Portfolio Holder – Councillor Carole Jones
The DCLG announced in July 2017 a Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) - a £2.3 billion capital grant programme providing funding to unlock housing sites to help deliver up to 100,000 homes in England. IBC was eligible to make a bid for Marginal Viability Funding which was set out as a one step process for bids up to £10 million.
IBC submitted a bid on the 27th September 2017 for £9,868,351 for the Ipswich Garden Suburb (IGS) to deliver a Country Park and two bridges over the railway line (a cycle/pedestrian bridge and a vehicular bridge).
On the 1st February 2018 it was announced that IBC was successful in its HIF bid. Executive resolved in October 2017 to enter into the necessary Agreements with Homes England in order that the £9.8m and gave the Chief Executive authority to complete relevant contracts.
Crest Nicholson (developer of one of the IGS sites) has agreed to deliver the infrastructure. In order that the HIF funds can be drawn down from Homes England a legal agreement must be entered into at the same time with the Developer (currently likely to be Crest Nicholson) to subcontract all or part of the Council’s obligations under the main contract with HIF on a back-to back basis. The agreement incorporates many of the terms of the main contract by reference.
This report seeks Executive authorisation to enter into this Back to Back agreement.
65.1 Councillor Jones introduced the report, explaining that a bid for Marginal Viability Funding had been successful for the building of two bridges and creation of a country park at a cost of just under £10 million. The report proposed that a back to back agreement be signed with Crest Nicholson, who would then deliver these alongside the housing they would be building. The agreement would also pass the responsibility for meeting conditions of the funding on to Crest Nicholson.
65.2 The Chief Executive confirmed that the Council had signed the agreement for the Marginal Viability Funding before the deadline of 30 September 2019.
65.3 In accordance with Standing Orders Part 3 Section 3 Paragraph 3.5, the following questions were asked:
Question 1 – Councillor I Lockington
Given the Agenda Item on the HIF application to the Executive on the 3rd. of October 2017 said the following about delivery of the Country Park: “Delivery of the Country Park - It has been agreed with the developers of Henley Gate that the Country Park will be delivered, adopted and maintained by IBC having been transferred from the landowner.”
Could the Portfolio Holder for Planning explain how that agrees with the following paragraph on tonight’s Agenda paragraph 1.6, that Crest Nicholson “being best place to construct the Country Park”? With the knowledge of the difficulty we have had in getting Crest Nicholson to finish off the not yet finished Hayhill “Vista” development, can I ask that our Planning Enforcement Officer follow closely the development of the Country Park and will step in if Crest Nicholson do not finish the Country Park at the agreed stage and to the agreed specification?
65.4 Councillor Jones explained that, as set out in the Planning and Development Committee report considered on 4th April 2018, Crest Nicholson owned the land for the Country Park and would be delivering the Country Park using the HIF monies.
65.5 Councillor Jones noted that the draft S106 legal agreement accompanying the planning application contained step-in rights for the Council to undertake the Country Park works if these are not keeping pace with housing occupations on the wider Ipswich Garden Suburb site. There were also S.106 obligations to allow the Council to undertake inspections of the Country Park works and require remedial measures within a set timeframe before the park is adopted by the Council.
65.6 Councillor Jones confirmed that it would be the responsibility of the Planning Department, including the Special Projects Team, to monitor the progress of the entire development, including the Country Park delivery. This progress would also be considered by the Ipswich Garden Suburb Delivery Board, which would consist of Senior Officers and representatives of developers and meet quarterly. If there were to be a breach in the terms of the planning permission or the legal agreement, then planning enforcement action could be considered by the Local Planning Authority if necessary. Councillor Jones commented that she understood the reasons some people had concerns and assured Councillor I Lockington that the progress of the works would be closely scrutinised.
Question 2 – Councillor I Lockington
As the Country Park has within it part of the SUDS drainage system from the Henley Gate site will that part be paid for by the Infrastructure Fund?
65.7 Councillor Jones explained that the Housing Infrastructure Fund award would only pay for the costs associated with landscaping of the Sustainable Drainage attenuation basins in the Country Park. Other costs associated with constructing these features would be paid for by the developer.
65.8 Councillor Fisher asked what protection the parent company guarantee gave the Council if Crest Nicholson were to become insolvent. The Operations Manager - Planning and Development, explained that the responsibilities of Crest Nicholson under the Grant Determination Agreement could be passported onto any successor companies.
65.9 Councillor Jones thanked officers for their hard work in securing the Housing Infrastructure Fund grant.
It was RESOLVED:
that theChief Executive be authorised, in consultation with the Monitoring Officer, the Section 151 Officer, the Legal and Democratic Services Operations Manager and the Head of Development, to enter into a Back to Back agreement with Crest Nicholson or its successors for the delivery of grant funded infrastructure and meeting of housing delivery timescales.
Reason: To enable the Council to meet the necessary timescales and milestones for the delivery of key infrastructure and housing at Ipswich Garden Suburb, that will be the subject of its Grant Determination Agreement with Homes England.