Agenda and minutes

Growth and Regeneration Scrutiny Commission - Thursday, 28th January, 2021 5.30 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting - Zoom Committee Meeting with Public Access via YouTube. View directions

Contact: Johanna Holmes 

Items
No. Item

106.

Welcome, Introductions and Safety Information pdf icon PDF 100 KB

Minutes:

The meeting was conducted via video conference.

The Chair welcomed everyone and asked each of the attendees to introduce themselves.

107.

Apologies for Absence and Substitutions

Minutes:

Apologies were received from:

          Councillor Carole Johnson

          Councillor Mark Weston: Councillor Graham Morris attended as a substitute

108.

Declarations of Interest

To note any declarations of interest from the Councillors.  They are asked to indicate the relevant agenda item, the nature of the interest and in particular whether it is a disclosable pecuniary interest.

 

Any declarations of interest made at the meeting which is not on the register of interests should be notified to the Monitoring Officer for inclusion.

 

Minutes:

In relation to the Item 11. Capital Strategic Partner, Councillor Bradshaw stated that he was a Director of Bristol Holding Ltd and Bristol Heat Network Ltd.

109.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting and Action Sheet

To agree the minutes of the meeting on the 14th September 2020 as a correct record.

The minutes of the Extraordinary Meeting on the 6th January 2020 are to follow.

To note the updated Action Sheet

Additional documents:

Minutes:

          The minutes of the previous meetings held on 14th September 2020 and the Extraordinary meeting on the 6th January 2021 were approved as a correct record.

          It was noted with regards to the minutes of the Extraordinary Meeting on the 6th January 2021 that the name of the Bristol Disability and Equality Forum representative should read as Laura Welti. 

          Members noted the progress on the Action Sheet. 

o          It was noted that an action had read as: Officers agreed to provide further information about all housing delivery data compared with previously forecast figures for the same period after the meeting.  This had not been included on the action sheet, but a response would therefore be requested from officers.

110.

Chair's Business

To note any announcements from the Chair

Minutes:

There was no Chair’s Business on this occasion.

111.

Public Forum pdf icon PDF 38 KB

Up to 30 minutes is allowed for this item.

 

Any member of the public or Councillor may participate in Public Forum.  The detailed arrangements for so doing are set out in the Public Information Sheet at the back of this agenda.  Public Forum items should be emailed to democratic.services@bristol.gov.uk and please note that the following deadlines will apply in relation to this meeting:-

 

Questions - Written questions must be received 3 clear working days prior to the meeting.  For this meeting, this means that your question(s) must be received in this office at the latest by 5pm on Friday 22nd January 2021.

 

Petitions and Statements - Petitions and statements must be received on the working day prior to the meeting.  For this meeting this means that your submission must be received in this office at the latest by 12.00 noon on Wednesday 27th January 2021.

 

Register to Attend - Your intention to attend and speak to your Public Forum

submission must be received 2 clear working days prior to the meeting. For this

meeting, this means that your registration to attend must be received in this

office at the latest by 5pm on Monday 25th January 2021.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Public Forum questions and statements were published prior to the meeting and can be viewed here.   

Supplementary questions were responded to during the meeting.

A Member said they were alarmed by some of the points that David Redgewell had raised in his statement, particularly that the West of England Combined Authority had not yet been set up a strategic transport authority.  Members discussed whether there was something the Commission could do to speed this process up.

 

112.

Temple Quarter Member Working Group - Chairs Report pdf icon PDF 57 KB

The Chairs Report will be uploaded after the Working Group meeting which will take place on the 22nd January 2021.

Minutes:

Councillor Beech - Cabinet Member with responsibility for Spatial Planning and City Design introduced the Report and highlighted that the Working Group was still at its ‘embryonic’ stage and had met for the first time only very recently.  She said it had been a positive first session where many of the key issues had been talked through but there was a lot to do and many of the projects were very complex. 

The Chair highlighted a public forum question submitted by Suzanne Audrey that asked if Members were “confident that arrangements for audit and scrutiny of the plans for Temple Quarter and Temple Island do not repeat the problems of poor access to information, poor record keeping, lack of transparency, and an inappropriate balance between legal and commercial sensitivities?”.  The Chair confirmed that the minutes of the meetings would be kept on record and the Group would report to Cabinet.  The Group’s meetings were closed because the work was at such an early stage. 

