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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 4, Town Hall, Upper Street, N1 2UD. View directions

Contact: Jonathan Moore  020 7527 3308

Items
No. Item

334.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Rose-Marie McDonald and Councillors Doolan and Erdogan.

335.

Declaration of Substitute Members

Minutes:

None.

336.

Declarations of Interests

If you have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest* in an item of business:

§  if it is not yet on the council’s register, you must declare both the existence and details of it at the start of the meeting or when it becomes apparent;

§  you may choose to declare a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest that is already in the register in the interests of openness and transparency. 

In both the above cases, you must leave the room without participating in discussion of the item.

 

If you have a personal interest in an item of business and you intend to speak or vote on the item you must declare both the existence and details of it at the start of the meeting or when it becomes apparent but you may participate in the discussion and vote on the item.

 

*(a)     Employment, etc - Any employment, office, trade, profession or vocation carried on for profit or gain.

(b) Sponsorship - Any payment or other financial benefit in respect of your expenses in carrying out duties as a member, or of your election; including from a trade union.

(c) Contracts - Any current contract for goods, services or works, between you or your partner (or a body in which one of you has a beneficial interest) and the council.

(d)      Land - Any beneficial interest in land which is within the council’s area.

(e) Licences- Any licence to occupy land in the council’s area for a month or longer.

(f) Corporate tenancies - Any tenancy between the council and a body in which you or your partner have a beneficial interest.

 (g) Securities - Any beneficial interest in securities of a body which has a place of business or land in the council’s area, if the total nominal value of the securities exceeds £25,000 or one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that body or of any one class of its issued share capital. 

 

This applies to all members present at the meeting.

 

Minutes:

None.

337.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 211 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 11 December 2017 be confirmed as a correct record and the Chair be authorised to sign them.

 

338.

Chair's Report

Minutes:

The Chair noted that the Grenfell Inquiry was ongoing and the Housing Scrutiny Committee would consider relevant matters from the Inquiry as they arose.

 

The Chair noted that the Department for Communities and Local Government had been renamed the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and commented on the challenges facing the Ministry, including the need for tenants to be better represented at a national level though the establishment of a tenants’ voice organisation.

339.

Order of Business

Minutes:

The Chair advised that Item B2, The Council’s New Build Programme Mini-Review, would be considered before Item B1, Housing Association Scrutiny.

340.

Public Questions

For members of the public to ask questions relating to any subject on the meeting agenda under Procedure Rule 70.5. Alternatively, the Chair may opt to accept questions from the public during the discussion on each agenda item.

 

Minutes:

The Chair set out the procedure for public questions and the filming of meetings.

341.

The Council's New Build Programme Mini-Review: Witness Evidence and Conclusions pdf icon PDF 542 KB

·         Presentation on Camden’s New Build Programme – Steve Beard, LB Camden

·         Briefing note on information requested at the previous meeting

·         The Committee is invited to consider its conclusions on the council’s new build programme.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

a)    Presentation on Camden’s New Build Programme

 

The Committee received a presentation from Kate Cornwall-Jones and Steve Beard, officers of the London Borough of Camden, on Camden’s New Build Programme.

 

The following main points were noted in the discussion:

 

  • Camden’s New Build Scheme was described as a ‘Community Investment Programme’. The scheme delivered community improvements alongside social housing, and had invested over £1 billion in the borough through HRA and government funding.
  • Camden’s scheme worked in a similar way to Islington’s, in that the council developed a proportion of private housing for general sale, which subsidised the development of social housing and community investments.
  • Camden’s scheme focused on small sites which private developers may not consider viable propositions. This allowed the borough to maximise the amount of new housing being delivered.
  • Camden’s scheme had delivered 870 new units, with a further 2,000 planned. Over 500 of those delivered were for social rent.
  • Camden Council’s planning policies required 50% affordable housing, which was typically split into 60% social rent and 40% intermediate housing. However, this was subject to viability.
  • Camden sought to address housing inequality through its new build scheme, and had established ‘Camden Living’, which provided affordable rental properties for key workers and those on middle incomes. Camden did not prioritise shared ownership as due to London property prices this option was not affordable to those on low and middle incomes.
  • Camden had developed studio accommodation as a means of alleviating homelessness.
  • Camden Council had doubled the density of the Agar Grove estate by redeveloping the majority of the estate. Although there had initially been opposition to the proposals, the scheme was now progressing with the support of residents. The first phase of properties to be developed would be 100% social housing, and the final scheme would have over 50% social housing. 
  • Camden was developing properties to high environmental standards. Some properties did not have radiators and were instead built to the Passivhaus standard, in which homes were highly insulated and heated through the circulation of air. This had environmental benefits and would also help to alleviate fuel poverty. It was advised that this system was very efficient and Camden Council had received comments from some residents that their properties were too warm, rather than too cold.
  • The Committee was supportive of developing homes to the Passivhaus standard. Camden officers commented that passivhaus homes were very efficient and suggested that the standard should be used more widely.  
  • Camden officers emphasised the importance of community engagement. Camden had employed local residents to provide peer to peer engagement on new housing schemes. These residents had a strong presence on the estate and were well placed to engage with the local community.
  • Camden’s properties were designed according to the London Design Guide, with some aspects exceeding those standards.
  • Camden built homes to the lifetime homes standard, 10% of properties were wheelchair adaptable.
  • Camden did not ‘pepper pot’ social and private housing. It was commented that one 52-unit scheme was a mixed social and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 341.

