Agenda item

Executive Member Update - Regeneration


The Executive Member for Regeneration provided the Board with an update on activity within his portfolio. During the presentation the following points were made:


·        There were five general areas within the remit of the portfolio; Transportation, Inward Investment; Economic Development; Housing Development and Planning and Building Control.

·        With regards to Transportation – the Council had secured approximately £30,000 of Net Zero Hub Funding. This scheme had allowed the Council to install solar panels to the Zetland Car park with the aim of reducing its electricity running costs.

·        A total of 32 Electric Vehicle charging points had been installed.

·        Cycle lanes had been installed on Linthorpe Road with extensions intended to Linthorpe Village.


Members queried if there were any usage statistics for the cycle lanes and if there had been any incidents reported by users on the cycle lane. It was clarified that usage statistics were difficult to quantify but that no incidents had been reported by users of the cycle lanes.


A Member stated that while incidents may not have been reported there were signs incidents were happening, such as cars colliding with bollards on the cycle lane. A Member also stated that such occurrences were not unique to Middlesbrough and happened in other areas that had cycle lanes in town centres.


The Executive Member continued with his presentation and made the following points:


·        In terms of inward investment - there had been several places in the town that had benefitted from increased investment.

·        There was a rise in rental values which was having a knock-on effect of triggering private sector investment.

·        There was also educational investment such as the Eton site in Middlehaven as well as increased investment in key digital companies.

·        Middlesbrough was now ranked in the top five European Small Cities for Foreign Direct Investment in 2022.


A Member sought clarity on the term Foreign Direct Investment. It was clarified this was a complicated ranking system that identified that Middlesbrough was ripe for investment. It was also clarified that the term Foreign was misleading.


A Member queried when BoHo X was due to open. It was clarified that works needed to be carried out by Northern PowerGrid which were due to begin in January 2023. Upon completion of this work, it was hoped the building could be handed over to the tenant in April 2023.


A Member queried why the Council was approaching Eton College as a partner for educational investment and what the pros and cons were for this. The Executive Member stated Eton College was a prestigious, recognisable, name and could not think of any arguments against having them as a partner.


It was queried if Eton College’s presence would have the effect of creating an educational hierarchy with existing colleges.  The Chair commented that Eton’s presence may draw educational talent away from existing colleges which, in turn, may have an impact on funding. The Chair also commented that Eton could provide support to Middlesbrough in other ways.


The Chair queried the delays to the construction of the new secondary school in Middlehaven. The Director of Regeneration clarified there were various risks associated with the project. However, the Council’s progress was informed by progress made by the Department for Education. It was also clarified that the Council’s substantive role in in the project was primarily a land deal.


The Executive Member continued with his presentation and made the following points:


·        Regarding Economic Development - there was a focus on the Town Centre as a leisure destination.

·        All investment initiatives were linked with, and contributed to, the Council’s Medium Term Financial Plan.

·        Middlesbrough had the highest rate of small business development in the North East.


The Chair queried how the Executive Member had lobbied respective stakeholders and if he was comfortable with the Mayor sitting on the Board of the Mayoral Development Corporation a in personal capacity. The Executive Member clarified that in the event the Mayor had financial interests he would recuse himself from the respective discussions and decisions.


A Member queried if there were plans to sell Tees Amp. It was clarified that there was no definitive answer. Assessments were underway to determine if selling Tees Amp would be advantageous for the Council. The Chair commented that keeping Tees Amp within Council control would allow for increased revenue streams. The Director of Regeneration commented that was an important factor in determining the sale of Tees Amp or not.


A Member commented there was no detail about what the impact the Mayoral Development Corporation would have on Council functions. The Executive Member advised the query would be best directed to the Mayor of Middlesbrough and Tees Valley Mayor.


The Executive Member continued with his presentation and made the following points:


·        Regarding Housing Development - existing sites were progressing well although there were difficulties for developments on Union Street

·        Housing numbers were exceeding targets each year.


