Diary of a Sutton Councillor

Supporting business in Sutton

What is Sutton Council delivering for you?

As a continuation of a series of posts setting out current activities in the areas covered by my committee portfolio – the Housing, Economy & Business Committee I have previously posted about Housing, and Employment and Skills. This post focuses on business.

 

SUPPORTING BUSINESS IN SUTTON

Sutton Lib Dems are ambitious for Sutton, and we want to see growth in Sutton, good growth that benefits the community and existing businesses.

 

Attracting new business and investment

To achieve those ambitions Sutton’s Lib Dem Council has taken a proactive role to stimulate economic development in the borough. We have deliberately sought to attract new business and investment, and to support and encourage our existing businesses to grow and flourish.

We have put money in, we have put work in, and we have vastly changed the way we work to make things happen.

 

 

Making the borough a great place for business

Making our district centres  more attractive for shoppers and easier to access.

We have improved Wallington, Hackbridge, and Worcester Park and we are currently working on a major programme in Beddington. Sutton Town Centre has its own Masterplan.

 

We have encouraged Business Improvement Districts and now have three established BIDs: Successful Sutton, Kimpton Park and our second Industrial BiD in Beddington. Successful Sutton and Kimpton Park have both been successfully renewed. We expect a new BID in Worcester Park to be voted on later this year.

 

We have lobbied hard for improved transport links that are an essential for business.

We have succeeded in getting the Sutton Tram extension included in the London Mayor’s plan, successfully lobbied for retention of the Thameslink loop line, and we expect to benefit locally from the Mayor’s plans to increase the frequency of trains on our networks. We succeeded in securing significant TfL funding for improvements to the road network in our Beddington industrial area.

 

 

Supporting small businesses

We have over 6,000 small businesses in Sutton, representing a significant proportion of the business community.

We have worked specifically to provide the right conditions for small businesses to start up, thrive and grow, and we arrange key advice and new opportunities to grow small businesses into larger ones. We encourage start ups with schemes such as our local business rate relief scheme for business keen to expand into Sutton town centre, and our Award-winning Pop Up Sutton project.

 

We also worked to ensure that small businesses can compete equally with larger firms to win council contracts. Our Procurement Strategy was redesigned to create a more level playing field, and now 80% of our contracts are awarded to SMEs, amounting to 50% of the total value of our awarded contracts. We also require our larger contractors to use local suppliers and sub-contractors, to make sure that small businesses can still benefit when they win a tender.

 

 

Skills training to improve the local workforce offer

Very importantly we have been keen to ensure that it is our businesses and residents that reap the benefits of this business expansion and investment by ensuring that our residents have the necessary skills to take up the enhanced employment offer this presents. This has been done through our Skills Match programme, with a special focus on Sutton for Science to ensure local people benefit from the new job opportunities offered by the London Cancer Hub development.

 

Achieving success

Our ambitious approach has already proved fruitful. We have attracted new business, new development, new interest and new investment into Sutton.

New investment to the tune of £330 million pounds. 939 new businesses and 33 new shops opening in just the first few years, resulting in a 137% increase in net growth.

 

New businesses coming to Sutton like Metro Bank, Patisserie Valerie, Shinner and Sudtone, The Slug and Luttuce, Sainsburys, Lidl, El Mexicana, Foxtons, GoGym, and with H&M now confirmed as taking over the old BHS site.

 

New investment like Subsea 7’s expansion into new headquarters, Sutton Point‘s hotel, shops and housing currently in development, new housing from big developers like L&Q, Barratt’s & Redrow, the redevelopment of Times Square shopping centre and new ownership of the St Nicholas Centre, the refurbishment of the Empire Cinema, the Maggie Centre development by the Royal Marsden and the new Diagnostics Centre being built by the ICR.

We have also seen an increase in ambition and optimism for the borough amongst our businesses, and we have been making our mark on the national stage too. Our London Cancer Hub Opportunity is being marketed around the world.

 

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March 12, 2018 Posted by | Information, Liberal Democrats | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chair’s update on the work of the Housing, Economy and Business Committee

HEB Meeting held on Tuesday 13th February

Key items of business:

  • Local Plan adoption – agreed unanimously. The Plan was fully approved at Full Council
  • Local Development Scheme – programme of ongoing strategic planning work agreed
  • Locally Listed Buildings of Sutton document- excellent catalogue of listed buildings in the borough which we hope to publicise more widely.
  • Brownfield site register – new requirement for a list of sites available for development – taken from Local Plan
  • Economy Watchlatest economic statistics for the borough
  • Discretionary Rate Relief – Pub Scheme extended for another year

 

 Other Business since last meeting

Tram extension to Sutton

Myself, Cllr Whitehead and Cllr Dombey, along with senior officers and the Merton Council Leader met with the London Deputy Mayor for Transport and TfL to discuss progress on delivering the tram extension. TfL were extremely positive about the plans and appeared dedicated to making it happen. Some new options have been proposed to bridge the funding gap with external sources. This was followed up with a joint presentation by Merton & Sutton to the Mayor’s Good Growth Board on 28th February.

