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Agenda item

Chippenham Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF)

      Report of the Chief Executive.

 

Minutes:

Cllr Philip Whitehead, Leader of the Council and Cabinet member for Economic Development, MCI and Communications presented the report seeking approval to enter into a Grant Determination Agreement (GDA) with Homes England for the acceptance of a £75m grant contribution towards the cost of delivering the strategic infrastructure in and around Chippenham.

 

Questions were received from Anne Henshaw, Austen Espeut, Chris Caswill, Cllr Nick Murry, Helen Stuckey, Isabel McCord, Kim Stuckey and Myla Watts about the Chippenham Housing Infrastructure Fund. A further question was received from Andrew Nicolson and a statement from Adrian Temple-Brown after the deadline for the receipt of questions and statements.

 

Cllr Whitehead acknowledged that the questions had received written responses which had been published on the Council’s website prior to the meeting. Supplementary questions were asked by Helen Stuckey and Kim Stuckey about the HIF bid criteria and HIF bid process. Verbal responses to the supplementary questions were provided at the meeting.

 

Cllr Whitehead reminded the Cabinet that the Council had successfully bid for funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government for a £75m Housing Infrastructure Fund grant as a contribution towards funding strategic road infrastructure, which would enable the delivery of housing in Chippenham, subject to the statutory planning process. He commented generally on the main elements of the GDA that had been negotiated with Homes England to secure the £75m of HIF grant funding and sought approval to enter into the GDA with Homes England.

 

Cllr Clewer reiterated that there was no question of predetermination in relation to any planning issues as the planning process would be followed in due course. Cllr Clewer also indicated that the current COVID-19 situation may impact the timescales for consultation.

 

The Cabinet noted that the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Environment Select Committee and Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee had received a briefing on the proposals on 6 October 2020 and members were supportive of the proposals.

 

In response to questions from Cllr Ian Thorn, Leader of the Liberal Democrats about (i) the condition to spend the £75m by the end of March 2024; (ii) recovery of costs; (iii) Sale of land receipts; (iv) engagement strategy; and (v) master plan and master planning with other interested parties; Cllr Whitehead and officers explained that (i) funding is available until March 2024 and is to be used for infrastructure expenditure only; (ii) the recovery of costs would be through planning conditions placed on future development sites; (iii) Receipts for the sale of  Council land would be placed in the general fund subject to requirements from Homes England via the GDA, however other options would be available for the use of income; (iv) there would be a combination of consultation and engagement throughout the process; and (v) Master Planning would  aim to  equalise  costs of the infrastructure between the parties involved.

 

Comments arising from the general discussion included:

 

·       The inclusion and consideration of environmental and climate change legislation and requirements would be part of future reports and tied to future planning permissions, the subject at hand was securing HIF funding for infrastructure if development came forward.

·       Local Area Board meetings would be a key point of contact for consultation and engagement with local communities.

·       The regular release of information about the scheme was key to keep communities informed of progress.

 

The Chairman explained that the appendix to the report, attached to the agenda in Part II, contained financial and legal implications of the Grant Determination Agreement and the proposals would be considered and decision made later in the meeting, once all available information had been taken into account.

 

Supporting documents:

 

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