Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: No
Exempt report of the Corporate Director (Housing and Communities) proposing that a consultation and stakeholder engagement process commenced immediately to enable tenants, residential and commercial leaseholders, as well as other stakeholders to give their views on options for the future of Queensway House. A revised report setting out updated information was provided as an exempt Addendum.
(1) The Decision Taken
That the Cabinet approves the following actions to be taken:
(1) To implement a robust communications strategy, involving all stakeholders, including residents, commercial leaseholders, Hertfordshire County Council and Members which would mark the beginning of a formal consultation process.
(2) To carry out a six-week consultation with tenants and residential and commercial leaseholders commencing on 12 August 2019 giving them the opportunity to give their views on the different options available relating to the future of Queensway House with the findings from the consultation process being brought back to the Cabinet to consider these when deciding which option would be taken.
(3) To stop further uneconomical planned works at Queensway House whilst the consultation was taking place, including sprinkler and ducted extractor system installation, with a responsive repairs service and other essential improvements still being provided.
(2) Reasons for the Decision
Queensway House had been the subject of considerable effort and concern particularly since the Grenfell Tower tragedy in June 2017. Officers had worked closely with fire safety advisors, Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service and the Government to ensure that the block remained safe.
A recent analysis of projected expenditure requirements over the next five years, when compared with projected rental income, had prompted a review of the future of the block.
In addition to the technical and financial challenges faced, Queensway House was a stock anomaly in that it was the Council’s only tower block. The block suffered from a perception of anti-social behaviour, making it resource intensive to manage and the flats themselves had been historically difficult to let.
Evolving Government advice and anticipated changes to fire safety legislation to residential tower blocks had hastened the need for a review of the block’s future.
The Cabinet considered the current challenges and the options for meeting these.
The Council is required to consult with tenants, private leaseholders and commercial leaseholders on these options before any decision could be made.
No final decision on the option to be adopted would therefore be made before consultation responses had been assessed. A further report would therefore be brought to the Cabinet after the consultation had closed.
Report author: Simone Russell
Publication date: 09/08/2019
Date of decision: 06/08/2019
Decided at meeting: 06/08/2019 - Cabinet