Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: Yes
The Cabinet considered a report of the deputy Chief Executive (Place), the purpose of which was to confirm the value of the grant available to the Council and notify members of the intention to bring this additional resource into the capital programme to commence detailed negotiations leading to the site clearance and remediation of three sites in Oldham town centre: the Civic Centre and Queen Elizabeth (QE) Hall, the former leisure centre site and the former Magistrates Court.
The Government had recently announced a second funding round of the Brownfield Land Release Fund (BLRF2) where up to £60 million of funding was made available. The closing date for bidding applications was 31st March 2023.
The aims of BLRF2 were to: release council-owned land within three years of receiving the funding, for housing development that otherwise would not come forward during the programme period; to encourage the use of public assets to drive innovative delivery, where possible supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) / Low and Medium Volume Builders (LMVBs), creating new delivery models, supporting high-quality design and adopting modern methods of construction; and to demonstrate a return for government investment into these small sites.
The funding would provide up front capital to address viability issues arising from abnormal costs of the proposed development. The type of abnormal costs requiring funding may include but were not limited to:
· Site levelling, groundworks, demolition, remediation;
· Provision of small-scale infrastructure;
· Highways works or other access challenges;
· Addressing environmental constraints;
· External works, substructure and piling;
· Asbestos removal;
· Sewer diversions.
Oldham Council had submitted three proposals that focussed on site remediation and demolitions. These were the Civic Centre and QE hall site, the former Magistrates Court and the former leisure site. The Council was recently notified that all three site proposals were approved and acceptance of the grant had to be signed before 16th August 2023. Due to the urgent timescale, the Director of Finance signed this on behalf of the Council. Retrospective approval of the grant acceptance was therefore being sought from the Cabinet.
a. Option 1 – That the Council doesn’t accept the offer of grant from the Brownfield Land Release Fund Round 2 and inform DLUHC and GMCA of the decision not to progress with the grant acceptance.
b. Option 2 – That Oldham Council progress the project proposals and confirm acceptance of the grant programme. The funding provides an opportunity to clear the sites and progress to development without a reliance on the Council Capital Programme.
That the Cabinet accepts the grant offer from the Brownfield Land Release Fund (Round 2) and that the funding be incorporated into the Council’s Capital Programme for use, as set out in the submitted report.
Publication date: 15/11/2023
Date of decision: 13/11/2023
Decided at meeting: 13/11/2023 - Cabinet
Effective from: 22/11/2023