Agenda and minutes

Economic Development, Environment and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel - Wednesday 1st December, 2021 10.30 am

Venue: Virtual Meeting

Contact: Susan Lightwing 

No. Item


Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.


There were no declarations of interest received at this point in the meeting.


Minutes - Economic Development, Environment and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel - 3 November 2021 pdf icon PDF 143 KB


The minutes of the meeting of the Economic Development, Environment and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel meeting held on 3 November 2021 were taken as read and approved as a correct record.




ORDERED that, in accordance with Council Procedure Rule No. 5, the Panel agreed to vary the order of business.   The remaining agenda items would be considered as follows: Agenda Items 5, 4, 6, 7 and 8.


The Green Strategy Review - Land Use and Wildlife

The Head of Planning will be in attendance to provide an overview of the Middlesbrough Council’s Land Use and Wildlife/Sustainable Water Action Group.


Recommendation: for Panel to determine whether any further information is required.


The Head of Planning provided an overview of the Middlesbrough Council’s Land Use and Wildlife/Sustainable Water Action Group.


The key areas of The Green Strategy for this Action Group were:


  • Improving the quality and increasing the amount of green space
  • Increasing tree cover.
  • Planting trees along road corridors to increase pollution absorption.
  • Providing greater levels of carbon capture through increased tree cover.
  • Increase the amount of land given over to wildflowers.
  • Become a more bee-friendly town.


A Green Blue Infrastructure Strategy (GBIS) had been produced to give the Council a better understanding of the green and blue elements of Middlesbrough and assist in the development of the Local Plan. 


There were six themes in the GBIS:


  • Regeneration, Heritage and Sense of Place.
  • Biodiversity and Geodiversity.
  • Reconnecting Communities with Nature.
  • A Resilient Landscape.
  • The Blue Network and Waterfronts.
  • Walking and Cycling.


The GBIS was critical in delivering the key elements of The Green Strategy.


The key themes for the Land Use and Wildlife/Sustainable Water Action Group included:


  • Expanding the urban tree network.
  • Laying the foundations for the nature recovery network.
  • Blue corridors: enhancing the beck valleys.
  • Development a network of multifunctional SuDS.
  • Rethinking urban grasslands.
  • Embedding the principles of the Green Strategy/GBIS into policy and new developments.


In terms of expanding the urban tree network, it was recognised that Middlesbrough had quite a low coverage of trees, reflecting in part the fact that it was the most urbanised of the Tees Valley Authority areas.   The Mayor had set out a plan to plant 10,000 trees per annum and this was currently on track and would continue across the Borough.  In terms of planning, the Council was seeking to encourage planting through development schemes.   A programme for implementing micro forests was being developed and all Members were invited to submit suitable locations within their Wards for consideration.   The Council had applied to Tree Cities of the World and successfully achieved Tree City status.   It was important to ensure that the correct type of trees were planted and appropriate management arrangements were in place.  Middlesbrough Council’s Tree Policy was in place and would be monitored and amended if necessary.


The heart of the Nature Recovery Network was biodiversity.  There had been changes to the National Planning Policy Framework and national Biodiversity Net Gain and the Environment Act was currently passing through Parliament.   The key actions identified by the Action Group in terms of achieving biodiversity were:


  • To continue to seek options for new nature reserves in Middlesbrough, working with the Tees Valley Nature Partnership.
  • Green Shoots Project – looking at local wildlife sites and how they could be restored and managed.  The three sites that had been selected and prioritised were: Middlebeck, Ormesby Beck and Marton West Beck.   This was a one year programme.
  • The Tees Valley Nature Partnership represented nature forums across the Tees Valley and identified and recommended wildlife sites.  Three sites identified in Middlesbrough included: Middle Marsh, St Joseph’s Cemetery and Stainton Way.  Wildlife sites needed to be designated through  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21/42


Eyesore/Empty/Derelict Commercial Properties

The Director of Regeneration will be in attendance to provide an update on Eyesore/Empty/Derelict Commercial Properties in Middlesbrough.


Recommendation: for Panel to determine whether any further information is required.


The Director of Regeneration provided an update on Eyesore/Empty/Derelict Commercial Properties in Middlesbrough.


£2 million had been allocated to this issue: £1 million to eyesore sites and £1 million for eyesore properties.  The money would be focussed on those properties that were causing problems within communities.  Unfortunately there were too many eyesore sites and properties throughout the town and the Council did not have the resources to deal with all of them and therefore the available funding had to be targeted.  The Council had set out a flow chart setting out what needed to be done to try and get buildings or sites back into productive use, with the last step being applying some of that funding.  Virtually all of the eyesore sites and properties in the town were in private ownership.  The Council would regularly remind owners of their responsibilities and try to enforce them as the first step.  Purchasing the site or investing in the site was further down the list of potential action the Council could take.  The Council always tried to achieve any kind of purchase through negotiation but ultimately could potentially pursue a Compulsory Purchase Order. 


In relation to properties, the Council was working through Middlesbrough Development Company (MDC).  MDC were hoping to work with a number of partners, and this currently included the Ethical Lettings company.  Some of the available funding would be spent purchasing properties, and some on refurbishing those properties.  The properties would then be let.  The focus was on the TS1 and TS3 postcode areas specifically.   Each purchase would be based on a business case.


In relation to sites, again the Council might work with MDC or on its own.  The aim was to identify those sites where enforcement was not working but a viable future for the site had been identified.  The site could be purchased and sold straight on to a third party such as a registered provider or social landlord and could be anywhere within the town.


Any sites that were suggested would be looked at.  However there was no categorisation or list of sites that would be dealt with.  In reality the funding available could be used on maybe one or two sites.  The circumstances around ownership of sites and negotiations around the sale of them often changed which could move a site closer too or further away from being purchased at a reasonable price.


Enforcement was difficult as there were a lot of legal aspects and certain criteria had to be met in order to serve various notices on owners.   This included evidence on the site of certain things, particularly in terms of security and danger to the public.  Often serving a notice could be tokenistic if there was not sufficient evidence behind it and the connection to the owner to force it through.  The Council would often take action and do some of the work and then bill the owner, although the expenditure could not always be recovered.  


Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) was not  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21/43


Date of Next Meeting - 12 January 2022


It was confirmed that the next meeting of the Economic Development, Environment and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel would take place at 10.30 am on Wednesday 12 January 2022.   At the next meeting Panel would continue with its current review of The Green Strategy and also discuss Bus Services.  The Chair asked Members to submit suggestions of any witnesses they would like to hear from.




Overview and Scrutiny Board Update

The Chair will provide a verbal update on matters considered at the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Board held on 9 November 2021.


The Chair provided a verbal update on the Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting held on 9 November 2021.





Any other urgent items which in the opinion of the Chair, may be considered