DD1374 Build Your Own Home the London Way

Type of decision: 
Director's decision
Code: 
DD1374
Date signed: 
07 September 2015
Decision by: 
David Lunts, Executive Director Housing and Land

Executive summary

To give the Executive Director the opportunity to review and approve new funding proposals under the Build Your Own Home - the London Way programme. The two proposals within this paper are part of the Community Right to Build stream and represent a continuation of activity in the programme.

Decision

The Executive Director approves:

•    A grant of up to £150,000  to Kingsley Hall Church and Community Centre (KHCCC) to prepare a Planning Application to redevelop their existing community halls into a purpose-designed, fully inclusive and accessible community centre and church facility. 

•    A grant of up to £54,000 to St. Michael’s Centre to prepare a Planning Application to redevelop their existing two-storey Victorian building into a day nursery for the local community; a revitalised and more appropriate leisure or teaching space for their existing youth club; two affordable housing units and one market value housing unit.

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

1.1.    The GLA is already in contract with a number of good quality projects as part of the Build Your Own Home - the London Way programme, which is comprised of two funding streams: (1) a £5 million pot of capital (loan) funding for Custom Build projects; and (2) a £3 million pot of revenue (grant) funding for Community Right to Build projects. 

1.2.    This paper seeks revenue funding approval for a further two Community Right to Build projects: (1) Kingsley Hall Community and Church Centre based in Becontree; and (2) St Michael’s Centre based in Fulham. Details of each proposal, the method of assessment undertaken and any key considerations including legal and finance comments are provided within this paper. 

1.3.    The delegation process for the aforementioned projects has taken much longer than usual. Both community organisations submitted applications for Community Right to Build funding back in December 2014, prior to the final bidding deadline of 2 January 2015. The original long-stop date for Community Right to Build projects to complete was 31 March 2015. However, agreement to extend this to 31 March 2016 was obtained from SMT on 10 November 2014. As a consequence of these applications being received so close to the original longstop date, a review of the remaining budget was required in order to determine whether there would be sufficient grant funding available to proceed.       

1.4.    Both community organisations intend to use their grant funding to develop traditional Planning Applications up to the point of submission. The GLA’s funding was originally restricted to community groups seeking to develop a Community Right to Build Order. However, DCLG later extended the funding to community groups seeking to pursue the traditional Planning Application route. 

Objectives and expected outcomes

Community Right to Build Programme: Kingsley Hall Community and Church Centre (KHCCC)

2.1.    KHCCC is a church and community centre and registered charity based in Becontree in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham (http://www.khccc.com/). They currently provide a range of activities for the local community, which includes essential services for the isolated elderly. KHCCC also host a range of projects delivered by partner agencies and local authority providers, which include Arc educational theatre company, Phab inclusions for people with disabilities, local faith groups, AA and LBBD Fostering.        

2.2.    KHCCC is seeking £150,000 in grant funding to support the development and submission of a traditional Planning Application. The proposal is to redevelop the existing community halls into a purpose-designed, fully inclusive and accessible community hub and church facility. This will support KHCCC’s ambition to contribute to local community transformation by providing services to all local people and, in particular, to those from disadvantaged backgrounds or who have disabilities. 

2.3.    As it is not a condition of programme funding, KHCCC is not currently proposing to deliver any housing units with this application. However, they would seek to use some grant funding to explore whether the best option is to rebuild or refurbish their existing facilities, and to identify whether there is potential to provide new housing, of which a proportion would be affordable, or services to meet local needs. 

2.4.    The site has good transport links, including five local bus routes, and two underground stations (Dagenham Heathway and Becontree), both of which are within twenty minutes walking distance. 

2.5.    The only restriction of planned land use on the proposed site is that it is subject to covenants that were placed on the land when it was given by the London County Council to the church when the site was originally developed. The land uses will be maintained and expanded, so there should be minimal conflict with the existing covenants. 

2.6.    The Area Team has assessed the application in terms of value-for-money and confirms that costs are reasonable and clearly associated with the process of obtaining a Planning Permission. 

2.7.    As noted in item 4.7 of this paper, KHCCC will be able to complete their Community Right to Build project prior to the programme’s long-stop date of 31 March 2016.   

2.8.    The GLA has assessed KHCCC’s funding application in accordance with the assessment process summarised in items 4.3 to 4.7. KHCCC demonstrated in their funding application that they: are an incorporated body; have engaged and consulted with the local community; have secured a legal interest in the land identified; have access to appropriate expertise; have met the requirements of the Localism Act 2011; and are not requesting more than 90% of the expected costs to achieve a Planning Application. As KHCCC is seeking a traditional Planning Permission instead of a Community Right to Build Order, there is no requirement for them to designate a ‘neighbourhood area’.

Community Right to Build Programme: St. Michael’s Centre

2.9.    St. Michael’s Centre is a youth club and registered charity based in Fulham in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (www.stmichaelsfulham.org). Their goal is to equip people with skills for life within a positive and nurturing community. They currently provide a range of activities to the local youth community, which focus on education, health and fitness, recreation and relationship building.

