Agenda and draft minutes

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

Contact: Carl Craney Governance Services Officer 

Items
No. Item

19.

Apologies for Absence (if any)

Minutes:

Apologies for absence had been received from Sarah Middleton (Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership), Councillor George Adamson (Cannock Chase District Council), Bill Blincoe (Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership), Simon Marks (Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership), Karl Tupling (Homes England), Councillor David Humphreys (North Warwickshire Borough Council), Councillor Matthew Dormer (Redditch Borough Council), Councillor Sebastian Lowe (Rugby Borough Council), councillor Ian Courts (Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council) and Councillor Daren Pemberton (Stratford on Avon District Council).

20.

Notification of Substitutes (if any)

Minutes:

Paul Gascoine had been nominated as a substitute for Karl Tupling (Homes England) and Councillor Andy Mackiewicz had been nominated as a substitute for Councillor Ian Courts (Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council).

21.

Chair's Remarks

Minutes:

The Chair referred to the low number of reports to be considered at the meeting and commented that members attended meetings in good faith and expected that the contents to be considered should be worthwhile if complacency with regard to the need to attend meetings was to be avoided. He commented that meetings of the WMCA Overview and Scrutiny Committee failed regularly to reach a quorum albeit that a higher level of quorum applied to that Committee and was, in his opinion, was overly prescriptive. He asked the Officers to note his comments and that future meetings should be meaningful. Councillor Angus Lees supported the comments of the Chair on this matter.

 

Gareth Bradford reminded the Board that at the last meeting a number of major issues had been considered and was likely to be the case for the December 2019 meeting subject to the rules on ‘Purdah’ not preventing some matters being presented. This purpose of this meeting was to update the Board on progress made on various issues.

 

The Chair welcomed Councillor Peter Bilson to the meeting after his recent illness.  

22.

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:

Kevin Rodgers declared a personal interest as an employee of the West Midlands Housing Association Partnership.

23.

Minutes of last meeting pdf icon PDF 170 KB

[For approval]

Minutes:

Resolved:

That the minutes of the meeting held on 30 September 2019 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

24.

Housing and Land Portfolio: Quarterly Update pdf icon PDF 230 KB

Minutes:

Pat Willoughby presented a report which provided a quarterly update on progress with the various workstreams and deliverables agreed previously and as detailed in the 2019/20 WMCA Annual Plan. As referred to earlier in the meeting she advised that a number of reports were scheduled to be considered at the next meeting on 9 December 2019 but that as this fell within the ‘Purdah’ period this could be subject to change.

 

She reported that since the report had been prepared requests had been received for the Town Centres Programme to be revised to include the whole of the Dudley, Walsall and West Bromwich Town Centres rather than the specific areas agreed previously. Similarly, a request had been received from Dudley and Sandwell MBC’s for the Sandwell to Dudley Corridor to be re-defined as the ‘West Bromwich to Dudley Corridor’. Gareth Bradford reported that the purpose of the report was to inform the Board of the progress being made in taking forward the various work areas, on the joint work with respective local authorities and on reports which had been considered by the WMCA Investment Board in relation to matters under the purview of this Board. He reminded the Board that at its last meeting consideration had been given to, inter alia, the following issues:

·         Modern Methods of Construction;

·         Design Charter; and

·         Single Commissioning Framework – Amendments.

He also drew to the attention of the Board the on-going work on Monitoring and Evaluation to ensure an impact on the delivery of housing numbers, land remediation, affordable housing units delivered and value for money from the investments supported.

 

The Chair commented on the need for a standard definition on the term of ‘Affordable Housing’ which was sufficiently flexible to acknowledge the differences across the geographical area. Gareth Bradford reminded the Board that such a definition had been agreed previously and was being trialled currently with a report to be submitted to the next meeting with a view to confirming the definition, with amendments, if appropriate. He advised that the definition would also seeking to address the provision of ‘Key Worker’ accommodation and those seeking employment in the ‘Knowledge’ economy.

