Report of the Deputy Leader of the Council.
The Interim Strategic Director Growth presented the report which dealt with the refresh of the Housing Strategy adopted in April 2018. A midterm review of the Strategy had been undertaken and had identified areas which needed to be changed although the key themes were still relevant and up to date. Changes that had been identified for enhancement were:
- Supporting Housing Independence for older people and other vulnerable groups – remodelling and technology – this looked at housing being fit for purpose and being able to be adapted to meet people’s needs which changed over time.
- Provide the conditions for Tenant Involvement – this related to improving the conditions to engage in a more meaningful way and be fit for the tenants needs going forward and supports the approved Tenant Involvement Strategy.
- Improve Housing Services and Options – this related to making sure the service was adequate and flexible and included choice based lettings.
- Regenerate our Priority Neighbourhoods – this related primarily to estates in Grantham, Harrowby and Earlesfield and how it was recognised that quality of life was affected by the surrounding physical environment and how this could be regenerated.
- Energy Efficiency – Tackling Fuel Poverty/Climate Change in new developments and current Housing – this was looking at efficiencies and what funds, grants and technology were available both in relation to existing stock and new developments to reduce costs for tenants.
Another area that had been enhanced in the Strategy was the development of new housing across all tenures to prioritise a balanced housing market as there was a clear housing shortage and need.
A discussion on the Strategy followed with the following points being made:
- The difference between the dates in the report and Strategy – date should be from 2020.
- Page 220 reference to 502 affordable homes created – were these through Section 106’s – not all were, there was a mixture of 106 and direct builds
- What was a healthy house? A healthy house definition related to having a more than ‘asset’ approach when looking at how our homes supported residents who lived in them and lead to a direct impact on the quality of life and included the environment, efficiencies and internal changes.
- Page 22 facts and figures stated needed to be checked.
- Page 24 figures shown for new homes per annum had been increased needed amending (625 to 650).
- Under occupancy charge was still in operation.
A Member asked about the differences between the two documents as there seemed to be little difference other than the figures and reference was made to building targets that had been raised at a recent Companies Committee. It was stated that the main changes to the document were shown within the key outcomes on page 17 of the document. The refresh showed that the majority of the outcomes and priority themes were still valid and so only the additional priorities were highlighted as material changes. The document had been done in a strategic context it was not an implementation document. For example the delivery of new housing, the document would stipulate how many the HRA, Gravitas or any other vehicle would deliver, but the update on the action plan would outline what had been delivered through those and any other mechanism.
A further question was asked about where information on the number of houses built and targets could be found. It was stated that following adoption a six month update report would be submitted.
The Cabinet Member for Communities and HR stated that the Strategy was an ongoing document and part of a toolkit used in housing delivery. He felt that there was a strong connection between planning and housing delivery and had spoken to the Leader recently in connection with these issues. Going forward his portfolio would cover both Planning and Housing. It was looking at how housing delivery could be rolled out and he saw two areas for focus, the improvement to council stock and the delivery of new homes.
Further discussion then followed in relation to Theme 3 specifically 3.6 and Theme 4, 4.2 and 4.4 to which the Strategic Director replied. More discussion on technology and the elderly, location and remodelling, provision of services and independent living as well as assisted care to enable people to stay in their homes and flexible and fix term tenancies followed. It was proposed and seconded that the Strategy was recommended to Cabinet subjected to the amendments highlighted during the Committee and on being put to the vote this was agreed.
That the Housing Strategy refresh was recommended to Cabinet subject to the amendments highlighted during the meeting.