Agenda and minutes

Housing and Regeneration Scrutiny Panel
Tuesday, 13th October, 2015 6.30 pm

Contact: Martin Bradford  6950

Items
No. Item

14.

FILMING AT MEETINGS

Please note that this meeting may be filmed or recorded by the Council for live or subsequent broadcast via the Council’s internet site or by anyone attending the meeting using any communication method. Although we ask members of the public recording, filming or reporting on the meeting not to include the public seating areas, members of the public attending the meeting should be aware that we cannot guarantee that they will not be filmed or recorded by others attending the meeting. Members of the public participating in the meeting (e.g. making deputations, asking questions, making oral protests) should be aware that they are likely to be filmed, recorded or reported on. 

 

By entering the meeting room and using the public seating area, you are consenting to being filmed and to the possible use of those images and sound recordings.

 

The chair of the meeting has the discretion to terminate or suspend filming or recording, if in his or her opinion continuation of the filming, recording or reporting would disrupt or prejudice the proceedings, infringe the rights of any individual or may lead to the breach of a legal obligation by the Council.

Minutes:

The Chair referred Members present to agenda Item 1 as shown on the agenda in respect of filming at this meeting, and Members noted the information contained therein.

15.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Gunes.

16.

Urgent Business

The Chair will consider the admission of any late items of urgent business (late items will be considered under the agenda item where they appear. New items will be dealt with as noted below).

Minutes:

None received.

17.

Declarations of interest

A member with a disclosable pecuniary interest or a prejudicial interest in a matter who attends a meeting of the authority at which the matter is considered:

 

(i) must disclose the interest at the start of the meeting or when the interest becomes apparent, and

(ii) may not participate in any discussion or vote on the matter and must withdraw from the meeting room.

 

A member who discloses at a meeting a disclosable pecuniary interest which is not registered in the Register of Members’ Interests or the subject of a pending notification must notify the Monitoring Officer of the interest within 28 days of the disclosure.

 

Disclosable pecuniary interests, personal interests and prejudicial interests are defined at Paragraphs 5-7 and Appendix A of the Members’ Code of Conduct.

Minutes:

None received.

18.

Deputations/Petitions/Presentations/Questions

To consider any requests received in accordance with Part 4, Section B, Paragraph 29 of the Council’s Constitution.

Minutes:

The panel noted that a question had been received from a member of the public to be presented to the Cabinet Member for Planning at item 7.  Although not received within the required notification period, the Chair agreed to allow this question and the Cabinet member had been given prior notification.

19.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 221 KB

To approve the minutes of the previous meeting held on 9th July 2015.

Minutes:

 

6.1 In respect of actions arising form the last meeting it was noted that:

·         Details of the estate infill programme had been circulated to members;

·         The panel had undertaken the planned visit to APEX House;

·         Selective licensing; older peoples housing and Haringey Housing Strategy have been incorporated in to the panels work programme;

·         The panels work on the Community Infrastructure Levy had been scoped (see item 11).

 

6.2 In respect of outstanding items it was noted that the panel would:

 

Agreed:

·         To write to Cllr Sahota in respect of work being undertaken within local high streets;

·         To write to Chief Officer for Homes for Haringey and Director for Regeneration to provide a report on empty homes and how they are brought back in to use.

 

6.3 In respect of 8.4 the wording should read ‘time table’.

 

6.4 in respect of the RAG ratings for priority boards it was noted that these would soon be going live before the end of the month. This would allow greater oversight of the performance of the corporate priorities and would be in a new accessible and interactive format.

 

6.5 The minutes were agreed.      

20.

Cabinet Member Q & A

Cabinet member for Planning to attend to answer questions within this portfolio.

Minutes:

7.1 The Cabinet member for Planning outlined some of the key planning documents on which the Planning Service was currently focused:

  • Development Management;
  • Site Allocations;
  • Tottenham Area Action Plan;
  • Wood Green Area Action Plan.

 

7.2 It was also reported that in respect of planning applications all majors and 83% of minor planning decisions were on track and within planning timeframes. This is significant progress, especially in respect of major planning applications.  It was also noted that a number of major applications totalling in excess of £1billion are currently being dealt with within the service, these include:

 

·         Tottenham Hotspur Football Club;

·         Apex House;

·         Bruce Grove Station;

·         Tottenham Hale - Hale Wharf and Techno Park.

 

7.3 Building control was performing well with a high demand for this service, which was indicative of quality of service on offer given that local residents can go to any provider for this service.  The panel also noted that Tottenham Hotspur were using this in house service which provided a further vote of confidence.

