Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: For Determination
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: No
Recommendation to the cabinet that Highways
England Growth and Housing Fund (GHF) £3.050,000 will be
included within the Council Budget for 2019/20 and 2020/21 and to
prevent the fund being lost.
The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder introduced the report which explained that the South Lakeland Local Plan had allocated a range of significant housing sites in South Ulverston. Planning applications had started to come forward and construction had begun on one site, with developer commitment to deliver on others. There remained, however, a significant capacity constraint at the junction of the A590/Pennington Lane/Main Road (Cross-a-Moor junction), and a new roundabout was required.
The Cross-a-Moor junction improvement project would enable the construction of a new roundabout, delivered by Highways England, unlocking private sector investment and the development of !,062 new homes at Swarthmoor, Ulverston.
The funding secured so far consisted of a grant of £3,050,000 from Highways England Growth and Housing Fund, £1.735m through Section 106 developer contributions and £300,000 from South Lakeland District Council (included in the Capital Programme last approved by Council on 25 February 2020).
A tripartite legal agreement for the scheme between Highways England, South Lakeland District Council and Cumbria County Council (as accountable body on behalf of Cumbria Local Economic Enterprise) had been prepared, but had not yet been finalised due to the requirement for final works costs to be agreed between all parties and for any gaps in funding to be addressed.
Approval was sought for the transfer of the remaining amount of Highways England’s Growth and Housing Fund Grant - £2,878,357 – by the end of March 2020 and for this to be held in a separate account by the Council until the scheme progressed. The Council would retain the interest on the monies held. The final scheme costs were still required to be agreed and finalised and the Council was not committing to fund any further financial contributions by signing this agreement.
The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder explained that the Council would make it clear that it was not the Lead Authority and that it had no additional responsibilities arising from this decision.
The Housing and Innovation Portfolio Holder, in support of the recommendation, stated this was a significant decision of great importance. There was a need for this development. It would contribute to the Council priorities and facilitate economic growth and increase the potential for housing within the area. All to accord with its Local Plan priorities. In highlighting the alternative option that funding would be lost and the scheme would not be delivered, he supported the proposal. The Council was stepping forward and taking the responsibility and he considered it to be a very important decision.
Note – The proposal met the definition of a key decision in the Council’s Constitution as it would incur income above £100,000. Due to the matter having just arisen, it had not been possible for the proposal to be included in a Forward Plan at least 28 clear days before the decision was to be made. In accordance with paragraph 15 of the Access to Information Procedure Rules in Part 4 of the Constitution, the Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s had been informed that the taking of the decision was urgent and could not reasonably be deferred because of the need to secure the funding allocated by Highways England.
In addition, the Constitution stated that the call-in procedure should not apply where a decision being taken by the Cabinet was urgent and any delay likely to be caused by the call-in process would, for example, seriously prejudice the Council’s or the public’s interests. In accordance with paragraph 16(j) of the Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules within Part 4 of the Constitution, the Chairman of the Council had been consulted and had agreed that the decision proposed was reasonable in all the circumstances and for it to be treated as a matter of urgency and that the call-in process should be waived.
RESOLVED – That
(1) the remaining grant amount of £2,878,357 be accepted from Highways England’s Growth and Housing Fund;
(2) the Growth and Housing Fund monies be released back to the project owner (Highways England) for the delivery of the improvements when notice is served by Highways England; and
(3) authority be delegated to the Section 151 Officer to sign the letter accepting the monies and repayment terms.
Reasons for Decision
This is a financial decision which assists in the funding of Cross-a-Moor junction improvement which will ensure delivery of over 1,000 dwellings in south Ulverston on sites allocated in the adopted Local Plan. It will, thus, assist in the Council’s priority for delivering housing, affordable house and economic growth. The scheme is, therefore, significant for the delivery of the Council Plan and the delivery of around 20% of planned housing provision in the Local Plan to 2025.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected
Do not approve the recommendation – The amount of £2,878,357 would be lost, as it is a requirement of this grant funding that the money has been transferred out of Highways England’s accounts by 31 March 2020. There is no alternative partner to accept the GHF grant and this would leave the project with a significant deficit and a high risk of non-delivery. If the scheme does not proceed, it will reduce both the amount of housing that can be delivered in the south of Ulverston and the growth potential in the area in the next Local Plan review. Reduced housing development will also reduce affordable housing provision, reduce wider benefits for economic growth and reduce income from Council Tax, New Homes Bonus and the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).
Report author: Anna Brisley
Publication date: 20/03/2020
Date of decision: 18/03/2020
Decided at meeting: 18/03/2020 - Cabinet