Agenda item


Gareth Bradford introduced a report which updated the Board on progress made by the WMCA Housing and Regeneration Team since the last Board meeting working closely with partners in local authorities, the private sector and a series of expert taskforces, to develop the Portfolio Economic Recovery Strategy and Intervention Plan commissioned by the Board in response to the challenges and opportunities brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Board received a complimentary PowerPoint presentation from Rob Lamond which provided further information on this work and its purpose/remit and how it directly informed the refreshed Portfolio Business Plan.


Councillor Joanne Hadley commented that as the ‘lockdown’ was lifted, she was concerned as to the likely increase in the number of homeless people and those who could be ejected from temporary Bed and Breakfast accommodation and that this should be considered in this work. Rob Lamond explained that this issue was addressed in the Strategy/Plan and that working with the Homelessness Task Force, bids would be made by WMCA to the capital fund launched by the Government. Rob Lamond identified opportunities for investigating funding regionally for accommodation for that cohort which was to be provided.


Councillor Angus Lees sought clarification as to when the funding would be made available from the Government to support this Portfolio Recovery Strategy and Interventions Plan and the proposed approval mechanisms to enable schemes to be implemented. Rob Lamond advised that the Comprehensive Spending Review was expected in Autumn and that further announcements on funding were anticipated in the coming weeks building on the recent brownfield funding announcement. This would afford an opportunity for appropriate business cases to be developed over the summer period linked to the recovery strategy for submission to HMG with updates on the business cases provided to future meetings of this Board.


Councillor Cathy Bayton raised the issue of the possible conversion of redundant office buildings to residential accommodation under Permitted Development rights, without the benefit of planning permission or any requirement of developers to make appropriate contributions towards the provision of essential infrastructure such as roads or health facilities. She asked that the WMCA make it clear that this permitted development was not its preferred option to address the current housing shortage in the region. The Chair advised that whilst it was not his preferred option, he understood that this change had now become put forward as part of amendments to planning legislation.


The Chair went on to highlight the Government proposed reforms to the planning system and the potential regional impact. He emphasised the importance of a coordinated response. He referred to the commission from the Board for a report on ‘Town Centre Living’ for consideration at a future meeting of this Board.


Gareth Bradford added that the ‘ask’ to Government from the Covid-19 recovery work was not expected to be limited to requests for additional finance but also for an opportunity to influence policy, guidance or legislation. Councillor Daren Pemberton enquired whether the WMCA would be lobbying Government in relation to the proposed reforms to the planning system and providing a single regional response rather than separate responses from each local authority. Gareth Bradford sought the Board’s steer on this agenda item given the WMCA did not have statutory planning powers and it was a very sensitive topic. The Chair’s steer was that the planning reforms and the region’s response to it should be considered as part of the Recovery Plan programme of work.



1.    That the draft Housing and Land Economic Recovery Plan document, as appended to the report, be approved as a positive way forward in response to the Covid-19 challenges and for framing the Housing and Land Board Business Plan revisions;

2.    That the excellent engagement and on-going development of the Portfolio Recovery Strategy and Implementation Plan through strong collaboration with local authorities, LEPs, and expert advisory groups and task forces be noted;

3.    That the next steps for this work be noted;

4.    That the Government’s planning reforms and the region’s response to it should be considered as part of the Recovery Plan programme of work.

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