Derbyshire looks to private sector to further corporate aims for housing and regeneration

Derbyshire Dales District Council is set to ask local people what they think about the authority establishing a joint venture with a private company to further its corporate aims for affordable housing, employment and regeneration needs.

Chief Executive Paul Wilson will ask the council’s Commercial Board to consider a six week period of public consultation on the draft proposals and reasoning to form a joint venture, with findings presented to a future meeting of the Board.

The partnership approach would review the potential of the authority’s Estate, contribute to its strategic aims relating to the delivery of affordable housing, economic and regeneration growth and maximise the potential of surplus land and building assets.

Other benefits would include reviewing existing lease agreements to maximise future rental income and working in partnership to unlock strategic sites leading to economic growth.

A partnership would also enable the investigation of strategic regeneration projects such as Matlock’s Bakewell Road and unlock new partnership arrangements for the delivery of social housing development.

The council is looking to maximise revenue and funding streams from its asset base through additional private sector funding, while reducing the risk associated with holding assets.

Mr Wilson’s report to the Commercial Board states that a partnership would provide up-front private sector investment funds if needed and would be able to respond more quickly to market opportunities for the acquisition, development or disposal of Council assets, while providing increased capacity for its Estates and Facilities Management Team.

Among the recommendations to the Commercial Board are that the District Council seeks specific legal advice on the authority’s powers to form a Limited Liability Partnership as a vehicle to successfully partner with the private sector.

Mr Wilson’s report concludes: “The potential to form a joint venture and partnership approach is an exciting departure from traditional ways of working and has the potential to increase capacity in key disciplines whilst offering scope for better management of the Council’s assets.

“Any joint venture has the potential to be used as ‘part of’ and not ‘instead of’ the range of tools for the maximum realisation of our asset portfolio. However, to progress the initiative, specific legal advice will be required on the choice of operating model to mitigate the risk of challenge.”