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Click above for what became the consented plan, plus Transport page.

2012-08-08

Barnet's Corporate Plan and Regenfirst Ltd: Barnet's Regeneration Report (such as it is)


"Barnet is a vibrant and successful London suburb. It is one of the greenest suburbs in the capital, with over 200 parks and green spaces. It is recognised across the capital as an attractive place to live and work.

"Despite the challenging economic climate, Barnet remains a successful and enterprising borough, with the third highest number of registered business in London. Households remain relatively prosperous, with average household income 6.5 per cent above the London average.

"However, there are variations in different parts of the borough. There are areas of deprivation, notably around the western boundary’s ‘A5 corridor’ and in some of our local housing estates.
"


"[We will] sustain Barnet as a successful place through regeneration, and promoting enterprise and employment"

"We have bold plans for growth and regeneration in Barnet, developing new housing, businesses and infrastructure in growth areas and regenerating priority council housing estates. We will work with partners to develop skills and employment initiatives with a focus on 16 – 24 year olds, supporting enterprise, and providing opportunities for residents to acquire skills."

How we will achieve this objective

"We aim to deliver sustainable growth through our regeneration and growth plans and ensure that we have the necessary infrastructure in place to support this growth. We also want to help towards meeting the challenge of managing and reducing demand pressure on social housing and services. We will achieve this by:•
  • implementing the Regeneration Review action plan [presumably, the document below] and a framework for streamlining and identifying future funding streams to support growth;
  • developing a Skills and Enterprise action plan that engages local businesses and partners to improve employment opportunities for residents, including focussing on young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) or who are at risk of becoming NEET;
  • endorse [sic] the London Council’s Procurement Pledge to encourage jobs and training opportunities;
  • improving access to social housing for those in housing need by making better use of council housing and by regenerating priority council housing estates; and
  • delivering an Empty Homes programme to increase the supply of affordable housing, and reduce the risk of squatting and crime."




"Barnet Council has commissioned Regenfirst to undertake a rapid review of its regeneration function, to assess the deliverability of its major regeneration projects against its emerging revised Regeneration Strategy, and to assist the council in developing appropriate capacity for delivery and effective executive and political governance arrangements."


"The review includes an examination of the Council’s strategic framework, its key projects and the current delivery arrangements. The review commenced in September 2011 and was completed in December 2011.

"The review has been undertaken in two stages:
  • The first stage was undertaken through a combination of desk top analysis, together with structured interviews and informal discussions with the Council’s own officers from a number of departments, the lead member, and key external partners including delivery partners, key professional advisers and the HCA and GLA.
    The analysis and interviews undertaken informed the review of the linkages and issues between the Council’s emerging strategy and its planning, skills/enterprise, housing, property and capital strategies; and informed the assessment the Council’s capacity to deliver its own regeneration programme based on analysis of its staffing team, in-house skills and external support, governance and programme management arrangements

  • The second phase was an assessment of the viability and deliverability of the key projects within the Council’s regeneration programme. Drivers Jonas Deloitte were engaged to assist with the technical financial assessment.
    The second phase took the form of desktop analysis of information provided by the Council, and structured discussions/workshops with the Council’s in-house team."

"The review looked in particular at Grahame Park, West Hendon, Stonegrove/Spur Road, Dollis Valley and Granville Road.

"As part of this review the Council, with Regenfirst’s assistance, commissioned Drivers Jonas Deloitte (DJD) in early October 2011 to assist with assessing the viability and deliverability of each of the Council’s regeneration schemes, and to provide technical support for the scheme viability element of the review. The viability analysis looked at the following, on a scheme by scheme basis:
  • Land value/receipt 
  • Site abnormals 
  • Planning status/risks 
  • Infrastructure costs 
  • Build costs 
  • Grant/grant security 
  • Housing decant issues 
  • Sales values 
  • Commercial yields (where relevant) 
  • Development returns (to partners)
"DJD graded each of these aspects, per scheme, according to a traffic light system:
  •  Green  No anticipated concern – this is within acceptable market levels/anticipated position
  •  Amber  Potential concern – adjustments may have material impacts on viability / acceptable subject to formal agreement
  •  Red  Point of concern – Potential for major impact on deliverability /viability.

