The Service Lead Growth, Development and Prosperity provided clarification and response to questions from Members in relation to the service plan for the service for 2022-23.
For the Growth, Development and Prosperity team, work for the coming year would include:
· Investment proposals for Cranbrook town centre, particularly the delivery of Cranbox, to provide the community with a revenue generating asset;
· Supporting the work of the Cranbrook Strategic Delivery Board;
· Delivering the Clyst Valley Regional Park proposals, in engagement with key stakeholders and the community;
· Progress the Crystal Clear Clyst bond work, utilising funding from the Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund;
· Delivering the South East Devon Habitat Migration Strategy;
· Actively sourcing and securing funds to promote the district’s economy in relation to the Shared Prosperity Fund and the Levelling Up agenda;
· Ensuring the Innovation and Resilience Fund is fully deployed to support economic recovery and promote transition to a low carbon economy;
· Delivery of the Employment and Skills project;
· Developing initiatives to secure economic investment in the district and generate employment opportunities;
· Supporting the development of projects funded through the Community Renewal Fund to benefit local people and organisations;
· Supporting delivery of the Poverty Reduction Strategy;
· Developing the infrastructure needed to support the local economy;
· Developing a Tourism Strategy with an emphasis on sustainable tourism, ensuring alignment with the Cultural Development Strategy;
· Leading the Enterprise Zone programme to accelerate delivery of new commercial space;
· Continuing to develop the simplified planning regime in the Enterprise Zone area by bringing forward further Local Development Orders;
· Supporting the development of a sustainable aviation cluster focused on Exeter Airport, in line with the Local Industrial Strategy;
· Supporting improvements to digital connectivity in the district by liaising with Connecting Devon & Somerset appointed and commercial providers.
The Portfolio Holder Economy and Assets commented on the impact of the pandemic on tourism, retail, high streets and the economy, and thanked the team for their work in consistently drawing in funds from government grants to support resilience in business and the creation of jobs in East Devon.
The Portfolio Holder Climate Action and Emergencies remarked that the district had some of the leakiest homes in Europe which needed retrofitting, and this created opportunities for jobs and upskilling.
Clarification and responses included:
· Following request for clarification, the Service Lead Growth, Development & Prosperity stated that, with an initial cohort of ten farmers/landowners in the Clyst Valley, the Crystal Clear Clyst Bond was looking at whether there was a financial regime that could incentivise tree planting as part of the long-term economic sustainability for farms, going forward, and what it would take to move from the current level of tree coverage up to the objective of 20%;
· A Member asked that the wording around increasing canopy cover through the Crystal Clear Clyst Bond includes explicit reference to trees;
· It was noted that the statutory five-year treasury-funded business rate relief for the Enterprise Zone ends in March 2022; would this affect the attractiveness of the Zone, going forward? The Service Lead Growth, Prosperity and Development stated that whereas the relief had been helpful in relation to the Science Park, it had not been a deal-maker or a deal-breaker in accelerating other types of investment. It was particularly relevant to small business, and the team were exploring whether they could extend some form of locally-funded discretionary support to ensure a continued incentive regime, going forward;
· Providing clarity around the Levelling Up bid, the Service Lead Growth, Prosperity and Development stated that the bids for Exmouth had been unsuccessful and an invitation had been received to a feedback session with the Department for Transport and Department for Levelling Up. It was hoped that an anticipated Levelling-Up White Paper would give an indication of the aims and timescales for future rounds of Levelling-Up funds and, at that point, the team would work with local MPs to agree a way forward for future bids;
· A Member commented that the Clyst Valley Trail proposals were exciting and, if completed, could change the way people commute; how far were we with the delivery plan on this? The Service Lead Growth, Prosperity and Development stated that the team were doing all they could to secure funds to deliver the infrastructure. The delivery plan was expected to be agreed with Devon County Council early this year, which would then be brought to Cabinet to demonstrate how the project would move forward;
· A Member asked if there was a guaranteed number of houses that the new improved heat system would provide for. The Service Lead Growth, Prosperity and Development stated that currently the two networks served 8,000 homes for build out, and 2 million square feet of commercial space. There was potential to also serve a further 4,000 homes in the Cranbrook expansion areas.
Recommended to Cabinet by the Overview and Scrutiny Committees that the Service Plan 2022-23 for the Growth, Development and Prosperity service be adopted.