DD1332 Bexley Opportunity Area Planning Framework

Type of decision: 
Director's decision
Code: 
DD1332
Date signed: 
23 June 2015
Decision by: 
Fiona Fletcher-Smith, Executive Director of Development, Enterprise and Environment

Executive summary

The Greater London Authority is working in partnership with the London Borough of Bexley to prepare an Opportunity Area Planning Framework (OAPF) for North Bexley.

To assist in document production the GLA has agreed to reimburse the Borough the cost of 50% of the costs of staff and consultants engaged in working on the OAPF, up to a maximum of £120,000 over two years 2014/15 and 2015/16.

This decision seeks:

1. Retrospective approval to reimburse the Borough with funding of £59,931for its expenditure on staff and consultants in preparing the OAPF in 2014/15; and

2. Approval to reimburse the Borough with funding of up to £60,000 for its expenditure on staff and consultants in preparing the OAPF in 2015/16.

Decision

The Executive Director approves expenditure of £59,931 in 2014/15 and up to £60,000 in 2015/16 to the London Borough of Bexley as a contribution towards the cost to prepare the North Bexley Opportunity Area Planning Framework.

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

1.1     The GLA Planning unit is working with the London Borough of Bexley to prepare an Opportunity Area Planning Framework  (OAPF) for North Bexley.  This will cover the opportunity areas of Thamesmead and Bexley Riverside, which are identified in the London Plan.  In order to ensure that the Framework has sufficient resources to be completed, the GLA has agreed to pay £120,000 over two years 2014/15 and 2015/16 to the Borough as a contribution to fund a planning policy officer and consultancy support.  The 2014/15 funding will be from the Planning Call-in budget, and the 2015/16 expenditure will be funded from the OAPF budget for Tottenham, which is no longer required for Tottenham. The first meeting of the Strategic Board was on 19th February 2015, chaired by Bexley’s lead member for Regeneration and Growth and was attended by the Deputy Mayor for Planning.

Objectives and expected outcomes

2.1     The decision sought is required to ensure efficient delivery of a strategic planning framework for     Bexley North, including Thamesmead and Bexley Riverside. Opportunity areas will assist in meeting the Mayor’s targets to increase the number of homes and jobs in London.  It is estimated that the Bexley Opportunity Areas could deliver 22,000 new homes and over 10,000 new jobs. These totals are a significant increase on the figures in the London Plan. Key milestones for the OAPF are set out below:

Direction of Travel document adopted        May 2015
Draft Growth Strategy (incorporating OAPF)     Oct 2015

Equality comments

3.1     Opportunity Areas are identified in the London Plan, which  has been subject to an Equality Impact Assessment, and is available on the GLA website.  The Framework will also be subject to an EqIA, and this will be one of the tasks of the support to be funded by the GLA. As a public body, Bexley is also subject to the duty, and therefore will consider equality impacts in filling the policy officer role.

Other considerations

a) key risks and issues

If financial support is not provided to Bexley, there is a risk that the OAPF will not be completed or will not be completed within the required timeframes. This would undermine the Mayor’s growth agenda set out in the London Plan 2015 (consolidated with alterations since 2011)
 
b) links to Mayoral strategies and priorities 

The project officer and consultancy support will assist in the production of the OAPF.  OAPFs are supplementary to the London Plan and bring together the Mayoral priorities for housing, economic development, development, transport and the environment.  Realising the development potential of Opportunity Areas is a Mayoral Priority, and OAPFs bring together strategic and local stakeholders to deliver an area-wide spatial planning framework in accordance with Government policy, as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)

c) impact assessments and consultations.

OAPFs are subject to public consultation, and equality and environmental assessments.

Financial comments

5.1    Retrospective approval is being sought for expenditure of up to £59,931 as a contribution to the London Borough of Bexley in preparation of the North Bexley OAPF in 2014-15. Approval is also sought to contribute up to £60,000 in 2015-16 to the borough to fund document production, the costs of staff and consultants engaged in working on the OAPF.

5.2    The funding sources over the two financial years are as follows; - 

-    2014-15: £59,931 was funded from the Planning Call-In and Takeover budget
-    2015-16: up to £60,000 to be funded from Planning 2015-16 Tottenham OAPF programme budget that is no longer required for Tottenham work.

5.3    As this work relates to grant funding to the London Borough of Bexley, officers have to ensure that the requirements of the Authority’s Contracts & Funding Code are adhered to.

5.4    Any changes to this proposal including budgetary implications will be subject to further approval via the Authority’s Decision Making Process.

5.5    The Planning Unit within the Development, Environment and Enterprise will be responsible for managing this contract and work

Investment and Performance Board

7.1    As noted in section 1 above the GLA is working collaboratively with Bexley to produce an OAPF.  The funding will be used to engage a project officer and consultancy support to assist in OAPF production. Accordingly, it has been agreed that the GLA will reimburse the Borough a proportion of the cost for this support.  A joint steering group, and strategic delivery board, has been established with the Borough to assist in the efficient production, agreement, adoption and implementation of the OAPF. A project plan has been prepared setting out key milestones in the preparation of the OAPF over the next 2 years. The next step is a ‘Direction of Travel’ document to be endorsed by the Mayor and Bexley Council in May 2015.