Ruling due on £4m of funding for council to create local development company

Councillors will make a decision to approve 4m of funding
Councillors will make a decision to approve 4m of funding

Councillors will be asked to help get the ball rolling for a borough’s local development company by agreeing to include £4 million in Calderdale Council’s capital programme.

Funded by prudential borrowing, it will be loan funding for the company which will have to pay it back over a four and a half year period, if the full council agrees to the loan.

Cabinet discussed the agenda item in private when it met last week but members’ decision has now been released.

Cabinet member for Planning, Housing and Environment, Coun Dan Sutherland (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden) presented a report seeking approval of the LDC’s Indicative Business Plan (IBP).

This detailed initial financial appraisals and a proposed timetable for delivery of the first three schemes – proposed at Sowerby Bridge, Brighouse and Todmorden.

Both the proposed timetable and number of properties built on any of the three schemes may change from that currently shown in the IBP as and when more detailed information became available following the appointment of an architect and engineer and various essential technical site investigation reports completed, councillors heard.

The twin aims of the LDC are to increase the supply of new for sale and affordable homes and to generate revenue over time which the council could use to further develop the range of activities the LDC undertakes.

They may include delivering more affordable homes and supporting future delivery of council services generally.

The report and its appendices detailed the proposed activity of the LDC which would result in the delivery of around 50 new homes across the borough.

Accepting the IBP would enable the Board of Directors to progress with delivery based on the indicative programme, under the direction of the Shareholder Committee, where relevant, councillors heard.

They noted the IBP, endorsed the principle of schemes aiming to generate a five per cent profit before tax, agreed projects should deliver affordable homes in line with Local Plan policy subject to the financial viability of each scheme and in principle approved the sale of council land to the Local Development Company in line with the council’s usual asset disposal process.

Cabinet also approved the drawdown of funds of up to a limit of £4 million as set out in the Business Plan with the Local Development Company Shareholder Committee, ensuring that the funds are drawn and utilised in an efficient and timely manner, as well as the recommendation to full council outlined above.

Councillor James Baker (Lib Dem, Warley) asked if membership of the LDC should be a council appointment and that that the shareholder committee should be responsible for the Business Plan.

Mark Thompson, the council’s Director, Regeneration and Strategy said the shareholder committee had an important role in shaping and agreeing the Business Plan. The plan was a live document, gave broad parameters and would change.

Cabinet needed to be agreeable to a level of borrowing and once that was in place the Shareholder Committee could agree the Business Plan detail.

Councillor Paul Bellenger (Lib Dem, Greetland and Stainland) said the Corporate Asset and Facilities Management (CAFM) Phase 2 of review of assets owned should be used to the best advantage.

Councillor Barry Collins (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden) responded that CAFM Asset Management Board worked on a cross-party basis and was taking a view on pieces of land and the need to look at all options and opportunities.

Coun Sutherland said it was important to be aware of all sites and possible uses and best deals.

Councillor Geraldine Carter (Con, Ryburn) referred to the IBP and asked at what point the Business Plan would be reconsidered by Cabinet.

She also asked what would happen if Cabinet agreed in principal the sale of a piece of land and the Local Development Company did not agree.

Councillor Sutherland said if there was any dispute it would come back to Cabinet prior to the LDC dealing with the matter.

Leader of the Council, Coun Tim Swift (Lab, Town) said there would be further reports – it was important to revisit and clarify the relationship with the Shareholder Committee and the council.