One Public Estate Fund details

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Applications are now closed

OPE is offering a minimum of £6 million revenue grant to support collaborative property-based projects which will deliver local economic growth, including new homes and jobs; efficiencies; and better integrated public services.

75 per cent of this funding will be awarded as Sustainable Grant, enabling funding to be recycled back to the OPE programme upon the achievement of a financial milestone e.g. the release of an asset leading to the payment of a capital receipt. This will enable the programme to support projects to come forward in the future.

OPE9 funding is available to support early stage project costs. We will fund ambitious land and property projects that:

  • demonstrate collaboration across local government, central government and wider public sector bodies
  • contribute to our core programme outputs (homes, jobs, capital receipts and reduced running costs), with a particular focus upon projects which include housing benefits
  • support the Government’s commitment to level-up by investing in towns, cities, rural and coastal areas.

This ninth application round places particular emphasis on the Government's commitment to level up. Partnerships will need to articulate how projects meet this criterion. For example, this could include, but not be limited, to projects that deliver affordable housing in areas of high unaffordability; create jobs in areas of high unemployment; deliver improved public services in areas of relative deprivation; or support regeneration of the high street to drive economic growth.

We expect all applications to articulate their own local strategic priorities, plans for economic recovery, and the anticipated positive impact that the funding will have on the lives of people in the areas of greatest need.

Please contact your OPE regional team should you require further advice regarding your strategic case and the alignment with levelling-up.

OPE awards will be a minimum £50,000 per project

Typical types of OPE funded activity are:

  • master planning
  • feasibility studies
  • business case development
  • options appraisals
  • surveys, valuations and design works
  • specialist expertise
  • project management.

Types of activity not funded include, but are not limited to:

  • planning application fees
  • community engagement and consultation, marketing
  • legal fees
  • capital works.

All partnerships are expected to include a minimum proportion of 75 per cent Sustainable Grant within their applications, however the level of Sustainable Grant may vary by project within the partnership application, as appropriate.

Partnerships will only be expected to recycle a Sustainable Grant back into the programme once a project is delivered and an agreed milestone is met. This is a substantial change from previous funding rounds and reflects the complexity of OPE projects, the different timescales to deliver, and the different assets involved in a project. This approach reflects the enabling investment being provided through OPE funding and ensures the programme will continue to be able to support further future projects by recycling a proportion of all awards at the relevant time.

Where projects are not successful and the relevant milestone is not able to be delivered, the Sustainable Grant will not be expected to be recycled back into the programme.

The application should outline details of the milestone, including the delivery timeline, which will enable the recycling of the Sustainable Grant.

Following our assessment of applications, we may offer a greater, or lesser, proportion of Sustainable Grant in some cases where we deem appropriate. This is to ensure Sustainable Grants are allocated fairly across the programme and are targeted to relevant activity. In such cases, your regional team will discuss this with you at the earliest opportunity.

Pool of Experts

To support capacity at a local level, the pool of experts can be considered by OPE partnerships where additional capacity and capability is required to support the partnership and/or specific project deliverables.

Specific specialised skills within the Pool of Experts include:

  • master planning
  • feasibility studies
  • options appraisals
  • surveyors
  • design
  • programme management
  • procurement.

Individuals have undergone basic vetting and are able to be called on at short notice. This offers a streamlined approach to procuring expertise. Partnerships should use their own funds, or the OPE grant awarded to cover Pool of Experts costs. If considering use of the Pool of Experts, partnerships should discuss their requirements with their OPE Regional Team who can advise further.

Programme management support

OPE recognises the critical importance of strong and dedicated programme management to OPE partnerships to support the successful delivery of their programmes of projects. We encourage local contributions to cover this and many partnerships have already put this in place. Where this is not possible, partnerships can make the case for funding support in their applications, however, any underspend from previous awards would be expected to be used first and foremost. Partnerships should discuss their plans with their OPE Regional Team in the first instance. Sustainable Grant is not available for programme management awards.


Assessment of OPE applications

All applications will be jointly assessed by Cabinet Office, the LGA and DLUHC on a competitive basis.

Pre-selection criteria

For any application to be considered, the partnership must state how it has met, or will meet, all of these pre-selection criteria:

  • maintain or join an effective board, bringing together partnership members from across the wider public sector to collaborate and deliver joint projects. Boards with local authority partners only will not suffice. Prior failure by an existing partnership to meet this criterion may result in applications being ineligible
  • regularly update all land and property assets (except social housing stock) owned by partnership authorities and public sector partners on the ePIMS Lite system (or its successor)
  • respond to requests for public sector land release intelligence from the OPE programme
  • agree to adhere to reporting arrangements which provide data on partnership activity, project progress and benefits delivery updates
  • confirm a lead local authority to act as accountable body for the partnership’s funding and include the lead authority’s S151 officer or chief executive’s sign-off in your application
  • a statement of commitment to the Public Sector Equality Duty, giving due regard to advance equality of opportunity between people who share one or more protected characteristics (as defined in the Equality Act 2010) and those who do not through the proposed project.

Partnerships should ensure that they have the support of all asset-owning partners for any project proposal and evidence of this support should be included in their application. Project proposals which involve central government assets will be shared with national departments at the assessment stage. Should partnerships require support with engaging central government partners as they develop their application, they should contact their regional team as soon as possible.

Applications will be evaluated by applying the following criteria:

1. OPE pre-selection criteria

Applications will only be considered if the partnership demonstrates their agreement to meet the pre-selection criteria.

2. Applications will then be assessed against the full OPE criteria

Full assessment against OPE criteria
Criteria Weight

Strategic case

The strategic case has the greatest weighting. An assessment will be made as to the degree to which the project supports local economic recovery and helps to meet the ambition to level-up every part of the UK. Projects delivering outcomes that create economic opportunity and improve public service will score more highly.

The geographical spread of projects will be taken into account, ensuring the programme supports the Government’s commitment to level-up every part of the UK. We will use indicators of relative deprivation (Indices of deprivation 2019) and average productivity (Gross Value Added per hour worked) to support our assessment of the strategic case.

In addition, the strategic case assessment will include the degree to which the project supports innovation and wider local and national government priorities, for example aligning with local industrial strategy and progressing towards net zero carbon.

40%

Level of cross-public sector involvement

Including the degree to which both central and local government partners are involved and will benefit from the project.

15%

Added value of our funding and support

In enabling, enhancing or accelerating the project, also taking into account the investment partners are making.

15%

Value for money and level of forecast benefits

Ensuring that OPE projects demonstrate value for money in the level of benefits they deliver for the investment sought.

15%

Confidence in delivery

Confidence in partnership arrangements, the deliverability of the project and associated timescales, and track record of delivery and the impact (existing partnerships).

15%

 

All partnerships should submit an application that includes a minimum 75 per cent of Sustainable Grants. This proportion may vary between individual projects as appropriate. The programme reserves the right to partially fund grant applications and to award a different proportion of Sustainable Grant than the partnership has applied for.