Councillor Beech added that the role of scrutiny was about achieving better outcomes for the City and that was therefore the aim of the Group.  She said that a full consultation process would happen and there would be many public meetings in the future. 

Members were generally pleased that there was scrutiny and Member involvement in the regeneration of Temple Island and Temple Quarter. 

A Member said they did have some doubts about the long-term prospects of the Temple Island Plan.  Also, in the City Centre Plan Report on the meeting agenda had said to his surprise that the property market for office space was buoyant and yet various other reports state that rents for office space were tumbling and set to tumble further.  He said the Council was potentially taking a large risk on this and that he trusted that the group would dig into this point and not take the information at face value. 

At this point the Chair asked officers to introduce the Temple Island - Position Statement.

113.

Temple Island - Position Statement pdf icon PDF 138 KB

To follow

Minutes:

The Executive Director responded to the above Member question by saying that the position Bristol is current in is very different to that of London where residential property prices are down by 10%. But that was not the case in Bristol.  He said no one was pretending that Covid hadn’t changed things or has fully played out in tern of what might happen with regards to working patterns.  Developers were currently grappling with the potential changes about whether people still want to live and work in cities.  He said there was still 18 months to make decisions on this but if it looked less favourable due to the market going in a different direction then further conversations would be had. But the prospect of having a conversation about that aspect of the deal had always been there.

The Director added that if the deal had been complete officers would have asked L&G representatives to attend the meeting.  He said the deal was complex and there were constraints on such things as ground surveys and infrastructure. They had appointed a legal consultant for the enabling works so they could begin.  There had been delays but they would come back to the Commission with L&G representatives when the deal had been signed. 

A Member stated he was concerned the paper said it was only ‘to note’.  The Chair said she requested something in writing to explain the situation rather than just remove the item from the agenda because the contracts hadn’t been signed. The paper was to explain the current situation and was judged to be better than not publishing anything at all.   

 

114.

Western Harbour Update pdf icon PDF 183 KB

Minutes:

The Council’s Head of Regeneration provided Members with a summary of the published report. 

She said that an early engagement process in 2019 had taken place to look at the road network around Western Harbour. Since then the Council has been in conversation with the Western Harbour Advisory Group (WHAG) and the approach the Council was taking now was to take a step back and use some time this year to solely focus on engagement for the next stage of the project.  Officers want to take an inclusive, collaborative and creative approach and to listen and hear the voices of residents, businesses, other stakeholders and the wider City.  The aim of that approach is to create a co-produced vision for Western Harbour which would set out what type of place it could become in future. That vison will then unpin any future design work for the next phase for the area.  She then went on explain how the proposal was to undertake a procurement process for urban design work that would facilitate the creative engagement process and place-shaping vision.

There would also be pop-up events to speak to people across the city. 

Members asked for further information about the benefits and themes that had arisen from officers meeting with WHAG.  Officers said the themes were from the original engagement work and the conversations provided opportunities to hear first-hand what was important to people and what concerns they had.  The meetings had provided opportunities to learn and reflect on where the project needed to go next.

Members commented that the process officers described was positive but there was a lot of work to do to gain trust back from the local community and were not sure why the Council hadn’t used this approach from the very beginning.

Some Members also said that they agreed with the public forum statements about re-naming the area ‘Western Harbour’.  It was suggested this had potentially alienated the local community from the beginning because it was not a name that people associated with the area and it had not been discussed.  Officers said if there was strong feedback from the community about the name that would be reviewed.

Another Member said they also liked the approaches officers were now outlining but in their view this was two years too late.  Also, with regards to the ‘vision’ it wasn’t clear what was now on or off the table so to speak.

Members asked who the key groups were that had been identified that would be involved going forward.  Officers said they would be working with target audiences and would share that information with Members. ACTION: further information about target audiences to be shared with members.

Another Member said they also liked a lot of what had been described by officers including that no options were currently preferred.  However, the previous Cabinet Report it was said had expressed a preference for Option E and that needed to be rescinded. He concurred with an earlier point made that it  ...  view the full minutes text for item 114.

115.

City Centre Development & Delivery Plan pdf icon PDF 192 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Senior Project Manager introduced the item to Members and stated that Covid-19 had had a major impact on the City Centre but the Council was continuing to work with consultants to take to the work to the next stage.  This was a long-term project that would likely take ten to fifteen years to complete.

