To consider the following Regeneration related reports scheduled for Cabinet consideration on 29 September 2021:
· BCP: New Approach to Regeneration
· High Streets and District Centres Strategy
· Spending Priorities for Strategic CIL
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 Broadhead, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Economy and Strategic Planning. Also invited are Lead Members for Regeneration and Highstreets Councillors Dunlop, Baron, Kelly and Brooks.
The Cabinet report for this item is included with the agenda for consideration by the Overview and Scrutiny Board.
BCP: New Approach to Regeneration - The Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Economy and Strategic Planning presented a report, a copy of which had been circulated to each member of the Board and a copy of which appears as Appendix 'C' to these minutes in the Minute Book. The Portfolio Holder and officers addressed a number of points raised by the Board including:
· A concern was raised regarding the implications of not achieving transformation savings on the commitments now in place. Savings on regeneration had been effectively halved. There were a number of different ways to address the sites outlined. It was not expected that a majority would be delivered directly. Preparation would be required, and the financial envelope was considered in a separate budget monitoring paper.
· In response to a question the Board was advised that there were very low borrowing rates at present and that this represented an opportunity for investment. It was noted that the first quarter budget monitoring report for 2021/22 set out two levels, should the scheme, at any point in future, need to be rebooted.
· A Councillor commented that the scheme seemed ambitious, but debt ridden and there was a 150 percent jump in budgeted spend. It was noted that there was a projected £12.6m overspend for the year and transformation savings had already been halved. It was suggested that it may be a good idea to defer agreeing to additional spending until after there had been an opportunity to consider the medium-term financial plan.
The meeting adjourned to address technical issues from 4:28pm to 4:36pm.
· The Portfolio Holder advised that the numbers were small in the context of what was trying to be achieved for the area. It needed to be taken in context of the budget for development over the next five years. The recommendation for approval of resources for 2022/23 would form part of the budget proposals and Council would not sign off this matter until December. The Development Lead advised that there was demand for development and investment in studies at the beginning, was needed to ensure that the right options were progressed.
· A Councillor questioned how the Urban Regeneration Company would operate with inhouse functions and how they would work together to deliver projects. It was noted that there was a formal arrangement between the Council and the company as laid out in the report. There would be a full business plan for the urban regeneration company which would be coming forward in the next month. There would be a commissioning plan and contract in place. Expertise from the Urban Regeneration Team was needed to pull everything together. The Lead Officer advised that the URC Business Plan and the Council’s Commissioning Plan would be mirror documents of each other. These would ensure key value for money and other success criteria. There would be regular reporting in to ensure governance was sound at appropriate gateway stages. It would provide a dual role of both enabling and monitoring.
· A Councillor commented that the Board would like to see the governance set up, as had been requested previously. It was also noted that there was expected to be cross party representation on the board of the URC. There was further work coming in in next couple of months on the URC business plan, which was supported by external advisers.
· A Councillor commented that an additional £3.4m in-year seemed a significant increase. It was suggested that this should be put into a future budget and not this year’s budget. The Portfolio Holder was asked to confirm if the £3.4m was for the URC and what the costs were for the recommendations in relation to the BDC. The Chief Financial officer advised that the make up on £3.404m was detailed in the report – £1.375m was extra towards the URC and £1.649m for development enabling costs. There was also £384k towards seafront projects and Poole Quay. All of these were revenue resource requests. In terms of BDC this was the findings of the local partnerships review. These would be reviewed and implemented and would come back for decision. It was confirmed that the BDC issues were not included as part of the £3.404m.
Following discussion, it was moved by Cllr M Cox and seconded by Cllr L Dedman that Recommendation C as outlined in the report should be deleted and replaced with the following, “Cabinet notes the current year projected overspend of £12.6m and recommends that the approval of 3.404m of additional resources be put on hold until there is greater clarity from the updated MTFP in October or November”.
In discussion on the motion members commented that this funding was required as investment but there was also concern that the issues were being rushed through.
Voting: 5 in favour, 10 against
The move was therefore not carried.
The Chairman noted that there was a positive plan in place to improve our towns but noted that the issues raised would probably be around for sometime.
High Streets and District Centres Strategy – The Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Economy and Strategic Planning and the Lead Member for BCP Retail Strategy and Christchurch Regeneration presented a report, a copy of which had been circulated to each member of the Board and a copy of which appears as Appendix 'D' to these minutes in the Minute Book. The Lead Member and officers addressed a number of points raised by the Board including:
· Board members commented that it was good to hear that Broadstone, Highcliffe and Kinson would be part of a pilot scheme and it would be good to hear more about it in future.
· A Councillor expressed their thanks to officers for sharing the report in August with ward councillors affected by district centres and providing them with an opportunity to influence it.
· In response to a question regarding where the funding would be targeted, it was confirmed by the Director for Economic Development that it would be through other areas not covered by the three Business Improvement Districts which the Councillor had suggested placed them at a disadvantage.
· A Councillor asked why the results of the survey which took place some time ago hadn’t been analysed. It was noted that this included 19 different centres and the reimagining report did draw some of the outcomes from the survey together and provided a pointer for issues but there was fine tuning which needed to be addressed to start forming a proper action plan.
· It was suggested that there was a tendency to a generic approach around issues such as parking. Reductions in car parking charges for longer stays wouldn’t provide support to district centres as people didn’t tend to spend long periods of time there. Officers were asked if there were any initiatives which would target district centres. This was being looked at through an economic and community lens and it was hoped that issues like this could be picked up in terms of developing a way forward. It was recognised that these things existed and influenced the high street, but the strategy wasn’t about addressing them directly.
· A Councillor commented that there was very little in the report around community buildings and uses. Buildings in high streets could be put to community use but this was not covered at all within the plan. It was suggested that groups and how they went about meeting post-covid was very important.
· A Councillor commented on the place marketing strategy and the descriptive wording. It was suggested that there should be a focus on the different local towns and areas. The Lead Member suggested that successful areas had a strong place identity and that a lot of positive issues could come from this.
The Chairman thanked the Members and Officers for the report and the work that had gone into this.
The Chairman advised the Board that due to the time the next report on ‘Spending Priorities for Strategic CIL’ would be deferred to the 6.00pm meeting.