To provide an update on progress to date and the current position regarding the North Essex Garden Communities Project and to seek the approval of key documents which are necessary to enable North Essex Garden Communities Limited to operate more effectively.
a) the implementation of an Interim Business Plan (subject to confirmation of Government funding) for NEGC Ltd for 2018/19 including the associated Budget, as set out in Appendix A to item A.3 of the Report of the Leader of the Council, be approved;
b) the Financial Procedure Rules for NEGC Ltd, as set out in Appendix B to the above mentioned report, be approved;
c) this Council’s Section 151 Officer be authorised to agree any allocation of the project funds held by Colchester Borough Council between NEGC and the North Essex Authorities;
d) the commitment of £100,000 from the Garden Communities Budget in 2018/19 upon a formal request by way of a NEGC Board resolution be approved;
e) a report be submitted to a future meeting of the Cabinet in respect of funding assumptions for 2019/20; and
f) the preparation of a full options appraisal of the Garden Communities delivery options to enable Members to take future decisions on potential Development Corporation proposals, with linked oversight arrangements between the North Essex Authorities, be approved.
Councillor Stock OBE had earlier in the meeting declared a Personal Interest in this item insofar as he was a Director on the Board of Directors of North Essex Garden Communities Limited.
The Cabinet gave consideration to a comprehensive report of the Leader of the Council (A.3) which provided it with an update on progress to date and the current position regarding the North Essex Garden Communities Project and which also sought its approval of key documents which were necessary to enable North Essex Garden Communities Limited (NEGC Ltd) to operate more effectively.
The Cabinet was advised that that the report did not, other than for information, address any Local Plan issues. Decisions relating to the Local Plan and any wider planning functions would be dealt with separately and that any decisions made in relation to, or by, NEGC Ltd could not predetermine or prejudge the outcome of the proper Local Plan process.
Members were aware that NEGC Ltd had been established in January 2017 by Braintree District, Colchester Borough, Tendring District and Essex County Councils (the company shareholders) and was the strategic delivery vehicle for the North Essex Garden Communities project. The basis for this was the Councils’ shared ambition to promote, plan and deliver sustainable strategic growth at scale and over the long-term; providing the housing, employment and necessary supporting infrastructure required to ensure the best outcomes for current and future communities of North Essex.
It was reported that to date NEGC Ltd had developed its strategic rationale and operational capacity with the support of both its shareholder Councils, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) and key national agencies such as Homes England. The North Essex Garden Communities project was part of the national Garden Towns Villages & Cities programme run by MHCLG which provided direct access to other Garden Towns with associated learning and knowledge/information sharing opportunities, and resources. NEGC Ltd was the largest and most ambitious project in this programme.
Cabinet was informed that the role of NEGC Ltd had been successfully developed to the point where it was a fully operational company recognised by the public and private sectors and local communities, as the focal point for the North Essex Garden Communities project. This had included developing a strategic proposition for the North Essex Garden Communities which had gained significant traction with key Government departments and the development industry.
The report now before Cabinet sought the Council’s, as one of the four shareholders, continued support for North Essex Garden Communities Ltd as the strategic delivery vehicle for the North Essex Garden Communities projects through the approval of an Interim Business Plan, Budget and Financial Procedures.
Members were made aware that the Board of NEGC Ltd had agreed an Interim Business Plan for 2018-19 for approval by its shareholders which set out the vision, objectives, work streams and funding requirements for the company in order to continue to support the delivery of North Essex Garden Communities. Key tasks during the year would be to evolve ... view the full minutes text for item 84