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Harrow Strategic Partnership Update

Report of the Corporate Director of Resources.

Minutes:

The Committee received a report of the Corporate Director of Community on the progress of the Harrow Strategic Development Partnership (HSDP) and referred Members to the report considered by Cabinet on 30 May 2019.  A presentation was made at the meeting setting out the key actions and programme activities.  He presentation slides were available on the Council’s website.

 

Prior to receiving the presentation, the Chair reported that the HSDP was a large project and would involve a number of decisions by Cabinet.  He stated that the project was commercially sensitivity and that Committee may need to move into a private session to allow Councillors to be briefed in detail.

 

The Corporate Director of Community stated that the intention was to share the progress made on the HSDP and the work carried out by officers and Cabinet Members, share the work carried out to date and the dialogue with the potential bidders.

 

The Corporate Director of Community, Commercial Director (Interim) and Regeneration Programme Director (Interim) referred to the presentation slides and reported as follows:

 

-               slides 3 and 4 showed the projects that were underway, including those involving the private sector, the number of homes built and to be built in and around the Wealdstone and Harrow Town Centre and the development opportunities on the Tesco and Safari Cinema sites.  The Council was ambitious in its Regeneration Programme and the growth and development opportunities the Station Road corridor provided;

 

-               slide 6 set out the background to this ambitious project and the Council’s decision to find a partner to help Build a Better Harrow (BaBH).  The sites included Poets Corner, Peel Road and Byron Quarter (Phase 1) encompassing in excess of 30 acres which might involve acquiring adjacent sites and would mean the need for relocations.  Officers were working together across the Council with specialist external advice being provided by consultants (slide 11 referred) to help deliver this corporate project;

 

-               slide 12 outlined the Council’s objectives, including  improved mixed tenure housing, particularly affordable housing across the three core sites, better civic and community facilities, new employment space, wider economic and social benefits for residents and to provide a new Civic Centre at no cost to the Council;

 

-               slide 13 set out the procurement process timetable and highlighted that thirteen bids had been received which had been evaluated down to five;

 

-               slide 14, set out the evaluation criteria agreed for the HSDP Programme and these requirement had been weighted;

 

-               legal documents would underpin the HSDP Programme;

 

-               slide 16 set out the emerging themes that were relevant to the project, some of which needed further work by the Council;

 

-               slide 17 showed that the intention was to further evaluate the number of bidders from five to up to three and the appointment would be  a decision for Cabinet in April or May 2020 following receipt of tenders with a successful bidder being selected in March 2020.  A new Civic Centre was not expected to be on site until October 2023;

 

-               slide 19 set out the governance arrangements and the proposed limited liability partnership arrangements.  Additional work on governance was envisaged;

 

-               slide 20 made reference to the support required from the Committee to the Regeneration Programme and how the previous scrutiny review on Regeneration had fed into the Programme.  Developers were keen to start work on site.

 

Members welcomed the presentation.  A co-opted  member to the Committee asked how the increased demand for school places and other infrastructure requirements was being measured.  The Corporate Director of Community stated that discussions were underway in relation to the provision for additional schools and improved public transport services with the relevant authorities.

 

At this stage of the meeting, the Committee moved into a private session and resolved that, in accordance with Part I of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended), the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the remainder of the discussion relating to this item for the following reason: Information under paragraph 3 in that it contained information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).

 

Additionally, in accordance with paragraph 3.4of the Protocol on Advisers and Co-optees set out in the Council’s Constitution, Co-opted Members were also excluded from the remainder of the discussion on the basis that the Corporate Director of Community and the Chair believed that the discussion that would ensue was so confidential that it could significantly prejudice the interests of the Council.

 

Members discussed the emerging themes in detail and asked questions relating to the tenor of the views of the bidders in relation to the provision of a new Civic Centre at neutral cost, its size and options to the preferred site. Discussion also ensued in relation to the planning process and the regeneration team’s view on car parking provision.  During further discussions, the Chair expressed concern with regard to achieving all the Council’s aspirations in the likelihood of the need for potential balancing of achievable requirements.

 

The Corporate Director of Community shared initial discussions that had taken place with potential partners.  He outlined the dialogue he had had with Network Rail, including the development opportunities on station car parks. The expected growth in Harrow’s population had been shared and discussion had taken place on franchise agreements.  The Commercial Director (Interim) and the Regeneration Programme Director (Interim)reported on the complexities of achieving all the Council’s aspirations including the need for a cost neutral Civic Centre and the need for the Council to agree a Car Parking Strategy. Discussions on achieving a right mix of homes by size, type and tenure, in accordance with policy were in train.

 

A Member also requested the need for a further report setting out which of the 17 recommendations made by the scrutiny review were now relevant and the ones that ought to be discarded.  The Corporate Director of Community undertook to submit a report in this regard.

 

Members also asked questions on the detail of the development on each of the sites and their attention was drawn to slide 16 of the presentation which would form the base line during the dialogue sessions.  Members also asked about the risks associated with the Programme should significant changes be required.  They enquired if stakeholders had been engaged in the process.

 

The Corporate Director of Community referred to the discussion underway with TfL (Transport for London), GLA (Greater London Authority) and the local community.  He referred to the number of events being planned which would also involve the developer(s) when selected. 

 

The Corporate Directors of Community and Resources highlighted the investment that was being made in IT in order to ensure a more agile and fit for purpose workforce and an effective Civic Office.  The Corporate Director of Community stated that the Members too had  role to play in this regard, as it related to their accommodation in the building and he would report back on how Members could get involved. The Vice-Chair of the Committee pointed out that, hitherto, the cost neutrality of the new Civic Centre had been an essential feature of the Regeneration Programme and if it were to go ahead on any other basis that would be a fundamental change.

 

In concluding the discussion, the Chair stated that, together with the Vice-Chair of the Committee, he would be meeting the Chief Executive to discuss how scrutiny Members could engage with and provide support to the Council’s Regeneration Programme (slide 20 of the presentation referred).  The engagement would not be limited to Scrutiny Lead Members and further information would be made available in due course.

 

RESOLVED:  That

 

(1)          the report and the presentation be received and noted;

 

(2)          the Corporate Director of Community report back on the relevance of the 17 recommendations of the Regeneration Scrutiny Review;

 

(3)          the Corporate Director of Community report back on the role of Members towards the journey of becoming a more modern, flexible and agile Council and the planned move to a new Civic Centre.

 

Supporting documents: