My questions for cabinet at the county council 17th March

Jeremy Hilton campaigning to resolve empty homes problem

These are my written question to cabinet members at the county council being held virtually on the 17th March. It’s one of my tasks to keep the Tories on their toes. To challenge constructively.

Q1 – Vernon Smith
What is the outcome of the study carried out by Severn Trent, in collaboration with the county council, into the August 2020 floods that impacted on parts of Kingsholm?


Q2 – Lynden Stowe
Does the county council own any land at Javelin Park that is not used by UBB and which may be free for non-incinerator uses?
If so what is the size of the unused land?


Q3 – Nigel Moor
Has the county council received the annual report from Allstone about their search for an alternative site to relocate their stone crushing, recycling, aggregates and skip hire business to?


Q4 – Dave Norman
When will the Kingsholm parking review be completed?


Q5 – Vernon Smith
After so many years of Tory control why are there as so many potholes all over the county?


Q6 – Patrick Molyneux
What plans do you have to build a new non-selective secondary to serve the north of Gloucester?


Q7 – Vernon Smith
Will you join me in condemning the persons who vandalised the speed survey equipment on Sandhurst Lane Gloucester?


Q8 – Nigel Moor/Lynden Stowe
What discussions have been had with the county council over plans} to locate an eco-park at the site of the Hempsted Landfill facility? 

Debenhams building – future still uncertain

Debenhams set to close – building for sale

There has been speculation over the weekend (27 & 28 Feb) that the Debenhams building has been sold. This may or may not be the case. We know that Aviva has been talking to a number of buyers.

But a sale isn’t a sale until it’s been signed on the dotted line.

Secondly any purchaser, would want to talk to the city council ahead of the deal being completed. A sale therefore, may be subject to planning permission.

This morning, I have asked officers at the city council for an update. This is what I was told:

“We have not had any confirmation from the owners or any prospective purchasers that the building has been sold and therefore it would be wrong to speculate on what the terms of any hypothetical disposal may be.”

As I have said before, my preference is to see the building restored to its former glory and repurposed if necessary.

As a regular shopper at this store I am also disappointed to see Debenhams go into liquidation.

Debenhams building is not listed, though it sits in a conservation area so cannot be demolished without the council’s permission.

What I do not want to see is this landmark building demolished to make way for a new build.

The Lib Dem group are determined to work with the new owners to see this handsome building fully restored and fully occupied. It’s a focal point in our city centre. An important anchor for our new Kings Square.

67/69 London Road – some slow progress

Jeremy Hilton with the run down buildings on London Road in the background

On the 27th of July I met a representative of Pall Mall Estates, the owners of 67/69 London Road with the leader of the city council. Yesterday I had a telephone conversation to follow up on our recent email communications.

There has been some progress and Pall Mall have commissioned an architect to look at options for the site whether they be the conversion of the existing building or demolition and new build. Both for residential purposes.

The site is allocated for 30 dwellings in the city plan. Pall Mall are looking for 70 to 100 units. I think there are trying to squeeze too much onto the site and have told them so.

Here are the answers to some questions I put to Pall Mall

Cllr Hilton – Did the city council provide you with a list of its contacts from registered social landlords? 

Pall Mall – Yes

Cllr Hilton – Have you had any successful negotiations with Registered Social Landlord to progress a housing scheme for the site? 

Pall Mall – Not yet, albeit RSL focus has deviated away from apartment development meantime due to Covid. We anticipate this will be revived in due course.  

Cllr Hilton – How many housing units do you think would make a viable project? 

Pall Mall – Depending upon proposals (i.e. holistic new build or part conversion / part new build), tenure and end product we are looking in the region of 70-100 homes.

Cllr Hilton – Have you made contact with Homes England about securing some public funds?

Pall Mall – Developer/RSL to make enquiries.

Cllr Hilton – What value do you need to get from the sale. I have heard £4 million? 

Pall Mall – Yes.

Cllr Hilton – Have you had since we met any non-housing enquiries? 

Pall Mall – None I can recollect.

GLEVUM GREEN (REDROW) – STREET CLEANING – LORRIES

I have been in contact with the site manager of Glevum Green housing development. In particular, I have expressed concern about the cleaning of neighbouring streets to clear the mud from the roads and the use of the Wotton Pitch route along Denmark by lorries visiting the construction site.

Redrow contractor cleaning Kingsholm Road

STREET CLEANING

Road sweeping Schedule has been increased due to the wet weather. The road sweeper is now in use during working hours every day Monday to Friday. Redrow tell me they have introduced extra measures to reduce mud reaching the road. A bowser has been introduced to wash the wheels of vehicles leaving the site.

Approved route for lorries visiting development site

TRANSPORT ROUTE

Lorries should NOT be travelling to and from the site via the London Road direction. All vehicles should arrive and leave by accessing Kingsholm Road. See the approved route map. Redrow have told me they have reminded their groundworks contractors of the approved route to the site and the banksman team at the dispatch end have been told to remind drivers of the approved exit route.

If you do see lorries travelling down Denmark Road from Wotton Pitch/London Road try and capture a photo or record their number plate and email me at Jeremy.hilton@gloucestershire.gov.uk with time and date and I will report the matter to the site manager for you.

SECOND HALF OF HORTON ROAD TO BE RESURFACED – from 26th Jan

The state of the second section of Horton Road to be resurfaced

A few months ago Gloucestershire County Council resurfaced Horton Road from its junction of London Road to the Aspen Centre.

