Shaping Guildford's Future (formerly GERP) Stage 3 Funding
This report is to follow.
(1) To endorse the Stage 2 Shaping Guildford’s Future report and approve proceeding to Stage 3.
(2) To approve the transfer of £3.070 million from the provisional to the approved capital programme to enable the Council to deliver Stage 3 of the programme.
(3) To authorise the Joint Strategic Director of Place, in consultation with the Lead Councillor for Regeneration, to finalise Heads of Terms, Memorandums of Understanding, Terms of Reference, negotiate, sign and complete legal agreements relating to the Shaping Guildford’s Future programme.
(4) To authorise the Joint Strategic Director of Place, in Consultation with the Lead Councillor for Regeneration, to enter into contracts and legal agreements connected with the Shaping Guildford’s Future project as may be necessary at reasonable costs within the approved budget.
(5) To authorise the Joint Strategic Director of Place, in consultation with the Lead Councillor for Regeneration, to review all governance arrangements in relation to the Shaping Guildford’s Future programme.
· To support the delivery of the Council’s Corporate Plan (2021-2025) priorities, by delivering a proactive strategy to address the economic and physical constraints facing the town.
· To ensure that governance arrangements around the Shaping Guildford’s Future programme remain fit for purpose
Other options considered and rejected by the Executive:
OPTION 1: To not endorse the programme and cease work, thereby delaying the delivery of a strategy to support the economic regeneration of Guildford town centre which requires flooding remediation currently blighting major sites. However, it is likely that without such a strategy, sites will remain undeveloped, or development will come forward in an uncoordinated manner and fail to address the substantial existing constraints; and deliver the overarching objectives and greater benefits achievable through a masterplan approach. If the project is abandoned, there would be £2.1m “sunk costs” to be written off.
OPTION 2: To commit the secured SCC grant funding to progress with the Environment Agency Flood Alleviation Scheme feasibility work only. However, without the progression of the wider masterplan work, sites will remain undeveloped, and it would be challenging for the Council to apply for additional grant funding to complement EA funding to support the delivery of the FAS. The broader development potential associated with the flood alleviation work would also not be realised.
Details of any conflict of interest declared by the Leader or lead councillors and any dispensation granted:
The Leader of the Council preferred to take the report as the first substantive item of business and referred the Executive to the Supplementary Information Sheet which confirmed that proposed decisions in the report to proceed to Stage 3, the transfer of £3.070 million from the provisional to the approved capital programme to enable the Council to deliver Stage 3 of the programme, together with the accompanying delegated authority were, appropriately and lawfully, decisions for the Executive, not full Council, to take.
Appendix 6 to the report (Stage 3 – Deliverables) which had been marked “to follow” in the report had been published the day before the meeting. A copy of Appendix 6 was attached to this Supplementary Information Sheet.
Before this matter was considered, a presentation was made to the Executive delivered by the Lead Councillor for Regeneration, Councillor John Rigg; the Joint Strategic Director of Place, Dawn Hudd; the Regeneration Lead Officer, Michael Lee-Dixon; along with private sector partners Andreas Markides and David Leonard Architects. A copy of the presentation had been circulated to all councillors earlier in the day.
The meeting heard from the Lead Councillor for Regeneration that the Shaping Guildford’s Future (SGF) project was an holistic initiative designed to address the key challenges facing the town centre in terms of housing need, areas of flood risk, traffic congestion and opportunities for commercial growth. Over the past three years the Council had undertaken work to develop the masterplan including consultation with the community and stakeholders with the aim of reinvigorating the town by ‘opening up’ the riverside; improving alternative, sustainable and affordable transportation, as well as making the centre a more attractive place to live, work and visit. The masterplan included several separate workstreams that needed to be developed in a simultaneous and complementary way.
It was noted that, during recent years, major commercial partners had withdrawn from Guildford and in some circumstances had left buildings that were owned by the Council itself, such as Liongate. Guildford was described as not currently competitive enough to neither retain nor attract new business due to a combination of a lack of appropriate housing and commercial space. There was a lack of starter homes, bedsits, studios and 1 and 2-bedroom affordable homes. The masterplan could deliver up to 2,600 such homes within a 15-minute walk to the town centre with all its amenities and no need for car ownership in contrast to other greenbelt developments.
The masterplan strategy had identified four ‘zones’ in the town centre which might be delivered separately to one another as opportunities arose and with differing development timescales over a five to twenty-year period. It was noted that the masterplan could deliver the holistic benefit to the town that ad-hoc development could not. The Council itself owned much of the freehold land within the zoned areas but would work with partners to deliver its objectives. The Lead Councillor for Regeneration stressed that the Council had a duty to protect the greenbelt areas of the borough ... view the full minutes text for item 34