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FEATHERSTONE MASTER PLAN

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Author Topic: FEATHERSTONE MASTER PLAN  (Read 5985 times)
yetion1
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« Reply #20 on: January 15, 2009, 09:38:21 pm »

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Interim Service Director: Ann Pittard

15th January 2009
Dear Maggie Thompson

I have provided my reply high lighted in blue,


Dear  Mr Yates,
I am writing in response to the concerns which you raised at the Towns Team meeting on 4th December 2008 regarding the Featherstone Masterplan.

The notes of the town team meeting which took place on the 7th September 2007 record that :
•   Duncan Melville of DTZ presented their master plan proposals for Featherstone. They included the recommendation that Featherstone needs a number of “destinations” to increase its attraction and suggested the creation of a Civic plaza in the vicinity of Chesney’s in order to transform Featherstone. The proposals also included the potential for the development of housing in the vicinity of Featherstone Rovers.
   Yet again it appears the notes are not what actually happened but are a pre-recorded set of events. Duncan Melville of DTZ did give the talk only after first explaining that key people were missing and that the minutes of the previous meeting are heard later so that he could begin. Apart from the Plaza everything else explained was correct by DTZ.

•   Concerns were raised at the meeting about the possible demolition of properties in the vicinity of Chesney’s to facilitate the development of new housing close to the Rovers ground and to  create a “Civic Plaza”
•   Mr Melville informed the meeting that any questions should be raised at the end of the meeting to allow him to talk. A representative would stay back to answer questions. No questions were allowed to be taken.•   

The meeting was informed that the Civic Plaza proposal was seen a longer term proposal which, if implemented, would be likely to occur towards the end of the masterplan period, and that wide scale demolition was not envisaged though it may be necessary to investigate selective demolition in order to bring forward plans to improve the town centre.
•   Again, Mr Melville informed the meeting that any questions should be raised at the end of the meeting to allow him to talk. A representative would stay back to answer questions. No questions were allowed to be taken.

•   Cllr Jeffery who chaired the meeting recommended that there be further discussion as to how this specific proposal should be taken forward, but accepted that elements of the masterplan needed to be agreed by Cabinet as  this has implications for the  funding of the Girnhill Lane housing area.
Cllr Jeffery who “chaired the meeting” was one of the officials missing from the meeting who did not turn up until 2 thirds of the way through the presentation. Cllr Jeffery at the end of the presentation explained how we should all agree with it and move on to process it. I pointed out that I did have comments and concerns and had been asked to only mention them at the end of the meeting without a group discussion. Cllr Jeffery agreed with Mr Melville that I should raise my points alone at the end. The Girnhill lane had also been removed from March 2007 with in the master plan.

At the meeting it was agreed that:

1.   The draft Masterplan for Featherstone Central Area apart from the proposed Civic Plaza area be agreed and recommended for approval to Wakefield Council’s Cabinet
No agreement was made but you statement is the opinion of the committee and public. This point contradicts the minutes as they are supposedly written

2.   Further consideration be given to the proposed Civic Plaza area
No mention at the meeting was given to this nor when consultation would occur. Without consultation it would be correct to surmise that public money would be wasted.
Following the meeting there were conversations about how this should be taken forward. Since the masterplan was DTZ’s document and contained the consultant’s recommendations to the council, the study was reported with all the recommendations discussed at the 7th September meeting.
Could you confirm that DTZ were under the employment of WMDC to create a master plan, or were working on their own to provide a plan that WMDC may or may not adopt and put forward to cabinet so that public money would be spent on it.
It is my understanding that at a meeting on 11th September that this item was discussed and that it was agreed that the original report would go to Cabinet, but that the recommendations would be approved except for the issue relating to Chesney’s and the creation of a Plaza.
This statement is correct, so why wasn’t it carried out? Am I to understand as a fact that the cabinet report that passed the plaza area in contradiction to the minutes and written complaints is not the one available under the freedom of information act, but in fact another document passed that no one has viewed as yet?

The Featherstone masterplan was reported at the Cabinet meeting on 18th September 2007 as a guide for future development in Featherstone Town Centre in order that the principles encompassed in the Master Plan would act as a basis for the development of an implementation framework for Featherstone including the further development of specific project proposals contained in the plan. It was also decided that further consultation would be undertaken on the detail of individual proposals as these are worked up.
Consultation was agreed but the facts available again state that the document is complete without further consultation.

The Cabinet meeting resolved that:
•   the Featherstone Central Area Master Plan be approved as a vision for the regeneration of the town for the next twenty years, and as a starting point for further detailed work leading to the development of definitive proposals and implementation arrangements for the redevelopment of parts of the central area and the wider regeneration of the town.
•   Could you confirm that WMDC at this point have paid for a document created by DTZ that they intend to work from?

•   That further reports on the details of the proposals, implementation plans and partnership arrangements required be taken to Cabinet for approval as necessary.
•   If cabinet have been fully aware of the inconsistencies surrounding the DTZ created master plan how can they pass any further monies to a proven incorrect document?

It was evident at the December meeting that the wording on the web site was insufficiently clear, and this was amended as a matter of urgency following the meeting.  I think it is also important to note that the masterplan has no statutory status, and while it will be used as a basis to guide the development of the area over the next 20 years, it will not be incorporated into the Council’s Local Development Framework.

As you will be aware from the Towns Team meeting of 4th December, Featherstone has been designated as a pilot Coalfield Action area, and as such a steering group has been established to guide the work to be undertaken and to determine the priorities for action.
After over a year of complaints of a wrong document passed by WMDC should a steering group be dropped in to the pit of disastrous procedure all ready documented?

The proposals for the creation of a Plaza are therefore unlikely to be progressed as a priority in view of all the other projects which require implementation.
Again a contradiction of terms and the minutes provided. Is the Plaza on or off is a fair question? Cllr Jeffery stated publicly it was off. The best reply so far is “unlikely”. That is not the correct answer according to the facts.

I trust that this responds to the queries raised at the meeting

As you will see from my reply this does not respond to my queries raised at neither the last meeting nor any of the others I have attended recently. Cllr Box publicly stated at the last meeting that questions would be answered. Your reply comments that you were un-sure who was to reply, you or Cllr Box. As the head of WMDC and chair of the regeneration committee Cllr Box should be made aware of the problems and be asked to respond. As the local government ombudsman is now following developments surely particular attention should be raised to the wasting of any more public money.

Yours sincerely
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