Jeremy Hilton points to the section of road resurfaced in October 2020

A great job was done says local Lib Dem councillor Jeremy Hilton (Kingsholm & Wotton).

Now the county council is to complete the work, which Cllr. Hilton previously requested. This will be a section from the Aspen Medical Centre to the junction with Great Western Road.

The planned start of the work is from the 26th of January to 1st of February, with the roadworks taking place between 7pm to 7am, excluding weekends.

Section of Horton Road closed to traffic during resurfacing work

Cllr. Hilton said: “I’m really pleased that this work is now taking place. The dates are subject to weather conditions. I ask those that need to use Horton Road to be patient. The contractors are very efficient. Once the new surface is down the road marking will be repainted. The current ones are badly faded to the extent drivers may be breaking traffic regulations without knowing it.”

Sainsbury’s set to close

On behalf of Dr Rebecca Trimnell and myself as the lead petitioners opposing the closure of the Sainsbury’s Store on Northgate Street. We thank everyone who signed our petition there were just under 700 signatures showing the strength of opposition over the closure of the store.

Rebecca and I had a virtual meeting with a senior representative from Sainsbury’s and we also had a conversation with Mountcharm who are the owners of the building.

Unfortunately, we were unable to persuade Sainsbury’s to keep their store open, which they say will close in January 2021. A link to copy of their letter is below.

We understand that Mountcharm are preparing plans to restructure the ground floor retail space and convert the first floor into apartments.

Both Rebecca, Angela and I are committed to supporting a grocery store on the ground floor and we understand this is a strong possibility.

We are disappointed that we were unable to persuade Sainsbury’s to change their mind. It is sad to see this popular store closing after 50 years.

We hope we don’t see an empty shop for too long.

HAPPY NEW YEAR – HOPING IT’S BETTER THAN 2020

My best wishes to you all, take care and stay safe. I hope that now two vaccines have been approved life will return to normal this coming year.

People across Kingsholm & Wotton county division pulled together brilliantly to help each other get through 2020. From our fabulous NHS and key workers to individuals volunteering to help their neighbours.

2020 has been the busiest year ever for me as a local councillor.

I have dealt many issues ranging from the impact of the pandemic, the new cycle route on London Road, tackling anti-social behaviour, the effects of the flooding during August, repairing our roads and footways, to raising petitions to save Kingsholm’s family homes and lobbying Sainsbury’s to try and stop them closing their Northgate Street…and much more!

It’s a great please to serve you on the council, I expect 2021 to be just as busy, do contact me, I’m here to help.

Kingsholm Flooding Update

Flooding on Oxford Road – August 2020

In August parts of Kingsholm were hit by flash flooding. I followed up by asking the county council flood risk team to work with Severn Trent Water to investigate the state of drainage system.

I’m pleased to report progress.

A meeting took place on the 26th November between Severn Trent Water (STW), Gloucestershire County Council (Flood Risk Management team and Highways) and Gloucester City Council.

They agreed that initial investigation by STW of the drainage / sewerage network in the Kingsholm area would commence in early December and last around a fortnight.

It is expected further work will be planned to improve the capacity of the network in the area. The timescale for this work has not been set. It will depend on the extent of the work and the resources available.

In the meantime, property flood risk measures can be investigated for ‘at risk’ properties.

Petition to save family homes in Kingsholm handed in by Jeremy Hilton

Jeremy Hilton on Oxford Road one of the areas with large number of HMOs. The road is full of ‘to let’ signs right now.

Lib Dem councillor Jeremy Hilton has handed into the city cabinet, the petition he raised, calling for the protection of family homes in Kingsholm. There is much concern about the number of homes now being converted into Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO).

Currently, family homes converted into HMOs for six persons or fewer do not require planning permission, as it is permitted development.

Family homes are being converted into properties suitable for renting and this can lead to issues with noise, rubbish and parking.

There can also be problems with getting landlords to deal with incidents of anti-social behaviour.

Earlier this year Jeremy Hilton and Isabel Brazil tried to amend the council’s work plan to start on the survey work, which is required as precursor to getting an Article 4 Direction. But the Tories voted it down.

An Article 4 Direction would require all conversions to HMO’s to have planning permission.

In addressing the cabinet, Jeremy Hilton urged that the cabinet start work now not later. He pointed out that once the council has got an Article 4 Direction, it will still be another 12 months before it would come into force.

Jeremy Hilton said: “There are too many modest family homes in Kingsholm being converted into HMO’s, by absentee landlords. They are just trying to maximise their income. They don’t care about a balanced community. Already, Oxford Road, St Mark Street and Henry Road for example are being overrun by HMO conversions. We need proper regulation. The cabinet must now act on my petition.”

The online petition raised 130 signatures mostly from Kingsholm residents. 

It has been backed by Lib Dem campaigner and resident Angela Conder, a signatory to the petition. She said: “I love living in Kingsholm, but I am worried that new HMOs are being established at far too fast a pace. Rightly, residents are worried about unregulated change that is taking place. We need an Article 4 Direction.”

The petition was received by the cabinet member for communities and neighbourhoods. She promised to respond to its request.

Lib Dem councillor Isabel Brazil concluded: “If St Paul’s in Cheltenham can have an Article 4 Direction, requiring planning permission for all new HMOs, then so can Kingsholm. We must protect our community from unregulated change.”