for councils including Stratford District Council and West Oxfordshire Council, before joining Wychavon in 2006.
He intends to build on the solid foundation Jack has laid and deliver the ambitions of the Council as set out in our Five Year Plan. He looks forward to working with you all.
Announcement on Planning Reforms.
The Government has published its white paper Planning for the Future which proposes radical changes to the planning system. This includes removing the current planning committee system and replacing it with a US-style zonal system where outline planning permission will be automatic depending on the proposed site.
A summary of the main proposals is below:
- Local plans will be simplified and responsible for designating land into three categories. Growth – where outline approval for development would be automatic, Renewal – where proposals would be approved in principle subject to certain checks and Protected – where development is restricted
- Local plans will focus on site and area specific requirements and local design codes rather than policy. Policy will be decided predominantly at a national level by the National Planning Policy Framework. It is estimated this will reduce local plans in size by two thirds
- Plans must be produced and pass key stages in 30 months
- Consultation with the public will take place at the plan making and design code production stage. The Government wants this to be a comprehensive, meaningful engagement, with greater use of technology and social media to allow people to feed in their views. In terms of the planning application stage, the process will be streamlined with no or limited opportunity for local people to comment
- There will be a greater use of digital technology which will remove the need for adverts to be placed in newspapers, notices to be put on lampposts, notification letters etc. Instead the system will be more web based. Plans will be more visual to make them easier for people to understand what is proposed near to them
- Digital technology should also play a greater part in decision-making with software and algorithms being used to automatically validate applications and decide whether they are within the rules
- The existing test of soundness, updating requirements for assessments (including on the environment and viability) and the Duty to Cooperate will be replaced with a single test of sustainable development
- The Government’s vision is planning department in future will switch from approving and processing applications to enforcing standards. As such, greater enforcement powers will be given to councils and there will be an expectation more enforcement action will be taken to ensure local design codes and national policies are being followed.
- New homes will need to reduce carbon emissions by 75% to 80% on current standards from 2025 and be ready to become carbon neutral by 2050 as the National Grid decarbonises without the need for expensive retrofitting schemes
- A fast track for beauty scheme will be introduced – this will allow high quality developments built to a high standard and reflecting local character to be automatically approved
- A new infrastructure levy will replace S106 agreements and the Community Infrastructure Levy. The Government state their aim will be to ensure this delivers at least as much on-site affordable housing as it does now but without months of negotiation. Councils will get more say over how developer contributions are used. The scope of the new levy will be expanded to capture changes to permitted development rights, so developers converting office blocks to housing would still have to pay.
For more detail read the Planning for the Future white paper.
Malvern Hills District Council will be responding to the consultation.
Re-opening of our Services.
Leisure centres in Malvern Hills District reopened on 25 July 2020 with social distancing measures in place.
The swimming pool at Malvern Splash will not reopen until January 2021. Tenbury Pool, which is run by a Trust, is not expected to reopen until October. Both are undergoing refurbishment.
Pre-booked face to face appointments are now being offered at the Council House but reception will remain closed to the Public.
The government has revised its guidance on play areas. The latest version can be found here
Phil Merrick emailed all parish and town clerks on 17 July to share the poster the district council will be using for its own play areas, which you are all welcome to use.
Destination Zero – Plan update.
many of you will know, we now have a Destination Zero plan to help us become a carbon neutral district by 2050. We held a session with our Parish and Town Council colleagues last autumn and many of the ideas you put forward now feature within the plan.
We wanted to update you on our progress with this plan including that we have recently interviewed for the new Carbon Reduction Officer post and we hope to be able to introduce you to the new officer in the autumn. One of their first tasks will be to set up the stakeholder group and rearrange our partnership event, which was postponed in March due to the crisis.
Out of the 57 actions in our current plan, 36 are in progress with others being longer term aims. You may have already seen that we have recently purchased 45.57 acres at Green Park, Greenhill Lane, Hallow, WR2 6LG for the purpose of contributing towards our targets. Estimates show from managing the land differently the soil alone could capture 2,500 tonnes approx. by 2030.
We hope to update you further on our progress when we next meet as a forum but we will also let you know once our new officer is in post, should you wish to contact them direct about our work in this area.
We want your help…
Tree planting is not the answer to tackling climate change. It is always better to reduce emissions rather than offset or capture them. But, tree planting does have a role to play. To support our ambition to become a carbon neutral district, we need to plant tens of thousands of trees. We won’t be able to plant them all.
If you have recently planted or are planting any trees, can you spare a minute to let us know, which helps us to calculate any carbon savings. You can use our tree planting form
Ready Steady Worcestershire – Holiday Activity and Food
The Worcestershire Holiday Activity and Food webpage offers details of local organisations providing summer holiday activities for children and young people as well as those with food included.
If you are providing activities with or without food included during the holidays and would like your details included on the page, please let Claire know
Family Fun with Photoboxing
For families or adults looking for something fun to do over the holidays, why not sign up to our latest challenge – Photoboxing! Photoboxing is a temporary replacement for the popular Letterboxing project which is a family and adult fun form of orienteering. The challenge will be available until the end of September.
Visit: http://www.malvernhills.gov.uk/get-active to find out more and sign up and check out our video on YouTube.
Funding support for community groups and charities
Please visit Support for community groups and charities page for more information on a range of funding sources available to community groups and charities supporting vulnerable people during the crisis.
Tesco Bags of Help COVID-19 Communities Fund
Tesco Bags of Help has responded to the current COVID-19 crisis by setting up a new fund to support local communities. The programme will provide a single payment award of £500 to organisations who are supporting vulnerable groups, as part of their emergency response in supporting local communities.
Typically, the fund will support organisations that have experienced;
• Increased demand – a holiday hunger club needs more resources to support children through the summer months or a food bank whose stocks are running low and needs an immediate donation to enable the food bank to restock.
• Disrupted services – a local charity setting up a delivery service to replace its monthly lunch club, or a charity needing to set up a telephone service to support beneficiaries.
• New services –a health focused charity having to set up a new online patient service requires new IT equipment or a mental health charity developing a new service.
Applications will be welcomed from a wide range of organisations including: voluntary/community organisations, registered charities, schools, health bodies, Parish/Town councils, social enterprises, Community Interest Companies, community councils, local authorities and housing organisations. Other not-for-profit organisations might also be eligible.
Businesses and ‘for profit’ organisations are not eligible.
Typically they would welcome applications from organisations such as ;
• Health focused charities- such as Cancer, Diabetes, Heart charities
• Food banks
• Homeless charities
• Charity supporting the elderly or those needing to self-isolate
• Women’s refuges
• Charity supporting children and young people
More information about the funding and application forms can be found on the website: https://tescobagsofhelp.org.uk/grant-schemes/tesco-cv-fund/
We are currently promoting the Neighbourhood Watch scheme across the district and would welcome your help in promoting the scheme to your local residents. We have attached a poster with more details and would encourage any interested residents to contact Elliot Nixon for more details