(Director of Communities) To consider the attached report, CHB-004-2017/18.
The Assistant Director (Housing Property & Development) presented a report to the Cabinet Committee. He advised In July 2012 the Cabinet approved a list of potential development sites, made up of a primary and reserve list, which would make up the Council Housebuilding Programme. At that time, it was agreed that any further development assessments would be undertaken over time by officers of:
(a) All other garage sites comprising 6 or less garages;
(b) Any further garage sites that started to have vacancies with no waiting list; and
(c) Any Council-owned land on housing sites considered to be surplus to requirement.
At that time it was also agreed that further reports would be submitted to the Cabinet in order to consider whether or not these sites should be added to either the Primary List or Reserve List.
In practice, this process could be amended to free up valuable time for the Cabinet by delegating authority to the Director of Communities to undertake feasibility studies and viability studies on any new site that may be identified and to present them direct to the Cabinet Committee. These would be presented in the same way as other sites have been in the past, whereby local Ward Members were invited to participate in the discussion.
Should the Cabinet Committee then agree to proceed with the development site based on the feasibility study as presented, then it would be necessary to seek an amendment to the Cabinet Committee Terms of Reference, where it was currently only able to consider and sign-off development appraisals and financial appraisals for sites previously identified by the Cabinet as having development potential and that could be included within the Council’s Housebuilding Programme.
It was therefore recommended that a recommendation be made to the Cabinet, through the minutes of this meeting, that:
· the Cabinet delegates authority to the Director of Communities to identify new Council House-building development sites and to undertake feasibility studies and viability studies; and
· the Cabinet Committee Terms of Reference be amended to allow the Cabinet Committee to agree any new development sites that may be added to the House-building programme.
The Cabinet Committee expressed concerns that underused garage sites were a magnet for antisocial behaviour, although some of the sites were relatively small it was still worth considering these sites to provide affordable homes for local people.
The Cabinet Committee asked officers to also look for larger sites in the district as they felt that building works would happen quicker on a larger site.
Recommendation to Cabinet:
(1) That a recommendation be made to the Cabinet to delegate authority to the Director of Communities to identify new Council House-building development sites and to undertake feasibility studies and viability studies, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder, which would then be presented to the Cabinet Committee for consideration; and
(2) That a recommendation be made to the Cabinet to amend the Cabinet Committee Terms of Reference to allow the Cabinet Committee to agree any new development sites that may be added to the House-building programme.
Reasons for Recommendation:
Currently, the Cabinet Committee was only authorised, in its Terms of Reference, to approve any feasibility studies for sites that appeared on the original list of 65 sites approved by the Cabinet in 2012, each of which had now been considered and had either obtained Planning Permission or an alternative option agreed.
In order to avoid adding work to the Cabinet process, this report sought to delegate authority to the Director of Communities to identify sites, undertake a feasibility study and viability study before presenting the outcome to the Cabinet Committee, whose Terms of Reference would need to be amended to reflect this process.
Other Options Considered:
To take each new site to the Cabinet for approval in the first instance as was the current procedure. However, this created unnecessary anxiety for local residents where sites may not even be viable in the first place. This also was work that could be delegated to the Cabinet Committee to free up valuable time for the Cabinet.