 

London Plan

The Mayor’s London Plan is currently out for consultation until 2nd March. It contains new worrying housing targets that are double those in our Local Plan and the Mayor expects these to be delivered on small sites i.e. backgarden land, house conversions and flats in the middle of suburbia. This flies against our Local Plan where we seek to preserve the historic and suburban character of our borough and direct housing to town and district centres, with regeneration providing both additional housing and improved environments for existing residents.

Positive aspects of the Mayor’s Plan are the highlighting of Sutton as an Opportunity Area in light of the London Cancer Hub potential, and inclusion of the Tram extension to Sutton.

More here.

The council has submitted a response to the consultation.

 

Employment and Skills Board Meeting on 5th March 

Agenda included:

  • A talk on the work of the Early Help Board
  • A presentation by Reed in Partnership, the organisation procured by the South London Partnership to deliver the Work and Health Programme (now Better Working Futures)
  • An update on the Sutton for Science strategy and Big Bang Festival of Science activities
  • Regular Partners Updates 

 

SHP

I have continued attending regular Fire Safety Meetings of SHP and the Council following the Grenfell Fire.

HEB Members Cllr Melican and Cllr Emmerson attend SHP board meetings and associated events as the council’s representatives on the SHP Board.

Steve Tucker, previously Interim CE of SHP has now been confirmed to the permanent post of Managing Director of SHP – a posting that has met with widespread approval by tenants, leaseholders, staff and the council as great improvements in approach and service have been noted since Steve took over from the previous CE.

 

Beddington Farmlands

A petition has been raised by the Wandle Forum for enforcement of the planning conditions requiring the restoration of the landfill site at Beddington Farmlands into a country park and wildlife reserve. Cllr Piracha and myself met with Planning and Biodiversity Officers for an update on the situation. It was confirmed that progress has been ongoing with restoring the site and there has been oversight by Planning Enforcement, but there has been no breach and therefore no fault on the council’s part, or Viridors. The only delay to the restoration was due to the Judicial Review brought by the Green Party PPC which meant all work has to be stopped until the JR was concluded.

Officers plan to meet with representatives of the Wandle Forum to explain the situation and talk about the next steps for the restoration.

 

Sutton Living Ltd

A planning application for the Wallington public hall site has been submitted.

Rather than selling the site to a private developer the council is using its new Housing Development Company, Sutton Living Ltd, to build new homes for local people on the site. The plans propose using the hall site and half of the associated car park to deliver 31 flats of mixed sizes in two blocks of three and four storeys with a commercial retail unit fronting Stafford Road.

The development will provide the maximum required number of affordable units, and under the terms of the council’s company all the residential units are required to be marketed to Sutton residents first, with special discretion for care-givers moving in to look after a Sutton resident, or ex-forces personnel. The layout also preserves the access to garages of properties in Onslow Gardens.

Other projects in train are listed in the papers for the last Sutton Shareholdings Board on 6th December.

 

Council housing new build

I took the council leader to view progress with the council house new build at Fellowes Road and Ludlow Lodge. Kind & Co, the build contractors are ahead of schedule so we hope to see people moving in this year.

 

 

SDEN 

I attended a Golden Shovel event with Cllr Whitehead and partners Viridor, Barratts and Eneteq to celebrating getting the first pipes in the ground for the decentralised energy network. We were also able to view the properties being developed by Barratts in Hackbridge on the old Felnex site.

The company is currently billing new residents who have moved into the New Mill Quarter properties. A temporary energy centre is on site to provide energy until the pipes are connected which is expected to be July next year.

 

Economic Development

An investor conference was held on 1st March at the newly refurbished Empire Cinema. This is part of the work to attract quality developers and investors to Sutton to enable us to deliver the best quality environment we can. It also launched the Sutton for Science programme which aims to encourage Sutton residents and young people to take up training opportunities so that they can take advantage of the new employment offer arising from the development of the London Cancer Hub. It is a programme that local schools have been keen to participate in.

