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Agenda item

Chippenham Housing Infrastructure Fund Bid

*                 Report by Chief Executive Officer – Place – Alistair Cunningham

 

 

Minutes:

Cllr Philip Whitehead, Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Economic Development introduced the report which provided an update of the Housing Infrastructure Fund scheme to enable the delivery of significant infrastructure works to the east and south of Chippenham.

 

The Leader reported that the £75m grant is specifically awarded to deliver a new road that unlocks land to support the delivery of 7500 homes in the Chippenham housing market area. The report detailed specific projects that the fund would enable and contained details about the first phase of the programme.

 

The Cabinet noted that contract negotiations with Homes England had commenced and that the timetable had originally been set for a completion date of September 2020.

 

The Leader indicated that there would be no public consultation undertaken on the proposals until after the restrictions on public movement in relation to the COVID-19 situation had been lifted by the Government. Therefore, the timetable would need to be revised to take this into account. He also acknowledged that the benefits of the programme outweighed the risks and he was content to proceed with the programme.

 

The Cabinet heard from Andrew Nicolson who read out a statement and asked questions in relation to the Chippenham Housing Infrastructure Fund bid. The Leader thanked Mr Nicolson for his comments and confirmed that a response had been prepared on the issues raised and a copy had been sent to Mr Nicolson prior to the meeting and also published on the Council’s website

 

The Leader also referred to statements and questions from the following interested parties:

 

  • Cllr Nick Murry
  • Adrian Temple Brown
  • Chris Caswill
  • Helen Stuckey
  • Kim Stuckey
  • Louise Ranson
  • Lucy Ranson
  • Paul Ranson
  • Ian James
  • Isabel McCord
  • Mel Moden

 

He thanked them for their comments and confirmed that responses had been prepared on the issues raised and copies had been sent to them prior to the meeting and also published on the Council’s website

 

In response to questions from Cllr Ian Thorn about (i) the risks associated with the programme; (ii) the timescales; and (ii) whether the funding was capital or revenue; the Leader responded that (i) he fully expected the risks to not materialise and that planning permission for the road and allocation of sites for housing to be granted; (ii) timescales would now be difficult to achieve due to the COVID-19 situation and conversations were being held with Homes England about this; and (iii) the funding element was all capital and would only revert to revenue in the event that risks materialise.

 

In response to a question from Cllr Cape about the Programme Team; The Leader confirmed that the Team consisted of a lead Director and one other full-time officer. The Team also received input from the Communications Team and Atkins – external partners.

 

Cllr Hubbard urged the Cabinet to make a positive decision on this matter and reminded everyone that if the 7,500 homes were not built in Chippenham then alternative sites in other parts of the County would need to be identified.

 

Resolved:

  1. Note the contents of this report

 

  1. To approve the advance of £4.220m from the Capital Pipeline budget, to the Future Chippenham Team; under the supervision of the section 151 officer, prior to the receipt of the £75m HIF Grant in order to progress this programme within the timeframes available.

 

  1. To approve a capital budget of £1m from the Other Capital Budgets to be approved budget to fund the Future Chippenham Team. This cost cannot be claimed from the HIF grant, but is an integral part of the overall scheme.

 

  1. Agree the proposed delegated authority provisions detailed below to enable the Council to complete the first phase of the programme;

 

  1. Delegated authority is given to the Chief Executive Officer (Place) and his/her designated nominee to establish a Future Chippenham team, entirely separate and distinct from the Council in its role as Local Planning Authority, to support the Executive functions of the Council and

 

                                               i.     Lead contract negotiations with Homes England (HE)

 

                                             ii.     Create the scheme masterplan

 

                                           iii.     Manage the planning process

 

                                           iv.     Manage the procurement process

 

                                             v.     Manage the associated business case

 

                                           vi.     Plan and conduct consultation and engagement activities with all appropriate stakeholders

 

                                          vii.     Agree a land assembly arrangement with third party landowners and Council tenants

 

                                        viii.     Ensure the delivery of the new road

 

  1. Delegated authority is given to the Future Chippenham Programme Director, or his / her successor, to

 

                                               i.     negotiate on behalf of the Council, terms and conditions of the Grant Determination Agreement (GDA) with HE following consultation with the relevant Cabinet Member and Director of Legal Services Director.

 

                                             ii.     consult on behalf of the Council in its role as developer, with all stakeholders, as to the optimum road route alignment and continue to consult and engage as appropriate to support programme delivery.

 

                                           iii.     approve the procurement exercise for the procurement of the road under Wiltshire Council regulations, including early contractor involvement, finalise the documentation, and execute the resulting contracts following consultation with the relevant Cabinet Member, Director of Legal Services and Director of Finance & Procurement.

 

                                           iv.     instigate negotiations and agree a land assembly strategy with other landowners forming part of the scheme following consultation with the relevant cabinet member, Director of Housing and Assets, Director of Finance and Procurement.

 

                                             v.     make all relevant decisions in respect of Blight notices, land assembly (including Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO) and acquisitions, in consultation with the relevant Cabinet Member, Director of Legal Services and Director of Finance and Procurement.

 

                                           vi.     in consultation with the Chief Executive (Place), to continue to develop the design of the road together with the master planning of the overall scheme. Both will be necessary to support a full planning application for the road and outline application (or hybrid of the two) for the site by June 2021

 

  1. Delegated authority is given to the Head of Estates and Development to negotiate and agree surrender terms with tenants of Wiltshire Council owned farms, having given appropriate notice to terminate their tenancies to all tenants at the earliest possible opportunity, notably in September 2020 and March 2021.

 

  1. To note that all work associated with the Future Chippenham programme, including the ability to use the HIF grant, is subject to;

 

  1. a successful planning consent for the road build and

 

  1. allocation of all sites forming part of the scheme for housing development as an outcome of the separate Local Plan Review,

 

  1. To note that the timelines for the planning application do not align with the Local Plan Review timelines and there is a risk that consent will not be granted, and the site not allocated for housing.

 

  1. To note that if the risks identified in 5 & 6 above occur, all funds put into the Future Chippenham programme must be considered spend at risk and could revert to revenue spend in the same financial year, if an alternative source of capital cannot be identified.

 

  1. To note that should contract negotiations with HE to secure the HIF funds fail then the Council will need to consider mitigation strategies for expenditure incurred which may include for example;

 

  1. Land sales to defray costs incurred to date providing the overall programme is still delivered

 

  1. Agreement with a joint venture private sector partner(s) to undertake development, reducing the Council’s commercial gain in the long term, but securing by other means this much needed scheme for the benefit of Chippenham and the County as a whole.

 

Reasons for Decision:

 

In order to meet the deadline associated with the HIF grant, the Council will need to forward fund, at risk, the establishment of a team to support delivery of the required outputs detailed above. Some of these funds will be recoverable from the HIF grant once contracts are signed with HE, but some will not be recovered until the second phase of the programme, post 2025. To begin with this will require a commitment of £5.220m capital in the 2020/2021 financial year, as detailed above. This budget, if assigned, is done so at risk and on the assumption of successful HIF grant contract negotiations and Council agreement to proceed.

 

Supporting documents:

 

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