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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 28 July, 2014

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation

 

Welsh Government Tackling Poverty Fund – Vale of Glamorgan Council Grant Application for the Settlement of Barry

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         The purpose of the report is to present to Cabinet the Council's Tackling Poverty Fund application for the settlement of Barry, under the Welsh Government's Vibrant and Viable Places Regeneration Framework.

Recommendations

1.         That the content of the report including the budget proposals set out in paragraph 7 be noted.

2.         That subject to Welsh Government approval of the Council's application for Tackling Poverty Fund, the capital programme is amended to include £333k for 2014/15; £418k for 2015/16; and, £249k for 2016/17.

3.         That subject to Welsh Government approval of the Council's application for Tackling Poverty Fund, the amendment to the Housing Renewal Policy 2014 referred to in paragraph 6 (Appendix 4) in the report be approved.

4.         That the report be forwarded to Economy and Environment Scrutiny Committee for information purposes.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         The report is for noting.

2.         To enable the capital allocation to be managed effectively (subject to Welsh Government approval of the Council's application for Tackling Poverty Fund).

3.         To enable the capital allocation for the Main Street Grant Programme to be managed effectively (subject to Welsh Government approval of the Council's application for Tackling Poverty Fund). 

4.         To keep Economy and Environment Scrutiny Committee apprised.

Background

2.         The Council received notification in September 2013 that its Stage 1 bid (Barry: a centre of growth and opportunity) for Vibrant and Viable Places funding had not progressed to Stage 2.  When announcing the determination of the bid the Welsh Government also announced that the Council should be eligible for a ring-fenced fund aimed at tackling poverty.  In April 2014 the Minister for Housing and Regeneration announced that the Council would be eligible for £1m in capital funding (known as the Tackling Poverty Fund) over the three financial years 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17.  The Council received guidance on how to apply for this funding on 12th June 2014.  A request for the use of emergency powers to submit an application was authorised on 23rd June 2014 to coincide with the Welsh Government's deadline for submitting the application.  At the time of writing it is understood that the Welsh Government will issue a determination letter before the end of this month (July 2014).

3.         In keeping with the Welsh Government's guidance for local authorities (set out at Appendix 1), the Council's Tackling Poverty Fund application (set out at Appendices 2A, 2B and 2C) consists of the following elements:

·               The Outline Business Case for intervention (Appendix 2A) - the guidance states that the applicant is to provide a concise document (2-3 A4 pages) addressing six set questions.

·               The Project Schedule Spreadsheet (Appendix 2B) - the guidance states that the applicant is to provide a brief description of each project (no more than 200 words for each project), a funding profile and estimated outputs against the Vibrant and Viable Places performance indicators.  The Welsh Government also published a document defining and describing their performance indicators which is set out at Appendix 3.

·               To supplement the Outline Business Case and Project Schedule Spreadsheet, the Council also submitted an Indicative Map identifying the areas of targeted regeneration investment (Appendix 2C).  This is considered important as there is a strong geographic correlation in Barry between areas of concentrated deprivation; areas of concentrated social housing; and, traditional shopping areas.

Relevant Issues and Options

5.         As stated above there is a strong geographic correlation in Barry between areas of concentrated deprivation; areas of concentrated social housing; and, traditional shopping areas.  The Communities First Cluster Area is the cornerstone for regeneration activity in this area of Barry and the programme of projects identified in the Council's application reflects and responds to the Cluster Area Plan 2014/15 through physical investment.  In light of this and the guidance issued for local authorities, tackling poverty is therefore an important theme which weaves through the programme of projects identified in the project schedule spreadsheet (set out at Appendix 2B). 

6.         The programme of projects or interventions identified in the Council's application are as follows:

Targeted Regeneration Investment - Barry Town Centre and it's hinterland

·               Town Centre - Third Sector Hub: The Council and its partners wish to effect a step change in the capacity of the Third Sector in Barry and raise the level of voluntary and citizen action in the town.  The current voluntary sector financial model makes them vulnerable to economic pressures and unable to develop the capacity to partner with the Local Authority to provide services to the town's residents.  A time-limited opportunity has arisen as the key bodies charged with promoting and supporting the Third Sector and developing voluntary action, the two local infrastructure organisations, Vale Centre for Voluntary Services (VCVS) and Vale Volunteer Bureau, are committed to a merger by March 2015. The organisations currently have separate premises, neither of which is suitable for a new enlarged and enhanced service.  Funding is being sought for VCVS to commission feasibility work to identify a suitable location in the Town Centre and develop budget costs for the proposed scheme which would also see incubator facilities for community and social enterprises and meeting space to develop collaborative working.

·               Improve Health and Play Opportunities: Work undertaken in 2013 for the Vale of Glamorgan Council Local Development Plan 2011-2026 concludes that there is an overall shortage of children's play space in Barry.  This work also concludes that Castleland ward has an under-provision of children's play space of 0.71ha and of outdoor sport space of 7.76ha.  Funding is being sought to deliver a programme of physical investment in the Castleland ward adding value to activities funded through the Barry Communities First Cluster Plan, s106 financial contributions and Housing Renewal Area.  The programme will involve working with local residents and stakeholders to better understand local needs and deliver quality schemes to meet them.  A key aim of the programme will be to secure improvements to George Street Play Area for a multi use games area and a local equipped area for play.  Match funding is identified in the Council's capital programme.

