This report is about considering entering into a Homes England pilot working arrangement ahead of a potential future wider collaboration agreement.
In introducing this item Councillor Peter Butlin explained the importance of the proposed property company to the Covid-19 Recovery Strategy. The role of Homes England in assisting with this pilot was emphasised.
Councillor Izzi Seccombe thanked officers for their hard work on the project. The experience they had brought to it was invaluable. Councillor Seccombe added that the property company will help to ensure that the right homes are built in the right locations.
Councillor Keith Kondakor commended the references to sustainability in the report adding that new developments should be based on the concept of the “walkable neighbourhood” with schools, GP surgeries and shops within easy walking distance. In addition, such facilities should be available early on in the life of the development. Nuneaton was cited where major housing development is being undertaken but services have yet to be provided.
Councillor Jerry Roodhouse welcomed the report observing that it is unusual for Homes England to work with a local authority in this way. He noted the proposal for the development of solar farms on small holdings and emphasised the need for robust project management to reduce the risks.
Councillor Jeff Clarke (Portfolio Holder for Transport and Planning) welcomed the project and the opportunities it will present to the Transforming Nuneaton initiative. Members’ attention was drawn to paragraph 3.5 and the stated aims of Homes England in working with the Council.
Councillor Kam Kaur (Portfolio Holder for Customer and Transformation) emphasised the need for strong governance to reduce risks. Each scheme will be assessed on its merits. Cost/benefit should not be established solely in financial terms but also in social terms.
Councillor Helen Adkins (Leader of the Labour Group) stressed the need to develop amenities and services as well as housing and called for every effort to be made to avoid the development of sub-standard housing.
Councillor Dave Parsons reminded Cabinet that mainstream developers have a responsibility to provide affordable and social housing. The County Council initiative should not be regarded by them as a means of avoiding those responsibilities. To this Councillor Izzi Seccombe agreed but she did remind members that affordable housing allocations are the responsibility of the district and borough councils.
Councillor John Holland observed that as well as building developments on the edge of towns people should be encouraged to move back into town centres.
In closing Councillor Peter Butlin noted that when, in the past, the Council had disposed of property for development it had relinquished control over it. The property company will allow the Council to retain some control to ensure the right development is undertaken. He agreed that good governance will be essential and that people should be encourage to live in and use town centres more.
1) Approves Warwickshire County Council entering into a pilot arrangement on the basis set out in this paper ahead of a potential future collaboration agreement with Homes England.
2) Authorises the Strategic Director for Resources to enter into the pilot arrangement on terms ... view the full minutes text for item 3