Agenda item

Proposed Sale of Land at Podsmead for the Purpose of Commencing Regeneration

To consider the report of the Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources and Cabinet Member for Planning and Housing Strategy seeking approval of the draft Heads of Terms for the disposal of sites in Podsmead to Gloucester City Homes (GCH) and progress the delivery of estate regeneration.


79.1   The Vice-Chair reminded Overview and Scrutiny Committee Members that the subject matter of the report was the Heads of Terms of the disposal of the Podsmead sites rather than the detail of the Podsmead regeneration scheme, which could be subject to an outline planning application in due course.


78.2    Councillor Norman introduced the report and advised Members that Cabinet was being asked to approve the draft Heads of Terms for the disposal of the sites within the Council’s ownership in Podsmead to Gloucester City Homes (GCH). She stated that the proposal was to sell the sites at a sum below market consideration in order to deliver specific Council objectives, noting that disposing of the land at an undervalue would be a key consideration for Cabinet to take into account.


79.3    Councillor Norman provided some background information about the proposed scheme and noted that it included regeneration benefits including 117 new homes, with 107 of these being affordable homes, community space and park and play facilities. This said, she explained that completion of the scheme was subject to several factors, including the securing of planning permission. She also reminded Members that due to the prospect of a future planning application, the discussion at Overview and Scrutiny Committee should centre around the Heads of Terms as the main subject of the report.


79.4    Councillor Wilson referred to the planned demolition of 64 existing homes and asked whether residents of those homes would have guaranteed allocation of new homes in the estate. The City Growth and Delivery Manager confirmed that these residents would be given first choice on the new homes but would be able to opt to move out of the estate if they so wished.


79.5    In response to a further question from Councillor Wilson regarding the allocation of homes to families, the City Growth and Delivery Manager confirmed that the responsibility for housing allocation would remain with GCH, and that they would undertake housing needs assessments accordingly.


79.6    Councillor Wilson asked for clarification as to the number of new homes included in the scheme. Councillor Norman explained that GCH had needed to review the scheme to reflect the current market, and that the whole regeneration scheme would include 177 new homes, of which 107 would be on the Council’s land.


79.7    Councillor Hilton referred to the grant funding bid to Homes England and noted his understanding that if the funding was not spent in its entirety, the remaining funds would need to be returned to Homes England. He asked how the Council was ensuring that it was maximising on the scheme, noting that the land was being sold below market value. The City Growth and Delivery Manager confirmed that if the scheme went ahead, the Council would be enabling regeneration as well as facilitating the provision of more affordable homes in the city. He further noted that Homes England would be conducting a detailed valuation in due  course. Councillor Norman highlighted that if Cabinet supported the recommendations, the next steps were outlined at 9.1 in the report.


79.8    Councillor Hilton raised concerns about the loss of Open Space if the scheme were to go ahead. He asked what guarantees would be put in place to protect the remaining land and whether the Council would retain any control in this area. Councillor Norman stated that she assumed there would be covenants on the land as part of the process. The City Growth and Delivery Manager further confirmed that a management plan would be in place as set out in the Heads of Terms at Appendix 1.


79.9    In response to a query from Councillor Sawyer as to the £1 consideration, the City Growth and Delivery Manager explained that this was a nominal figure however there had to be value on the land in order to transfer the site ownership.


79.10  In response to a further query from Councillor Sawyer as to whether the decision would be put to full Council, Councillor Norman confirmed that this was a Cabinet decision, and that Cabinet was being asked to give delegated to authority to Officers.


RESOLVED – That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee NOTE the report.

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