Cllr Dombey and I accompanied Vince Cable and Tom Brake on a visit to the ICR for Vince to learn more about the Cancer Hub project, which later appeared on BBC London News.

Other

I attended a Sutton Chamber Business Networking event that featured Paul Scully MP invited to talk about ‘The Future of Sutton’.

I attended another LGA Grenfell Task & Finish Group overseeing the work of the LGA on the response to Grenfell, this time in conjunction with the FAMC and the new London Deputy Mayor for Fire Services.

I joined Cllr Gordon and Cllr Wales on the Sutton Shareholdings Board, a sub-committee of Strategy & Resources which has oversight of the council’s trading companies on 22nd February.

 

March 6, 2018 Posted by | Committee Meeting, Information, Liberal Democrats | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sutton’s Local Plan approved

Sutton’s Local Plan received approval at the Council meeting on Monday 26th February meaning that its stronger planning policies can start being applied to new planning applications from today.

This means stronger protection for Areas of Special Local Character and backgarden land, policies to stop our shopping areas being swamped with takeaways, limits to conversion of houses into flats and multiple occupation dwellings, and protection for pubs.

Development and intensification is directed towards town centres to protect the green and suburban character of the borough, and there are high standards of design and sustainability required for new development. We have set out a requirement for those developments to deliver affordable homes, and for delivery of homes for families.

My speech putting the Local Plan forward for approval is here:

INTRODUCING SUTTON’S NEW LOCAL PLAN
I am very pleased to be seeking council approval of our new Local Plan.

It is an ambitious plan.
It is ambitious for economic growth:
• To attract new business and investment as well as helping our existing businesses to flourish and grow
• To be proactive in the development of our life sciences centre of excellence that is the London Cancer Hub
• But it also wants that growth to directly benefit our residents, providing increased local employment opportunities and vibrant town and district centres.

It is ambitious to deliver the range of homes that are needed for our residents looking to move out of the family home, expand their families, or older people wishing to downsize. And we also want to be able to accommodate the predicted growth of our population here in Sutton.

But our plan also aims to retain all that is good in the borough, and improve on it.

Consultation
Underlying those ambitions to encourage prosperity and deliver housing is our fundamental understanding that the London Borough of Sutton does not belong to the council, or to the politicians, it belongs to its residents.
That is why we underwent extensive consultation on our plan. We made contact with every household in the borough asking them to contribute. We sought out people who would not normally be interested in strategic planning matters to engage them in the process. We put on numerous events in the community, and I am very proud of our planning officers who bravely put themselves at the coalface, interacting, talking and listening to residents about their area.

So what did our residents say is important to them?
Their feedback provided some key themes that we have used as the backbone to our plan:

We learnt how strongly our residents care about our parks and green spaces.
We therefore felt fully mandated by our residents to take a strong line in our local plan to protect and enhance our green spaces. We will not give up our greenbelt, parkland or open spaces to development under anything but the most exceptional of circumstances. And those exceptional circumstances have already been identified, tested and clarified through the groundwork we have done.

Our residents told us that they value the local heritage. We therefore feel obligated to continue to protect and cultivate the boroughs heritage, and we do not see this as a barrier to growth, but as supporting it. For this reason we are very pleased to have had part of our town centre acknowledged as a Heritage Action Zone.

Our third theme is Quality of design, and quality of place. Whilst there is much that is good and valued in our borough, there are also plenty of areas in need of significant improvement. We know that badly designed places can kill off town centres, fracture communities and be a barrier to future development.
I therefore make no apology for the high standards of design and placeshaping our plan demands.

We have also set the principle that regeneration schemes are to be designed with, and around the communities that live there. We have no desire to move people away from their areas, only to improve the space and better accommodate our growing numbers of residents. Therefore it needs to be a joint enterprise.

Our final key theme is sustainability. Sutton has a reputation as a borough that has led the way on environmental sustainability. Our continuing commitment to this comes from our residents’ drive to find ways to tread more lightly upon our planet, and use its resources sparingly.
That is why our plan requires high standards in terms of sustainable development, why we offer connection to a district energy network that the council itself will provide, why we seek to protect local habitats and wildlife, and seek climate change mitigation measures.

Our residents demand this of us, therefore it is embedded in our plan.

As a result of the feedback from the consultations we agreed to direct the majority of new housing development to our town and district centres, to better protect the remaining areas that are essentially suburban, or areas of special local character, or conservation areas, and which are the underpinning fabric of our outer London borough.

However, we cannot achieve the aspirations of our local plan without the accompanying infrastructure improvements. The need for improved transport links, flooding mitigation works, green infrastructure, sewerage capacity, health and education provision, is all captured in our plan, and will not be deliverable without it. We have been very clear about that, and again it is something that was highlighted by our residents.

