Agenda item

Blackshots Redevelopment - Business Case - to follow


The Strategic Place Advisor introduced the report to the Committee. Ishdeep Bawa from Avison Young was also present to answer any questions on the item.


At 21.09 Standing orders were raised so the meeting could continue beyond 21.30.


The following key points were highlighted: -


·       Members queried the financials on page 20. The Strategic Place Advisor clarified this was considered in the work to establish the business case but Avison Young concluded this was not a viable option.

·       Members queried why the joint venture model was not considered viable as the self-delivery route carries a higher risk. Thurrock has a high housing need and in their view joint venture is the only way more houses will get built as the Council cannot fulfil this need on its own. The Strategic Place Advisor stated that generally joint ventures are done at unit sizes of around 500. The market is often less interested if the development is less than 500 units. In this instance there are 280 units of which a minimum of 158 have to be affordable, the opportunity for a market sale for a private sector developer is therefore limited and the joint venture partner is less likely to make a return. The market value in relation to the cost of building is currently a challenge.

·       Members queried why other projects could not be combined to give more units and to make joint venture a possibility. The Strategic Place Advisor stated that in his opinion they have explored all options for Blackshots. A more large-scale venture could be considered in the future but given Thurrock Council’s current situation and the market interest they could not recommend that at the moment. Ishdeep Bawa from Avison Young added that the re-provision of the current affordable housing plus the planning policy of another 35% of affordable housing shrinks the amount of properties for market sale further. Speed of delivery is a consideration with the Blackshots project.

·       Members queried the south site and using the Blackshots playing field and stated that there is a petition coming regarding this. It is being proposed one piece of green belt is being given up for another piece of green belt. There is other council owned land in Blackshots which could be used. The Strategic Place Advisor clarified that they are not taking one piece of green belt away and replacing it with another, they are replacing the tennis courts and fields in trust land.

·       Members also queried where the construction traffic will go as there is only Laird Avenue. Members also queried the parking facilities as the surrounding roads are already filled with cars.

·       The Strategic Place Advisor stated that members can make their recommendations tonight to cabinet to consider. The Strategic Place Advisor confirmed they and Levitt Bernstein have looked exhaustively around the area and there advise is that none of the other sites are feasible or deliverable. The Strategic Place Advisor confirmed that it would be very difficult to use land without consent from Fields in Trust.

·       The Housing Development Manager confirmed that during the pre-application planning process highways and transport colleagues were consulted with about the transport and parking issues and these issues have been considered.

·       Members confirmed that they can only build on green belt land in exceptional circumstances and there is a proposal presented which fits within housing policy. Other members took the view that the current high need for housing should be regarded as an exceptional circumstance.

·       The Strategic Place Advisor stated that they cannot bring forward a recommendation to Cabinet that planners have said they cannot support. In this case, while the case for very special circumstances still has to be made, it is potentially supportable.

·       Members pointed out that there is scrub land sitting there doing nothing which has been used by people to ride off-road motorbikes on.

·       Members stated that a North Grays master plan was produced in 2010 which was a good plan. The new Local Development Plan effectively promotes ‘urban sprawl’ as approved sites are on greenfield sites.

·       The Assistant Director for Housing Management and Development confirmed the Council is subject to the S114 and DLUHC are about to give them approval for this project. The Assistant Director for Housing Management and Development agreed that the Council could be more ambitious in the future and Blackshots and Teviot are effectively test cases for the Council to show it can deliver something. The Council needs to prove it can get these small projects done.

·       Councillor Redsell did not agree to recommendations 1.2 and 1.4.



1.1        That Committee commented on the design developed to date based on consultation and public engagement as a basis for procuring the next stage of the redevelopment.  

1.2        That Committee commented on the next steps as recommended below based on the Business Case developed by the council’s advisers Avison Young 

1.3        That Committee commented on the proposal that the Council progresses the Blackshots project following the self-delivery approach. 


1.4        That Committee commented on the proposal that subject to Government agreement to borrowing,  approval is given to launch a procurement process to obtain a main contractor for further design and construction and to delegate to the Corporate Director for Adults Housing and Health in consultation with the Leader, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Housing, Commissioners and Section 151 Officer, the decision to make the necessary contract awards. 


1.5        That Committee noted that in accordance with the business case model, a budget of £70.385m is required for the projected estimated cost of the works to be funded by HRA borrowing in accordance with the proposed HRA business and capital programme, subject to DHLUC approval. 


1.6        That Committee commented on the proposed procurement of relevant advisers for the council’s client technical team, subject to appropriate delegations on award to the Corporate Director of Adults, Housing and Health in consultation with the Cabinet member for Children’s Services and Housing the award of contracts. 

1.7        That Committee noted that a budget of £700,000 has been identified from within the existing Housing Revenue Account General Reserves to support the provision of the necessary advisers which will be accommodated within the existing HRA balance or funded from reserve should it prove necessary. 


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