Strategic Housing Delivery | The West of England Joint Assets Board

A pioneering regional collaboration to use public sector land more efficiently, transform public sector services and strengthen local communities.


Region: South West
Theme: Housing (in OPE)

The challenge

  • The West of England is an economic leader with an economy worth over £33 billion a year. With a population of over 1.1 million people, one of the highest rates of employment in the country (79 per cent) and over 45,000 businesses, the West of England competes on a global scale.
  • The West of England Combined Authority (WECA) was created through a Devolution Agreement and West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, was elected in May 2017. WECA’s aim is to deliver clean and inclusive economic growth for the region and address some of its challenges, including productivity and skills gaps, the need for more homes and congestion.
  • The region launched its Local Industrial Strategy in July 2019. Co-produced with government, one of its themes is Innovation in Infrastructure. This includes working collaboratively across the region to determine the most appropriate and sustainable locations for future development to meet housing, employment and transport needs for the next 20 years, to 2036.

The story

West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, said: “The Joint Assets Board is an important way in which we can work together to address some of our most challenging regional issues. I’m grateful to the One Public Estate (OPE) programme that has enabled us to get to this point. I look forward to working with central government, as well as local partners, to maximise the benefits of the Joint Assets Board.”

OPE has facilitated significant public sector wide collaboration across the West of England over a number of years, enabling projects that have generated capital receipts, reduced property running costs and released land for housing.

Much of this, has been at a ‘local’ level, which has limited the ability for OPE partners to address the region's most strategic issues and deliver solutions at scale. 

The 2016 Devolution Agreement provided a mechanism for scaling up and elevating collaboration around public sector land and property, through the creation of a West of England Joint Assets Board (JAB), formally constituted in 2018. Crucially, OPE funding awarded in 2016 and 2018 has enabled the JAB to be carefully established, at some pace.  It has a clear purpose and agreed Terms of Reference with key aims to enable regional collaboration across the public sector to:

  • use land more efficiently
  • transform public sector services
  • strengthen local communities.

Going forward, dedicated resource has been created within WECA to manage the JAB, seed funded through OPE.

Outcomes

  • The JAB has been created as a senior and influential Board, with membership at chief executive and executive director level, with all areas of the public sector represented on it, covering – central government, education, emergency services, health and local government. It focuses on strategy and policy that enables public sector property and land assets to be used to support economic, sustainable and inclusive growth, across the region.
  • The primary output from the JAB is a pipeline of public sector land that can be released for development, which is a key component in delivering against housing targets. A large number of opportunities have already been identified and priorities agreed.
  • A pilot review has started, which will create a template for conducting area-based asset reviews in various locations across the region.
  • Whilst the JAB is primarily focused on generating a pipeline of surplus public sector land, it also has an interest in how the land will be developed, so that the benefits from collaboration can be maximised and spread across the public sector.
  • The JAB links very closely with the West of England Housing Delivery Board. Work is underway to clarify a West of England strategy for Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) and other innovations in housing delivery. The Housing Festival is a key element of this and provides a platform for developing and testing housing innovations.

For further information please contact our Regional Programme Managers for the South West.