I therefore commend to you, our ambitious Local Plan that seeks to unlock the growth potential of our borough and ensure that Sutton continues to be a highly desirable, vibrant, healthy and sustainable place to live, work and raise a family for generations to come.

 

February 27, 2018 Posted by | Committee Meeting, Information | , , | 1 Comment

Sainsburys box junction

The yellow lines at the box junction of Woodcote Road and the B271 (Stafford Road/Stanley Park Road) have been faded for some time now.

Your ward councillors raised this with the council and asked for them to be repainted.

We have been informed that, weather permitting, they will be repainted by the end of February.

The works are expected to be scheduled to take place with minimal disruption to traffic.

February 21, 2018 Posted by | Information | , , , | Leave a comment

Plans submitted for Wallington Public Hall site

Stafford Road view

 

The old public hall was closed in 2015 as the income the hall could generate fell well short of the maintenance and restoration costs required to bring the building up to a modern and safe standard.

Rather than selling the site to a private developer the council is using its new Housing Development Company, Sutton Living Ltd, to build new homes for local people on the site. The plans propose using the hall site and half of the associated car park to deliver 31 flats of mixed sizes in two blocks of three and four storeys with a commercial retail unit fronting Stafford Road.

 

East elevation

The development will maximise the amount of affordable units, and under the terms of the council’s company all the residential units are required to be marketed to Sutton residents first, with special discretion for care-givers moving in to look after a Sutton resident, or ex-forces personnel. The layout also preserves the access to garages of properties in Onslow Gardens.

You can comment on the plans via the council’s website under reference D2018/78694 up to 20th March 2018

Of the many planning documents listed the best one for an overall picture is the Design and Access Statement.

UPDATE: Permission was granted at the Planning Committee meeting on 21st March 2018. 

February 13, 2018 Posted by | Information | , | 4 Comments

Sutton’s council housing new build progressing well

Fellowes Road site

Yesterday I took the Leader of the council, Ruth Dombey, to see the progress we are making with our new build council homes.

We are delivering 93 new affordable homes across three sites: Fellowes Road, Carshalton; Richmond Green, Beddington and at the old Ludlow Lodge site on Alcester Road in Wallington.

At the first site, Fellowes Road, we are delivering 15 new family houses, at Ludlow Lodge there will be 57 flats, and the remaining 21 will be family houses at Richmond Green.

All the homes are being built to a high standard both in specification and design, and some are being specially adapted for families with disabilities.

The council has contracted a smaller construction firm, Kind & Co, to build the new homes, who are proving a joy to work with with their professionalism, quality planning and accessibility.

With ward councillor Joyce Melican at the Ludlow Lodge site

The next celebration will be seeing families on our housing waiting list moving into their new homes.

For more information see www.sutton.gov.uk/newcouncilhousing

February 9, 2018 Posted by | Information, Liberal Democrats | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Pipes in the ground to deliver Sutton’s decentralised energy network

Achieving a key milestone

Sutton’s groundbreaking decentralised energy network project (SDEN) has achieved a key milestone with the highly insulated pipes now being laid into the ground.

Reaching the delivery phase of this unique scheme to deliver low-carbon heating and hot water to local homes and businesses was marked with a Golden Shovel event attended by representatives of the key partners Viridor, Barratts and Eneteq, as well as the Govt. Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the council.

A unique project for the UK

This decentralised energy network is unique in two ways:

Unlike most decentralised energy networks it does not use fossil fuels powering high-efficiency energy plants, but instead captures low carbon heat from an independent source – the Viridor ERF. That heat is then delivered through pipes owned by the council’s energy company SDEN to an independant development.

This investment by Sutton Council into delivering the decentralised energy network infrastructure, without owning either the heat source or the development receiving the energy, is the first of its kind in the UK. It represents a bold commitment by the council to meeting its target to be a zero-carbon borough by 2025, as it reduces our reliance on fossil fuels, and maximises energy-use efficiency with its capturing of heat energy that would otherwise be wasted.

Sutton powering ahead

As a result of this far-sightedness, Sutton has powered ahead of other areas with similar ambitions and actually reached the delivery stage of its decentralised energy network.

Seeing the specially made pipes it was noted as feeling more like being in Scandinavia than the UK, where national investment in infrastructure is less uncommon.

London’s first sustainable borough

SDEN’s renewable energy supply to the Barratt’s development on the old Felnex site in Hackbridge, together with the proximity to the new Viridor plant turning residents’ waste into electricity, and the well established and internationally recognised BedZed development, puts Sutton on the map and truly marks out Hackbridge as London’s foremost Sustainable Suburb.

