Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: Yes
To note progress since approval of the
three-year Homes for Lambeth Delivery Plan and Corporate Plan in
March 2020. To note the activities planned for 2022/23 to continue
the implementation of the same and to make any other decisions that
may be necessary
The report was introduced by Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Planning, Investment and New Homes, Councillor Matthew Bennett, who highlighted that:
• The Covid-19 pandemic had caused a number of issues to residents around housing and homelessness, the effects of which were still on-going
• The Joint Delivery Plan was an ambitious plan which had already moved more than 150 local families into Homes for Lambeth homes. The production of Council homes had already been completed in two locations within the borough, and Planning Permission had been secured for further sites
• The Plan focused on quantity and quality of homes which would be fit for future generations and fulfil wider ambitions around climate and energy efficiency. These included Lambeth’s commitment to reusing 80% of existing materials and ensuring the production of homes with low heating requirements
• A focus was given on equality. Black people were currently 14 times more likely to be homeless than white people and Lambeth were committed to reducing this figure.
Visiting Green Member, Councillor Pete Elliott addressed Cabinet and suggested that a resident was struggling to pay their heating bills, asking the Cabinet Member to look to supporting those households in Homes for Lambeth homes having to choose between heating their homes and eating. Councillor Elliott also raised concerns over the reports of staff absence and changes within Homes for Lambeth, and asked whether there had been any complaints from staff who had left.
Visiting Conservative Member, Councillor Tim Briggs asked a question around which relationships with contractors were addressing supply issues and where the 1000 new Council homes promised in 2018 were. Councillor Briggs also raised concerns around the spending commitment to Homes for Lambeth and the impact this may have on the Council’s finances given the recent bankruptcy of Croydon Council, and asked who would take on the responsibility of unbuilt homes promised by Homes for Lambeth.
Cabinet was then addressed by two members of the public, Georgina Scheuller and Zana Dean who highlighted the following:
• There were some concerns around discrepancies between the number of Council homes promised and delivered
• There were concerns raised around the lack of opportunities for retrofitting and building to passive house standards.
In response to some of the questions and comments raised, Officers and the Cabinet Member advised the following:
• Concerns regarding Croydon Council’s housing company were listened to and taken seriously. Financial modelling of all programme revenues, costs and resulting land values will be fully refreshed during 2022/23, to support a new Homes for Lambeth Business Plan. Finance were satisfied with the viability of Homes for Lambeth projects funded thus far. Each scheme would be gone through in detail as part of an established gateway review process, and any concerns arising would be addressed to ensure viability before funding approval was given
• The Cabinet Member for Housing and Homelessness confirmed that the Housing Strategy was completed in draft form, and was waiting for contribution from residents which would be attained post-Election period
• A number of the projects currently procured had been quite small in nature. As the scheme moved along, the scale of projects were due to increase in size which meant that the Council could negotiate with contractors who had the benefit of larger supply chains. This would promote a more cost-efficient practise
• Due to Covid-related changes in health and safety, it had been necessary to reduce the number of desks in the Civic Centre offices. In order to continue its service, Homes for Lambeth had secured some additional desk space capacity at WeWork which they had funded from within the overall operational budget envelope set as part of the 2022-23 Business Plan.
Following consideration, Cabinet resolved:
1. To note the progress update contained in the Joint Delivery Plan, which is Appendix A to the report, on the recommendation of the Ownership and Stewardship Cabinet Advisory Panel (‘OSP’).
Report author: Tom Branton
Publication date: 25/03/2022
Date of decision: 21/03/2022
Decided at meeting: 21/03/2022 - Cabinet
Effective from: 02/04/2022