This report is due to be pre-scrutinised at a meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee scheduled to take place on 23rd June 2022. Any recommendations that are made by the Committee on this subject will be reported in a supplementary pack for the consideration of the Executive Committee.
The Head of Planning, Regeneration and Leisure Services presented a report on the subject of an opportunity available for the Council to submit a bid for Levelling Up funding. Members were informed that Levelling Up was a national scheme and the funding that had been made available for bidding purposes formed part of a second round of Levelling Up support available across the country. Councils would be bidding in competition with other local authorities for up to £20 million under this scheme.
The Council would need to ensure that a bid was submitted to the Government by 6th July 2022 for this process. Additional work would be required on the bid prior to that date. Therefore, Officers were requesting delegated authority to continue to work on this matter up to the date of submission.
The Council was required to be able to demonstrate to the Government in the bid process that additional funding from alternative sources would be made available alongside the Levelling Up funding. This needed to represent 10 per cent of the funds allocated to the Council by the Government under the scheme.
There were different categories of local authority that could bid for funding as part of the Levelling Up process. In this round of Levelling Up, Redditch Borough Council had been allocated a category one applicant and it was hoped that this would increase the likelihood that the bid would be successful for the Borough.
There were three key themes in relation to which bids could be made:
· Regeneration and the town centre
· Heritage and culture
Officers were anticipating that the Council was likely to have a greater chance of successfully bidding for Levelling Up funding under the regeneration and town centre theme. However, there were lots of plans for regeneration in the town centre that were already being progressed under the Redditch Town Deal process. Therefore, Officers were suggesting that a bid should be made in relation to regeneration of Matchborough and Winyates District Centres. A lot of preparatory work and research had already been undertaken in respect of researching potential options for the regeneration of these two district centres and this would help to inform the submission to the Government. By contrast, whilst it was recognised that Woodrow District Centre would also benefit from regeneration, there had been less preparatory work undertaken in respect of this location and for that reason, Officers were not proposing that it should be included in the focus of the bid.
Members subsequently discussed the proposals in the report in detail and in doing so welcomed the suggestion that funding should be allocated the regeneration of Matchborough and Winyates District Centres. Reference was made to the regeneration of Church Hill District Centre some years previously and Members concurred that this had been successful and had had a positive impact in the local community. However, Members commented that the regeneration of Matchborough and Winyates District Centres would be more complex to achieve, particularly in Winyates, where there was a mixture of businesses, Council houses and owner-occupied properties in the district centre. Officers acknowledged the complexity of the issues in this instance and confirmed that consultation would need to be undertaken with interested local stakeholders as part of the process.
Questions were raised about the timeframes in which the regeneration work in the district centres could commence and be completed, should the bid be successful. Officers explained that, at the date of the meeting, there was some uncertainty about when the Government would make a decision about the bid. However, successful Councils would be required to complete expenditure by the close of 2025, although it was recognised that not all tasks would have been completed by this point. Should the Council’s bid be successful, more detailed plans would be presented for Members’ consideration on the proposals later in the 2022/23 municipal year.
During consideration of this item, Members commented that the regeneration of Matchborough and Winyates District Centres had the potential to transform the local community in a positive manner. Unfortunately, instances of Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) in the district centres had been reported to Members by the public and Members commented that it was important to address this, including through urban design and management of the local environment. Officers explained that there were various options available to Councils that could be adopted to help design out crime, as well as the fear of crime, and this could be taken into account as part of the regeneration process. Reference was also made to the positive impact that Safer Streets funding had already had in Woodrow District Centre and Members commented on the potential for this to be extended to Matchborough and Winyates District Centres as part of the regeneration plans.
In concluding the discussions, Members thanked Officers for their work preparing the bid for Levelling Up funding in the second phase of the scheme.
1) the Executive Committee endorse this report and give delegated authority to the Executive Director for Resources (S151 Officer) and the Head of NWEDR (Senior Responsible Owner), following consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Development, Commercialism and Partnerships, to submit a Levelling Up Fund bid, as detailed in the report;
2) the Executive Committee recommends to Council a match funding contribution of 10% of the total bid value up to £2 million; and
3) should the submitted LUF Bid be successful, that Executive Committee recommends to Council the allocation of 10% of the total bid value in the Capital Programme.