Venue: 16, Summer Lane, Birmingham, B19 3SD
Contact: Carl Craney Governance Services Officer
Apologies for Absence (if any)
Apologies for absence had been received from Councillor Gaye Partridge (Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council), Simon Marks (Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP), Karl Tupling (Homes England), Councillor Peter Nutting (Shropshire Council), Councillor Steven Claymore (Tamworth Borough Council), Councillor Richard Overton (Telford and Wrekin Council), Councillor Peter Butlin (Warwickshire County Council) and Kevin Rodgers (West Midlands Housing Association Partnership).
Nomination of Substitutes (if any)
Gavin Ashford had been nominated as a substitute for Councillor Richard Overton and James Prestwich had been nominated as a substitute for Kevin Rodgers.
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
No declarations of interest were made relative to items under consideration at the meeting.
That the minutes of the meeting held on 25 October 2018 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.
Gareth Bradford presented a report which updated the Board on the various strands of work which had been initiated under the WMCA Housing and Land Portfolio in 2018 led by the WMCA Housing and Regeneration Team. The report also identified a number of strands of work which were now in train and which would reach critical moments in 2019.
The Chair welcomed the report and commented that he looked forward to seeing evidence of delivery during the forthcoming year. Councillor Peter Bilson echoed these remarks. He advised that with regard the proposals to review governance arrangements for the work and with particular regard to the Walsall to Wolverhampton Corridor both Officers and Elected Members should be involved in the development of the work. Gareth Bradford advised that it was essential that all partners were involved and content with the proposals.
Councillor Ian Courts referred to the proposed Affordable and Social Housing Proposition with HM Government and suggested that shared ownership should be more actively considered in certain locations. He also commented on the need for a pipeline of schemes at various stages of development in order to take advantage of any new funding sources as and when they were launched by HM Government. Gareth Bradford advised the Board that a pipeline of schemes was being developed for such opportunities.
An evidence base was being collated on why HM Government should provide further funding to the West Midlands through a new Affordable and Social Housing Proposition and to enable expeditious delivery of housing units. He suggested that the establishment of a ‘Top Up Fund’ as part of this proposition was worthy of consideration to respond to certain development sites which otherwise would not be able to deliver appropriate quantities of affordable housing to be policy compliant. In return for such funding the WMCA would require higher quality of specification and design and a faster build out rate. A report should be provided to the next meeting on the position with the Affordable and Social Housing Proposition.
Sarah Middleton commented that the report set out the successes achieved in 2018 and suggested that future iterations include:
i) A position statement on the timing of when funding would be available and how long it would be available;
ii) A position statement reflecting the leverage
iii) Achieved from the private sector on the back of public sector investment.
Councillor Daren Pemberton enquired whether the proposed ‘Top Up Fund’ would be used in cases where no affordable housing was to be provided or when the amount of affordable housing was not to the agreed policy level. Gareth Bradford responded that this would need to be decided by this Board on a case by case basis with a view to obtaining best value for money.
The Chair suggested that it would be helpful for a similar report to be provided to the Board on a quarterly basis in order that progress could be monitored. Gareth Bradford noted the request for quarterly reports and in line with ... view the full minutes text for item 31.
Gareth Bradford presented a report which sought approval for the continued delivery of a programme of work within the Housing and Land Portfolio focussed on ‘Corridors and Strategic Development Opportunities, informed the Board on the positive work undertaken by the WMCA with local councils and LEPs in the Walsall to Wolverhampton and Sandwell to Dudley corridors and gave suggestions for how to build on the excellent start to work in the region on inclusive growth corridors and strategic development opportunities. He explained that this programme of work was a joint activity with Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) and the Public Sector Reform team at the WMCA.
