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Agenda item

Proposed London Resort and the Duty of the Applicant to Consult the Council on the Proposal

Summary:

 

The proposal for the London Resort leisure and entertainment complex is to be dealt with as a planning application to be determined by the Secretary of State as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP).  As such, it is subject to legislation under the Planning Act 2008, which is distinct to that for applications determined directly by the Council. The applicant, London Resort Company Holdings (LRCH), is required under section 42 of the 2008 Act to consult the Borough on its emerging proposal before being formally submitted to the Secretary of State, with the Council being a statutory consultee. The closing date for responses was 21 September 2020.  The Council’s response, agreed under delegated powers, was submitted in time to meet this deadline but this did not allow for the response to be presented to Cabinet in advance.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the Council’s response to the consultation as set out in the letter and comments attached at Appendices A-C to the report, be noted.

Minutes:

The Head of Regeneration informed Members that because the proposed London Resort leisure and entertainment complex development in Swanscombe was deemed to be a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) the planning application would be determined by the Secretary of State under the Planning Act 2008 rather than being determined directly by the Council. The applicant, London Resort Company Holdings (LRCH), was required under section 42 of the 2008 Act to consult the Borough, as a statutory consultee, on its emerging proposal before formally submitting it to the Secretary of State. This was the fifth round of consultation since the inception of the project and the closing date for responses to this consultation was 21 September 2020.  Given the timeframe involved the Council’s response was agreed with the Chairman of the Cabinet and the Mayor under delegated powers in time for submission by the deadline.

 

The content of the development was outlined in paragraph 3.13 in the report. The report highlighted that, despite the length of time since the last consultation in 2015, much of the assessment work required had not been submitted within the consultation documents and the proposals were therefore lacking much detail. Key documents were missing including transport modelling which made it difficult to assess the impact on the road and rail networks and local transport infrastructure. It was therefore difficult at this stage for the Council to provide detailed comments on the options or the impacts, as the assessment results were not available to enable proper consideration by the Council of the likely impacts and the mitigation needed. LRCH had not allowed sufficient time or resources to enable engagement with the Council and there had been no collaborative working to inform the design or develop mitigations. The response to the consultation therefore drew attention to the assessments that were missing, the paucity of information on the detail of the proposal and the potential risks that could result for the Council and the Borough. It acknowledged that whilst the London Resort has the potential to bring significant benefits to the Borough through employment, skills development and a boost to the local economy, this was not a foregone conclusion and that the right measures would need to be in place to enable this. Mitigations would also need to be in place to ensure that adverse impacts of the scheme could be addressed.  It was therefore hoped that there would be fuller engagement with the Council following the consultation to ensure that the Borough and its residents could benefit from the development and the Council had urged LRCH to delay the submission of its planning application, currently due to be submitted in December, to allow for further collaboration to produce a more rounded and informed submission.

The Chairman felt that whilst the Council wanted to be a good neighbour and recognised the opportunities that the development offered for the area it also had a duty to defend and support local residents and to ensure that LRCH undertook all the assessments and plans diligently to demonstrate the benefits of the project and the mitigations for any dis-benefits. There were currently significant gaps in the documentation which meant that these could not be fully assessed and he invited LRCH to address these gaps urgently before submitting their proposals. He pledged that the Council would help and support LRCH to do this. The Council’s concerns and areas where more information was required had been submitted to LRCH and he called upon LRCH to respond positively and to actively address these concerns. He noted the considerable discussion that had taken place at the Cabinet Advisory Panel, which had expressed detailed concerns which were shared by the Cabinet, and the Panel’s strong support for the Council’s response to the consultation.  

A Member reported that a meeting had taken place 10 days previously at which the Council had listed its concerns and gaps in the information provided and wondered whether LRCH had addressed any of these. The Head of Regeneration confirmed that these were still outstanding and that the Council was continuing to press for a response. However LRCH had asked the Council for further information, which had been provided, and officers had been in contact with LRCH’s consultants but was still waiting for substantive responses to the matters raised, including the absence of a Skills and Employment Strategy and comments on the section 106 Heads of Terms. 

The Chairman noted that there was still time for LRCH to resolve the issues, which had been properly raised by the Council to ensure that local residents’ rights were protected and that the community would benefit from the project, and to move forward with the Council’s support. However it was important that the Council raised these significant issues and gaps and that these were fully addressed by LRCH before submitting their application to the Secretary of State.

 

          RESOLVED:

That the Council’s response to the consultation, as set out in the letter and comments attached at Appendices A-C to the report, be noted.

 

 

Supporting documents: