Agenda and minutes

Housing and Regeneration Scrutiny Panel
Tuesday, 2nd March, 2021 6.30 pm

Venue: MS Teams

Contact: Dominic O'Brien, Principal Scrutiny Officer, 020 8489 5896 

Note: Use the link on the agenda front sheet or paste the following into your browser: https://teams.microsoft.com/l/meetup-join/19%3ameeting_OThmY2RkZTctZDFkOC00M2M3LWE2ZjUtZjc4YzdhNTVjNmRl%40thread.v2/0?context=%7b%22Tid%22%3a%226ddfa760-8cd5-44a8-8e48-d8ca487731c3%22%2c%22Oid%22%3a%22d1dc05de-ecbd-4e6c-b7b3-3a52b6175baf%22%2c%22IsBroadcastMeeting%22%3atrue%7d 

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

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.

Additional documents:

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’.

2.

Apologies for Absence

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Makbule Gunes gave apologies for partial absence from the meeting, noting that she would need to temporarily leave shortly after the beginning of the meeting but would return after approximately 20 minutes.

3.

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).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

None.

4.

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.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

None.

5.

Deputations/Petitions/Presentations/Questions

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

None.

6.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 374 KB

To approve the minutes of the previous meeting. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Brabazon requested updates on two matters referred to in the minutes of the previous meeting:

·         What further progress had been made on reducing the savings gap (as outlined on page 5 of the agenda papers).

·         For more detail on budget proposals on incentives for private sector landlords (as outlined on page 8 of the agenda papers).

 

David Joyce, Director of Housing, Regeneration & Planning said that he would update the Panel on both these points in writing. (ACTION)

 

The minutes of the previous meeting held on 15th December 2020 were approved as an accurate record.

7.

Cabinet Member Questions - Planning

An opportunity to question the Cabinet Member for Planning, Cllr Matt White, on developments within his portfolio.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Matt White, Cabinet Member for Planning and Corporate Services, responded to questions from the Panel on issues relating to the Planning part of his portfolio:

 

  • Cllr Say asked about the housing delivery test which the Council had failed meaning that central Government now required a presumption in favour of sustainable development in the Borough. Cllr White said that the housing delivery test is set on housing completions over a three-year period and, given that the flow of housing completions has large variations from year to year, several local authorities had failed the test. However, the Council would significantly exceed these levels in other years. The consequences of failing the test did not have a major impact as the presumption in favour of sustainable development would only be likely to impact a small percentage of borderline planning cases where this may tip the balance in favour of approval. In response to a follow up question, Cllr White said that a judicial review of this penalty would not be possible because, although the rules were unfair in his view, they had been applied correctly. Cllr Diakides added that a lot of planning approvals had been made but that sometimes private developers failed to deliver the completions. Cllr White agreed on this point and said that it highlighted the unfairness of the housing delivery test.
  • Asked by Cllr Brabazon about his role in the development of the Local Plan, Cllr White said that the Local Plan is a Cabinet-level decision but also goes to the Regulatory Committee for comments. He had not yet had any meetings with the Chair of the Planning Committee on this issue.
  • Cllr Brabazon suggested that the Covid-19 pandemic meant that some aspects of housing policy needed reconsideration, particularly in relation to families and children such as the need for more open space. Cllr White said that the current document available was for consultation/policy background and that there was no draft Local Plan available as yet. The input through this process would be followed by an impact analysis. He agreed with the comments about the need for more open space and a less dense environment for children and these factors would need to be carefully considered in addition to the need to deliver more housing completions and affordable housing.
  • Cllr Barnes asked about the impact of the low traffic neighbourhood in Enfield and the impact on Haringey residents who were concerned that traffic was being pushed from Bowes to Bounds Green. Cllr White said he was aware of the concerns of residents about this and he and the officers were working with their counterparts in Enfield towards a cross-borough solution, including through a public meeting the previous week.
  • Cllr Hare asked about the loss of green spaces that would result from a proposal to build flats on the corner of Seven Sisters Road and St Ann’s Road and another similar proposal in Highgate. Cllr White said that retaining and expanding green space would be an important part of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Housing Delivery Programme pdf icon PDF 203 KB

To consider reports on:

·         The size of new properties in the Housing Delivery Programme by the  number of bedrooms.

·         Woodside Avenue and the Cranwood Housing Development Site (deferred from meeting in November 2020).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This item covered two separate reports, one on the size of homes in the Housing Delivery Programme and one on the Cranwood Housing Development Site.

