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Annual report

Annual Report 2017 to 2018, commentary

Message from the Chief Executive of the Council

This report looks back on the successes throughout 2017 to 2018. It also offers a glimpse of the future as the council continues to focus on the four priority areas:

  • Economic growth - enabling and delivering opportunities for sustainable economy
  • Homes to meet need
  • Our environment - protecting and enhancing
  • Improving wellbeing - reducing health inequalities and supporting cultural activities

The council’s role in providing a prosperous environment for business has helped South Lakeland to becomes the fastest growing economy in Cumbria and North Lancashire. The council has established and developed key partnership initiatives which will promote the economic growth and cultural attractions through the Lancaster and South Cumbria Economic Region (Morecambe Bay) and the Great Places partnerships. Our business community continues to have a high level of confidence for future growth.

A key priority for the council is to deliver 1,000 new affordable homes to rent by 2025. Since 2014, four hundred new affordable homes to rent have been built and we remain on target to achieve this. The number of future affordable homes will aim to increase following the £6million loan fund to encourage and support developers. The council are continuing to help reduce the number of homelessness cases and will continue to develop strategies for 2018 to 2019.

A major success for 2017 to 2018 was the kerbside recycling services implemented to 100% of residents in the district. The council will continue to develop more initiatives to protect and enhance the environment such as plastic reduction. A number of different projects have also been completed to develop parks and open spaces across the district. The council and communities have worked closely to provide better equipment for recreational purposes and encourage more users. The council will continue to support cultural activities such as Comic Arts Festival, Tour of Britain, Kendal Mountain Festival, amongst many more.

South Lakeland District Council along with all other Cumbrian authorities signed a healthy weight declaration in 2017 to 2018. The aim of this declaration is to work in partnership to tackle overweight and obesity levels across Cumbria.

Customer Connect, our digital innovation programme is progressing to give our customers digital access to all council services. This will allow customers to access services twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. This programme will transform how customers can interact with the council and put them at the heart of everything we do.

Message from the Leader of the Council

This annual report provides an overview of South Lakeland District Council’s activities throughout 2017 to 2018 as well as highlighting our future projects.

It is of enormous credit to officers and councillors that we have been able to successfully deliver, many important projects. These projects were all part of a suite of Council Plan priorities, the most important of which are to achieve our long-term ambition for 1,000 new jobs and 1,000 affordable homes to rent by 2025. The latest figures show we are on target to reach these goals. We have also embarked on the ambitious enhancement of Nobles Rest park in Kendal and on an interim scheme to decontaminate and partially landscape New Road Common, pending a public consultation on its final use.

I am also highly delighted that working with local communities we have been able to improve many of our parks and playgrounds. This remains a high priority for us.

Our priority continues to be to help council members and officers to do their very best for the residents of South Lakeland to make sure this is the best place to live, work and explore.

All SLDC councillors have a strong commitment to public service and we all work together to deliver our priorities. We always ensure the best interests of South Lakeland determine the decision making process and continue to celebrate the achievements of all tiers of local government and the voluntary sector.

The council continues to strive to enable and deliver opportunities for sustainable economic growth. The council is continuing to undertake initiatives to increase rural and urban economy which supports the growth of more well-paid jobs in South Lakeland. For example planning approval was granted to build a new tractor dealership which has created twenty five new jobs and is expected to have an annual turnover of £18 million.

Economy annual report

Performance on economic priorities

South Lakeland’s multi billion pound economy is now the fastest growing in Cumbria. According to the Office for National Statistics more than £100 million has been added to the value of goods and services produced across the district. South Lakelands performance has outperformed neighbouring district authorities and overtaken the cities of Carlisle and Lancaster. The districts economic success was celebrated at the partnered event for local businesses and community leaders with The Cumbria Chamber of Commerce in March 2018. It was highlighted that following data from Grant Thornton’s Vibrant Economy Index, South Lakeland was listed as one of the top five performing economic areas in the North West.

In July 2017, SLDC’s Parking Department won the ‘Concise Report’ category at the Annual Patrol (Parking Authorities Outside of London) Awards. The judging panel commented that “the report reads as an interesting account of a council that views parking controls as a way of helping communities and as part of the areas economic development”. The judges also commented in positive terms about the way that the council adapted the existing tariffs to reflect the individual circumstances experienced as a result of Storm Desmond in 2015 especially in the area of Grasmere.