·               Holton Road Grant Programme: There is a gap and an opportunity for the Council to take the lead and bring benefits not just to traditional shopping areas (in terms of increasing residential footfall) but to the general shortage of affordable housing in Barry.  The market trend has seen demand for shop units fall while the need for affordable and rented homes has grown.  Without the easy mortgage finance of the recent past, responsibility therefore falls on public sector initiatives and the particular need for affordable homes.  Many properties within Barry Town Centre have vacant and redundant space, particularly above retail premises, and this grant seeks to assist owners to bring this redundant empty space back into use for residential purposes, thereby creating vibrancy in the Town Centre, whilst at the same time providing affordable housing for those who work in, or require to be close to, the town centre.  Match funding is identified in the Council's capital programme.

Targeted Regeneration Investment - Main Street Action Plan

·               Main Street Grant Programme: A programme of investment primarily promoting the conversion of empty commercial premises to homes and homes above commercial premises in what was formally a traditional district shopping centre.  The intention is to provide a range of different grants and assistance to tackle identified problems such as housing disrepair; empty properties; area regeneration; poor conditions in the private rented sector; and, home energy efficiency, as well as meeting the critical need for additional affordable housing in Barry and helping to mitigate the impact of Welfare Reforms by supplying one and/or two bed units.

The Regulatory Reform (Housing Assistance) (England and Wales) Order 2002 requires the Council to adopt a Housing Renewal Policy in order that it can provide grants and other forms of assistance to property owners.  The Council meets this requirement through the Housing Renewal Policy 2014.  The Council must amend this Policy to provide the legal power to offer the proposed Main Street Grant Programme.  The amendment to the Housing Renewal Policy 2014 is attached in Appendix 4 and will be inserted into the current policy.  No consultation has been undertaken on the grant products, but they are identical to the assistance offered through the Castleland Renewal Area in Upper Holton Road (Cabinet 10th March 2014, C2237 refers) which was subject to consultation.

·               Improve the Quality of Public Spaces: Work undertaken in 2013 for the Vale of Glamorgan Council Local Development Plan 2011-2026 concludes that there is an overall shortage of children's play space in Barry.  This work also concludes that Cadoc ward has an under-provision of outdoor sport space of 15.34ha.  Physical investment in Victoria Gardens would add value to the Main Street Grant Programme and it's hinterland.  It would also lead to better outcomes for residents in the Communities First cluster area.  Match funding is identified in the Council's capital programme.

Targeted Regeneration Investment - Gibbonsdown Community Regeneration

·               Fuel Poverty Reduction Measures: Employ and train a local person to become an Energy Champion to support the change of residents behaviour in their use of energy at home by providing advice on energy efficiency; providing advice and support on fuel tariffs and fuel debt to directly tackle fuel poverty; and, help reduce carbon emissions.  To support this post an Energy App will be available for some households.  The wireless technology can be viewed by the householder using a TV with set top box and enables the households to visualise the energy being consumed to assist in the behaviour change process.  The post will also support the setting up of a service hub in the former Estate Office to develop lifeskills and add value to the activities funded through the Communities First Cluster Plan.  Funding is being sought for the supply and installation of the App; other fuel poverty capital measures; and, the capital cost of converting and equipping the former Estate Office.  Match funding is identified in the Council's capital programme for the direct running cost of the post.

·               Improve Health and Play Opportunities: Work undertaken in 2013 for the Vale of Glamorgan Council Local Development Plan 2011-2026 concludes that there is an overall shortage of children's play space in Barry.  This work also concludes that Gibbonsdown ward has an under-provision of children's play space of 1.38ha.  Funding is being sought to deliver a programme of physical investment in the Gibbonsdown ward adding value to activities funded through the Barry Communities First Cluster Plan and Welsh Housing Quality Standard.  The programme will involve working with local residents and stakeholders to better understand local needs and deliver quality schemes at Dryden Terrace and Meggitt Road Play Areas.  Match funding is identified in the Council's capital programme.

Targeted Regeneration Investment - legacy programme

·               Making better use of property owned by third sector groups - Third Sector Youth Partnership and Community Internet Café: Funding is being sought for Barry YMCA working in partnership with the Council's Youth Services to refurbish and reduce the size of an existing and unused café area to become a more functional community and internet café which would be managed by a start-up social business providing training and employment opportunities for adults currently outside the employment market.  The refurbished cafe area would create a separate space for Youth Services projects and activities which encourage skills development to engage and progress a young person into education, training, volunteering or employment.  The Youth Engagement and Progression Framework will influence Youth Services work in ensuring that the Hub is utilised for engagement and progression purposes, and particularly in reducing the number of young people Not in Education Employment or Training.  Movement of young people will be tracked and monitored to ensure progression once engaged and add value to the activities funded through the Communities First Cluster Plan.  In addition the café would be also available for use by the wider community, engaging ‘hard to reach’ sectors of the community and providing opportunities for increasing digital literacy.

