‘Our Future, Our Bootle’ is Sefton Council’s Area Action Plan (AAP) for Bootle which will set out a clear vision for the town for the next two decades and beyond. The plan will act as a catalyst for further investment in the town, creating more opportunities for local people and businesses. It will also help to secure the homes that people need and want, help address the challenge of climate change, provide good quality open spaces and facilities, seek local environmental improvements as well as securing job opportunities.
Setting out a vision for Bootle is only one part of the solution. The Bootle Area Action Plan must include a realistic delivery plan so that the council can demonstrate that its plans are achievable. Local residents have been consulted on numerous programmes over the past couple of decades, and whilst many improvements have been achieved, change has not occurred at the pace and the scale that many would have hoped for.
Bootle has issues with programme and regeneration delivery in large part due to the low values in the area similar to many post-industrial towns and this is coupled with high levels of deprivation, poor environment, low economic activity and low investor confidence.
Sefton Council decided to commission expert advice as part of the LGA’s Economic Growth Advisers programme to look at a range of delivery mechanisms for the policies and programmes that would likely form part of the Bootle Area Action Plan.
The council appointed PER Consulting to prepare a report on a whole range of delivery mechanisms for the Bootle AAP. In undertaking this work the consultant researched how other local authorities had delivered projects and they interviewed a range of officers across various disciplines to ascertain what delivery mechanisms have been successfully employed in the region. The officers involved included those in Sefton’s Regeneration, Economic Development and Housing Teams as well as those in the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and Homes England.
The resultant report examines a range of potential options for delivering area wide regeneration proposals in full context of the issues and challenges facing Bootle as a place and the wider economic and development market constraints. The proposals draw on the consultant’s extensive professional experience with reference to practical examples showing how they have been deployed successfully and the implications and relevance for Bootle.
Consideration has also been given to the potential role of Sefton Council and other partners together with reflections on the implications for financial and technical /staff resources to support delivery.
Examples of the interventions that have been covered in the report include:
- private sector delivery
- cross funding in a mixed-use development
- low level public support – advice
- planning to help de-risk development
- medium level support – invest to de-risk
- public sector land acquisition
- joint Venture Agreements
- loans and gap funding
- direct development
- local asset backed delivery vehicles
- dynamic partnership – underwriting income potential
- resourcing delivery vehicles.
The Area Action Plan will be developed during the summer of 2022 and into 2023. The findings from this report will be used by the council to inform its decision on how it would take forward the Bootle AAP and any specific programmes and policies within it.
The report will be used to inform the AAP as it starts to evolve and therefore the findings within the report will be embedded at an early stage. The Bootle AAP will be progressed with the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders, including council officers across a range of disciplines (such as Planning, Regeneration, Transport, Public Health, Housing, Economic Development), the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, private sector, statutory bodies and the public. The recommendations of the report will be primarily taken forward by the Planning Department with particular input from regeneration colleagues. The full impact of the report will be understood better once the Area Action Plan is developed and delivered.
It was decided to secure the advice at the very early stages of the Bootle Area Action plan. Whilst this came with the advantage of embedding the findings within our thinking from the outset, it was difficult for the consultant to have a clear idea of what exactly the Bootle AAP was likely to include. Further work may be needed once we are further advanced with the Bootle AAP to determine the best way to deliver the policies it contains. Therefore, a key lesson is that if specific advice is required on delivery of detailed policies, then those policies should be fully formed, however, if you wish to inform the plan as it emerges, and use delivery as a way to inform decisions, then securing advice up front is useful.