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RDA land goes to Homes and Communities Agency

Mark Prisk, Minister for Business and Enterprise, announced in July that the Regional Development Agency land and property portfolio is to be transferred to the control of the Homes and Communities Agency from September.

The closure of the nine Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) for England was announced in the Budget on 22 June 2010.  During the 12 years in which they have operated, the RDAs have acquired a range of land and property assets which will now be passed onto the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA). This national portfolio includes a number of coalfield sites previously owned by the HCA (as English Partnerships) and transferred to the RDAs. These will form part of the HCA’s land and regeneration offer. The detail is subject to further discussion.

Pat Ritchie, Chief Executive of the HCA, welcomed the announcement, which sets out a key role for the HCA to work with local partners to deliver economic and regeneration benefits to communities from RDA assets. She said, “This builds on our land and property expertise and our strong partnerships with Local Authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships to ensure value for money from those assets.”

The HCA will be accountable to the government for the effective management and disposal of the portfolio. The agency will work in collaboration with local partners to develop, invest in and dispose of assets, through stewardship arrangements, in pursuit of the economic development and regeneration objectives agreed by local partners, including Local Enterprise Partnerships, and in support of local strategies.

To put these plans into action, the HCA will be establishing Local Stewardship Partnerships with local authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships, businesses and other local partners. Ritchie said, “They will play a key role in helping to determine the future of these assets in line with local objectives and the HCA, while managing the portfolio at national level, will ensure that the benefits of development – jobs, businesses and homes – are delivered in the areas where the assets are located. This will make a major contribution to the localism agenda.”

The key benefits of the HCA’s stewardship arrangement are to:

  • Offer influence in circumstances where local authorities and community organisations are not in a position to pay market value for assets
  • Remove tax challenges through a state-to-state transaction avoiding the tax and local authority borrowing challenges
  • Give local partners time to align assets with new government economic growth programmes, and for longer term RDA projects inherited in the asset base to reach full maturity. This will maximise value for money
  • Avoid sales at low value, reducing the risk of the market being flooded by mass sales of assets at a weak point in the market.
  • Offer a single residuary body arrangement to the government, maximising the potential to manage receipts and commitments over the current spending period
  • Achieve localism by aligning these assets with the interests of local partners

For more information, go to www.homesandcommunities.co.uk

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