Agenda and minutes

Regeneration Scrutiny Panel - Wednesday 17th January, 2024 10.00 am

Venue: Spencer Room

Contact: Susan Lightwing 

No. Item


Welcome and Evacuation Procedure


The Chair welcomed all present to the meeting and read out the Building Evacuation Procedure.


Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.


There were no declarations of interest received at this point in the meeting.


Minutes - Regeneration Scrutiny Panel - 6 December 2023 pdf icon PDF 136 KB


The minutes of the Regeneration Scrutiny Panel meeting held on 6 December 2023 were submitted and approved as a correct record.


Council Budget 2024/25 and Medium Term Financial Plan Refresh - Regeneration pdf icon PDF 272 KB

The Executive Member for Regeneration and the Director of Regeneration will be in attendance to present the Regeneration Service budget to the Panel.


Recommendation: for the Panel to provide their views/comments to the Overview and Scrutiny Board.


The Director of Regeneration was in attendance and gave a presentation which covered the following points:


           Remaining Budget Gap.

           Post Settlement Update/ Exceptional Financial Support.

           Regeneration – context.

           Questions: Regeneration – Budget savings proposals.

           Next Steps.


The budget gap was approximately £6.3 million for the current financial year, having taken into account all the savings proposals.  The Local Government Finance Settlement announced in December 2023 had provided a small but insignificant improvement.  A report would be submitted to Executive later this week recommending an application to the Government for Exceptional Financial Support (EFS).    EFS could provide a temporary funding solution that would enable the Council to achieve financial sustainability and avoid having to issue a Section 114 Notice.


The key messages from Regeneration were:


           The majority of the service was funded through capital, external grants and commercial income – hence the low net budget.  Notable exceptions included Culture (£1.1m), where the cost of running multiple venues was significant.


           The amount of external funding secured and managed through the team each year was significant, and required significant staff resources to deliver the accompanying programmes.  A further £20m had been secured this year for delivery in 2024/25 and 2025/26.


           Commercial income was volatile and varied from year to year in line with market conditions, inflation and utility costs – all of which had been challenging this year.  Economic shocks such as the closure of Wilkos had also impacted the current budget.


           Ticket sales at the Town Hall and Exhibition at the Dorman Museum had held up well despite competition.


           Community Learning continued to carry a £0.500m income target that was increasingly unachievable due to restrictions in contract payments from education funders.  This would have to be addressed through a staffing review in 2024/25 but had a negative impact on the current year’s budget position.


           The Directorate was running at a vacancy rate of around 20% as posts were held vacant to reduce the corporate overspend.


The financial context for 2023/204 was summarised as follows:


           For Period 7 (October 2023), the forecast outturn was £133.792m (before Financial Recovery Plans), an adverse variance of £7.438m (+5.9%) – a decrease of (£1.118m) from the £8.556m reported at Quarter 2.


           Financial Recovery Plans totalling £1.584m had been proposed which if assured and fully implemented would reduce the adverse variance to £5.854m.


           Regeneration, with a current net budget of £0.986m forecast outturn was £0.630m, a favourable variance of £(0.356)m.  Noting budgeted gross spend was £20.156m offset by gross income £19.170m.


           The key drivers of the favourable variance was better than expected income from the Cleveland Centre and Boho buildings which was partially offset by an adverse variance from increased utility costs under Property Services.


A budget savings proposal considered to potentially affect front line service delivery levels was to concentrate the town's museum offer in the Dorman Museum (80,437 annual visitors) and withdraw from the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum (5,360 annual visitors).  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23/40


Planning Capacity Review

The Head of Planning will provide the Scrutiny Panel with an update in relation to the Planning Skills Delivery Fund and current Planning Performance as part of the evidence gathering for the current review of Planning Capacity.


Recommendation: that the Panel notes the information provided.




The Head of Planning informed the Scrutiny Panel that the Council had received a letter from the Government regarding Designation.  The Government had requested confirmation that the data on their assessment was correct and the Council had two weeks to respond.


