Cabinet Member for Housing
Strategic Director, Commissioning
Neil Vokes Programme Director Strategic Capital Projects
(Report 41/15-16) (Key decision)
The Leader of the Council began the discussion by stating that this project had been ongoing since August 2012 and regretted the time it had taken; there needed to be lessons learnt and these needed to benefit other similar proposed estate regeneration projects. Although there was not one overriding view from the estate, the Council was committed to improving the estate.
The Cabinet Member for Housing introduced the report:
· He apologised for the process and length of time and said that there had been failings, but a decision needed to be taken. The launch of the Lambeth Housing Standard (LHS) in 2012 was one of the biggest in the country; however, cuts to funding by central government had left a £56 million short-fall in the project. The only options that seemed open were through refurbishing or rebuilding homes; but whilst refurbishing did improve homes it could not provide the extra housing the Council so desperately needed and would leave people without a home. In the test of opinion, 66% of residents lived in poor conditions and 42% were dissatisfied.
· The Cabinet Member commented upon an email received from a tenant that stated their preference of demolition given the poor state of their property, but admitted this was not a stance shared by all, however, all residents deserved better and the Council had a duty to act. Refurbishment would not address overcrowding, with a quarter of tenants overcrowded, and in March this option was removed due to a lack of financial viability and to meet residents’ needs.
· Councillor Matthew Bennett noted that throughout the debate there had been calls of social cleansing, but that this was and remained untrue, whilst the chosen policy met all tests: offering Council housing on a like-for-like basis, increasing bedroom numbers, rehousing residents, increasing the number of social housing; against a central government, London Mayor and failing market seemingly hostile to providing social housing. There was a choice to campaign from side lines or take a lead to build homes that local families needed.
· It was also noted that 21,000 persons in Lambeth were awaiting council homes whilst 1,300 were severely overcrowded. The regeneration figures in the agenda pack represented the baseline, were robust and could withstand changes in finance.
The Leader of the Council introduced the ward councillors to give representation:
· Marcia Cameron, ward councillor, stated that more information on what residents wanted was needed with improved support and advice, and raised concerns over secure and long-term tenancies, freeholders, and shared equity.
· Mary Atkins, ward councillor, had been involved for two years; affirmed that the issues were around overcrowding and conditions, and that the judgement, on balance, was correct. She commented that the low number of new homes at council rent was not expected and asked how residents would be involved in future. There remained issues with trust, poor communication, council rents, tenancy agreements, and mortgages, which would need solutions.
The following representations were heard:
· Fatima Elmoudden, Cressingham Project Board and ... view the full minutes text for item 4