To support the continuation of South Lakelands growing economy, the council has formed a partnership with Lancaster City Council and Barrow Borough Council to work jointly to identify and exploit opportunities for investment and growth across the whole Morecambe Bay Area. The organisations have formulated an action plan that sets out strengths and opportunities for investment and growth across Morecambe Bay and the Joint Promotion of the area as a great place to live, study and build a career. This initiative will become the Lancaster and South Cumbria Economic Region and will be promoted at economic conferences across the UK to encourage businesses to invest in the region.

We are committed to attracting inward investment, supporting of higher paid jobs and helping local towns and villages to thrive economically. SLDC undertook a South Lakeland Business Premises Survey in 2017 of which 1,143 businesses responded. The results showed that business owners felt upbeat about the economic future of the district. Almost a quarter of those who took part said they will be looking to change their premises in the next three years and one in six is expecting to increase staffing levels.

Economy highlights

  • number of people employed in professional jobs in South Lakeland has risen from 37% in 2014 to 43% in 2017
  • new 'Invest in South Lakeland' website launched in 2018
  • 106 new jobs created
  • 530 new business start-ups
  • three business support events held
  • £2,596 Shop Front Grants paid

Housing annual report

One of the main aims of the council is to provide homes to meet needs. SLDC have produced detailed development briefs for eight key sites across South Lakeland to encourage and attract housing developers to invest. These briefs have given guidance for developers on issues such as design, access, layouts and green spaces. Recent adopted development briefs include sites at Burton-in-Kendal, Endmoor and Milnthorpe. The organisation continues to receive CIL payments which support us in developing our programme of investment in support of the Local Plan objectives.

Performance on housing priorities

In December 2017 District Councillors agreed to a £6 million loan fund which will support developers to build more affordable housing across South Lakeland. This scheme will enable housing associations to access low rate finance support from the council to develop affordable housing. In exchange the council receives a financial return from the repayment of the loans. This scheme was agreed following a Strategic Housing Market Assessment which identified that up to 320 new homes need to be built every year across South Lakeland, of which up to 290 new properties are required annually in our planning area outside the Lake District National Park.

Since January 2017 the number of homeless applications had increased from 61 to 167 in January 2018. From January 2018 the homelessness team have undertaken outreach sessions at various location across the District offering a range of advice including tenancy support, money advice and emergency accommodation.

SLDC first launched the Handy Person Scheme in 2014 on a three year contract. This scheme provides support for elderly or vulnerable residents to carry out simple but essential work on their homes. To date 1,800 tasks have been completed. Following the schemes success SLDC decided to continue the scheme for a further 12 months to support local communities.

Work is limited to three hours and eligible households can use the scheme up to six times a year. Residents only pay for the materials required.

South Lakeland District Council supported the rural broadband project across New Hutton, Old Hutton and Holmescales and Preston Patrick connecting homes and businesses. More than 250 properties in these three rural parishes now have access to superfast broadband. Volunteers from the Broadband for South Westmorland (B4SW) helped install the special cabinet located in New Hutton.

Historic England undertook an assessment on one of South Lakelands most historic villages, Burton in Kendal to find buildings were at risk of losing their historic value. SLDC are now working with Historic England and Burton in Kendal Parish Council to have the conservation area removed from the heritage at risk register. We will contribute £35,000 per year for three years to help residents fund their repair and restoration projects. SLDC have also granted a further £17,000 to the Parish Council to be spent within the conservation area.

Housing highlights

  • 90% of two bedroomed new built houses were bought by first time buyers
  • Arnside Educational Institute received £9,500 grant for renovation
  • prevented 243 households becoming homeless
  • 70% of new build buyers moved from within the district
  • 510 homelessness cases managed
  • 400 affordable homes to rent built since 2014

Culture and wellbeing annual report

Performance on housing priorities

In December 2017 District Councillors agreed to a £6 million loan fund which will support developers to build more affordable housing across South Lakeland. This scheme will enable housing associations to access low rate finance support from the council to develop affordable housing. In exchange the council receives a financial return from the repayment of the loans. This scheme was agreed following a Strategic Housing Market Assessment which identified that up to 320 new homes need to be built every year across South Lakeland, of which up to 290 new properties are required annually in our planning area outside the Lake District National Park.

