Agenda item

Investing in better neighbourhoods and building the homes we need to house the people of Lambeth – Westbury - Compulsory Purchase Order

All

Key Decision

 

Cabinet Member for Planning, Investment & New Homes: Councillor Matthew Bennett

Sue Foster: Strategic Director for Neighbourhoods and Growth

 

Contact: Jed Young, Assistant Director, Housing Regeneration, Strategic Programmes, JYoung1@lambeth.gov.uk 

 

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member for Planning, Investment and New Homes, Councillor Matthew Bennett, introduced the item noting that the compulsory purchase order was required as a backstop for the Westbury Estate.  This followed planning permission for the 64 new homes at council rent, did not require any immediate relocation of residents, and the report set out timetables and residents’ preferences.

 

Cabinet heard from Shemi Leira, Westbury resident and Chair of the Tenants Residents Association; Councillor Pete Elliott, Green councillor for Gipsy Hill ward; and, Councillor Tim Briggs, Conservative councillor for Clapham Common, who raised the following points:

·           the regeneration programme was causing significant emotional distress to residents, which had been intrusive to residents’ family and finances, and more needed to be done to protect their wellbeing;

·           the proposals were not in the public interest, were disproportionate and appeared inconsistent with duties of the Equality Act 2010, EU Human Right Act 1998, Land Compensation Act 1973 and MHCLG guidance on regeneration; 

·           the regeneration process was substantially and procedurally unfair and unjust as it was driven by Lambeth and was a manifest conflict of interest;

·           the Labour manifesto pledge to build 1,000 council homes by 2018 had not been met and this many council homes had actually been lost;

·           residents were being removed from homes they purchased in good faith and were being threatened with CPOs;

·           it was queried how many housing waiting list places would be met by regeneration;

·           more information was needed on EQIA monitoring and that these review broader impacts on residents, many of whom had protected characteristics;

·           the carbon release from proposals and its recovery was queried;

·           the impact on air quality of these schemes was raised and it was requested that thorough monitoring before, during and after works be implemented;

·           the 29,000 housing waiting list figure was questioned, but had been increasing since January 2013;

·           the CPO report did not cover all issues, lacked full consultation and representation from residents, and had unclear sources of funding and key guarantees;

·           there was a lack and lower than current provision of parking spaces, which restricted social mobility, meant that only healthy persons could afford to live on the estate, and would increase parking stress; and,

·           the plans were too dense, tall, lacked light and free movement of air, with overlooking properties and would not stand the test of time.

 

The Leader of the Council, Councillor Lib Peck, thanked representations, noting the importance of preventative measures and the need to build homes to house Lambeth’s population.  She noted that she regularly visited estates and residents were suffering from illnesses, such as asthma, arising from damp conditions and poor housing.  The Labour Group were committed to ensure safe, secure and warm properties and residents deserved high-quality homes at affordable prices.

 

Greg Carson, Principal Lawyer for Housing Property & Planning; and, Jed Young, Assistant Director for Housing Regeneration, responded to questions as below:

·           local authorities had to balance rights, but recognised regeneration interfered with people’s lives; 

·           the proposals were subject to independent analysis by inspectors and were signed off by the MHCLG Secretary of State;

·           the Council had completed comprehensive equality assessments, which would continue to be reviewed and Lambeth had complied with the Equality and Human Rights duties;

·           parking provision was assessed during the planning process and whilst it provided fewer spaces, it was more than new builds, and existing residents had allocated provision;

·           density, light levels, privacy and overcrowding were all assessed during planning, and had been 3D-modelled;

·           all council-owned applications were referred to National Planning Casework Unit for independent assessment and to the Mayor’s GLA Planning team, and detailed plans prior to commencement of works would be assessed by the Council and GLA;

·           detailed work timetables and environmental impact assessments would be made available to residents so that they could review progress and operations; and,

·           the overall first year business plan had been approved by Cabinet in January 2018 and would be reviewed early next year, setting out activities and longer-term forecasts, and had also been assessed by the GLA on overall viability.

 

The Cabinet Member for Planning, Investment and New Homes, Councillor Matthew Bennett, summarised the discussion and reaffirmed Labour’s commitment to provide better and more homes to address the housing crisis and meet Lambeth’s duty of care to residents, noting that refurbishment was not affordable due to the lack of grants from central Government.  It was felt that building more homes was the right response to tackle the housing crisis and increasing housing waiting list.    The lifetime tenancies at social rents were high standard, with the same rights of succession and the Council had listened to tenants so that they kept their rights to buy and had tenancy agreements as strong as possible.  Market valuations for lease- and free- holders were fair and independently evaluated, with an early buyback process and residents received £10,000 above market valuations, with stamp duties and legal costs paid by the Council; whilst residents who wanted to stay did not pay extra for new homes.

 

RESOLVED:

1)      That Cabinet hereby authorises the making of a CPO in respect of Westbury Estate and delegates authority to the Cabinet Member for Planning, Investment and New Homes after consultation with the Strategic Director, Neighbourhoods and Growth and the Head of Legal Services to take all necessary steps to make the CPO, pursue its confirmation by the Secretary of State (or the council), to implement the CPO and to secure land assembly for the Scheme. These steps are set out in Section 2 of this report.

2)      To authorise amendment to the red-line boundary previously provided to Cabinet on 9th November 2015 to include the acquisition of the properties at 438 Wandsworth Road and at 28, 29, 29A, 31, 31A, 33, and 33A Crichton Street as the Scheme has been extended to incorporate these sites as the acquisition will provide additional homes and also improve the qualitative design of the Scheme (see Appendix 8).

3)      To note the appendices to this report, including the indicative red-line boundary for the Westbury Compulsory Purchase Order (i.e. the proposed Order Lands) (Appendix 3), the draft Statement of Reasons (Appendix 6) which sets out the justification for the proposed CPO and the Equalities Impact Assessment (Appendix 5).

4)      To delegate authority to the Cabinet Member for Planning, Investment and New Homes to agree a localised Lettings Plan for the Scheme as defined in paragraphs 2.18 and 2.19.

 

Supporting documents: