Decision details

Establishing the Winchester Housing Company (less exempt appendices)

Decision Maker: z Cabinet (Housing) Committee - DISCONTINUED

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: No


In introducing the report, the Chairman highlighted that a Housing Company would offer an extra tool for the Council to provide additional affordable accommodation, but it was anticipated only around 10% business would be transacted through the Company.


The Head of Housing Finance advised that £10m funding from the General Fund had been approved, with the exact mix of debt to equity to be determined.  The Strategic Director: Services (Interim) stated that a further report would be required for final approval, following further legal advice, and it was anticipated that this would be submitted by summer 2019.


Officers responded to a number of detailed questions from Members as summarised below:

·         It was confirmed that the report would also be considered by The Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 20 March and Cabinet on 25 March 2019;

·         The Council had received confirmation from its legal advisors that it would be permissible to transfer HRA land at less than market value;

·         One Member queried whether the Council had the necessary accounting expertise for the different accounting required for a Housing company.  The Strategic Director highlighted that the Council already procured external advice regarding, for example VAT, and it was intended to continue this approach.

·         The Strategic Director advised that the majority of the transactions between the Housing Company and the Council could be made public.  However, some discussions, for example regarding negotiation of contract sums, would necessarily remain exempt.

·         The Head of Housing Finance confirmed that discussions had taken place with other local authorities regarding their experiences of establishing a housing company.

·         Officers acknowledged that there were risks involved, as summarised in the report.  However, these were mitigated by limiting the investment to £10m and putting in place tests to ensure that any asset developed would be worth more than the cost of the land acquired.

·         The Head of New Homes Delivery advised that the establishment of a Housing Company would not impact on the Council searching for new sites with potential for development.  However, it would offer an additional means of financing and enable for development for a more mixed community.

·         The Council would seek to introduce a local connection criteria when establishing the Housing Company. 


Monica Gill confirmed that the report had been discussed by TACT and its members were in support of the proposals.


The Committee agreed to the following for the reasons outlined above, discussed during the exempt session, and set out in the report.




1.         That the proposal to establish a company limited by shares and wholly owned by the Council to deliver and manage sub market rented and shared ownership accommodation, including the partnered home purchase scheme (PHP)  be approved.  A further report will be made to Cabinet and Council before a final decision is made to establish the company and start trading.


2.         That a combined loan facility & equity shareholding of £10m from the General Fund be approved to support the company’s development activity. This was previously approved in CAB2990 (HSG) 22 November 2017 as a £10m loan facility only. 


3.         That the five year business plan be approved.


4.         That the Corporate Head of Housing in consultation with the Corporate Head of Resources, the Leader with Portfolio for Housing Services and the Portfolio Holder for Finance be authorised to:


a)    Determine the balance of commercial and other loans to equity with due regard to state aid regulations.


b)   Determine the terms of all loans.


5.         That the proposed governance structure be approved, and:


a)    Full Council assumes the role of shareholder of the company.


b)   A Shareholder Advisory Group of three elected members of the Cabinet Housing Committee be established to advise the Council in its capacity as shareholder with senior officers to attend as required.


c)    That the appointment of one elected member and two senior officers to the board of directors, namely The Chair of the relevant Policy Committee, The Corporate Head of Housing and the Head of New Homes Delivery, be approved.


6.         That delegated authority be given to the Chief Executive in consultation with the Leader with Portfolio for Housing Services to appoint additional independent directors at a future date should the need arise.


7.         That authority to finalise the articles of association and shareholder agreement be delegated to the Corporate Head of Housing in consultation with the Legal Services Manager, the Leader with Portfolio for Housing Services and external legal advisors.


8.         That, to ensure that the company is able to commence trading from October 2019,  authority to undertake all remaining steps detailed at Table 5 be delegated to the Corporate Head of Housing in consultation with the Legal Services Manager and Leader with Portfolio for Housing Services. 


Reason Key: Significantly effect on 2 or more wards;

Wards Affected: (All Wards);

Contact: Richard Burden, Housing Finance and Resources Manager Email:

Report author: Richard Burden

Publication date: 28/03/2019

Date of decision: 20/03/2019

Decided at meeting: 20/03/2019 - z Cabinet (Housing) Committee - DISCONTINUED

Accompanying Documents:


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