Agenda item

Executive - 28 February 2022


The minutes of the Executive of 28 February 2022 were presented by the Leader, Councillor Bialyk, and taken as read.  


In respect of Minute No. 37 (Urgent Decision – Exeter City Council’s Response to the Devon Climate Citizens Assembly), the Leader, replying to a Member’s belief that the City Council’s letter in response to the resolutions of the Devon Climate Assembly was incorrect with regard to the fact that the Council is upgrading council house homes to the PAS 2035 retrofit standard not the Passive house retrofit standard known as EnerPHit, undertook to correct any inaccuracy.


Councillor Wood declared a non-pecuniary interest and left the meeting during consideration of the following item.


In respect of Minute No. 38 (Pinhoe Community Hub Business Proposal), the Portfolio Holder for City Management stated that the reference in the minute to the Pinhoe Hub Trustees having raised £750,000 towards the project was incorrect. The Trustees had, instead, made a commitment to match fund Council support for the project. He added that the Hub was a community led project arising from the need to maintain a library service for the area and in response to the significant increase in housing numbers in recent years.


The Leader, in response to a Member’s enquiry relating to questions submitted by another Member at the Executive, advised that:-


·         he would speak with the Member in respect of whether the Council would assist with ongoing running costs if these could not be raised from others sources as this was an issue to be addressed as the Business Case was brought forward; and

·         he would obtain information relating to the ownership of the existing Library land.    


The Leader moved and Councillor Wright seconded the recommendations and following a vote, the recommendations were carried.


In respect of Minute No. 40 (Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985 – Exclusion of Press and Public), the Lord Mayor reminded Members that an objection had been received in relation to Minutes 42 and 43, being considered under Part 2. She advised that Members should have regard to the representations made and the Council’s written response, as set out in the Executive Agenda, dated 28 February 2022, when making a decision as to whether to move to Part 2.


The Leader moved and Councillor Wright seconded the recommendation that, under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of Minutes 41, 42 and 43 on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Part I, of Schedule 12A of the Act.


Following a vote, the recommendation was carried.


The Director Corporate Services declared an interest in Minute Numbers 42 and 43 below as a Director of Exeter City Living and the Exeter City Group and left the meeting during consideration of the following items.


In respect of Minute No. 41 (Hamlin Gardens Housing Scheme), a Member sought deferral of a decision on this matter to re-assess the costs of the project in view of the significant increase in the previously approved budget and subsequent inflationary increases since the identification of the revised budget.


The Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Council Housing Development and Services referred to the impact of both Brexit and the Covid 19 Pandemic on materials availability and costs as well as skills shortages in the industry coupled with a buoyant market, all of which had necessitated an increase in the original budget. Any further delay to re-assess budget figures would lead to a further increase in costs. It was imperative therefore to proceed with the scheme as quickly as possible.


The Leader moved and Councillor Wright seconded the recommendations and following a vote, the recommendations were carried.


In respect of Minute No. 42 (Exeter City Living Business Plan 2022-23), a Member, referring to differences in unit numbers for certain schemes between the report and the Business Plan, the uncertainty over Government Plans for the New Homes Bonus scheme and inflationary increases since the Business Plan had been produced, sought the deferral of the report to assess the costs.


The Leader advised that the housing units referred to were indicative only and that the final numbers sought would be detailed in the respective planning applications. The report had been put to an Extraordinary Council meeting in order to seek approval to proceed as quickly as possible with the Council’s stated ambitions of providing much needed housing in the city and building sustainable communities and neighbourhoods.


The Leader moved and Councillor Wright seconded the recommendations and following a vote, the recommendations were carried.


In respect of Minute No. 43 (A Business Case for the Creation of a Residential Property Company, and in accordance with Standing Order No. 8, the following questions were put by Councillor D. Moore to the Leader.


1          can the costs to date for the development of the business case for the proposed residential property company be confirmed?;


The Leader advised that the total expenditure to date on the Business Case production project is £102,348.75. This was in line with the budget forecast approved by Council previously.


However, this included £4,578.75 of ‘internal costs’ of the Commercial Finance Manager and therefore excludedinternal Exeter City Council/Exeter City Living transfers. The external expenditure to date was £97,770.


2          can an estimate be given of the expected cost for the production of the full business plan for this proposed company?

The Leader advised that, once the Business Case was approved, Exeter City Council would need to confirm the scope of the sites/homes to be included within a formal Business Plan. The number of homes/sites and complexity of matters in the operational solution would influence the cost to produce the Business Plan. At this stage it was not possible to estimate the cost without the extent of the scope being known and confirmed.

Councillor D. Moore, referring to a point she had made at the Executive meeting, stated that the proposal would fail the people of Exeter, especially St. David’s and other city centre wards, forcing people to move out of Exeter in order to find a home. It would also drive others to poor quality rented accommodation as people would be priced out of the rental market or drive up rents as other landlords saw what rents could be achieved in an already over inflated market. Councillor D, Moore stated that housing need was well evidenced and the length of the waiting list often referred to, showed the need for affordable homes to rent in Exeter. 

Councillor D. Moore stated that, if the homes provided were to have rents appropriate for the area, in St. David’s, where a one bed flat could cost £700-800 per month, many people would be unable to afford this level. Councillor D. Moore stated that the proposal was not a good use of Council funds and did not help those who needed an affordable home to rent.


Another Member supported the views expressed by Councillor D. Moore.


Councillor D. Moore called for a named vote in accordance with Standing Order 27. This was supported.


The Portfolio Holder for City Development responded that a Residential Property Company was one of many strands the Council was employing to solve the city’s housing problems. It would provide a much needed additional element to complement the City Council’s own housing stock, the housing stocks of other social providers in the city, the Council’s housing build programme and the policy of seeking 35% affordable housing in new private housing developments. It would provide many who could not afford to buy their own property the opportunity to remain in their community within quality homes and with a responsible landlord.   


Other Members supported the proposal as an innovative and imaginative solution to the ongoing housing crisis in Exeter. It sought to level up the traditional rented market and to lead the way for other landlords to provide quality housing on a fair and protected tenancy basis. It was also an opportunity to respond locally to the national housing crisis which had been exacerbated by the Covid 19 Pandemic and housing trends such as holiday lets and Airbnb.


The Leader commended the recommendations referring to other Devon District Council’s who were seeking to learn from the approach adopted by Exeter.


The Leader moved and Councillor Wright seconded the recommendations.


In accordance with Standing Order 27, a named vote on the recommendations, as set out in the agenda papers, was recorded, as follows:-


Voting for:-


Councillors Allcock, Atkinson, Begley, Bialyk, Branston, Denning, Foale, Hannaford, Harvey, Lights, K. Mitchell, M. Mitchell, Martin, Morse, Pearce, Sheldon, Sparkes, Sutton, Vizard, Wardle, Warwick, Williams, Wood and Wright.


(24 Members)


Voting against:-


Councillors D. Moore and Sparling


(2 Members)




The Lord Mayor  

Councillors Mrs Henson, Holland and Jobson


(4 Members)




Councillors Buswell, Ghusain, Leadbetter, Martin, J. Moore, Newby, Pearson. Quance and Sills


(9 Members)


The recommendations were CARRIED.


RESOLVED that the minutes of the Executive held on 28 February 2022 be received and, where appropriate, adopted.




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