Local democracy and decision making
Clapham Park Homes Update
- Meeting of Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Thursday 10 December 2009 7.00 pm (Item 4.)
- View the background to item 4.
(Report No 256/09-10)
Contact for Information: Kate Zaki – Client Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org, 020 7926 7734.
Officers from the Council and Clapham Park Homes (CPH) introduced the report and apologised for the delay in being able to present the report to Committee. They then summarised the current situation as follows:
- Regular meetings were held between Council Officers and CPH to examine progress and any issues that may arise including the timescales for delivering the project.
- The CPH Business Plan had come under pressure as the current economic climate made it difficult to sell properties on the private market.
- Plans were therefore being altered to frontload the development of social housing but that this had an impact on the loan agreements which had been based on a plan to use sales to subsidise the building of social housing.
- Officers expressed confidence that the project would be delivered as planned, for example keeping the current social housing mix, but did state that the timescales for some parts of the project would probably have to be extended due to these problems related to the current financial climate.
- Amendments to the Social Housing mix or changes to the Section 106 agreement would require that an application be presented to the Planning Applications Committee for agreement.
- CPH were also examining ways of maximising income and were bidding for new grant funding.
- It was acknowledged that local residents had expressed concerns about the level of continuous engagement from CPH but that the report provided information on a large number of consultations that had taken place and were continuing to run.
Following questions from Members, officers confirmed that:
- There were no plans to change the standards that the scheme would be built to but that they would look to see if buildings could be used more efficiently such as by combining services within single buildings.
- Although it was likely that more of the social housing would now be built earlier than many of the private properties, there was flexibility in the scheme so that advantage could be taken of changes in the market.
Moving on to looking at issues around the consultation process, a number of points were raised by local residents and Members including:
- Some Ward Councillors were still having difficulties arranging meetings with Senior CPH staff, however, officers from CPH assured the Committee that meetings did take place and that they were open to having further discussions and that Ward Councillors were also invited to general consultation events.
- Details were provided on a large number of consultation exercises and events that had taken place and were continuing to run.
- It was explained that although CPH did work with Tenants’ and Residents’ Associations (TRA) they took the view that they needed to reach out beyond those associations in order to reach all local residents.
Following questions about the scheme from Members and residents, Officers stated that:
- Current development was geared towards re-housing existing tenants so it was not anticipated that there would be a significant increase in the population until the later stages of the project and that this would be a consideration when planning the development of new services and provision of school places. Members, however continued to express concerns that the full impact on local schools had not been properly anticipated.
- They would confirm if there were any residual liabilities to the Council regarding repairs or damages from before the transfer to CPH.
Councillor Lib Peck, Lead Members for Housing and Regeneration, addressed the Committee reporting that Officers were doing a good job in monitoring the project and that no one would have been able to predict the changes to the economy. She also reported that she had been a critic of CPH’s consultation process in the past but felt that it had been vastly improved.
There followed a discussion on the issue of CPH accepting the registration of the Clapham Park West Residents’ Association. Residents explained that they objected to certain registration rules, such as one that prevented home owners from occupying senior positions on the Association and that they consequently were not prepared to register. They also argued that the Association had been recognised by the Council in the past when the Council owned the estates, although this was disputed by Officers. Members expressed surprise that there was a need for the restrictive rules on TRAs. It was explained that CPH operated very similar procedures to those operated by the Council previously and that their consultation procedures had been awarded TPAS Resident Involvement Accreditation in May 2009, one of only 8 awards in the country. However, it was agreed that the Tenants Services Authority would be asked to review the rules.
Councillor Clyne addressed the Committee and also expressed concern about the treatment of TRAs and regarding the general consultation processes.
Members noted that it was important for Social Landlords to attempt to engage with all residents, even those who were opposed to the overarching policy of using Housing Associations.
Finally, Officers agreed that it was important to engage with all residents and that this would include if there were any changes planned to the Section 106 agreement or other significant changes to future developments.
RESOLVED:that the report be noted.