The Chair welcomed the report and the approach proposed. He emphasised that efforts should be concentrated in this work on real delivery and attracting new investment, especially towards bringing forward the more difficult to develop sites that would not otherwise come forward by the market alone. Councillor Peter Bilson commented on the evidence base being collated on the Walsall to Wolverhampton corridor and on the excellent working relationship between Officers and Elected Members involved in this particular workstream. He commented that whilst valuable lessons would be learnt, it would not necessarily be possible for these to be transferred to other similar workstreams as a one size fits all approach would not be appropriate. He requested the preparation of a report or data base indicating timelines and priorities. Councillor Ian Courts commented that the proposed Dashboards would be helpful in monitoring progress.
Gareth Bradford commented on the need to strengthen the ‘why’ in business cases especially why a proposal was required whether that be in terms of the wider impact on communities, unlocking brownfield sites for development which had not been possible previously or improving connectivity, in order to demonstrate the broader case for public sector financial investment. The Chair supported this view and commented that the ‘why’ was often more important than the figures in a traditional Business Case. Gareth Bradford added that his Team and the Public Sector Reform team would work closely with Transport for West Midlands on these matters.
1. That the proposal for the continued development of a programme of work unlocking the untapped potential of inclusive growth and delivering in Corridors and Strategic Development Opportunities be endorsed;
2. That the positive work on two growth corridors in the region i.e. Walsall to Wolverhampton and Sandwell to Dudley be welcomed.
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
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
Funding and Finance Update
Gareth Bradford and David Warburton presented a report which provided an update on recent funding bids, existing funds and sought, in principle, agreement to two new funds required to deliver the ambitious housing and regeneration plans for the region. The report informed the Board of the need to utilise the available devolved funding in new and different ways in order that the housing and regeneration goals agreed by the Board and HM Government could be delivered. It also invited comments on the draft emerging criteria for the Single Commissioning Framework.
The Chair sought an assurance that the proposals for new funding streams would not duplicate those currently available through Homes England. David Warburton confirmed that although they were similar the proposed funds would enable the Board to be proactive rather than reactive. He advised that the WMCA was working closely with Homes England to ensure a co-ordinated approach to the provision of funds. Councillor Ian Courts supported the proposals in the report which he believed would assist in delivering those sites in the pipeline and allow the Board to determine which sites received funding.
With regard to the draft emerging criteria for the Single Commissioning Framework, David Warburton invited comments which could be incorporated into a report to the February 2019 meeting of the Board. Various suggestions and comments on the draft emerging criteria were made.
1. That the progress on the Housing Infrastructure Fund, Collective Investment Fund and Single Commissioning Framework be noted;
2. That the WMCA Board be recommended to rename the Collective Investment Fund and its commitment limit be extended to £140 million, subject to the submission of a satisfactory Business Case;
3. That the WMCA Board be recommended to establish a new investment fund for housing with a commitment limit of £70 million, subject to the submission of a satisfactory Business Case;
4. That the draft emerging criteria for the Single Commissioning Framework be amended as follows and that further consideration be given to this matter at the February 2019 meeting:
· Inclusion of reference to high quality of housing to be provided both in terms of design and specification;
· The use of modular buildings wherever possible;
· The use of local companies, where possible;
· A concentration on sites that would not normally have been brought forward without public sector intervention;
· The inclusion of appropriate links to the Local Industrial Strategy;
· An indication of what was and was not covered by existing commissioning frameworks;
· A reference to the emerging work from Public Health England and local Public Health Directors with regard to ‘Wellbeing by Design’;
· The inclusion of reference to any stalled retail developments in town centres which could be converted to residential use;
· The amendment of the term ‘above average density’ to ‘appropriate density’.
Chair's Closing Remarks
The Chair advised the Board that development on the Phoenix 10 site in Walsall, probably the most contaminated site in Europe, was about to commence following herculean work by the Black Country Consortium Limited, Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council and the WMCA. He offered his thanks to Sarah Middleton, the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, Simon Tranter and Officers at Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council and the WMCA. He advised that the development of this site would not have been possible without the dedicated work of the three organisations. Gareth Bradford commented that it showcased what could be achieved when partner organisations worked together.