To consider the report of the Chief Executive & Growth Director.
RECOMMENDED that Council note the progress on the Exeter Development Fund Strategic Case and, recognising the complexity of the matter, agree to:
(1) additional, dedicated briefings for Members on the strategic case and, when published, on the full business case; and
(2) a report be presented to the Strategic Scrutiny Committee on the full business case including, if considered appropriate, the formation of a Task and Finish Group to review this in detail.
Reason for Decision: As set out in the report.
The Executive received the report on the strategic case for the Exeter Development Fund, which had been included as an appendix to the report presented at the meeting. The report set out the funding concept, which would combine public and private sector finances to transform the built environment. Work was ongoing to develop the business case, which would be presented to Members for their approval.
The Chief Executive & Growth Director highlighted the pivotal role of this work in developing the vision as set out in the Liveable Exeter Programme and discussed the complexity of the strategic case.
Members had set out a clear ambition in regards to the delivery of Net Zero and supporting active travel to help solve mobility and congestion issues. Members noted the current planning system alone could not deliver the required infrastructure or achieve net zero goals. Planning on its own could not deliver the quality of neighbourhoods and community infrastructure required, leaving local authorities to invest on infrastructure.
The new model was based on public sector investment and with equity investment from the Government to create a finance model at the commencement of the project to deliver the infrastructure to control how housing development was undertaken. Any increase in value would ensure that all financial returns would be repaid to the public sector.
Members noted that there were issues to address, but if successful it would be a major change for the public sector. The concept objectives stated that it would be publicly owned, impact driven for place making, professionally run with locally retained profits. The Strategic Business Case would also be presented to the Strategic Scrutiny Committee, who may decide to establish a Task & Finish Group to understand the detail and would include relevant professionals and partners to explain the detail behind the Business Case.
Councillor D. Moore, as an opposition leader, spoke on the item, and thanked the Chief Executive & Growth Director for the report. She referred to the Exeter Development Fund in the report appendix and agreed that finance was needed to invest in the transformation of the economy and built environment to achieve the net zero target. She enquired on the following strategic issues which would be beneficial for when the report would be presented to the Strategic Scrutiny Committee:-
· at the Council meeting in July 2021, in response to a question on which Council assets had been used to model the funding, it was stated that it wasn’t known at that time. What were the principles underpinning the business model and was it intended that the assets put into the fund by the council in exchange for equity council owned assets or ones that might be developed as a result of the fund, such as build to rent property?
· although the focus on the achievement of Liveable Exeter was welcomed, there was more to be done across Exeter such as retrofitting the current housing stock. It was explained at the Audit and Governance Committee that the Council would not be ... view the full minutes text for item 6