Contact: Sophie Benfield
Declarations of Interest
Members of the committee are invited to declare any pecuniary or personal interests relating to specific matters on the agenda.
Please see note (a) at the end of the agenda.
No declarations of interest were received.
To confirm the minutes of the previous meeting on 23 September and 21 October 2020.
The minutes of the meetings held on 23 September and 21 October 2020 were approved.
5.1 The Chair informed members that they had met with officers and the Chair of the GEGJC to consider the work plan for the remaining two meetings of this Committee. It was noted that March would be the final scrutiny Committee of this Council term.
5.2 The attached document was shared with the Committee as a list of potential items for the January and March 2021 meetings, items that the Committee have previously requested and that officers thought would be timely.
5.3 The Committee approved the list of topics and agreed the Chair would work with officers to produce a work plan for the two sessions and share this with members.
To consider a presentation from the Gloucestershire Housing and Community Partnership.
The County of Gloucestershire faces significant housing growth in the coming years to meet our need for new homes. Delivery of these new homes brings significant challenges and ‘modern methods of construction’ are likely to play an increasingly important part in the way our homes of the future are provided. It is claimed that the new methods of construction offer faster and possibly cheaper delivery of housing, but what does that mean for the different sectors of the housing market and are there economic benefits to be gained from the utilisation of these new methods of factory built homes.
This item will look at modern methods of construction from the point of view of registered housing providers and the affordable housing sector.
7.4 The Chair invited Michael Craggs, Development & Asset Management Innovation at Bromford, to present this item. Members noted the following points from the presentation:
· Slides 2 and 3 gave an overview of the reasons for the introduction of modern methods of construction (MMC), it was key to understand that these new forms were not to replace traditional construction, but to work alongside it and support the traditional market.
· There was a noticeable and growing shortage of skilled construction workers. A majority of this trade were now in the 50+ age bracket and the current apprenticeships level were not likely to fulfil the level of skilled jobs needed to address the current housing shortage.
· Brexit would have a further impact on this due to the uncertainty of European workers migrating to work in the industry, plus a potential shortage of materials and tariffs on goods coming from abroad.
· Homes England were in Purdah at the moment so were unable to comment at this meeting but it was confirmed they had begun to allocate funding for MMC houses, which was a really positive step forward for the industry.
· The main benefits of using MMC was: a reduction in wastage (it was estimated that 1 in 5 homes were lost to waste using traditional building), reduction in carbon use through construction, reduced delivery times and a reduction in skilled labour reliance.
· There were currently 7 types of MMC, Slides 4 and 5 categorised them into five groups. Volumetric and Pods were normally used in the hotel/leisure industry and panelised systems were the most common used in house construction.
· The Volumetric builds were delivered in 2-3 pods, and could be fully fitted offsite. It was usual then for the completed pods to be delivered on to site when it is two-thirds of the way complete e.g. ground works/infrastructure/services completed. There was then a 7 day turn around from the day of delivery.
· The MMC Pods on the other hand, tended to come as room pods e.g. kitchen or bathroom, they were made in factories and fully fitted and then placed into an already completed structure.
· Slide 6 showed a picture of a Legal and General factory in Leicestershire, they produced 3,500 units at peak.
· Slides 7-9 showed examples of various MMC products delivered in Gloucestershire. The Timber Volumetric construction tended to be the more favoured MMC option for residential – the speed of construction was estimated about half the time of a traditional site and was not labour or skill reliant, but pre-planning of the site infrastructure is essential.
· There were a growing number of MMC manufacturers and suppliers available now, estimated about 140+ companies. There was therefore a lot of choice so it was absolutely essential that housing providers had an evaluation framework and process, which could then be altered to address and weight the different requirements of particular local authorities, planners or sites.
· There had been a lot of conversation around quality assurance for these builds. BOPAS were the Build Offsite Property ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
GLOUCESTERSHIRE ECONOMIC GROWTH JOINT COMMITTEE UPDATE
To receive a verbal update on the GEGJC meeting held earlier the same
day from the Chair, Cllr Patrick Molyneux.
Please refer to the published forward plan of the GEGJC to suggest any
items you may want to consider at a future meeting of the Scrutiny Committee.
