Gareth Bradford introduced the report on this matter and offered his thanks to Dudley MBC and its Officers for the efforts involved in preparing the report for consideration at this meeting. He reminded the Board that the WMCA had been involved previously in this project through funding the demolition of Cavendish House and also that Dudley Town Centre was one of the pilot schemes for the WMCA Town Centre Fund bids. He explained that the report under consideration sought an allocation from the WMCA’s devolved housing and land funds to deliver essential highways infrastructure which would unlock the Portersfield redevelopment site in Dudley and that Dudley MBC would be underwriting the grant against housing delivery. He advised that this was a priority scheme both for Dudley MBC and the WMCA and provided a good strategic fit for the aims of both authorities. The average cost of each unit was slightly higher than the average across the programme but overall the average cost per unit was still below that specified by the Government’s criteria for the Fund.
The Board received a PowerPoint presentation from Simon Dancer which highlighted the importance of the scheme in the regeneration of Dudley Town Centre. He reported that the bid to Government for funding from the High Street Fund had been approved in December 2020 and that the application for funding from the Town Centre Fund was still being considered. He outlined the proposed arrangements for securing the delivery of the scheme.
Gareth Bradford, Ian Martin and Simon Dancer responded to various questions from the Board.
That subject to:
a) DMBC being liable to repay the grant if housing was not delivered by the agreed long-stop date of 2024 (DMBC continuing with development partner) or 2030 (if a new partner was required);
b) The completion of a Funding Agreement including a detailed spend and delivery programme to the approval of the WMCA Director of Housing and Regeneration;
c) The inclusion of appropriate clawback and overage clauses within the Funding Agreement in line with Chapter 11 of the Single Commissioning Framework; and
d) The completion of a Legal Report to the satisfaction of the WMCA Director of Housing and Regeneration and the WMCA Director of Governance:
1. That the grant from the WMCA’s devolved housing and land funds to deliver essential highways infrastructure which would unlock the Portersfield Regeneration Project in Dudley Town Centre be ratified. (This strategically important regional development site would deliver at least 451 homes, including 200 student rooms using Homes England methodology of four student rooms equalling one residential unit [20% affordable] plus associated retail and leisure uses;
2. That it be noted that the report had been co-developed with Officers from Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council (DMBC), the Project Promoter and Local Planning Authority;
3. That it be noted that the funding was fully compliant with the WMCA Single Commissioning Framework approved by this Board, the Housing and Land Delivery Board and the WMCA Board in 2019 and which had been operational from 1 April 2019;
4. That it be noted that this project had gone through the key decision making and appraisal stages of the WMCA Single Commissioning Framework on its journey to this Board;
5. That it be noted that this funding is fully compliant with the requirements set by central government for devolved housing and land funds administered by the WMCA.