Issue - decisions
Councillor George Davies introduced a report and informed that in November 2017, Wirral Council had submitted a bid to Central Government for £6,004,160 from the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) programme, to support housing development in Wirral Waters. Wirral Waters was the only scheme within Wirral that met the HIF programme criteria. Cabinet Members noted that the process was highly competitive as the programme was heavily oversubscribed but in February 2018 Central Government had announced, in principle, that the bid from the Council had been successful.
Councillor George Davies reported that he was delighted that the bid had been successful and that the funding would support the delivery of over 1,000 properties at Northbank, Wirral Waters which would include the Urban Splash development, the Belong Urban Village and the Wirral Waters One project. Together with the Wirral Waters One development, this scheme represented a step change to the residential offer in the East Wirral housing market. It would fund a range of infrastructure works which would unlock further residential and commercial development in Wirral Waters and add to the creation of a new community within the dockland area.
Following a process of due diligence by Homes England the scheme had been formally approved in February 2019. The report set out the detail of the HIF funded programme and sought authority to accept the grant from Homes England and to allocate the funding to Peel Holdings to deliver the scheme.
The Cabinet noted that the Wirral Plan had a pledge to deliver good quality housing that met the needs of residents, through creating 3,500 new homes and improving a further 3,500 homes by 2020. The three residential developments at Wirral Waters would together result in some 1,106 residential units being delivered and, as they would be constructed on brownfield vacant land, it would help to reduce the pressures on development in Wirral’s Green Belt.
The Cabinet also noted that the proposals contained in the report contributed to a number of the pledges within the Wirral Plan, including:
· Increase inward investment
· Greater job opportunities in Wirral
· Good quality housing that meets the needs of residents
The appendix to the report was not for publication by virtue of paragraph 3 (Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person) under Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 as amended (Minute No. 76 refers).
Cabinet Members noted that other options considered had been to do nothing but that would not have secured grant funding for the development of Wirral Waters.
Cabinet Members also noted that planning permission for the East Float had been approved in May 2012. A number of options for Northbank had been developed looking at place making, scale, height, density, unit types, parking, informed by market testing and viability. Funding support was required given the viability issues associated with the site for these to progress.
Initial options had included higher rise perimeter blocks with towers and podium parking. This had proved unviable due to the high costs of building structure and piling. Later options had included lower buildings with taller towers at key points and at grade parking. This had been unviable due to the lower densities created by extensive at grade parking areas.
The preferred option was to progress medium rise typologies with managed parking - 'at grade', covered with amenity space and in curtilage - together with a high quality public realm and public transport infrastructure. The soft market testing had confirmed that a high quality environment, public realm and distinct residential typologies are needed to build confidence, attract market interest and raise values. This option would not be delivered without the Housing Infrastructure funding.
This was a Key Decision and affected all Wards within the Borough.
Councillor Anita Leech informed that she was delighted to receive the report. She thought that it was fantastic news that this funding would deliver 1106 homes and create the infrastructure to create further residential and commercial development on brown field sites.
(1) the decision from Homes England, on behalf of Central Government, to award £6,004,160 to Wirral Council for delivery of Phase 1 of the regeneration of Wirral Waters, and the funding conditions as specified by Homes England in Appendix 1 to this report be noted;
(2) authority be delegated to the Director with Portfolio in consultation with the Director of Governance and Assurance to negotiate and conclude a grant agreement with Homes England to mirror the terms in Appendix 1 to the report;
(3) authority be delegated to the Director with Portfolio in consultation with the Director of Governance and Assurance to negotiate and enter into a grant agreement with Peel Holdings Land and Property (UK) Limited to reflect and deliver the terms of the funding offer from Homes England; and
(4) the Director with Portfolio be authorised to ensure the scheme is delivered, and that monitoring and progress reports are provided, in accordance with the conditions of the grant agreement.