2.10.    St Michael’s Centre is seeking £54,000 to support the development and submission of a traditional Planning Application. Initial feasibility work indicates that their existing two-storey Victorian building can be remodelled to deliver a nursery for the local community, a revitalised and more appropriate leisure or teaching space for their youth club, two affordable housing units and one market value housing unit. The market value unit is likely to be sold to fund a significant proportion of the overall project costs.

2.11.    There are large pockets of social deprivation within the area of Fulham. With Community Right to Build grant funding, St Michael’s Centre aims to expand, and provide support services to local people living in deprivation. 

2.12.    There is no restriction on planned land use. The site is owned by the Church of England, who lease the property to St Michael’s Centre. The Church of England is supportive of this proposal. 

2.13.    The Area Team has assessed the application in terms of value-for-money and confirms that costs are reasonable and clearly associated with the process of obtaining a Planning Permission. 

2.14.    As noted in item 4.7 of this paper, St Michael’s Centre will be able to complete their Community Right to Build project prior to the programme’s long-stop date of 31 March 2016. 

2.15.    The GLA has assessed the funding application for St Michael’s Centre in accordance with the assessment process summarised in items 4.3 to 4.7. St Michael’s Centre demonstrated in their funding application that they: are an incorporated body; have engaged and consulted with the local community; have secured a legal interest in the land identified; have access to appropriate expertise; have met the requirements of the Localism Act 2011; and are not requesting more than 90% of the expected costs to achieve a Planning Application. As St Michael’s Centre is seeking a traditional Planning Permission instead of a Community Right to Build Order, there is no requirement for them to designate a ‘neighbourhood area’.  

 

Equality comments

3.1.    The likely potential equalities impacts of this decision have been considered having regard to the most recent iteration of the Mayor’s Equalities Framework, Equal Life Chances for All, agreed in June 2014 under MD1349.  This decision will not materially alter the likely potential impacts of the previous decisions (MD1018) on those with protected characteristics. These decisions were made having regard to previous iterations of the Mayor’s Equalities Framework and implement Mayoral strategies, notably those relating to housing, planning and economic development that have themselves been subject to equalities impact assessment.

 

Other considerations

Links to Mayoral Strategies and Priorities
4.1.    Mayoral Decision no. 1018 delegated the approval of the guidance for assessment and the approval of individual bids and funding agreements to each of the following: the Deputy Mayor for Housing Land and Property, the Executive Director of Housing and Land, and (in relation to the funding agreements only) the Executive Director of Resources. This paper therefore has approval to proceed as a Director’s Decision rather than a Mayoral Decision. 

4.2.    As with any funding programme there is a risk of insolvency, fraud or misappropriation. This is mitigated by paying the funding in arrears following the achievement of each relevant milestone and evidence of appropriate expenditure. 

Summary of Assessment Process: Community Right to Build guidance
4.3.    As the funding is paid at each milestone in arrears, and the individual amounts of funding are expected to be small, detailed financial due diligence on Community Right to Build applications is not necessary.

4.4.    The Community Right to Build assessment process recognises the aim of the programme to help enable community organisations and the likely small levels of funding involved. All bids are assessed against eight eligibility criteria, which assess that the applicant meets or will meet within appropriate time requirements: 
-    To be an incorporated body, 
-    community engagement, 
-    identified land, interest in land, 
-    within a designated Neighbourhood Area, 
-    appropriate expertise, 
-    community group meeting Localism Act 2011 requirements and 
-    the funding is no more than 90% of the required costs of obtaining a Community Right to Build Order or traditional planning permission.

4.5.    Originally proposals had to pass all of the above requirements. However, since it was agreed that groups had the option of submitting a Planning Application or a Community Right to Build Order, the requirement to be part of a Neighbourhood Area was relaxed.  

4.6.    In addition, Housing and Land assess the application in terms of value-for-money to ensure that the estimated costs are reasonable and clearly associated with the process of obtaining a Community Right to Build Order or traditional planning permission.

4.7.    It should also be noted that SMT approval was achieved on 10 November 2014 to extend the Community Right to Build programme by 12 months to 31 March 2016 to allow existing projects to complete and close the programme to new bidders on 30 January 2015. Both of these Community Right to Build projects, which applied for funding prior to the bidding close date, will complete prior to 31 March 2016.   

Financial comments

5.1.    Issue of grant funding totalling £204,000 for planning application and feasibility for two separate Community Right to Build Projects can be funded from budget available for that programme.

5.2.    Total Community Right to Build funding received from DCLG is £3,000,000, of which £1,344,716 has been committed to projects via previous decision making.

5.3.    The grant payments will be made in arrears based on evidence that milestones have been met and evidence of the expenditure submitted.

5.4.    The Investments and Operations Unit within Housing and Land will be responsible for managing this spend.

Planned delivery approach and next steps

7.1    Upon approval, the Area Team will progress these projects via entering into contract and ensuring delivery within agreed timescales.  The cost of entering into legal contract will be met from within the programme budgets.

Activity

Timeline

Entry into contract

31 August 2015

Delivery Start Date

15 September 2015

Delivery End Date

On or prior to 31 March 2016

Project Closure:

On or prior to 31 March 2016