Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: 16, Summer Lane, Birmingham, B19 3SD

Contact: Carl Craney Governance Services Officer 

Items
No. Item

10.

Apologies for Absence (if any)

Minutes:

Apologies for absence had been received from David Cockroft (Coventry City Council), Simon Marks (Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership), Councillor Paul Moore (Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council), Councillor Nic Laurens (Shropshire Council), Councillor Steven Claymore (Tamworth Borough Council) Richard Overton (Telford and Wrekin Council).

11.

Nomination of Substitutes (if any)

Minutes:

Nick Glover had been nominated as a substitute member for Simon Marks (Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP) and Councillor Bill Gavin nominated as a substitute member for Councillor Paul Moore (Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council).

12.

Declarations of Interests (if any)

Members are reminded of the need to declare

any disclosable pecuniary interests they have in

an item being discussed during the course of the

meeting. In addition, the receipt of any gift or

hospitality should be declared where the value of

it was thought to have exceeded £25 (gifts) or

£40 (hospitality).

 

Minutes:

No declarations of interests were made into items under consideration at the meeting.

13.

Minutes of last meeting pdf icon PDF 155 KB

[For approval]

Minutes:

Resolved:

That the minutes of the meeting held on 16 July 2018 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

14.

Matters Arising

Minutes:

With reference to Minute No. 10 (Matters Arising) and with particular reference to the award of £3.690 million to Telford and Wrekin Council to assist in bringing forward approximately 540 housing units across that area, Gareth Bradford reported that this matter had been considered and approved at the meeting of the Investment Board held on 30 October 2017 having received a positive recommendation from the Investment Advisory Group. He outlined the membership of the Investment Advisory Group which included Officers from respective local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships. He reminded the Board that the decision had been made prior to the formation of the WMCA housing and Regeneration Directorate. He explained that Telford and Wrekin Council role in meeting the housing shortfall in the Greater Birmingham Housing Market Area had not been referenced in the report to the Investment Board.

 

Going forward, he suggested that all reports considered by the Investment Board which included a housing provision element should first be considered by the Housing and Regeneration Directorate and that a discussion be commenced with Telford and Wrekin Council on its ability to draw down the allocated funding if it was not prepared to play an active and supporting role in the delivery of the housing shortfall in the Greater Birmingham Housing Market Area, the Housing Deal and the Housing Delivery Plan. He advised that all housing units provided should be included in both the Housing Deal, Strategic Economic Plan and the Industrial Strategy and that it was imperative that all partners receiving financial support should play their respective roles.

 

The Chair advised that in his view if Telford and Wrekin Council was not willing to co-operate in achieving the targets of this Board (and the WMCA) the decision of the Investment Board should be revisited. A further discussion on this matter could be required in the event that Telford and Wrekin Council was not willing to co-operate the decision would be revisited with the grant being reclaimed and rewarded elsewhere as deemed appropriate. Gareth Bradford advised that this could require the Commissioning Framework to be revisited. The Chair requested that a report be submitted to a future meeting on the drawdown of the funding allocated to Telford and Wrekin Council.

 

Councillor David Humphrey commented that the North Warwickshire Borough Council did not have a large number of brownfield sites but a number of small sites and enquired as to the possibility of a contribution towards funding of development of such sites. He had been advised previously that this issue had been raised with Homes England (formerly the Housing Communities Agency) but had not progressed. The Chair suggested that the details of any such sites be forwarded to Gareth Bradford for consideration. He commented that the recent revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) had done little to assist the development of such sites but that asking developers to offer commuted sums in lieu of the provision of affordable and/or social housing would have been preferable.

 

Gareth Bradford suggested  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.

15.

Town Centres

[Verbal report]

Minutes:

Gareth Bradford reported that a piece of work had commenced on the future opportunities within town centres and a report would be submitted to the next meeting on possible interventions to assist local authorities in developing Town Centre Plans to regenerate High Streets. The Chair commented that, in his opinion, the demise of High Streets could be attributed to the introduction of pedestrianisation schemes.

 

Councillor Peter Bilson opined that it would be unwise to attempt to introduce a ‘one size fits all’ solution and reported that the City of Wolverhampton Council had commissioned a piece of work on the drivers that might be required to stimulate High streets. He commented that the common factor for local authorities was the reliance of a retail presence on High Streets. Councillor Ian Courts supported the comments now made and enquired as to the source of funding for further initiatives without prejudicing those already underway. Nick Glover advised that the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership had some policy papers on these matters which he was happy to share.

 

Gareth Bradford offered to include within his report to the next meeting details of a range of initiatives on town centre regeneration which would assist in accelerating housing delivery and regeneration.

 

Councillor Peter Butlin advised that there were a mix of town centres within Warwickshire with each one created its own unique economic viability. He suggested that if residents did not live near to town centres then High streets would suffer as would the local economy. The Chair commented that with new ways of shopping becoming ever more popular there was a need to encourage more use of town centre properties for residential use with associated integrated transport opportunities.

