DD1344 Right to Build Register: Licence Agreement

Type of decision: 
Director's decision
Code: 
DD1344
Date signed: 
18 June 2015
Decision by: 
David Lunts, Executive Director Housing and Land

Executive summary

To provide the Executive Director the opportunity to review and approve an exemption under Section 5 of the GLA Contracts and Funding code, upon the grounds of complete absence of competition within the supplier market, to create the Right to Build Register proposal under the Right to Build Vanguard Programme. To accept the revenue budget provided by DCLG to acquire the licence for the register and to hire a project support officer to maintain the register and promote more widely the Custom Build agenda.

The proposal represents the prospect of meeting aspects of the Mayoral ambitions to support individuals who want to build their own home, emerging Government Policy under Right to Build and data requirements of the Strategic Housing Market Assessment.

Decision

The Executive Director approves:
1.    the acceptance of £60,000 revenue funding from DCLG; 
2.    the appointment and expenditure of £28,150 on the associated salary costs of a project support officer on a fixed 12 month contract, who will maintain the register, manage Ecomotive and promote more widely the Pan-London Right to Build Register; 
3.    the expenditure of up to £11,700 for entry into a Licence Agreement with Ecomotive for the Pan-London Right to Build Register for an initial period of 12 months and a related exemption from the requirements of the GLA’s Contracts and Funding Code.  

 

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

1.1    In September DCLG announced, following an Expression of Interest from the GLA, the establishment of 11 Right to Build Vanguards.  Formally the GLA is not a Vanguard but is part of the programme and was awarded £60,000 to set up a pan London register to determine the demand of Custom Build (see Appendix 1).  This gives the GLA the ability to help shape the Right to Build policy and ensure it is appropriate for the London context.

1.2    This decision is exempt under complete absence of competition in relation to the GLA Contracts and Funding Code. Ecomotive are the only company that can build a register, providing the GLA with in depth demographic data and reports. Ecomotive is a social enterprise working to create more sustainable and affordable homes and communities by supporting and enabling self-build and custom build group projects. They are the leading market expert in this field, currently providing registers across the United Kingdom, under the Government’s announcement in ‘Laying the Foundations: a Housing Strategy for England’ that all local councils establish the demand for Custom Build housing in their area .

1.3    On the back of the confirmation from DCLG that there was budget to cover the setting up of a register and recruiting a Project Support Officer they were recruited under the necessary internal approvals to manage the relationship with Ecomotive. The directorate had anticipated that the licence with Ecomotive would have been entered into by the end of April and therefore the recruitment of the offer was carried out in advance of an agreement and in order to manage that process.  They will be working on a one year fixed term contract until 31 March 2016 whilst the register will be active. As well as managing the relationship and being a prime day to day contact, they will work to promote the register across London, to the public and the boroughs to ensure it is widely used. The appointed member of staff will also build reports and provide data to the GLA London Plan.  

Mayoral ambitions

1.4    The Mayor through the London Housing Strategy supports custom and self build in order to diversify the housing market to increase and speed up housing delivery , improving consumer choice and increasing local employment. The GLA will benefit from the use of the data, as it will provide the GLA with a market assessment of the demand for Custom Build housing across London, the data will allow us to assess whether introducing further Custom Build across London would increase housing affordability. Reports will include demographic data, which will be used in reports to inform the London Plan.
Emerging Government Policy 

1.5    The Self Build and Custom Housebuilding Act received Royal Assent on 26 March 2015 .  The Act will create the obligation in law for Local Authorities to hold a register of individuals and groups of individuals seeking to acquire land to build a home.

 

Strategic Housing Market Assessment

1.6    The register will for the first time give a reliable dataset of demand for Custom Build and inform planning policy through the SHMA and appraisals for development sites. It is proposed the GLA utilises the vanguard funds to pay for a licence to run a pan London register through an existing website run by the social enterprise, Ecomotive. 

Objectives and expected outcomes

2.1    GLA and Ecomotive have agreed a licence option which allows GLA to collect demand information and gives GLA access to anonymised information.   The licence will enable GLA to:
•    Access online reports at any time
•    Quarterly access to the full anonymised data sets
•    5x usernames and access accounts
•    Top up to licence  to allow GLA to share the anonymised dataset with all London Boroughs

2.2    The register will enable GLA to have a comprehensive and live database of demand for self and custom build across London, which will inform GLA policy by providing a market assessment of the demand for Custom Build across London. 

2.3    Ecomotive are the leading supplier in the custom build field for services related to information with regards to this sector. Ecomotive are unique in their ability to provide a compatible service for a Right to Build register, which is displayed in the existing service they provide of creating these databases across the United Kingdom for local councils. For this reason Ecomotive have been considered to set up the London register as they are the only purpose built online register providing this particular service, they are also continuously heavily involved with the custom build field and its promotion which creates a greater associated value for the GLA’s work within this specialist area. Ecomotive have a complete absence of competition, as the only provider of this service. 

2.4    They have been considered to set up the register, as they are the only purpose built online register providing this particular service. Ecomotive also have previous experience of creating these databases for promotion of Custom Build nationwide, and are considered market leading experts in this field.

Equality comments

3.1    The likely potential equalities impact 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 in similar topic areas (MD1018) on those with protected characteristics.  These decisions were made having regard to the previous iteration of the Mayor’s Equalities Framework and the implementation of Mayoral strategies, notably those relating to housing, planning, economic development that have themselves been subject to equalities impact assessment. 

Other considerations

4.1    Failing to engage with the emerging Right to Build policy could lead to the GLA and London Borough having to implement a policy inappropriate to the London context.  In addition it is the expectation of the funding received from DCLG that GLA sets up and manages a pan London Right to Build Register.

Financial comments

5.1    This funding has been received from DCLG and will fund expenditure for the Ecomotive licence and a project support officer for 12 months as authorised by STAF 533 within 2015/16.

Planned delivery approach and next steps

Activity

Timeline

Procurement of contract [for externally delivered projects]

1st July 2015

Announcement [if applicable]

29th June 2015

Delivery Start Date [for project proposals]

1st July 2015

Delivery End Date [for project proposals]

30th June 2016

Project Closure: [for project proposals]

30th June 2016

Appendices and supporting papers

Appendix 1: Funding Approval from DCLG