 

Size of Homes in the Housing Delivery Programme

 

Robbie Erbmann, Assistant Director for Housing, introduced the report on the size of homes in the Housing Delivery Programme, noting at the outset that while family sized housing was required, there was also a desperate need for Council housing of all sizes. The housing register showed that, of the 581 households in the most urgent need, 364 needed a one-bedroom home and 130 needed a two-bedroom home. Of the 11,300 households on the housing register, 73% required a one or two bedroom home.

 

Of the 475 Council homes in the programme that already have planning permission 22% were three-bedroom homes and 2% were four-bedroom homes. At this early stage of the programme there was a high proportion of Council homes being delivered through acquisitions which meant that the bedroom mix was constrained. However, across the whole programme 31% of properties would have three or more bedrooms. The site at Ashley Road was expected to deliver around 150 Council homes, 65% of which will have three or four bedrooms.


There were also financial challenges involved with building family sized Council homes because of the rent generated.
The revenue on a one-bedroom Council home exceeded the cost of interest in year one, and it would take 20 years to pay off the loan required to build it. However, revenue for a four-bedroom home in the same scheme would not exceed the cost of interest until year 30, and it would take 80 years to pay off its loan. This was why the Council was working with the GLA to make the case for increased investment for family-sized homes in the next funding programme. This would help to improve the proportion of family-sized housing in future and, while the family housing target may not have been met in the first 1,000 homes delivered, it was hoped that the target could be met in the next 1,000.

 

Robbie Erbmann, Anna Blandford, Head of Housing Development, and Cllr Ibrahim, Cabinet Member for Housing and Estate Renewal, then responded to questions from the Panel:

 

  • Cllr Barnes asked how many of the remaining 525 homes (i.e. the 1,000 target minus the 475 identified in the report) in the current phase would be acquisitions and how many would be direct delivery. Robbie Erbmann said that there were actually around 800 homes identified for the rest of the phase, approximately 250 of which were expected to be acquisitions. More precise figures could be provided in writing. (ACTION) Cllr Ibrahim said that Council housing stock may be increased through different mechanisms, including through acquisitions, and that it was important to ensure that this was the kind of housing that was needed and that the Council was not paying over the odds for it. Robbie Erbmann added that internal financial controls would prevent over the odds  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Accommodation Strategy update pdf icon PDF 200 KB

To receive an update on recent developments relating to the Council’s Accommodation Strategy.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Charles Adje, Cabinet Member for Finance and Strategic Regeneration and Christine Addison, Interim Assistant Director for Capital Projects and Property, introduced the report on the accommodation strategy.

 

A report on the corporate buildings in Wood Green had been considered and agreed by the Cabinet in September 2020, followed by the approval of a report in December 2020 about the future use of the Civic Centre. The Cabinet had then approved an update to the Asset Management Plan in February 2021 to include the strategic thinking from those two reports.

 

The priorities for the next 12 months which were:

  • moving forward with the Civic Centre project and deciding how and when the car park element could be developed;
  • reviewing the use of George Meehan House to ensure that its use is optimised and works well with the refurbished and expanded Civic Centre spaces;
  • reviewing and outlining best steps for other Council buildings in Wood Green.

 

Cllr Adje and Christine Addison then responded to questions from the Panel:

  • Cllr Hare asked about the impact of the Covid pandemic on the strategic approach to Alexandra House. Cllr Adje said that the use of a number of premises, including Alexandra House, were currently subject to review and while the impact of the pandemic would clearly be an important factor, it was not yet possible to say what the future premises use would be. An update report was expected to be provided to the Cabinet before the end of the year.
  • The report noted that the consolidation of Council accommodation to a smaller number of buildings over a 5-7 year period. In response to a comment from Cllr Hare that the process appeared to be quite slow, Cllr Adje said that, while he shared the concern, the buildings were still occupied and that it would take some considerable time to relocate people.
  • Cllr Brabazon said that the investment in the Civic Centre would result in a surplus of office accommodation. She also noted that Alexandra House, which she said had been bought at a high price, and River Park House were currently mainly empty because of staff working from home. She questioned the thinking behind this process and asked for more information about the review including the terms of reference. Cllr Adje said that everything was set out in Asset Management Plan which had recently been updated and approved by the Cabinet. He added that there were a number of reviews being carried out by officers who would be assisted by external partners if required.
  • Cllr Diakides questioned the use of external consultants to support the process. Cllr Adje said that he was not aware of external consultants being used at the present time but that external partners would be engaged if required. 
  • Cllr Diakides asked about the impact of the uncertainty about the use of Council buildings that would result from this process, with particular reference to the future of the Library. Cllr Adje said that the Library project was being paused  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Dates of Future Meetings

Dates of Panel meetings in 2021/22 to be determined.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Dates of Panel meetings in 2021/22 to be determined.