Agenda item

Draft Sustainable Growth and Inclusive Opportunity Strategy

Contact for Information: Matthew Blades, Acting Director, Enterprise, Jobs and Skills; 07786 372720,



Councillor Matthew Bennett, Cabinet Member for Planning, Investment and New Homes, introduced the report and stated that:


·         It was helpful to consider this strategy following the finance report as it linked strongly into the Council’s future budget, which was becoming increasingly reliant on revenue and income generation – principally council tax and business rates – to fund core services. This meant decisions regarding attracting growth and investment would set a baseline for the future

·         The strategy presented in the papers looked across the Council as a whole to consider what growth is and how to bring it about. It was an early draft and scrutiny members’ views would assist in shaping the work. A final version was likely to go to Cabinet in the spring

·         One of the aims of the strategy was to make sure the Council provided the right skills and training to the right people to help match skills to employment opportunities while also addressing some of the disparities experienced by certain communities, such as BAME and disabled residents

·         A draft action plan was presented via which the administration could be held to account

·         It had to be acknowledged that this was a shared endeavour with partners

In response to questions from Members, Councillor Matthew Bennett, Cabinet Member for Planning, Investment and New Homes; Councillor Jacqui Dyer, Cabinet Member for Jobs, Skills and Community Safety (Job Share); and Sara Waller, Co-Strategic Director for Sustainable Growth and Opportunity, stated that:


·         The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) was a tax on development which was charged per square metre. The borough was split into zones with a different charging schedule in each area. While this had previously been thought of in terms of offsetting the effects of development in the area concerned, it was now considered a broader source of funding to address need in the borough more generally. It was felt that there were opportunities to help address environmental and public realm issues via CIL using a criteria-based system of prioritisation

·         It was agreed that there needed to be improved communications regarding CIL, setting out clearly and transparently how it was calculated and allocated

·         While the Council did not have a dedicated small business strategy aimed at those businesses that were not part of wider networks for whatever reason, there was support offered. This included services provided via local libraries and affordable workspace schemes such as GLOWS in Tulse Hill. It was also important to support small businesses to grow and become medium sized enterprises

·         More needed to be invested in addressing equalities issues with regards to business, education and employment

·         Inner Circle had helped kick start this work when extra capacity was required as departmental restructures took place within the Council, while 31ten had assisted in modelling the amount of infrastructure needed to complement the growth happening in the borough

·         Disparities existed for certain groups due to structural inequalities that had persisted for decades. The strategy aimed to pay particular attention to how these could be overcome; this was partly about using data and monitoring (including comparative statistics) but also leadership and promoting equality legislation

·         Environmental impact assessments were carried out in relation to particular projects and were also a requirement of the planning system but no overall assessment had been done in the context of the strategy. It was acknowledged that there were tensions between enabling growth and tackling climate change but there were also opportunities since addressing the climate emergency was potentially a huge source of employment

·         Data formed a vital part of the evidence base but the importance of input from residents, businesses and ward councillors in shaping the strategy was also acknowledged

·         Affordable housing in the context of this strategy referred to social rent

·         In terms of employment and skills, it was important to understand residents who were furthest from the labour market while also considering how others had become successful

·         It was accepted that it was challenging for people living on estates that were undergoing regeneration but the Council was working continuously to make improvements, such as the introduction of focused estate managers which had been well received



During the discussion of this item the guillotine fell at 9.00pm.


MOVED by the Chair and


RESOLVED: That the meeting continue for a further period of up to 30 minutes.



1.    That greater transparency and more effective communication is required regarding the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)

2.    That a clear set of criteria is needed regarding how CIL is allocated, with a particular focus on addressing identified need across the borough rather than just in the area(s) in which development takes place

3.    That more consultation with residents, businesses and ward councillors is required to develop the strategy, with measurable targets and outcomes developed with stakeholders

4.    That terms such as “affordable housing” need to be clearly defined in the strategy and all public documents

5.    That thorough environmental impact assessments be carried out for all individual development projects and decisions made, particularly in relation to how they will impact the Council’s response to the declaration of a climate emergency, and that this be referenced in the strategy

6.    That comparative data be referenced in the strategy wherever possible. This should include national employment figures and data on the economically inactive

7.    That the strategy should have a clearer focus on addressing disparities experienced by the borough’s BME, Portuguese, disabled and economically inactive communities

8.    That there needs to be a more coherent strategy aimed at supporting small businesses, particularly those who are not part of Business Improvement Districts (e.g. because of geography). This should include identifying priority needs and best practice, and disseminating the latter across the borough

9.    That lessons learned reports be compiled for all major projects and that identified lessons be applied to future schemes




Supporting documents: