[Julia Nock, Head of Assets, to present progress report]
Julia Nock, Head of Assets, gave a presentation to update the panel on the progress of the Strategic Asset Plan Action Plan since January 2019, when the previous report was considered. The Head of Assets briefed the panel on key principles intended to inform the delivery of the priorities in the action plan.
The Head of Assets advised the panel of the key achievements at strategic and operational levels and details of future work detailed in the Forward Plan. The Head of Assets commented on the work being done to manage specific properties/projects listed in the appendix to the report.
The panel were invited to comment on the report. The panel queried the merits of the Council being involved in Wolverhampton Public Sector Asset Management Board and sharing information about Council owned assets with other organisations. The Head of Assets responded that the value of the work of the group is the opportunity to share information with colleagues, which is invaluable particularly as the organisations represented have similar property management responsibilities across Wolverhampton.
The Head of Assets added that at the first meeting of the group in January 2019, there was a discussion about the idea of jointly locating Council services with West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS). WMFS explained that they were looking to re-locate their service in an area that the Council was also looking for a site to deliver services, which led to a discussion about developing shared facilities on the same site that could be included in the overall development.
The proposed scheme has the potential to reduce costs and improved efficiency in the management of both organisations’ respective property portfolios. The Council would have not been aware of this opportunity if this meeting had not happened.
The panel queried whether the Council would be expected to fund the project. The Head of Assets advised the panel that a feasibility study is nearing completion for a Health and Social Care Hub. The feasibility study would look at different options for delivering and funding of any proposed scheme to co-locate services with WMFS.
The panel queried the reference in the report to creating small /medium housing infill sites. Kate Martin, Director of City Assets and Housing, commented that the reference describes the size of land offered for housing developments which are surplus to Council needs, but agreed to review the wording to make this clearer.
The panel queried the implications of the climate change declaration when considering the impact of green space and the balance to deliver the principal of optimising the financial return and commercial opportunities from the rationalisation and disposal of land and buildings. The Head of Assets advised the panel that the issue of reducing the carbon impact is considered as part of current and future building developments.
Cllr Miles commented on discussion with colleagues in WM Living to consider the impact on the environment and specific issues such using ‘grey water’ in new housing developments. The panel discussed the cost implications of retro fitting existing older buildings to respond to the challenge of climate change and the strategy of effectively managing the maintenance of Council owned land and buildings. Kate Martin, Director of City Assets and Housing, advised the panel the climate change implications are considered in the development of new homes by WV Living and also future legislation.
The panel discussed the Council’s policy of land disposal and the priority between housing and commercial developments in terms of maximising business or domestic rates. The Director of City Assets and Housing advised the panel that the future use of a site will be determined by planning classification. The Director Head of Assets commented that the Council has been successful in achieving its reserve price when land is sold at auctions.
The Director Head of Assets commented on the consideration given to developments such as I10 and I11 and future developments such as I9, while also seeking to maximise financial return.
The agreed to note the report. The panel welcomed the progress of the action plan.