342.

Housing Association Scrutiny - The Guinness Partnership pdf icon PDF 159 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a presentation from Nahide Cook, Regional Manager, and Jon Milburn, Group Development Director, on Guinness’ work as a landlord in the borough.

 

The following main points were noted in the discussion:

·         The Guinness Partnership managed 633 properties in Islington. Following the Grenfell Tower fire, flats on Hungerford Road and Percival Street had been found to have flammable cladding, and as a result the organisation was working closely with the council’s Emergency Planning team. Guinness commented on the importance of being honest with residents and communicating risks to them regularly. Vulnerable residents had been offered person centred fire safety assessments, and escape routes were checked daily. Fire wardens were on site 24 hours a day and carried out observations every 15 minutes. The organisation had carried out repairs to all fire doors in the blocks, regardless of tenure. Fire alarms at Hungerford Road had also been linked to The Bridge School, which was located below the flats. Details of vulnerable residents were located in a locked fire-proof safe which the Fire Brigade could access in an emergency.

·         There had been relatively few cases of anti-social behaviour associated with Guinness properties in the borough.

·         Guinness believed that there was further scope for more joint working with Islington Council, particularly in helping to minimise litter and fly tipping around Guinness properties.

·         It was commented that Guinness was keen to develop social housing in the borough, however was concerned by the seemly slow planning process in Islington. It was commented that Guinness had received planning permission for 500 houses in Milton Keynes within six months, however a 25 unit scheme in Islington had taken 30 months so far and had still not received approval. The scheme would deliver 9 social rented units and three shared ownership units, as well as nursery space. It was suggested that such delays influenced the organisation’s investment decisions.

·         Resident satisfaction was behind target; however data was only available at a national level. The level of resident satisfaction was comparable to many other national housing associations, and Guinness recognised that there was work to be done to improve services for tenants.

·         Five Guinness properties had been let in Islington over the past year; two had been allocated to those on the Council housing register, three had been let via internal transfer.

·         Guinness processed voids in 16 days, significantly below the 27.5-day target.

·         Arrears in Islington were slightly higher than expected, 3.65% as opposed to the 3.5% target. Arrears had increased since the introduction of universal credit and welfare reform.

·         All Islington properties had received a gas safety check in the previous year.

·         Guinness let properties at affordable rents, which was a maximum of 65% of market rental value.

·         Nationally, Guinness completed 84.2% of repairs on time. Guinness considered this to be satisfactory. Repairs were completed by one contractor in London. A new contractor had been appointed last year, and although there had been some initial performance issues, indicators suggested that the service was improving. It was explained  ...  view the full minutes text for item 342.

343.

Housing Communications Scrutiny Review: Draft Recommendations pdf icon PDF 74 KB

Minutes:

Members commented that Housing Communications was a broad topic and the Committee may wish to further review communication matters in future.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the draft recommendations be approved.

344.

Fire Safety Scrutiny Review: Final Report pdf icon PDF 428 KB

Minutes:

The Committee noted concerns about the fire safety of roofs raised in the housing press, and commented that the council should keep this matter under review. It was agreed to add a paragraph to the scrutiny report to this effect.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the report be agreed and submitted to the Executive, subject to an additional paragraph on the fire safety of roofs.  

345.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 124 KB

Minutes:

The Committee noted that an additional meeting to scrutinise the performance of Partners for Improvement in Islington would be held on 6th February 2018.