 

Councillor Angus Lees referred to the £20 million allocated for the Town Centres Programme and whether this funding had been secured and on the extension of the Programme in Dudley to the wider Town Centre and whether £9 million was available for highway improvement works associated with the Town Centre Re-Development proposals. Gareth Bradford explained that any schemes which met the agreed criteria for the Single Commissioning Framework (SCF) could be eligible for funding and that a number of such cases would be considered by the WMCA investment Board at the meeting to be held on 11 November 2019. He confirmed that a sum of £20 million had been earmarked already for the Town Centres Programme by the Investment Board and the proposition before the Housing and Land Delivery Board was that from this some £5 million should be made available for early  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.

25.

Affordable Delivery Vehicle: Update pdf icon PDF 163 KB

Minutes:

Gareth Bradford and Rob Lamond presented a report which updated the Board on progress in the work agreed previously to work up in principle development of an Affordable Housing Delivery Vehicle with West Midlands Housing Association Partnership and the National Housing Federation to unlock challenging brownfield opportunities in the region and thus providing added value to the work of the WMCA under the SCF. The report recommended agreement of the broad criteria for the Vehicle to help guide the development of a detailed business case.

 

Councillor Peter Bilson advised that he supported the principle but asked which Housing Associations would be involved, which areas they were active currently in and which sites were under consideration. He expressed concern that there appeared to be no involvement from Homes England or the respective local authorities in this concept. Given that a Limited Liability Partnership was to be established he was also interested to learn of the relationship with the LLP, Homes England and the local authorities.

 

Councillor David Wright advised that he also supported the principle but queried which Housing Associations would be involved, how the level of public subsidy would be agreed and whether partner Housing Associations would only be allowed to operate in those areas where they had a presence currently.

 

Gareth Bradford welcomed the questions now posed and assured the Board that similar questions were being raised. He explained that the purpose of the report was to agree the principle of the creation of the Delivery Vehicle and the development of the Business Case. Kevin Rodgers advised that a number of housing associations were interested in participating all of which operated locally. Where a Large Scale Voluntary Transfer had taken place in a local authority area the selection of the preferred Social Housing Provider would be to that organisation. He reminded the Board of the intention to recycle funding for future re-investment.

 

Councillor Andy Mackiewicz asked as to the opportunity for Arms Length Management Organisations to be involved in the Delivery Vehicle. Gareth Bradford explained that such organisations could seek funding for developments through the SCF subject to such proposals having the support of the respective local authority. He commented that in order to achieve the desired number of housing units at affordable levels there was a need to unlock difficult to develop brownfield sites. He advised that the Delivery Vehicle could be expanded in the future if it was successful.

 

Councillor Angus Lees asked whether WMCA Officers were in contact with colleagues at Dudley MBC where three difficult to develop brownfield sites had been identified. Gareth Bradford confirmed this to be the case.

 

Councillor Joanne Hadley commented that given the role of the Black Country area as the heart of the Industrial Revolution many sites were likely to be subject to contamination and the associated remediation costs. Mark Lidderth reminded the Board that grant aid was available from the Environment Agency to deal with remediation of contaminated land. Paul Gascoine assured the Board that Homes England was involved  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25.

26.

Investments and Acquisitions

[Verbal report]

Minutes:

Gareth Bradford reported that over £10 million of grants and loans had been agreed at the October 2019 meeting of the WMCA Investment Board for matters under the Housing and Land Portfolio. The funding was from various sources including the Collective Investment Fund (CIF), Brownfield Land and Property Development Fund (BLPDF) and the Land Fund. He referred to the benefits of the clear criteria contained in the Single Commissioning Framework and on the due diligence process which sought to ensure that value for money was achieved. He explained that while some of the Funds worked on a revolving nature with loans being repaid this was not possible in every case but in such cases additional social value was obtained.

Resolved:

            That the report be received and noted.