A Member queried what the housing targets were. It was clarified this varied but was ordinarily 430 houses.


The Chair queried how national targets influenced local targets. It was clarified the Local Plan would address this, but while national targets were important local context needed to be taken into consideration. In terms of future targets it was likely they would be comparable to previous targets.


A Member queried if any work had been undertaken to shape demand, such as development of single bedroom properties which would impact young people. It was clarified that Savills had undertaken such work which had shown there was insufficient market demand for such housing and any developments of that nature would like fall to Councils.


A question was raised about incorporating energy saving devices into new housing developments, especially considering rising energy prices. It was clarified this was debated through the Local Plan and around how far this could be mandated. Were this to be mandated too heavily it could become prohibitively expensive. However, it was also noted that increasing energy prices may demand the market incorporate energy saving devices.


A Member queried what proportion of housing was deemed affordable within the housing targets. The Director of Regeneration stated this was a low number but would get exact figures to the Board.


The Chair queried when Thirteen Group’s development in Gresham was likely to be completed. It was confirmed that costs for the development had increased significantly, as they had with other sites. However, it was hoped that an administrative presence would be on site at the end of December 2022.


A Member queried if there were means for Brownfield sites to be opened for development. It was confirmed the Council’s role in the regard would involve securing and disposing of the sites, which increased costs and impacted on their re-sale value.


The Executive Member continued with his presentation and made the following points:


·        Preparations were underway for a new Local Plan which would set standards in design for developments.

·        There were capacity issues regarding Planning applications for a variety of reasons including people willing to spend more on their homes due to Covid-19.

·        There was also a recruitment issue in the Planning services which was exacerbating workload pressures.

·        While there was no detail, it remained to be seen what impact the Mayoral Development Corporation would have on Planning matters.


Regarding Planning fees, the Chair queried what the impact would be, and who the beneficiary would be, between the Council and the Mayoral Development Corporation


The Director of Regeneration clarified that all Planning powers would be transferred to the Mayoral Development Corporation which would then delegate those powers back to the Council. It was likely there would be two outcomes from this; either all Planning powers would be delegated back to the Council, or a small number of powers would be retained by the Mayoral Development Corporation. In terms of Planning fees, it was confirmed the Council’s Chief Executive has insisted that any transfer of Planning powers could not affect the Council’s finances. It was also confirmed there had been no agreement about defined roles and responsibilities between the Council and Mayoral Development Corporation.


The Chair commented there was a possibility the Mayoral Development Corporation would retain the best sites to retain the resulting fees and that relationships between the two organisations may be based on good will.


The Chair queried what negotiations the Executive Member had been part of with the Mayoral Development Corporation. It was confirmed the Executive Member had attended several meetings along with the Mayor.


A Member queried of the 50 Futures initiative could alleviate the recruitment issues faced by the Planning service. The Director of Regeneration stated that Executive had agreed to increase Planning fees which in turn could help in the recruitment drive. However, there were market challenges to the recruitment of Planning Officers. While progressive pay grades were being created to encourage existing officers to become Planning Officers this took time due to qualifications requirements, namely obtaining a degree.


A Member commented the Mayoral Development Corporation had been discussed at a previous meeting of the Corporate Affairs and Audit Committee and that Members had only received one briefing on this issue. It was clarified that a further briefing was planned and work with the Mayoral Development Corporation was at a formative high level. It was also noted the Council had submitted suggestions about the Corporation’s constitution. Members expressed concern that insufficient information was being provided on this issue and they had not been involved in the process enough. It was commented that concerns Members had were also shared by officers and those concerns were being raised principally via Legal Services.


The Chair commented that this process should not just be an Executive function and that all Members should have the opportunity to provide input.


The Chair thanked the Executive Member for Regeneration and Director for Regeneration and Culture for their attendance.


At this point the in the meeting Cllr M Saunders took the Chair. 




1.     The Director of Regeneration provide the Board with numbers of affordable housing within the Council’s housing targets.

2.     That the information presented be noted.

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