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Contact: Marie Lowe
To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meetings held on 14 July 2016 and 20 July 2016 (previously circulated).
The Minutes of the meetings held on 14 July 2016 and 20 July 2016 were confirmed as correct records and signed by the Chairman.
Report of the Director (Finance and Operations) provides details on the performance of the Welwyn Hatfield Community Housing Trust.
Report of the Director (Finance and Operations) and accompanying presentation detailed the performance of Welwyn Hatfield Community Housing Trust’s (the Trust) Voids Management Services and the work with the Tenant’s Panel.
The report also includes a summary of the performance in the key areas of the Trust’s activity up to the end of the first quarter 2016/17.
During the presentation and discussion the following points were made:-
· Members acknowledged that the Trust had performed extremely well and noted that the Trust was in the top quartile nationally rather than the first in the country.
· Members received reassurance that the Trust continually strived to improve its performance, with particular emphasis on how to improve performance without the loss of quality and would continue to do so.
· The number of voids was reducing over time and the number of re-lets had also fallen; it was now five percent of stock turnover. Research would be undertaken to establish the reason for the reduction.
· The Trust recouped the cost of major works to a property on a re-let by recharging the outgoing tenant, who were responsible.
· The average length of tenancy was between 17 and 18 years; which due to the different demographics was expected to change to between 15 and 25 years. Another factor affecting the average length of tenancy was the changes to the rules around being a ‘tenant for life’. From 2013 all tenancies would be reviewed after five years – other than sheltered housing tenants
· It acknowledged that the 20 days it took to turn around a property was very good and it was more difficult to carry out some types of work whilst the property was occupied. It was agreed that cost and time taken to turnaround a property were not significant.
· Consideration had been given to the taking of deposits from future tenants as some Council’s and housing associations do. However, it had been decided not to do so. The reason being was many of the Trust’s customers were often those in the most vulnerable financial position and would not be able to afford a deposit should they be asked for one.
· It was noted that there was a diminishing portfolio of stock and the Affordable Housing Programme stated that the level be kept at 9,000 properties and that proportionally the number of houses may fall.
· Members were of the view that the use of the term ‘social housing‘ was preferable to ‘affordable housing’ as it was a confusing term as ‘affordable’ was not necessarily affordable to the majority of the population.
· It was noted that a considerable amount of work had been done recently with the Tenants’ Panel, the scrutiny body of the Trust.
· The first piece of work considered by the Tenants’ Panel had been the scrutiny of the Welfare Garden Scheme, which would be considered by the Cabinet Housing and Planning Panel in due course.
· Members welcomed the work of the Tenants’ Panel, which had, until recently, appeared to have lost ... view the full minutes text for item 30.
The report of the Director (Finance and Operations) provides an update on the Council’s Affordable Housing Programme (AHP).
The report of the Director (Finance and Operations) provided an update on the Council’s Affordable Housing Programme (AHP).
Members noted that updates would be provided to the Committee twice a year. Detailed financial information would be included in the redesigned AHP Overview template, which would include all information pertaining to the programme.
Members expressed disappointment regarding the Open Market Purchase Registered Providers target in that only two had been purchased. This target was subject to market condition. Property prices which impacted on the purchase together with site limitations. The impact would be significant and would affect business plans. There were however opportunities to do more in connection with grant funding over the next one or two years.
With regard to Registered Providers it was not possible to assume what the percentage cost to use would be. Details of the whole cost would be reported in the Financial Monitoring report.
The policy target for lifetime homes was 20% for wheelchair friendly properties, which was a proportion not all properties. The reported figure which had been achieved was very positive. It was difficult to achieve a balance and such properties may be more difficult to re-let. However providers needed to be more flexible and allocated properties to other families in need and match the property to the family needs. The majority of the homes bought back from the open market were properties sold under the right to buy scheme.
In response to a question raised by a Member regarding the future of the garage site behind the Peartree shop area, the Head of Housing and Community Services undertook to raise the question and to provide a written response to the Committee.
(1) That the Council’s Affordable Housing Programme (AHP) report be noted.
(2) That updates on the Council’s Affordable Housing Programme (AHP) would be provided to the Committee twice a year and would included detailed financial information together with all information pertaining to the programme.
(3) That the Head of Housing and Community Services raise the question and to provide a written response to the Committee regarding the future of the garage site behind the Peartree shop area.
The report of the Director (Governance) provides an explanation of the Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy process and the monies currently held by the Borough Council.
The report of the Director (Governance) provided an explanation of the Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy process set out in this report and the monies currently held by the Borough Council.
During discussion Members offered the following comments on how they would like the Council to secure and spend Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy contributions in the future:-
· S6/1064/99/OP – Hatfield Aerodrome, Comet Way had £3,089,198.22 remaining in the account and Members requested that Hertfordshire County Council be requested to provide details of what, if anything, the money has been spent on and an accurate account for the remaining monies. This money could be used across the Borough for smaller projects such as replacement fences.
· Members asked for details on how to make an application for the S106 monies; how to progress an application for funding and how to physically get the work completed.
· Members noted that a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Officer had been appointed and the CIL contributions were being reviewed currently. The Council was being encouraged to adopt a CIL approach which would allow Members to pool the contributions made to the Council to spend on projects. However a list of projects would be required and bids would be made to access the money.
· Members asked that future reports be presented in the traffic light format with red, amber and green indicating and highlighting the position of monies not yet spent.
· With reference to the notes of the meeting held with colleagues in the NHS as to how and when they respond to planning applications and sought planning obligations payments Members asked that an update on the meeting with the NHS held on 3 May 2016 be provided at a future meeting of the Panel.
That in relation to S6/1064/99/OP – Hatfield Aerodrome, Comet Way Hertfordshire County Council be requested to provide details of what, if anything the £3,089,198.22 money had been spent on and an accurate account for the remaining monies.
That details on how to make an application for the S106 monies; how to progress an application for funding and how to physically get the work completed be made available to Members.
That an update on the meeting with the NHS held on 3 May 2016 to discuss the current update of the Council’s Infrastructure Delivery Plan be provided at a future meeting of the Panel.
The report of the Director (Governance) details the achievements of the Hertfordshire Infrastructure and Planning Partnership (HIPP) over the course of 2015-2016.
The report of the Director (Governance) set out in the Annual Review the achievements of the Hertf3ordshire Infrastructure and Planning Partnership (HIPP) over the course of 2015-2016.
That the achievement of the Hertfordshire Infrastructure And Planning Partnership (HIPP) Annual Review 2015/2016 be noted.