Since January 2017 the number of homeless applications had increased from 61 to 167 in January 2018. From January 2018 the homelessness team have undertaken outreach sessions at various location across the District offering a range of advice including tenancy support, money advice and emergency accommodation.

SLDC first launched the Handy Person Scheme in 2014 on a three year contract. This scheme provides support for elderly or vulnerable residents to carry out simple but essential work on their homes. To date 1,800 tasks have been completed. Following the schemes success SLDC decided to continue the scheme for a further 12 months to support local communities.

Work is limited to three hours and eligible households can use the scheme up to six times a year. Residents only pay for the materials required.

South Lakeland District Council supported the rural broadband project across New Hutton, Old Hutton and Holmescales and Preston Patrick connecting homes and businesses. More than 250 properties in these three rural parishes now have access to superfast broadband. Volunteers from the Broadband for South Westmorland (B4SW) helped install the special cabinet located in New Hutton.

Historic England undertook an assessment on one of South Lakelands most historic villages, Burton in Kendal to find buildings were at risk of losing their historic value. SLDC are now working with Historic England and Burton in Kendal Parish Council to have the conservation area removed from the heritage at risk register. We will contribute £35,000 per year for three years to help residents fund their repair and restoration projects. SLDC have also granted a further £17,000 to the Parish Council to be spent within the conservation area.

Culture and wellbeing highlights

  • 90% of two bedroomed new built houses were bought by first time buyers
  • Arnside Educational Institute received £9,500 grant for renovation
  • prevented 243 households becoming homeless
  • 70% of new build buyers moved from within the district
  • 510 homelessness cases managed
  • 400 affordable homes to rent built since 2014

Environment annual report

Protecting and enhancing the environment is a key priority for the council. In 2017 the council implemented kerbside recycling services that collects plastic and cardboard to 100% of South Lakeland residents. Staveley Village have continued throughout 2017 to 2018 a recycling initiative called ‘Waste Less’. The aim of the initiative is to reduce the average amount of grey bin waste and increase recycling. The project is supported by the council and run by local volunteers who have undertaken events such as an organised toy swap, seedling and plant swap, kitchen spring clean initiatives to donate unwanted food to local food banks and a repair café, which residents take long broken items to be repaired.

Performance on environmental priorities

In March 2018 the council launched an initiative to reduce the environmental impact of plastic pollution. SLDC backed a campaign and now offers free drinking water to encourage people to refill reusable bottles rather than use single use plastic bottles at South Lakeland House. SLDC is supporting the national Refill campaign committed to reducing plastic in rivers and seas.

Nearly £3.5 million was paid out to South Lakeland Residents under the flood grant scheme to protect homes from future flooding. Over the past two years a team of officers have worked full time to deal with flood grant applications worth up to £5,000 for eligible households. In 2015 2,358 properties were flooded during Storm Desmond. Around 1,900 were estimated to be eligible for a grant and a total of 1,397 applications were submitted. The grants were used to improve properties resilience against flooding through preventative methods.

Communities across South Lakeland celebrated the official openings of new playgrounds. New state of the art play areas were developed at Rinkfield, Kendal and Rothay Park, Ambleside. Communities worked with the council to raise funding, design and build the new play areas. Both play areas were designed to meet the needs of a wider range of users, such as outdoor gym equipment. Enhancement plans have begun to develop Millerground, Windermere and Lightburn Park, Ulverston.

In 2017 water quality at every designated bathing water location in South Lakelandwas rated as excellent by government inspectors for the fourth consecutive year. The government officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) notified SLDC that all four sites on Lake Windermere received top ratings for the 2018 bathing season. SLDC’s lake wardens look after the lake and its visitors by operating a patrol and rescue service, monitoring and reporting any pollutants, contaminates or algae, as well as providing the public with information about bathing water quality at all four areas.

Environment highlights

  • £190,000 of funding in place for drainage and tree works at Nobles Rest Park
  • 2,400 trees planted across the district
  • 328 fly tipping incidents reported
  • £10,000 of funding for accessible cycling equipment for South Lakes Wheels for All
  • 300 private water supply tests completed
  • 855 food premises inspections completed
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