It has given me immense pride to have been able to deliver the vision for a decentralised energy network in Sutton that originally came from my colleague Cllr Colin Hall, who sadly died suddenly before he could see the project implemented. As a strong environmentalist who was behind much of what has made Sutton famous for its green credentials, I think Colin would be have been pleased with his legacy.

February 8, 2018 Posted by | Information, Liberal Democrats | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Stop the Labour Mayor’s plans to concrete over the borough

The London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has published his draft London Plan which proposes to deliver thousands of new houses. That ambition is great, but the way he wants to do it is not, as he expects outer London boroughs like Sutton to deliver most of the housing, and that would mean turning suburbs into intensively developed estates. For Sutton this would make us look more like Croydon or inner London. You can view the Mayor’s plans and submit your comments here.

Sadiq Khan overruling our Local Plan

Our own Local Plan has just been through its Examination by the Planning Inspector and is to be approved at the Council meeting on 26th February. Our plan was drawn up after extensive consultation with residents and sought to balance the ambition to provide new homes to meet local need with keeping all the things we love about the borough, particularly its historic and suburban character. Our plan proposes:

  • Delivering 427 homes per year, with 35% affordable (the Inspector made us reduce this from our original plan for 50%)
  • directing development to town & district centres to protect our suburban areas
  • restricting backgarden land development
  • ensuring supporting infrastructure like schools, health centres and transport links
  • tighter limits on takeaways
  • greater protection for pubs
  • strong protection for our green spaces
  • greater protection for heritage assets
  • minimum parking standards for developments

The London Mayor wants to overrule all that and is proposing Sutton delivers more than double our number of homes – he wants 939 per annum, and he says that back garden developments and infilling is how we are expected to deliver most of this housing. That would mean an urbanisation of our borough, making us look more like inner London, or Croydon, which we know from our consultation, is exactly what you didn’t want to happen. Wallington South is one of the areas that would be particularly at risk, as we know that there have been many proposals for squeezing blocks of flats onto back gardens and in residential streets that we have fought hard to prevent. The London Mayor’s plan would give all these applications the go ahead.

We need you to fight for Sutton’s future, and tell the London Mayor that you do not accept his plans to change the character of our borough.

The consultation on the draft London Plan is open until 2nd March 2018.

Chapter 2 includes the expectations for outer London boroughs:

If London is to meet the challenges of the future, all parts of London will need to embrace and manage change. Not all change will be transformative – in many places, change will occur incrementally. This is especially the case in outer London, where the suburban pattern of development has significant potential for appropriate intensification over time, particularly for additional housing.

The key section of the London Plan is Chapter 4 Housing, which includes the table 4.1 showing Sutton’s expected 10 year target of 939 homes pa, and tabel 4.2 showing how the majority (79%) are expected to be delivered on small sites.

It states:

To deliver the small sites targets in Table 4.2, boroughs should apply a presumption in favour of the following types of small housing development which provide between one and 25 homes:

  1. infill development on vacant or underused sites
  2. proposals to increase the density of existing residential homes within PTALs 3-6 or within 800m of a Tube station, rail station or town centre boundary through:
    1. residential conversions
    2. residential extensions
    3. the demolition and redevelopment of existing buildings
    4. infill development within the curtilage of a house

February 4, 2018 Posted by | Information | , , , | 1 Comment

Missed Green Garden Waste Collections

We are aware that a number of streets in Wallington South did not have their green garden waste collected on the scheduled day.

We have raised this matter with Veolia who have advised that all the missed green garden waste collections will be completed by Monday 22nd January. Veolia also apologised for the delays.

If your Green Garden Waste Collection was missed please leave your bin out so it is clear it needs emptying.

UPDATE 23RD JANUARY

Garden waste collections are still running behind with the promised collections on 22nd failing to materialise. We have been advised that this is mostly due to driver shortages over the last week. Veolia had crews working last weekend to try to catch up, however there are still a number of collections especially in Carshalton and parts of Wallington that have been delayed.

To address this and catch up all the missed collections and Christmas tree pick ups, Veolia are running additional crews this week and intend to service all properties due last week and all properties due this week.

To compensate residents for the missed collections they will get two months Garden Waste collections free, so the period covered will now be 14 months rather than 12.

January 19, 2018 Posted by | Information | | Leave a comment

Useful health information for over the Christmas period

December 21, 2017 Posted by | Information | , , , | Leave a comment

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