 

Councillor Daren Pemberton commented that residential use of town centre properties was not the only solution and that consideration needed to be given to making the retail offer more sophisticated. He suggested that the element which was currently missing was increased employment opportunities.

 

Nick Glover remarked on the need for dialogue with the various Business Improvement Districts. Gareth Bradford referred to research which had been carried out on the opportunities for and challenges faced by town centres. He queried the investment proposition for individual town centres and on the need to make it easier to build units of accommodation and to create employment opportunities in such town centres. He commented that there was a need to understand the challenges faced and to encourage investment in these areas.

 

Resolved:

That a report be submitted to the next meeting of this Board on possible interventions to assist local authorities in developing Town Centre Plans to regenerate High Streets.

16.

Social Housing Green Paper Update and Response pdf icon PDF 118 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Gareth Bradford presented a report and gave a PowerPoint presentation which provided the Board with an update on progress in the development of Social Housing proposals and the evidence base. The presentation outlined the challenge presented by the ‘affordability challenge’ which varied across the region. He commented that no region had yet been able to meaningfully articulate ‘affordability, economic growth and productivity’. He advised the Board that this issue was addressed in the Industrial Strategy and the Strategic Economic Plan and commented on the need to attempt to unlock ‘Affordable Housing Investment Fund’ monies. He outlined the following issues which could be defined as the Board’s ‘red lines’:

·         Housing Revenue Account Borrowing Gap;

·         Right to Buy;

·         Quality

and invited the Board to let him have views which could be incorporated into a further report to the next meeting.

 

He suggested that supply of housing and land needed to be increased as did the quality of affordable and social housing. He commented on the need to assist the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to prompt HM Treasury to understand the integral role of affordability and social housing provision in achieving economic growth. He advised that the problems associated with affordability were likely to increase in the region. Rob Lamond commented that rental levels in the private rental sector were also increasing.

 

Gareth Bradford reminded the Board that the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) bid had been agreed by the respective Leaders, the Local Enterprise Partnerships and major businesses in the area. He advised that the latter group had expressed concern on their ability to recruit staff due to affordability of housing options which had a consequential effect on their ability to expand. Councillor Peter Bilson suggested that this point be drawn to the attention of HM Government. Gareth Bradford requested that in the event of similar concerns being raised by local major employers that they be encouraged to submit such concerns in writing to him as this could be used as evidence and was worth more than anecdotal evidence.

 

He also commented on the costs incurred by employees who were forced to live a considerable distance from their place of employment due to the affordability of housing. He stressed that these comments should not be interpreted as employers not being willing to invest in the West Midlands but that it formed a consideration as to whether or not to invest given potential recruitment difficulties likely to be experienced.

 

Councillor Peter Butlin commented that a major employer had raised such concerns with him and colleagues. He reminded the Board that employees commuting long distances increased demand for car parking provision and also added to the highway maintenance requirements. Councillor Daren Pemberton supported these views and added that long distance commuters contributed very little to the local economy.

 

Gareth Bradford commented on the need to collate an evidence pack in connection with these issues with a view to its use in seeking additional investment and identifying the costs to local authorities. It  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.

17.

DemoDev Update

[Verbal report]

Minutes:

Gareth Bradford reported on the outcome of the WMCA Mayor’s Urban Challenge Innovation Fund and the award to DemoDev which had formulated an algorithm to identify small sites with links to new types of development. He advised on the links to the ‘Small Sites Strategy’ which would form part of a report to the next meeting of this Board. He suggested that a small group be established to consider such small sites.

 

He sought the views of the Board on ‘Right to Build’ and custom and self-build options which were popular currently with HM Government.  Councillor Ian Courts registered his concern as to the finite resources of the Board being diverted into this type of initiative.

 

Resolved:

1.    That a report on ‘Small Sites Strategy’ form part of a report to the next meeting of this Board including a definition of what comprised a ‘small site’;

2.    That no action be taken at the present time on ‘Right to Build’ and/or custom and self-build options.

18.

Exclusion of the Public and Press

[To pass the following resolution:

That in accordance with Section 100(A) of the

Local Government Act, 1972 the press and

public be excluded from the meeting for the

following items of business as it involves the

likely disclosure of exempt information relating to

the business or financial affairs of any particular

person (including the authority holding that

information)]

Minutes:

Resolved:

That in accordance with Section 100A4 of the Local Government Act

1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting during the

consideration of the following items of business as they involve the

likely disclosure of exempt information relating to the business affairs

of any particular person (Including the authority holding that

information).

19.

Housing Investment Fund (HIF) - Update

Minutes:

Gareth Bradford reported that the Housing Investment Fund (HIF) Business Case had been submitted against a contracted timescale and was an excellent example of collaborative working amongst the local authorities. He suggested that the experience could be used as an experience to maximise the opportunities of obtaining further funding from HM Government. The Chair commented on the need to demonstrate to HM Government that the authorities were able to work collaboratively.

 

Resolved:

            That the report be received and noted.