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 the steers of previous meetings, that Dashboards were being developed which would be helpful in monitoring progress against delivery. The Chair commented on the need for Elected Members to identify which particular sites within their own local authority areas should be brought forward.
Councillor Daren Pemberton queried whether or not housing numbers provided by Non-Constituent Authorities counted towards meeting the 215k target. Gareth Bradford reported that the housing target in the Housing Deal was a regional ambition. Any housing units included within relevant Local Plans could be counted towards the regional target but it would be for individual local authorities to plan for the distribution of such homes and oversee delivery of such units. He referred the Board to their decision that the housing target in the housing deal had not been broken down on an authority by authority basis but positioned at a regional level. He offered to circulate the relevant extract from the Housing Deal to clarify the position raised in the original question. Councillor Ian Courts commented on the difficulties faced when dealing with three separate Housing Market Areas.
1. That the positive progress in work under the Housing and Land Portfolio in 2018 and some of the key work programmes coming to fruition in 2019 be noted;
2. That a further iteration of the report be submitted to the Board on a quarterly basis;
3. That the relevant extract from the Housing Deal be circulated related to the regional housing unit target.