Monitoring and Evaluation of Targeted Regeneration Investment

·               Monitoring and Evaluation Costs for the programme of projects: The Project Schedule Spreadsheet provides the starting point for analysis, monitoring and evaluation of the programme of projects.  This process will consider both the direct and long-term impact of the programme.  Furthermore, it is important that the consideration of the impact of the programme of projects on different groups, whether intended or unintended, is built into the monitoring and evaluation process.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

7.         The overall estimated cost of the programme of projects identified in the Council's application is £1.423m. The Council has applied for the maximum level of funding from the Welsh Government i.e. £1m.  This represents 70.3% of the overall estimated cost.  The Council will provide match funding to the level of 29.7% i.e. £423k to support the programme of projects outlined in the application. The Council's match funding elements counted in the application are identified in the capital programme.  Barry Regeneration Project Development Fund capital allocation for the years 2014/15 to 2016/17 is the subject of a separate report on the agenda for this meeting of Cabinet.  That report identifies budgets of £40k for 2014/15; £116k for 2015/16; and, £40k for 2016/17.  The other match funding elements are capital allocations arising from s106 legal agreements.  They include £81k for 2014/15 (Council 7th May 2014, Minute 1093 (Cabinet 10th March 2014, C2239) refers); £60k for 2015/16; and, £86k for 2016/17.

8.         Under the Tackling Poverty Fund guidance for local authorities, direct running costs for staff allocated to the successful execution of a project can be counted as part of the match funding contribution.  For example the Energy Champion post (refer to Appendix 2B - Project Id6) is counted as part of the Council's match funding contribution of £423k.

9.         The cost of compiling the application has been met from within the Directorate budget.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

10.      The Fuel Poverty Reduction Measures (refer to Appendix 2B - Project Id6) aim to support a change of residents behaviour in their use of energy at home by providing advice on energy efficiency; providing advice and support on fuel tariffs and fuel debt to directly tackle fuel poverty; and, help reduce carbon emissions.  Furthermore, regeneration has implications for the sustainability of communities, especially when integrated with planning, housing and transport issues.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

11.      In procuring and appointing any contractor and/or external advisor in connection with the proposals and projects identified, regard must be had as applicable for the Council’s Procurement Policy and Guidance.  As appropriate, any procurement process will involve the use of the Council’s standard terms and conditions of contract or industry standard terms and conditions of contract, which will serve as the basis for any contractual arrangements with third-party suppliers/providers.

12.      Furthermore, where the proposals and projects identified involve making bids for external funding, it will be necessary to ensure that all terms and conditions attached to the external funding offer and grant are complied with and that the Council’s Procedure Note on Grant Funding is followed.

13.      The Regulatory Reform (Housing Assistance) (England and Wales) Order 2002 requires the Council to have a Housing Renewal Policy in place in order that it can offer assistance to owners to repair, improve or adapt their property.  Amendment to the existing policy is required to provide the Council with the legal authority to offer the proposed Main Street Grant Programme.

Crime and Disorder Implications

14.      There are no Crime and Disorder Implications directly associated with this particular report, although successful regeneration activity can result in a reduction in crime and anti-social behaviour.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

15.      There are no specific Equal Opportunity Implications directly associated with this particular report, although successful regeneration can lead to improved access to services and facilities and foster community cohesion.

Corporate/Service Objectives

16.      There is broad agreement both in Wales and across the United Kingdom that regeneration is a comprehensive process, which aims to tackle a combination of social, economic, physical and environmental issues and that it is focused on areas of disadvantage, particularly those where the market alone cannot deliver improvement.  Regeneration therefore requires broad action across a range of Departments and Service Areas and in terms of Barry this is reflected in the content of both the Corporate Plan and Service Plans.

Policy Framework and Budget

17.      This report is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

18.      The actions and activities identified in this report contribute to a significant number of priorities, objectives and actions in the Corporate Plan 2013-2017.  Consultation with Ward Members and third parties will be commensurate with the feasibility, design and implementation requirements of the project.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

19.      Economy and Environment.

Background Papers

Welsh Government, Vibrant & Viable Places Regeneration Framework (Tackling Poverty Fund), Guidance for local authorities (June 2014).

 

Vale of Glamorgan Council Local Development Plan 2011-2026, Open Space Background Paper (September 2013)

 

Cabinet Report, Holton Road Commercial Renewal Area Grant Scheme - Review and Options Appraisal, 10th March 2014 (Minute C2239)

 

Cabinet Report, Adoption of the Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy 2014, 10th March 2014 (Minute C2237)

 

Contact Officer

Dave Williams, Principal Regeneration Officer

Tel: 01446 704753

 

Officers Consulted

Head of Housing & Building Services

Operational Manager, Countryside and Economic Projects

Senior Lawyer, Legal Services

Operational Manager, Accountancy

Operational Manager, Parks and Ground Maintenance

Principal Housing & Pollution Officer  

Manager - Barry Communities First Cluster Team

Principal Landscape Architect

 

Responsible Officer:

Rob Thomas, Director of Development Service