To consider the following Regeneration, Economy and Strategic Planning related reports scheduled for Cabinet consideration on 23 June 2021:
· Approval of the 5-year rolling BDC Business Plan
· High Street Strategy
The O&S Board is asked to scrutinise the reports and make recommendations to Cabinet as appropriate.
Cabinet member invited to attend for this item: Councillor P Broadhead, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Economy and Strategic Planning
The Cabinet report for this item is included with the agenda for consideration by the Overview and Scrutiny Board.
Approval of the Rolling 5-year BDC Business Plan -
The Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Economy and Strategic Planning introduced the report a copy of which had been circulated to Board members and a copy of which appears as Appendix C to these minutes in the Minute Book. In the ensuing discussion a number of issues were raised, including:
· A Board member questioned why the BDC was not being expanded to take on further development instead of the new urban regeneration vehicle. It was noted that they were different entities and vehicles for regeneration in BDC. The previous authority was asset rich and resource poor in terms of both finances and people but there was more of a mixed model approach in terms of regeneration options and there were more in-house assets.
· Whether the property and investment requirements for the winter gardens were changing due to changes in the property market and whether there was a fundamental change required in the overall strategy. It was noted that the options agreement was now 10 years old, previously the intention was to take surplus land which Bournemouth had, predominately car parks, and develop these with a partner.
· The Board questioned how the decision was taken to add or remove sites from the options agreement and what the consequences were if no further sites were added. The Portfolio holder advised that this was a decision which needed to be taken by the Cabinet. Any decision would need Cabinet or Council approval as they would involve the transfer of land. If no further sites were to be added, then the company would be wound down. The Business Plan outlined how this would be done, this would also require Council approval.
· A Board member noted that the sustainability section was weak and should be made stronger to include, excellence targets and commitments brought into BDC’s future development plans. The Portfolio Holder responded that improvements could be made on the sustainability agenda. However, this was focused on a project by project basis but may need more development to be embedded in.
· A Board member raised concerns with viability issues on the Cotlands Road and Winter Gardens developments, if these were not able to be delivered it would bring into question viability of the partnership itself. This was an important issue and it was also important to be providing housing for the local people. The Portfolio Holder confirmed that it was less about financial viability but what was proposed in the development for the Cotlands Road site needed to be considered. It was noted that finances for the Winter Gardens Site had not changed since October 2020 but suggested that a member briefing on this may be of benefit
· In response to a question it was noted that external developers look at models which have been used elsewhere, targeting people who are able to access finance and maximise profit. None of which help address issues within the local area.
· It was suggested that the format of the business plan should be changed as currently it was more in the form of an annual update.
· in relation to a question about the Town Hall Annex site it was noted that this would only be released if it was not required for office accommodation and only developed in accordance with the estate strategy.
· A Councillor commented that moving forward a solid review was required on what BDC was developing. The Portfolio Holder responded that people were also moving into urban centres but there would be a need to do some more work on this in future, although the market was directing things.
· In response to a query it was confirmed that the Business Plan was written in combination between Council officers and Muse. The Business Plan itself comes from the BDC and was approved by the BDC Board Members.
· An issue was raised in relation to affordable housing in developments and it was noted that the BDC had made contributions to affordable housing. The Portfolio Holder advised that he would seek clarification on this point and respond.
High Street Strategy – The Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Economy and Strategic Planning outlined the key elements of the report, a copy of which had been circulated to Board members and a copy of which appears at Appendix D to these minutes in the Minute Book. During consideration of the report the Board raised a number of issues including:
· It was noted that the survey could not be replied on completely. In relation to input on the Christchurch area the Portfolio Holder advised that he wanted to work with Christchurch Town Council. There was concern that development proposals had been shared within the administration but not more widely with ward councillors. It was noted that the email referred to was a private email with suggestions for the area and was not anything which had been agreed. A number of the ideas may be taken forward, but this would be with wider member engagement. The Portfolio Holder advised that he would encourage others to do the same.
· A Board member asked about street trading and how this was being monitored, how pavement space was being utilised for it and what provision was being made for it. There may also be provision of space for people to dwell on the street scene.
· A query was raised about areas spending their own money on things when a number of the areas outlined in the report also supported other areas, for example Broadstone. It was noted that significant infrastructure was not expected to be funded in this way. It was confirmed that funding would be based on need.
· A Councillor advised that with regards to the empty shops’ strategy feedback had been received that landlords and agents hadn’t been asked about this. Further information was requested on what could be expected from officers in terms of this work. It was noted that something was being put together so that Councillors with district centres in their wards could consider what would be beneficial to them.
· A Board member suggested that there should be more engagement with the Lead Member for Retail Strategy and ward Councillors, particularly when the Lead Member was looking at the 19 different high streets within BCP.
· There was no mention of public transport within the report. Issues concerning the Bus station and development of an electric bus network were discussed. The Portfolio Holder advised that there had been discussion with central government about being a trial area for an electric bus network as there were more than half a million people in the travel to work area.
· It was suggested to set aside some time in the Board meetings to invite Lead Members to address Board.
· It was noted that the survey was online and part of the reason for undertaking the survey was to test the technology which meant that the survey results were self-selecting.
The Chairman closed the discussion by thanking the Portfolio Holder for presenting both reports.