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Economy and Enterprise

Devon County Council

OPE Partnership Board Minutes 30th January 2023



Melanie Sealey (Chair), Alan Denby, Alison White, Chris Shears, Chris Watts, Dominie Dunbrook, Fergus Pate, Iain Masters, Ian Collinson, Ian Thompson, Jamie Evans, Jayne Fox, Keir Duffin, Mathew Chetwynd, Mike Deaton, Paul Britton, Richard Marsh, Rosa Payne, Sarah Jane Mackenzie-Shapland, Tim Child, Hannah Keyte (Minutes)


Andrew Collier, Claire Cushion, Dave Harwood, David Bartram, David Boocock, Edward Blight, Jody James, Kevin Mills, Kevin Mowatt, Laura Haynes, Roli Martin, Zoe Smith

1. Update on Opportunity Development Fund

Opportunity Development Fund (ODF) is offered to create a pipeline of projects over the next 3 years to ensure bids are ready for any potential funding for OPE.

a. Avison Young - Ian Thompson

ODF runs until the end of March 2023 and aims to achieve: either submission of BLRF round 2 bids by 31st March or create opportunities for funding in the future. These are – Public Sector Land Protocol, North Devon Civic Hubs outline business case, Brownfield Land Renewal Fund round 2 bid development, LA Estates Review and identify a forward plan for any future potential funding.

Public Sector Land Protocol

This is a set of principles which land owners would sign up to, looking at assets in the long run rather than individual organisations for immediate return / value. This creates better strategic objectives by working together with partners. Those that sign up do not lose any ownership rights of their assets and remain the decision-making body. The purpose of the discussion today is to place this back with partners to see if this draft document might work for their organisations. ACTION: Keir Duffin to circulate the draft document in due course with a request for the sort of feedback required. Would like to be able to provide examples of types of sites that could potentially be a part of this as it helps to set the scene. ACTION: ALL to review the document once sent out and consider any potential case studies to be included.

Depot Project

This looks at rationalising portfolios in order to have a few key depot sites, enabling the rest to be released for other uses. Looking at super depots in key locations such as around Exeter, South Molton, Kingsteignton, Ivybridge, Tavistock and Okehampton areas.

Key Worker Housing Project

A priority for LAs and other agencies is to have key worker accommodation throughout the county.  Review of LA sites in an attempt to identify 1 or 2 pilots where we can undertake further feasibility and due diligence work.  Ian Collinson had a couple of suggestions so an additional conversation required around taking this proposition forward.  Mathew Chetwynd currently exploring model of key worker housing and suggested an offline conversation.

North Devon Civic Hubs

Core partners within this project incl. DCC, Districts, Police and currently looking to bring others onboard. Output will be an outline business case detailing common approach for consistency around how the project will be delivered. ACTION: Ian Thompson to circulate the draft business case once core partners have signed off.

b. Placemaking - Alison White

Placemaking have been commissioned to undertake stage 2 of OPE Devon Office Hubs Report.  Stage 2 report was going to review the data in stage 1 and present recommendations / develop business case for key outputs. However, there is a greater emphasis in stage 2 report, and post covid adoption, around hybrid working.

As part of stage 2, Placemaking have been engaging with frontline service leads to encourage support in considering the future and balance between service delivery improvements and rationalising office accommodation.

The business case is in progress for Stage 2 recommendations and will present outputs in April 2023.

Design principles have been developed on what hub models may look like and series of workshops to review these but also to look at templates for three specific types of hubs. The three hub templates that were in development have now been approved:

  1. Template for core location where there is opportunity for office rationalising and releasing land for other uses. Barnstaple is identified as a key town.
  2. Recognise there would be other locations where perhaps a similar facility could be provided and making use of another partner’s facility.
  3. Temporary or pop-up type facility, not accommodated in a fixed asset i.e., temporary social needs, seasonal fluctuation etc.  This was completely new to everyone but gained a good deal of support from the workshops.

Over the next 2 weeks, the plan is to complete the business case for Barnstaple site and looking to engage OPE Partners to test the hub templates and design principles and explore how templates 2 and 3 could be piloted in other locations.

Mike Deaton made reference to the work taking place in Cranbrook around a multi-function building.  ACTION: Mike Deaton and Alison White to have a conversation outside of this meeting.

ACTION: Sarah Jane Mackenzie-Shapland and Alison White to have an offline conversation regarding North Devon.

2. T1/T2/T3 Reporting Update

The need to ensure reporting is completed in a timely manner was reiterated by Keir Duffin. New process in BLRF which allows reporting to be completed as and when thus making the process easier.

3. Update on BLRF 2

Exeter, East Devon, Mid Devon, Torbay and Devon County Council have expressed an interest in BLRF 2. Deadline for submission of bids is 31st March 2023.

Please can partners contact Keir Duffin should they have any projects they wish to discuss.

4. Update - Project Leads / Regional OPE

Paul Britton – Over the next month or so, focus will be on BLRF so happy to speak to partners individually about this.

Future Meeting Dates

  • Monday 24th April 10am – 12 noon
  • Monday 17th July 2pm – 4pm
  • Monday 6th November 2pm – 4pm