The service area had undertaken a review of the data and ascertained that it was incorrect.  On major applications, the data provided by Government detailed 52% determination rate.  However, on Council data, the rate was 67%, which was above the 60% requirement.  The Panel had previously been made aware of the IT system introduced to the service area in October 2021 which had had to be implemented quickly and issues around lack of training and understanding had been identified.  A number of applications had been miscoded on the system and some extensions of time, a key requirement, had not been actioned correctly.   The errors related to four applications and the government figures covered the period October 2021 to September 2023.  The Head of Planning was confident that the Council could provide sufficient evidence to confirm the 67% rate and processes and procedures would be in place to ensure that errors were not repeated.  In addition, data performance would now be reported to Planning and Development Committee on a regular basis.


Planning Skills Delivery Fund


Middlesbrough’s application to the Planning Skills Delivery Fund had been successful and the following amounts had been awarded:


Backlog funding:               £80K (100% of the amount applied for)

Skills funding:                    £20K (25% of the amount applied for)


The proposal was to split the backlog funding and use £20K each on enforcement support, planning support, highways input and flooding input into the planning process.


The skills funding would be used to develop new Design Codes as required by the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023.


The Chair asked whether the Council was minded to employ and apprentice through the Pathways to Planning Scheme.  It was confirmed that the Council had already recruited a Planning Degree Apprentice and the cost of the degree being undertaken was met through the Apprenticeship Levy.   Whilst the Pathways to Planning route would pay for the degree course, Middlesbrough Council would still have to pay the apprentice’s salary and therefore the current arrangement was more cost effective.


AGREED that the information provided was received and noted.


Local Plan Update

The Head of Planning will provide an update on the draft Local Plan.


Recommendation: for the Panel to note the information provided.


The Head of Planning provided an update on the new Local Plan.  The draft Local Plan was scheduled to be considered for approval for consultation by the Executive later in the day.  The consultation period would from 1 February until 15 March 2024.  The draft Local Plan was the result of a comprehensive review covering housing, employment, green spaces and infrastructure and identified sites for approximately 7500 new dwellings across the town.


One of the complexities was the Middlesbrough Development Corporation (MDC) who had identified 1500 dwellings in the town centre but had not yet provided details of sites for those dwellings.  The MIDC did not have plan making powers and Middlesbrough Council’s Local Plan would be used to govern their decisions.


Two new large housing sites had been identified in Stainton and Thornton.


All Ward Councillors had been invited to meet with Planning Officers to discuss proposals and potential impacts and the Head of Planning encouraged Members to take up this offer.  A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document would also be available on the website.


It was highlighted that Teessaurus Park had been identified as a potential site for new pitches for the gypsy and traveller site and an explanation of the rationale behind this proposal was requested.


The Head of Planning explained that the Council had a statutory obligation to cater for the gypsy and traveller community.  The Council had commissioned a gypsy and traveller accommodation assessment which would be published alongside the draft Local Plan consultation.  The assessment identified a need for 14 additional pitches alongside the existing facility at Metz Bridge.  Several other sites had been considered including sites at Canon Park, Longlands Road, and Whinney Banks.  The Council had also made a call for the private sector to offer any land available.  No one came forward and therefore the Council had to find a site on land it owned. 


Under the proposals, the wildlife site at Teessaurus Park would be unaffected and all public rights of way would remain accessible.  Some of the Dinosaur sculptures might need to be relocated either elsewhere on the site or at another location.  The whole of the Park would not be redeveloped and would remain open.


AGREED that the information provided was received and noted.


Overview and Scrutiny Board Update

The Chair will provide a verbal update on matters considered at the meetings of the Overview and Scrutiny Board held on 20 December 2023 and 10 January 2024.


The Chair provided a verbal update on matters considered at the meetings of the Overview and Scrutiny Board held on 20 December 2023 and 10 January 2024.




Date and Time of Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Regeneration Scrutiny Panel is scheduled to take place on Wednesday 14 February 2024 at 10.00 am.


The next meeting of the Regeneration Scrutiny Panel was scheduled to take place on Wednesday 14 February 2024 at 10.00 am.


Any other urgent items which in the opinion of the Chair, may be considered.