Scrutiny members are invited to attend the GEGJC meeting in an observer
capacity. Please refer to the following link to view the agenda and
supporting documents for the GEGJC meeting:
The Chair invited Cllr Patrick Molyneux, Chair of the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Joint Committee (GEGJC), to present this item, giving the Committee an update on the morning’s meeting and Members noted the following points:
· There was a presentation on Gloucestershire’s skills agenda from the LEP. The Committee heard about the new skills portal which brought together all national and local support for projects on skills into one place. This had been produced by collaborating with skills leads from across the districts. GCC had provided substantial funding towards this and worked alongside the LEP on delivering this project. Members were encouraged to visit the website and feedback on its content/nature: www.skillsportalglos.com.
· The portal included information on careers advice, retraining and upskilling, apprenticeships, support for individuals and businesses facing redundancies, and delivery of the digital and cyber skills learning programmes.
· All of these proposals would form part of the Gloucestershire Skills Strategy and monitored by the Gloucestershire Skills Advisory Panel, which report into the LEP Board and GEGJC.
· There was a very exciting presentation on the Kings Quarter Regeneration project in the heart of Gloucester. It was noted how great it was to see so many projects like this around the county all following similar themes (cyber/digital) and moving at a considerable pace.
· The project would aim to be carbon neutral in its running and would look into how to mitigate and offset carbon during its construction. The buildings would be sustainable and the development also included the largest green wall in the South West.
· An update on the local plans and the key delivery projects around the county.
· Strategic planning statement of common ground was still being worked on and would be brought to the GEGJC meeting in January (additional date on 20 January 2021).
· The Business Rates pool item included a match funding request, which was approved, for the LEP to run until March 2023.
DISTRICT MEMBER FEEDBACK
District representatives on the Committee are encouraged to use this standing item to feedback on key economic growth points/issues/actions from their respective councils.
The Committee noted the following updates:
6.1 Cllr Paul McCloskey – Cheltenham Borough Council
The Council had recently approved the Minster Innovation Exchange development to begin, after being awarded £3.114m funding through the LEP’s ‘Getting Building Fund’.
The full report can be found at the following link: https://democracy.cheltenham.gov.uk/documents/g3263/Public%20reports%20pack%2016th-Nov-2020%2016.00%20Council.pdf?T=10
It was offered if the Committee would like further detail on this project, the member could enquire.
6.2 Cllr Simon Pickering – Stroud District Council
The Member reiterated the information in the Director’s report later in the agenda that the Council had recently received a successful Heritage Lottery Bid for canal restoration (opening up the cancel from Thrupp through to Sharpness at Saul Junction). This work would have a positive impact on tourism, employment and economic development for the District and County as a whole.
It is also applying for the One Public Estate government grant, and working GCC and the LEP to locate land within the district that could be developed into housing.
The Chair thanked members for their feedback and encouraged others to continue using this opportunity.
To receive an update on Gloucestershire’s Economy.
The Chair invited David Owen, Chief Executive of the GFirst LEP, to present this report. Members noted the following:
· The LEP thought it would be useful to see the latest economic data that had been produced and circulated regularly throughout the pandemic.
· Members were reminded that when the LEP started their recovery planning earlier in year, the forecasting showed a GVA hit for Gloucestershire’s economy anywhere in-between 9-29% (between £400m-£1.2b per quarter), the job loss for the county would be expected between 26-29,000 and recovery would begin somewhere between Quarter 3 2022 and Quarter 3 2023.
· The latest data set showed:
o A drop in the claimant count for September;
o Youth employment had started to become more of a worry, nearly 20% of claimants in the county were young people;
o Job postings were getting better but still had a long way to improve back to pre-Covid levels;
o The total number of furloughed workers at 31 August 2020 was 30,700. They would expect to see a steady increase in the next few months due to lockdown 2.
o Gloucestershire businesses had to date claimed £483m in Bounce Back Loans from the Government which was quite a significant risk; and
o Gloucestershire was currently showing in the lowest risk category in terms of Covid impact and recovery and therefore in the most resilient category.
· The LEP were really pleased to be working with GCC to launch the skills portal which was going to be really important in the New Year.