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Agenda item

Agenda item

Housing and Homelessness Strategy Action Plan Monitoring Report

To consider the progress made against the Housing and Homelessness Strategy Action Plan. 


97.1          The report of the Housing Services Manager, circulated at Pages No. 91-118, set out the progress which had been made against the Housing and Homelessness Strategy Action Plan.  Members were asked to consider the report.

97.2          The Housing Services Manager indicated that, with regard to Priority 1, good progress had been made with two schemes being delivered by registered providers and a wider developer-led scheme which had increased the amount of social rented properties the authority was able to secure so Members should see those coming to the Planning Committee shortly.  With regard to Page No. 92, Paragraph 2.2.2 of the report, it was noted that a particular focus for year one was around assisting customers with the impact of inflation and the schemes would deliver 47 new units which would have high efficiency standards.  The social rented properties were being delivered by registered providers at Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ‘A’ rating to ensure properties were better quality, as well as being more affordable, to improve the experience for tenants in terms lower energy bills etc.  With regard to Priority 2, as set out at Page No. 92, Paragraph 2.3.1 of the report, the stock condition survey would be moved from year one to year two as the survey was being carried out across the county and Tewkesbury Borough was further down the list than had been anticipated.  Paragraph 2.3.2 explained that discussions had taken place with registered providers in relation to the condition of their stock and the Housing Services Manager was pleased to report that the Council’s main partners had processes in place for dealing with condensation, damp and mould.  Paragraph 2.4.1 of the report gave an update on Priority 3 and Members were advised that training was being sourced for the Housing Services team on reform procedures which would help them to understand the experience of domestic abuse, mental ill health etc. in terms of why people made, on the face of it, seemingly strange decisions.

97.3          A Member drew attention to Page No. 115 of the report and, with regard to action e) work with partners to establish arrangements for management of empty homes that are brought into use through management orders, he asked how many empty homes had been identified and how many had been brought back into use.  In response, the Head of Community Services advised that none had been brought back into use as the first phase of the Empty Homes Strategy was to identify all empty homes in the borough and undertake assessments to establish the cause before targeting those which could be brought more easily back into use.  There were approximately 510 empty homes across the borough and it was not expected it would be possible for all of those to be brought back into use as some would be uninhabitable.  He stressed it was a four to five year plan and this project was still very much in the first stage.  The Member went on to comment that issues with damp, mould and condensation were often the result of modern houses which were heavily insulated and not properly ventilated meaning there was nowhere for condensation to go.  The Head of Community Services advised that building regulations were in place to deal with that and he provided assurance that registered providers were taking this very seriously - new affordable properties were ‘A’ rated so they did have adequate ventilation.  It was noted that these type of problems were often linked to lifestyle, for instance, people could not afford to put the heating on so did not want to open windows etc. so there were a whole host of reasons behind the problem; nevertheless, it was crucial it was addressed.  Another Member was pleased to note that Housing Services had recently worked with the Armed Forces charity SSAFA to ensure the housing aspects of the Armed Services Covenant were being implemented and she asked if this included those who were currently serving.  The Housing Services Manager advised that the Covenant was broadly based on those being discharged in order to assist with the transition.

97.4          With regard to Page No. 115 of the report, action b) support partners to target advice at households most at risk of fuel poverty, a Member noted that a cost of living event had been held in Tewkesbury and he asked if had been well attended.  The Head of Community Services advised that Officers had engaged with approximately 45 people which was not as many as they would have liked; however, it was recognised that not everyone was comfortable with discussing financial matters in a public building and the Department for Work and Pensions would be reflecting on that ahead of future events, for instance, looking at more appropriate venues, holding online sessions etc.  Another Member went on to question what the current target was for affordable housing as he understood it was 35% in the Joint Core Strategy; in response, he was advised that affordable housing provision for new developments was 40% for anything outside of the Joint Core Strategy – this was policy so was non-negotiable.  The Member noted that the Housing and Homelessness Strategy included an objective around reducing the impact of new homes on the environment whilst increasing their resilience to climate change and he asked whether a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) would be produced in relation to this - he was aware Cheltenham Borough Council had a draft SPD for improving quality of housing efficiency.  The Housing Services Manager advised this would be considered as part of the Joint Strategic Plan review and he clarified that the SPD the Member had referenced in relation to Cheltenham Borough would also cover Joint Core Strategy areas. 

97.5          With regard to Page No. 58 of the Agenda, which related to the Council Plan Performance Tracker considered earlier in the meeting, a Member asked whether the figures in respect of KPI 9, total number of active applications on the housing register at the end of the quarter, was in relation to Tewkesbury Borough or all of Gloucestershire Homeseeker and was advised that those figures were solely for Tewkesbury Borough.  In response to a query regarding the affordable housing figures in the performance tracker, the Head of Community Services explained they would have been generated under the old Housing and Homelessness Strategy where 40% affordable housing was not required so it was not possible to read across the two documents.  The Member asked whether the development at Golden Valley was a Joint Core Strategy site and was informed it was a joint allocated site.  In response to a query as to whether it would be possible to require 40% affordable housing on the site, the Housing Services Manager advised that it had been addressed in the same way as the Joint Core Strategy sites.  The Head of Community Services indicated that the affordable housing requirement for Joint Core Strategy sites was 35% with social rent being the favoured tenure type.  The Member questioned what percentage of the Council’s housing stock was with Bromford, and how much was with other registered providers, and what type of relationship the authority had with the organisation.  He raised concern that Tewkesbury Borough residents were missing out on affordable housing within the borough.  The Head of Community Services advised that the authority had a number of key partners across the borough, including Bromford, which was by far the biggest with around 2,500 properties.  The Council’s relationship with Bromford was very good and they were a ‘go to’ partner when something needed to be delivered, for example, the Homes for Ukraine scheme.  It was more difficult to build a relationship with national providers who had a small amount of stock in the borough. In terms of local connection issues, this was not taken into consideration in terms of the strategic allocation sites so people from Tewkesbury or Gloucester would have equal standing.  At a Parish level, people could have a local connection via other means than living in the area.

97.6          It was

RESOLVED           That progress against the Housing and Homelessness Strategy Action Plan be NOTED.

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