The Cabinet considered a joint report of the Director of Corporate Resources and the Chief Executive concerning the significant housing and business growth planned across Leicestershire, the infrastructure required to support this and seeking support for the steps being taken to address these challenges at a local and national level. A copy of the report, marked “Agenda Item 8” is filed with these minutes.
Members noted the comments of Mr. D. C. Bill MBE CC, submitted on behalf of the Liberal Democrat Group, a copy of which is filed with these minutes.
Mr. Rushton said that a co-ordinated approach was essential to deal with the predicted growth and to meet the needs of an ageing population and increasing demand at a time of very significant financial challenge for the Council. He emphasised the need to plan ahead for Leicestershire’s future, to ensure that infrastructure such as roads, green spaces, and community facilities were in place at the right time.
Mr. Rhodes noted that significant funding was needed to support forecasted expansion and growth. Whilst the Council had had considerable success in bidding for Government funding this could not be guaranteed and the level of developer contributions was uncertain. He hoped that Council Tax income generated via housing development could be earmarked to support growth.
That the significant forecasted population growth across
Leicestershire, the consequential economic and housing growth planned to
support this, and the financial risks faced by the County Council as the major
infrastructure provider in the area, be noted;
That the Council continues to press Government to ensure that the
infrastructure required to make a success of its growth agenda is adequately
and fairly funded;
That in light of issues arising from the funding of the Melton
Mowbray Distributor Road and the Melton North and South Sustainable
Neighbourhoods, including funding through developer contributions, the need for
a cost-sharing agreement with district councils to enable the County Council to
forward fund the significant infrastructure costs through the use of additional
tax revenues be supported;
(d) That the report be drawn to the attention of the Strategic Planning Group with the intention for sharing with the Member Advisory Planning Group for Leicester and Leicestershire (which has overseen the production of the Strategic Growth Plan);
(e) That the intention to establish a Growth Unit within the Chief Executive’s Department to strengthen the Council’s internal co-ordination and management of growth projects together with the demands placed on available capacity within Environment and Transport and Children and Family Services departments to ensure timely response to growth matters, be noted.
REASONS FOR DECISION:
The financial risks faced by the County Council in delivering the infrastructure necessary to support growth in the County are significant. The introduction of cost/risk sharing arrangements with district councils, maximising developer contributions and increased income, will help to better manage these risks and share these in a way that is proportionate and fair.
The Government’s approach to the allocation of growth income e.g. council tax, business rates, new homes bonus, grant funding etc., is having a detrimental effect on those authorities responsible for delivering growth related infrastructure. The Council’s ability to support and finance local growth needs is likely to be affected unless there is a change in approach at a national level.
The establishment of a central Growth Unit will ensure that public services are effectively planned over the short, medium and long term across Leicestershire and that risks associated with the Council’s financial contribution to large scale growth and infrastructure projects remain tightly managed.
Ensuring that developers make appropriate contributions to mitigate the consequences of their developments via developer contributions is essential if communities are not disadvantaged and to avoid the Council being put under excessive financial demands which it will not be able to meet.