Decision details

Allocation of Commuted Sums Funds to Lune Valley Community Land Trust

Decision Maker: Cabinet

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: Yes


The report seeks approval from Cabinet to award a grant of commuted sums to Lune Valley CLT to implement a new scheme of affordable housing in Halton and amend the council's existing policy on commuted sum payments.


(Cabinet Member with Special Responsibility Councillor Caroline Jackson)


Cabinet received a report from the Director for Economic Growth & Regeneration which sought approval to award commuted sums funds (Section 106 Developer Contributions) to Lune Valley Community Housing Trust to bring forward a new scheme of affordable housing in Halton and to amend the existing policy on the allocation of commuted sums.


The options, options analysis, including risk assessment and officer preferred option, were set out in the report as follows:


Option 1: Approve the request for grant funding and amend the existing commuted sums policy


Advantages: The grant will enable Lune Valley CLT to bring their scheme into fruition and create a suitable community led housing model.  It will result in a further 20 units of affordable housing being provided to meet a local need.  Supporting this scheme will encourage other community groups to bring schemes forward and provides an additional source of funding if required if monies are available.  The scheme will achieve exemplar standards and contribute positively towards the council’s priorities around climate change.  


Disadvantages: The grant funding could be used to support other affordable housing schemes not yet identified. 


Risks: The risks to the council would be minimal if sufficient controls are placed on the allocation of the commuted sum payment.  A binding agreement would be entered into between Lune Valley and Lancaster City Council which sets out how the commuted sum payment must be used, and the payment will only be made when all other conditions are satisfied.  An Exclusivity Agreement/Heads of Terms were entered into between Lune Valley CLT and South Lakes Housing in March 2020 which reduce any perceived risks of the scheme not proceeding as intended.  As long as schemes are delivering affordable housing (with additional controls through the planning consent), there should be no additional risks in awarding commuted sums to community groups.   



Option 2: Do not approve the grant funding and do not alter the existing commuted sums policy


Advantages: The funding could be used to support other affordable housing schemes being brought forward by Registered Providers only.


Disadvantages: The council has already committed £267K Community Housing Fund to support the delivery of this project.  If the commuted sums payment was not approved, the scheme would ultimately be at risk and may not be delivered.  This would be a significant loss of opportunity, with some reputational damage. If the policy is not amended, it limits the funding available to support community led housing developments.  



Risks: Whilst there is usually no set time limit placed upon the council to spend commuted sums funds, there is a general expectation that the monies are put to good use by councils and allocated within a reasonable period of time to minimise the risk of any future challenges being made. 


The officer preferred option is Option 1.  If the grant is approved, it will allow Lune Valley CLT and South Lakes Housing to bring this community led housing development into fruition as outlined within the report.  In order to minimise any perceived risk, the grant funding will only be paid when the conditions set out in recommendation 2 have been satisfied.


Councillor Caroline Jackson proposed, seconded by Councillor Dave Brookes:-


“That the recommendations, as set out in the report, be approved.”


Councillors then voted:-


Resolved unanimously:


(1)             To amend the existing commuted sums policy to allow community groups to receive  grant funding as well as other social housing providers.


(2)             To award a commuted sums payment of £375K to Lune Valley CLT for the acquisition of a site in Mill Lane Halton, subject to confirmation that the scheme qualifies for the required level of capital grant funding and being granted planning permission. 


(3)        That all future allocations of commuted sums payments are approved through Individual Cabinet Member decision by the Cabinet Member for Housing in accordance with the original Cabinet decision in 2009, and within any limits on Cabinet members’ spending powers as stated in the constitution.



Officer responsible for effecting the decision:


Director for Economic Growth & Regeneration


Reasons for making the decision:


The decision is consistent with the Council Plan with the potential to directly contribute to the Council’s approved priorities which includes a Sustainable District, an Inclusive and Prosperous Local Economy and Happy and Healthy Communities.   The decision is also consistent with the Local Plan and will directly contribute to increasing the supply of housing in Lancaster district on an allocated housing site and contribute towards the increase of affordable housing to meet a local need.   In addition, the recommendations directly contribute to the Housing Strategy 2020-2025 which is currently being drafted, by increasing the provision of affordable housing through community led models.


Report author: Kathy Beaton

Publication date: 22/07/2020

Date of decision: 14/07/2020

Decided at meeting: 14/07/2020 - Cabinet

Effective from: 30/07/2020

Accompanying Documents: