Mr Steve Grimshaw (Strategic Programme Manager) was in attendance for this item.
1. Mr Murphy introduced the item and provided a summary of the success of the scheme.
2. Mr Grimshaw explained that the £175,000 interest free loan was for those utilising the scheme for the first time and if an applicant wanted to utilise the scheme for a second time this would be on interest bearing terms. The loans were typically offered over a three-year period, and it was a requirement that the loan was repaid on or before the anniversary date of the loan. There was no penalty for repaying the loan early.
3. Mr Grimshaw provided a summary of the report.
4. Mr Grimshaw responded to the following questions and comments from Members:
(a) Members asked how owners of empty properties were being encouraged to take up the scheme and whether some districts engaged more than others, Mr Grimshaw said the NUE team met with district colleagues on a quarterly basis. He highlighted that each housing team within the districts had different staffing levels that effected their ability to promote the scheme. Each year letters were sent to empty property owners highlighting the incentives the Council could offer with a short term secured loan. Council tax premiums were charged for empty properties and the scheme was publicised through press releases, estate agents and social media.
(b) Asked whether properties being brought back into use were used as an Airbnb, Mr Grimshaw said this had been discussed with district colleagues and it was agreed that the Council would not provide support where the intended use of the property was as an Airbnb. He clarified the initial remit was to bring residential properties back into use.
(c) Asked about rates charged for the New Builds NUE Scheme, Mr Grimshaw said they were in some way dependent on the rates charged by the Council’s Treasury department. The rates varied, for example a higher loan would result in more risk and attract a higher interest rate.
(d) Members expressed their support for the scheme and paid tribute to its success. The involvement of other councils within the scheme was noted along with the source of employment it provided for local builders.
(e) Asked about the possibility of some properties, which were not suitable as homes, being used for community enterprise where appropriate, Mr Grimshaw said he would be happy to discuss this further.
5. Mr Rayner proposed, and Mr Holden seconded that the recommendations of the report be moved, and this was agreed unanimously.
RESOLVED to endorse the Cabinet Member for Economic Development to support:
a) the continuation of the NUE initiative to at least 2027-28 with a further update to be provided at that time;
b) how NUE is funded and seek the agreement of the Section 151 Officer or the Cabinet Member for Finance as appropriate for approval to spend; and
c) for authority to be delegated to the Director of Growth and Communities to take appropriate actions including, ... view the full minutes text for item 124