South Seaham Garden Village

Establishing a Governance Structure

Client: Durham County Council

Having secured Garden Village status for a residential-led mixed use development at South Seaham, Durham County Council instructed Hive to lead on the establishment of a governance structure to oversee the implementation of the GV. The instruction required the need to:  

  • set up an overarching project board; 
  • lead on the creation and implementation of the governance arrangements; 
  • lead on community engagement; and 
  • assist all partners on the project management of the development. 

The Council, and other key stakeholders, were keen to put in place a robust governance structure to drive delivery against the programme, act in a stewardship capacity to ensure the key aspirations of the GV were achieved, and provide a robust basis upon which future funding opportunities could be channelled and explored. Hive commenced the instruction with a Project Inception Document, followed by one-to-one stakeholder meetings to understand their roles, organisational requirements, aspirations and views on what they regarded was fit for purpose, given the unique characteristics of the project.  

Drawing on a wealth of experience on working on other GVs, Hive were able to advise on the most suitable structure to adopt, based on key legal and financial considerations and the appetite of stakeholders. The key output was a report setting out governance structure options, with a preferred option, providing a clear structure designed to be as streamlined as possible, whilst allowing for multiple stakeholders to have a meaningful input into the project. The report was accompanied with practical advice around the legal documents required to underpin the structure (including a MOU and ToR). Hive led on the set up of the working groups and their respective remits to fit within the wider Council governance framework and the role of the Board.  

Early buy-in to the objectives from the project stakeholders was critical to the effectiveness and long-term sustainability of the governance structure, where all parties had a clear understanding of the role of the various committees and working groups, the make-up and terms of reference for each group, the powers of approval and their place within the governance hierarchy. The success of this project was based on early engagement of stakeholders, the identification of a Senior Responsible Officer, and establishment of a structure which was unambiguous and had robust project management and reporting arrangements. 

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