"Each scheme has been given an overall grading. In summary these ratings are:
  • Stonegrove/Spur Road Amber 
  • Dollis Valley Amber 
  • Granville Road No rating (too early in scheme development) 
  • Grahame Park Amber 
  • West Hendon Red 
  • Mill Hill East Amber 
[No traffic light for Brent Cross Cricklewood. Sob, sob!]

"The Council has successfully 'turned around' two of its principal regeneration schemes, Stonegrove/Spur Road and Dollis Valley over the past two years. 

"The same robust commercial approach is now being taken with Granville Road and subject to the outcome of the current competitive dialogue process, the scheme has every chance of delivery.

"Mill Hill is an innovative regeneration scheme, where the Council is using its assets and forward funding in a very commercial way to achieve significant long-term benefits.


"Grahame Park and West Hendon are not viable in their current form. However both remain very important to the overall achievement of the Council’s long-term regeneration objectives along the A5 corridor: aspirations for Colindale and, in the longer term, Brent Cross/Cricklewood will not happen if these two key regeneration sites do not fulfil their potential; moreover the Council will have to invest heavily in the fabric of fundamentally inadequate stock, which would not represent good value for money.


"Brent Cross Cricklewood is one of the most ambitious regeneration projects in London, but in the current economic climate, there is a need for a more detailed approach than this review can offer, looking at the liabilities, particularly in the early phases, assessing the role the Council should take, particularly as a major landowner, and reviewing options for effective project management for a scheme of this size and complexity.


"What is clear is that the vision for Brent Cross Cricklewood is a once-in-a-century opportunity. The Council’s commitment to facilitating the implementation of the vision commands enormous respect [sic] amongst partner agencies. [Er, such as?]

"The challenge, in the economic circumstances, is enormous, but it should undoubtedly remain a high-order priority for the Council."

  
 Recommendations

"The Council’s future need for regeneration is a focus on delivery, which should prompt a review of the organisational arrangements, and in particular a strengthening of the understanding and application of the financial mechanisms that the Council can bring to kick-start delivery.
"Leadership within the regeneration service is a key area which needs addressing by the Council. The opportunity to develop a specialist client function is an opportunity to re-introduce a greater degree of delivery focused leadership.

"The Council should urgently consider recommissioning key consultancy services, on the basis of a specific discipline, and for a meaningful period of time, with outcome rather than output based specifications. This would enable the Council to develop stable and trust based relationships, with a smaller number of longer term advisers.

"The Council needs to change its internal project management capacity. It needs fewer, more technically skilled project managers.


"Financial management needs to become more rigorous, with a business planning approach, careful budgeting and strict cost/time management against budgets.

"A refresh of the standard gateway approach should be considered to inform the stages of programme management and cost control.


"The remit of the Board needs redefining and should take on some decision making powers, in line with delegated authority.


"Terms of reference for project boards should be refreshed, and should enable appropriate decision making on scheme progress.


"The extent of delegation to officers is a cultural matter that varies from Council to Council, but it would be helpful if the scope for delegation to officers could be expanded, perhaps within a range of tolerance relating to cost or values or to variances within an initial set of approvals.


"Linked to this, there is also an argument for reporting slightly differently on regeneration schemes, with an annual progress report to the Council. Overall, this would provide momentum and an opportunity to report success, rather than the minutiae of delivery.


"A strategic client function should be designed, which is both 'thin' and 'intelligent', which strengthens links with Strategic Property functions and with the client function for the Barnet Group."



That's been hard going, so here's a picture of a stuck squirrel:



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