The City Centre had experienced many of the impacts of Covid restrictions such as a reduction in the number of shoppers, workers, students and tourists.   Officers took Members through the published information on footfall figures which they said demonstrated continued consumer demand because footfall figures were only slightly down year on year.  However, it was said that Covid may have accelerated existing trends of online and out of town shopping.  Many people had changed their ways of working and this could potentially lead to some vacancies in office space in the Centre.

A Member said that there were still lots of shops where the activity is only on the ground floor and other floors were left vacant.  Also, that the City centre Debenhams building would soon also be vacant.  What do officers think might happen to it?

Councillor Beech said that the rules on converting commercial spaces to residential spaces were being relaxed but the challenge was the lack of commercial will when it came to vertical mixing of spaces.  The question was more about what needed to be done to encourage more commercial property owners to unlock vacant spaces.  It was also highlighted that were some good examples where this was working in the City such as East Street in Bedminster and Old Market.  She added that it wasn’t always the case that planning regulations were blocking changes, some buildings were run down and required considerable investment.  Yes, the closer of Debenhams did pose key questions about the future of city centres.  But in her view it was yet to be understood if this was an acceleration of trends.

A Member asked about the Development and Delivery Plan (DPP) that would be presented to Cabinet in Spring 2022 and asked if it could it come to scrutiny before that for Members to feed into?  It was agreed that a small group could be set up or scrutiny could do a ‘deep-dive’ when the time was right.

 

Another Member commented that nothing like the current Covid situation had been seen like this in the retail sector before.  This had in his view accelerated the existing trends in retail and he agreed with earlier comments that there was a need to plan for a less retail dominated City Centre in future and this was as an opportunity to create more homes there.

The Chair asked Members for their views on when they wanted this to come back to scrutiny. For example, did they want to wait until the DDP was complete before it was brought back to the Commission? 

Officers said they were challenging themselves on the pace of the work.  There were two key pieces  ...  view the full minutes text for item 115.

116.

Capital Strategic Partner pdf icon PDF 190 KB

The Capital Strategic Partnership - Slide deck will be uploaded here prior to the meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Director - Growth & Regeneration introduced the report to Members. He said this was a culmination of a long-term piece of work.  The aim of this was allow the Council to mobilise and scale-up where the Council has decided to do a major piece of work around a capital project. The Council had been failing to deliver its Capital Programme for several years now.  The Grant Thornton Report referred to earlier in the meeting had made it clear that needed to change and so this was a new approach to allow the Council to become more agile.  

The Head of Capital Projects took Members through the published slide deck which included the vision, rationale and strategic aims and timeline for the partnership.  It was said the project was on target to be fully operational by July 2021.

This was an exciting opportunity for the Council and they were pleased to announced that the contract had been signed earlier in the day with ARCADIS who would be working in partnership with ARUP and Mott Macdonald and a number of other companies as part a further supply chain.

The Strategic Partner would ensure that the most effective and efficient resourcing, funding and delivery model is offered to the Council at all times.  The volume of anticipated work was estimated at £20m over seven years but the Council had not guaranteed specific volumes of work.

The Director added that not all the projects would be new projects. There were already five to six existing projects ready to be delivered but this new partnership meant a cultural change for the council in the way they would be delivered.

The Chair agreed this was an important development in how the Council delivers capital projects going forward.  She also said she hoped this would provide a replacement to the ‘problem’ of the number of consultants that the Council employs on daily rates.

A Member asked about the percentage of the total costs of projects that would be delivered via this partnership over the seven years of the contract, adding that £20m did not sound that much in terms of the Council’s capital projects spend.  The Director said this was a new way of working for the City Council and this was a strategic relationship but it was not exclusive.  There was no minimum amount but the maximum figure had been set by procurement rules.  One of the key differences was the Strategic Programme Director: James Halse who was now effectively part of the Extended Leadership Team.

A Member said he could see this was a major benefit for the Council but asked what was in it for big consultancies because it would now seem they are offering their services at a lower rate.  Did it now potentially reduce the pool of consultants the Council could work with? The Director re-stated that there were no contractual obligations and said that the governance of the contract shouldn’t be underestimated and the first 100 days would be important  ...  view the full minutes text for item 116.

117.

Performance Report Quarter 2 - For Information pdf icon PDF 568 KB

To note the report.

Minutes:

The Commission noted the report.

118.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 231 KB

To note the work programme.

Minutes:

The work programme was noted.