Agenda item

OS/18/17 Annual Portfolio Holder Update - Development


41.1    Councillor C Jones, the Portfolio Holder for Development and Museums presented an annual update and explained that the Joint Museums Service with Colchester Museum had been in place since 2007.  Mr James Steward was the Museums Manager in charge of the Arts School, Christchurch Mansion and Ipswich Museum and Mr Frank Hargreaves was the Exhibition Manager.


41.2    The ‘Kiss and Tell’ Rodin and Suffolk Sculptures exhibition opened at Christchurch Mansion on 24 November 2018 and Councillors were encouraged to view it.


41.3    Following a presentation to all Councillors, the Head of Culture and Environment had submitted a ‘Stage 1’ bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for £4.8m, with a commitment of £3.3m from IBC and the outcome was anticipated to be soon.


41.4    A £203k grant had been received from the National Portfolio Organisation for staff, activities and to target groups for exhibitions.  £½m had been received as a National Lottery ‘Skills for the Future’ grant for 2 trainees to aid the management of collections, displays and exhibitions.


41.5    Visitor figures to the Ipswich Museum & Gallery (LI 238) were 14% above target and visitors to Christchurch Mansion (LI 239) were 13% above target and it was anticipated that these figures were sustainable.


41.6    In 2017/18 of the 51 schools in the IBC boundary, 35 had visited which was 69% of the total of 51 (LI 240 & LI 241).  75% of these visitors were from primary schools and it was acknowledged that at this point in the year, the totals would be below expectation due to the school holidays being part of the time under consideration.  Although the number of schools visiting had increased since 2010, it was acknowledged that the school curriculum affected school visits so a full review of what courses were being studied had been completed.  Staff were identifying curriculum linked sessions for development (especially KS2) which would attract more schools and in the past Area Committee funding had been allocated which enabled some schools to access transport to the Museum.   


41.7    Marketing was key and the centralised communications system and design of brochures had improved.  The ‘Rodin exhibition’ had been advertised at some train stations and British Museum visitors had also been signposted to the Museum.  Forty volunteers help at the Museum as guides or conservation helpers and an Ipswich Museums Committee has been formed.  A Group of local printers had exhibited work by local artists and the 100 years of the Women’s Vote had also been commemorated with a display of artworks.


41.8    In response to a question by Councillor Pope it was confirmed that LI 240 – Ipswich Museum & Gallery, the school visitor figures of 1,084 had been actual attendances.  Discussion took place about the apprenticeship levy contributing to skilled jobs and the Chief Executive confirmed that IBC focussed on ensuring that the apprentice levy was spent in the service areas with the greatest pressure.


41.9    The Planning Performance Data consisted of the three service areas, Building Control, Major Capital Schemes and Planning & Development and The Planning Advisory Service had awarded IBC a ‘What Good Looks Like’ award for producing, reviewing and updating the Local Plan.  As IBC did not have a 5 year land supply for housing, work would continue with other local authorities in the area as part of the Ipswich Strategic Planning Area Board. 


41.10  As one of the top 5% of authorities nationally, the vast majority of applications (93%) were dealt with by Officers and 99% were dealt with, within the time target.  In respect of the Ipswich Garden Suburb, IBC were successful in receiving £9.8m from the Housing Infrastructure Fund to deliver three key pieces of infrastructure for the project to build 3500 homes over the next few years.


41.11  The Building Control Team continued to work with Suffolk Fire & Rescue to inspect all the tall buildings in the region and the major building projects such as the Birketts building and the Crown Car Park (which had recently won an award) had been completed.  The restaurant in the old ‘Iceland’ shop had now opened and work was ongoing at The Maltings (which had been bought by IBC and then sold) and the Easy Hotel in Northgate Street would be completed next year.  Enforcement, such as the use of Section 215 of the Town & County Planning Act 1990 provided the local planning authority with the power, in certain circumstances, to take steps requiring land to be cleaned up when its condition adversely affected the amenity of the area. 


41.12  In relation to conservation and design there was often difficulty when dealing with buildings at risk which were privately owned.  A good example of such a conservation was ‘The Old Bell’ on the corner of Wherstead Road and Stoke Street which was a listed building.  


41.13  The Public Realm Strategy was to be submitted to Executive in the coming week and if any buildings were recognised as local treasures in their wards, Councillors were encouraged to make them known for entry on the Local List. 


41.14  Overall the Local Plan Team were recognised as a good team and Councillor Gage confirmed that at the recent Suffolk County Council Education Infrastructure Plan meeting which she had attended, the Officers had been complimentary of IBC’s Local Plan Officers for their work in identifying and including new school provision within the Ipswich Garden Suburb Masterplan to meet future school places needs in and around the fringes of the development.    


41.15  In respect of Proposal Form No 26: ‘What was being done by Ipswich Borough Council to increase trees and native hedgerows within the Borough’ which had been submitted by Councillor Pope on 30 August 2018, the Chief Executive had suggested that a scoping meeting occurred and this had now taken place.  An action plan had been drawn up and it was agreed that a sub-group of the Development Working Group would work through a tree strategy for Ipswich with input from the Park Services, Arboriculturalists and Planning representatives.  Discussion followed about legislation, funding and the removal of trees and the Chief Executive agreed to speak to Suffolk County Council about these factors.  It was envisaged that a more developed plan would be submitted to the Overview & Scrutiny Committee by the end of February 2019.  The Chair thanked Councillor Jones for her attendance.

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