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Economy and Enterprise

Devon County Council

OPE Partnership Board Minutes – 24 April 2023



Last Updated


Melanie Sealey, Keir Duffin, Alison Hayward, Andrew Wood, Alison White, Chris Shears, Dave Bartram, David Boocock, Dominie Dunbrook, Fergus Pate, Iain Masters, Ian Collinson, Ian Thompson, Jamie Evans, Jayne Fox, Mathew Chetwynd, Mike Deaton, Paul Britton, Zoe Lentell, Hannah Keyte (Minutes)


Adrian Welsh, Alan Denby, Andrew Collier, Catherine Turner, Chris Watts, Claire Cushion, Dan Field, Dan James, Dave Harwood, Jody James, Kevin Mills, Kevin Mowat, Laura Haynes, Neil Blaney, Richard Marsh, Roli Martin, Rosa Payne, Sarah Jane Mackenzie-Shapland, Sean Kearney, Tim Child, Zoe Smith

1. BLRF Submissions – Ian Thompson

A number of districts have submitted bids, totalling £2.25m.

Torbay submitted a bid for £950k, creating 93 extra care homes together with amenities.

Mid Devon submitted a bid for further sites from HRA which are mainly redundant garages and housing. Seeking to create 34 affordable units, with a funding request of £720k.

DCC bid for the first time and seeking to create 20 affordable homes with a request of £130k.

Torridge submitted a bid for a site which could create 8 affordable homes with a request of £140k.

Whilst some districts did not make a submission this year, they are continuing to develop bids and these will be forthcoming in the next round. The 3-year process has allowed for better pipeline of projects and higher success rates as we are able to further develop the bids prior to submission.

2. T1/ T2/ T3 Reporting Update – Keir Duffin

A request was made for those who have not yet submitted OPE BLRF updates, to send these over to Zoe Smith as soon as possible.

Zoe Smith will be leaving DCC at the end of this week. The Board thanked Zoe for her work on OPE Reporting.

3. Opportunity Development Fund – Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson presented an update on the Opportunity Development Fund (ODF).

As previously mentioned, 4 submissions made for BLRF2 – Mid Devon, Torbay, Devon and Torridge. However, there is a strong pipeline of projects for the next round; BLRF3 in Spring 2024.

North Devon Civic Hubs – draft outline business case ready for the working group which comprises of NHS, Devon and Cornwall Police, DCC and Districts. Looking at sites in Barnstaple Town Centre; likely to have a voluntary sector and police presence. The second out of town hub is being considered and Devon and Cornwall Police are exploring the options / possibilities around occupation of potential buildings.

Depots project has identified a number of opportunities which will be progressed by partners in the near future.

The ODF workstreams will be taken forward as part of the OPE Programme. Likely to require additional funding bids to support projects; OPE Revenue funding bid to progress business cases, surveys and technical, design and planning etc and BLRF 3 bid capex for pipeline housing sites.

4. Opportunity Development Fund – Alison White

Currently in stage 2 of the Devon Office Hubs Project. Key output from stage 1 was having identified 5 locations for co-location opportunity. Another key output was recognition of the different way of working post-pandemic and perhaps looking at distributed hubs in support of people working remotely from buildings.

Barnstaple has been identified as the key pilot area.

Opportunity to think differently about how we support hybrid working and how to broaden the perspective to offer support to partners.

The key now is to test strategic thinking out internally within DCC. ACTION: Keir Duffin to progress.

Keir Duffin thanked Paul Britton and Regional OPE for supporting us with this work, allowing us to create 3-year pipeline.

5. OPE Regional Update – Paul Britton

In terms of OPE funding, request submitted to treasury for circa £10m funding for this financial year (23/24) and currently pending outcome.

Ian Collinson mentioned it is important to note the more funding received, the more outcomes we are able to deliver. Suggestion of a regional summit to look at lessons learnt and successes from programmes so far. Worthwhile bringing together the talent and expertise, focusing on case studies and key learning to take forward. ACTION: Paul Britton to liaise with Chris Watts and look at taking this forward. Ian Collinson advised Exeter would be happy to host this.

Paul Britton explained that another Council are looking to lobby Government to extend BLRF to continue beyond next year and extend beyond Local Authorities, looking at NHS and MOD Land to unblock those sites. Devon could potentially consider doing the same.

Paul Britton updated that BLRF applications are currently being scored. South West had an ask of about £9m. For those who are successful, aiming for Secretary of State sign off before summer recess to get contracts signed off by March 2024.

6. AOB

Suggestion for next meeting agenda to include an update from Homes England on their priorities, strategic plan etc.

Mathew Chetwynd advised central NHS may have to make reductions in running costs. Therefore, exploring possible office closures to identify savings. If anyone would be interested in sub-letting office space, please contact Mathew Chetwynd. ACTION: Iain Masters to liaise with Mathew Chetwynd. Discussion needed around collaboration agreement and MS offered DCC support with this if required.

Going forward will be looking to reschedule the future meeting dates, moving away from Monday morning meetings, to maximise attendance.

Future Meeting Dates

Wednesday 19th July 2pm – 4pm
Wednesday 8th November 2pm – 4pm