Issue - decisions

Somerleyton Road

14/01/2019 - Somerleyton Road

The Cabinet Member for Planning, Investment and New Homes, Councillor Matthew Bennett, introduced the report and highlighted:

·           This report delivered the original objectives of the project via Homes for Lambeth (HfL) for Somerleyton Road, as spearheaded by Brixton Green (agenda pack, page 11).

·           These proposals would deliver 300 homes with 50% affordable housing for local families.

·           HfL, as a 100% council-owned developer, meant that the Council was not partnering with housing associations or private developers, and was what Brixton Green had campaigned for.

·           Lambeth would look to establish a community steering group to progress the proposals.

·           Future proposals also included the Ovalhouse Theatre relocation to Carlton Mansions and would be part of the enterprise zone delineated by Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London.

 

Cabinet next heard from Dinah Roake, Brixton Green, who provided the following representations:

·           More questions had been raised by this paper and officers needed to meet with Brixton Green and match their input to resolve remaining issues.

·           The claims in paragraphs 1.5, 1.8, 1.10, and 1.11 (agenda pack, pages 11-12) were not correct and Lambeth officers had not regularly met with Brixton Green. 

·           Brixton Green objected to Lambeth’s autumn 2018 decision to move away from a community-led approach and did not feel that the appraisal was robust, in particular by not maximising social housing and that there was no evidence HfL could deliver the Scheme.

·           The report did not meet Lambeth’s 28 day publication protocol, did not include previous reports, and residents had only been aware of this meeting two days beforehand.  This meant that it had not been possible to consult with and receive input from Brixton Green members.

·           This was no longer a community-led scheme, but needed the community to develop proposals.

·           The paper called for a formal community Steering Group, but only a resident consultation group was possible without control of management or buildings; and the Council was expected to do better.

 

Andrew Travers, Chief Executive; Alison McKane, Head of Legal Services and HR; and, Jed Young, Assistant Director for Housing Regeneration, responded to the points raised as follows:

·           Jed Young, Assistant Director for Housing Regeneration, stated that he had been seconded to HfL as an Interim Managing Director.

·           The decision was for Cabinet, and so only members need to declare interests.

·           The Council effectively had absolute control over HfL as it was wholly council-owned and directed, so a model of co-production with strong resident involvement could be serviced.

·           Councillors and the Council had worked in good faith over several years to deliver, and had explored alternative delivery methods with Brixton Green.

·           It was not possible for Brixton Green or a Somerleyton Road Trust development vehicle to raise the required investment of £50-80m without private sector input.

·           A private sector partner providing funding or serving as guarantor would require the Council to go through procurement processes to identify risk holders, whilst the HfL remained a better vehicle.

·           The proposals enabled the Council to work with Brixton Green and other organisations to hold onto the vision, shared by the Council, to deliver in cooperation with community groups.

·           Block Workout delivered fantastic services and Lambeth supported their business plan, with a new gym facility designed into the scheme and to provide meanwhile accommodation during construction.

·           Officers had periodically met with Fitch Court residents and they were incorporated into the scheme.

·           Core stakeholders and residents had been identified for the community stewardship model.  

·           The Public Works Loan Board was required to lend at state aid levels, however as the Council owned all shares, any surpluses could be invested back and no money was lost to third parties.

 

Cabinet Members made the following representations:

·           It was disappointing that the Ovalhouse Theatre was leaving Oval ward, but good that it was moving to the heart of Lambeth.

·           The housing crisis was only worsening and proposals needed to be enacted to help mitigate this.

·           Community engagement was needed and the Council wanted to continue this participation; in addition Cabinet expressed a desire for such groups to have a key role in designing proposals.

·           Lambeth’s sheltered accommodation had been upgraded, with only Fitch Court remaining, and it was important to deliver suitable extra care sheltered accommodation.

·           The use of the HfL vehicle was preferred over borrowing from the private market as it also allowed the Council to retain control over rents.

 

The Cabinet Member for Planning, Investment and New Homes, Councillor Matthew Bennett, noted the 2018 discussion requesting conclusion, which had been pushed into 2019 and it was felt that groups did have adequate forewarning of proposals.  It was vital that this was a community-led housing scheme and would require the community to progress the delivery of new homes for the people of Lambeth, and he hoped that community groups would remain key delivery partners.

 

The Leader of the Council, Councillor Lib Peck, noted the contentious nature of the project, but this was a suitable way forward to deliver in the spirit of previous discussions.  Furthermore, the intention of Cabinet was to work with community groups and it was hoped that they would also continue their engagement.

 

RESOLVED:

1.         To confirm the 2013 community objectives for the Somerleyton Road development.

2.         To establish a community steering group, bringing together interested stakeholders and community representatives, to oversee the Somerleyton Road project and to co-create the long-term Community Stewardship Body.

3.         To direct Homes for Lambeth, to develop block C, D and F.

4.         To delegate further decisions on the delivery management plan to the Cabinet Member for Planning, Investment & New Homes.