 

7.4  Other key issues to note in the planning service included:

·         Highgate Neighbourhood Plan engagement was still ongoing;

·         Crouch End Neighbourhood Forum has been submitted and was being prepared for consideration by Cabinet in December;

·         The joint local authority waste plan (North London Waste Authority) consultation closed and the borough has submitted its own comments;

·         The Noel Park Area Conservation Plan had been well received by the community, with positive comments from Historic England and is due to be considered by Cabinet in November;

 

7.5 The panel also raised a number of issues with the Cabinet member and senior officers and a summary of the main of the main discussion points is provided below.  It was noted that recruitment and retention of planning staff remained a significant issue for Haringey and indeed, other London boroughs.  A substantive increase in the volume of development had continued to  lead to nationwide shortages of planning staff. 

 

7.6 It was reported to the panel that the planning service has recently consulted on a restructure for the planning service.  A key aim of this restructure was to help retained staff  to progress and develop within the organisation, but also to help recruit and retain young graduates who will be provided with development support within the service.

 

7.7 It was reported to the panel that a Team Leader for the east of the borough had been recruited and replaces a historically vacant post which has been filled by an agency planner.  Deputies are also being recruited to these posts.  A key aim of these appointments is to build relationships within these areas, which is much easier to do with permanent appointments.

 

7.8 Staffing remains a major challenge however, as the local authority is not only competing against other planning services for well qualified planning officers, but also with the private sector, who in general, can offer much more lucrative packages than public sector employers.  The service has also held discussions with Human Resources to explore the possibility of recruiting  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.

21.

Homelessness pdf icon PDF 214 KB

To report back from site visit to APEX House – Customer Service Centre and Housing Options Team.

 

To discuss with officers (Director of Housing Demand) if there are any further lines of enquiry the panel would like to make.

 

 

Minutes:

8.1 As part of its work programme for 2015/16, the panel at its last meeting agreed that it would visit Apex House.  The Chair reported back on the panels visit which was in two parts:

  • Customer Service Centre – to understand how clients with housing needs initially present with the Council;
  • Housing Options Team – to assess how housing needs are assessed and processed and what programmes the council has in place to prevent homelessness.

 

8.2 The panel noted the volume of client contacts received at Apex House Customer Service Centre (SCS) was approximately 300 per day of which a substantial proportion were housing related enquiries.  The panel noted that despite preventative efforts of the Council, many people continued to present as homeless at the CSC. 

 

8.3 The panel noted that the visit was particularly useful as this helped members to further understand the pressures within the housing allocations system and the impact that this has on temporary accommodation. From this visit, the panel noted that Haringey was supporting over 3,000 households in temporary accommodation and that within a newly configured Housing Register, there were over 7,500 waiting to be homed. Given the shortage of housing supply, it was recorded that the average waiting times for a two bed property, even for those in priority need could be up to three years.  The panel noted that such information would be helpful in managing local housing expectations.

 

8.4 The manager of Housing Demand attended the panel and presented a short paper (attached) and to respond to member questions. The panel noted the recently enacted changes to the Housing Register (HR), which now provides a more realistic presentation of those likely to find homes through the Council.  The removal of bands D and E from the HR was justified as no households had been homed given the relative priority of those in bands A, B and C and the shortage of supply. 

 

8.5 The panel also noted that there was a falling number of housing lets each year which demonstrated the limited capacity of the council to re-home people. For example:

  • In 2011/12, there were 1,103 lets;
  • In 2013/14 there were 848 lets;
  • In 2014/15 there were 697 lets.

 

8.6 The panel noted however that the prospect of homing those applicants in band C within the new housing register was still very low given the scale of local housing need and shortage of supply.  The panel noted that housing legislation requires that the Council gives ‘reasonable preference’ to a wide range of people which must be recognised in housing allocations register, even if their needs or the prospect of them being re-homed is limited. Bands D and E in the previous allocation register were those already in housing but who wanted a different type of housing, and were typically those in the private rented sector but who wanted a council house.

 

8.7 Members of the panel noted the period of time that people are likely to be in temporary accommodation had risen  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21.

22.

Haringey Housing Strategy (2015-2018) pdf icon PDF 2 MB

A draft new Haringey Housing Strategy (2015-2018) has been developed (attached) which is open for consultation until the 18th October 2015.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

9.1 The Lead Commissioner for Housing attended to brief the panel on the Haringey Housing Strategy (presentation attached).  It was noted that this related to corporate priority five in the council and sets out the principles and objectives that will help to achieve this priority.  It was also noted that this was a partnership strategy, also setting out the role of partners in meeting the set objectives.

 

9.2 An initial consultation was undertaken in 2014 on the key principles that would underpin housing strategy and this has informed the development of the Haringey Housing Strategy. There were over 300 responses to this initial consultation, and subsequent analysis of consultation responses demonstrated strong support for the proposed principles.  Analysis also revealed three other themes:

  • Achievability - whether the council can practically deliver on all the desired objectives;
  • Accepting that people and communities are important within the strategy, ‘bricks and mortar’ for building new homes was of paramount importance;
  • Affordability and the quality of the PRS was also important.

 

9.3 In response, the Haringey Housing Strategy has a number of themes:

·         helping to deliver more targeted services for those most in housing need;

·         prevention of homelessness;

·         improving quality of housing in particular the private rented sector;

·         ensuring the increasing supply of new homes and that there is a social dividend to development.

 

9.4 It was reported to the panel that there have been a number of substantive legislative and policy changes since the publication of the Housing Strategy which will influence the final shape of this document and the deliverability of objectives. Key issues highlighted were:

·         recent budget announcements to reduce social rents which will restrict headroom within Housing Revenue Account and which will ultimately impact on the number of houses the council is able to build itself;

·         the introduction of Housing & Planning Bill which among other things, extends right to buy (RTB) among housing associations and forces the sale of high value council homes.

 

9.5 It was noted that there was a significant housing affordability issue in Haringey, an issue which is similarly experienced by residents in many other London boroughs.  Buying a property remains out of reach for many local residents given that the average house price in the borough is in excess of £500k which would require a significant deposit and income to finance.  As average income in the borough is about £40k, buying a property is prohibitive for many residents.

 

9.6 The RTB will continue to be challenging as the council continues to lose local stock through this heavily discounted purchase scheme.  In addition, the loss of high value properties over a certain threshold could severely impact on the availability of social housing in some areas of the borough.  The threshold is yet to be fully determined, but initial estimates suggest that this could lead to the forced sale of up to 50 properties per year.  The panel were concerned that these proposals could exacerbate inequalities between the east and the west of the borough.  This could be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.

23.

Homes for Haringey

To receive an update on future plans for Homes for Haringey.

Minutes:

10.1 The panel noted the outcome of the Future of Housing Working Group which recommended that Homes for Haringey should be retained and that a new 10 year contract should be awarded and this was agreed by Cabinet in September 2015.  The new management agreement will need to be worked up and brought back to Cabinet before March 2016.

 

10.2 Following this decision, Homes for Haringey will continue with those services which were transferred over last year (homelessness, allocation and lettings). There will be a two way Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment (TUPE) process for:

·         200 staff from the Council’s Community Housing Service who are currently seconded with Homes for Haringey;

·         Homes for Haringey (Finance, Human Resources and IT) staff who will move back to the Council within the shared service centre.

 

10.3 It was noted that there would be three priorities for Homes for Haringey going forward these were:

·         Continued negotiation of the new 10 year contract;

·         Managing the two way TUPE staffing transfer;

·         Defining and agreeing performance framework (standards, KPI) for Homes for Haringey.

 

10.4 The panel noted that in addition to recommending a new contract for Homes for Haringey, the Future of Housing Steering Group also suggested that new requirements are placed with Home fro Haringey in respect of:

·         Resident involvement;

·         Review of services to leaseholders;

·         Review repairs service to encourage more residents to undertake minor repairs themselves;

·         Initiate consultation with residents in Broadwater Farm before end of 2015.

 

10.5 The Future Housing Group also recommended that the Council consider the future of the Noel Park estate and develop a self funding proposal to support improvement works.  It was noted that existing Decent Homes improvement will require £35million of which £11m has been sourced.  Therefore £24million needs to be raised  possibly through part-sale and mixed tenure options.

 

 

24.

Work Programme Update pdf icon PDF 367 KB

To:

1)    note the planned programme of work for future meetings;

2)    agree the scope of the planned work on the Community Infrastructure Levy

3)    agree the scope of the planned work on (Affordable Housing) Viability Assessments (To follow)

Minutes:

11.1 The panel noted that in addition to the work programme outline, there were two topics which had been agreed:

·         Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL);

·         Housing Viability Assessments.

 

11.2 Whilst the scope for the CIL had been developed and agreed, recent policy pronouncements in respect of Viability Assessments (using planning obligations to create Starter Homes for purchase at discount over affordable rent) meant that this scope was being reassessed. 

 

11.3 The panel also noted that it was trying a different ‘scrutiny in  day’ approach to project work, so that all the evidence was collected on one day to promote coherence and consistency in way evidence is collected. A date was being sought for the CIL project and panel members would be consulted.

 

11.4 The cabinet member indicated that the apportionment of the CIL receipts was important to ensure that maximum community benefit could be attained.  The Cabinet member requested to be notified when the meeting was due to take place and would attend.

25.

New items of urgent business

To consider any items admitted at item 3 above.

 

26.

Dates of Future Meetings

16th November 2015

18th January 2016

3rd March 2016