Agenda and draft minutes

Renewal, Recreation and Housing Policy Development and Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday 31 January 2024 7.00 pm

Venue: Bromley Civic Centre, Stockwell Close, Bromley, BR1 3UH

Contact: Kerry Nicholls  020 8461 7840

Items
No. Item

46.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND NOTIFICATION OF SUBSTITUTE MEMBERS

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence.

47.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Minutes:

There were no additional declarations of interest.

48.

QUESTIONS FROM COUNCILLORS AND MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC ATTENDING THE MEETING pdf icon PDF 190 KB

In accordance with the Council’s Constitution, members of the public may submit one question each on matters relating to the work of the Committee. Questions must have been received in writing 10 working days before the date of the meeting - by 5.00pm on Wednesday 17 January 2024. 

 

Questions seeking clarification of the details of a report on the agenda may be accepted within two working days of the normal publication date of the agenda – by 5.00pm on Thursday 25 January 2024. 

Minutes:

One question for oral reply and two questions for written reply were received at the meeting.  A copy of those questions, together with the Portfolio Holder’s responses can be viewed as Appendix A to these Minutes.

49.

MINUTES OF THE RENEWAL, RECREATION AND HOUSING PDS COMMITTEE MEETING HELD ON 15 NOVEMBER 2023 pdf icon PDF 400 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held on 15 November 2023 be agreed and signed as a correct record.

50.

MATTERS OUTSTANDING AND FORWARD WORK PROGRAMME pdf icon PDF 226 KB

Minutes:

Report CSD24013

 

The report set out progress against outstanding actions from previous meetings and the Committee’s Forward Work Programme.

 

The Chairman reported that he had spoken with Network Rail and had invited them to attend a future meeting of the Committee to discuss development opportunities.  Network Rail was actively working with a developer to bring forward plans to develop a site adjacent to Bromley North Station in tandem with a planned development of an adjacent Local Authority-owned site.  Network Rail was not taking forward any other development plans at present but had agreed to provide an overlay of its landownership in Bromley to the Local Authority.  Once this was received, work would be undertaken to identify whether there were any further development opportunities, particularly in relation to adjacent sites where development could go forward in partnership.  Network Rail had confirmed it was not interested in developing land at Orpington Station used as a car park.

 

A Member thanked Officers for arranging a Member visit to Crystal Palace Subway for which the major restoration project had recently been completed.  The Chairman suggested that the works team be invited to the formal opening ceremony and this was supported by the Committee.

 

RESOLVED: that the report be noted.

51.

HOLDING THE RENEWAL, RECREATION AND HOUSING PORTFOLIO HOLDER TO ACCOUNT

The Portfolio Holder for Renewal, Recreation and Housing provided an update to the Committee on her activities.

 

The Bromley Business Growth initiative had been launched in December 2023 and would provide free advice and assistance to Bromley businesses, including two new local support services available via the Local Authority’s partners at Goldsmiths, University of London and Newable.  The Good Work Bromley Exchange had also been launched and brought together a range of partners to support people into employment through SWAPs and Work Skill Programmes, including those with additional needs.  The majority of projects being delivered across the Portfolio were on schedule with the renovation of ten tennis courts across the Borough successfully completed and four out of the six Changing Places facilities funded by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Changing Places scheme now live. 

 

In response to a question from a Member, the Portfolio Holder explained that the sale of the Civic Centre site came within the remit of the Portfolio Holder for Resources, Commissioning and Contract Management. 

 

RESOLVED: That the update be noted.

51a

HOUSING, PLANNING AND REGENERATION PORTFOLIO PLAN UPDATE - 2023/24 Q3 UPDATE pdf icon PDF 145 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report HPR2024/005

 

The report presented the 2023/24 Quarter 3 update to the Housing, Planning and Regeneration Portfolio Plan.

 

In considering the update, a Member asked about households moving into permanent accommodation.  The Assistant Director: Housing explained that the ongoing limited availability of social housing and private rental properties impacted the Local Authority’s ability to move households into permanent accommodation and that this was exacerbated by the reluctance of some households to engage with the bidding system for permanent housing, particularly as the quality of temporary accommodation continued to improve.  Going forward, it was planned to make more direct offers of permanent accommodation as well as to work with social and private landlords to maximise available properties.  Homelessness prevention would continue to be a priority with the aim of supporting households to sustain existing accommodation arrangements and reduce the pressure on temporary accommodation.

 

In response to a question from a Member on rough sleeping, the Assistant Director: Housing confirmed that the Housing Service worked closely with Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Changing Places to maximise the use of the Rough Sleeping Initiative 5 grant funding.  This grant was currently funding the entire front-line Rough Sleeping Team as well as services specific to the needs of this vulnerable group that were commissioned from a range of specialist partners, including Thames Reach.

 

RESOLVED: That progress on the actions associated with the Housing, Planning and Regeneration Portfolio Plan for Quarter 3 of the 2023/24 financial year be noted.

52.

PRE-DECISION SCRUTINY OF EXECUTIVE REPORTS

Minutes:

The Committee considered the following reports on the Part 1 (Public) agenda for the meeting of the Council’s Executive on 7 February 2024:

52a

HOUSING ALLOCATION SCHEME AND CHOICE BASED LETTINGS (APPROVAL TO ADOPT NEW POLICY) pdf icon PDF 276 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report HPR2024/002

 

The report presented the findings and outcomes of the statutory eight-week public consultation on the draft Housing Allocations Scheme alongside the final proposed scheme for which the approval of the Council’s Executive was sought.

 

In considering the report, a Member queried what happened if an offer of housing was refused.  The Assistant Director: Housing explained that the Local Authority had a statutory duty to support households into suitable accommodation.  While every effort was made to ensure that housing was appropriate, including suitability and affordability assessments, there were cases where households chose to refuse the housing offered.  In these limited cases, the Local Authority’s duty came to an end, although further offers of housing could be made in very limited circumstances including households whose requirements were complex or had changed.  The Member suggested that some households might refuse housing where properties were located out of the Borough.  The Assistant Director: Housing agreed but underlined the need to manage expectations as the reality was that there were very few homes available in Bromley and it was important to communicate this to those seeking accommodation through the Local Authority.

 

RESOLVED: That the Council’s Executive be recommended to:

 

1)  Review the results of the consultation exercise and note any amendments in relation to the proposed Housing Allocation Scheme; and,

 

2)  Approve the proposed Housing Allocations Scheme for adoption by the Local Authority.

52b

AFFORDABLE HOUSING - POLICY AND STRATEGY DOCUMENTS pdf icon PDF 284 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report HPR2024/001

 

The report presented the findings and outcomes of the statutory eight-week public consultations on the draft Tenancy Strategy and Tenancy Management Policy which the Local Authority was required to produce and adhere to as a stock holding authority alongside the final proposed documents for which the approval of the Council’s Executive was sought.

 

RESOLVED: That the Council’s Executive be recommended to:

 

1)  Review the result of the consultation exercises and note any amendments in relation to the proposed Tenancy Strategy and Tenancy Management Policy; and,

 

2)  Approve the proposed Tenancy Strategy and Tenancy Management Policy for adoption by the Local Authority.

52c

HOUSING MANAGEMENT CONTRACT (AWARD) PART 1 (PUBLIC) REPORT) pdf icon PDF 240 KB

Minutes:

  Report HPR2024/003

 

The report sought approval from the Council’s Executive to agree a short extension of terms with Pinnacle, the existing provider of the Housing Management Contract, from 1 April 2024 to 30 June 2024 and agree that a new contract commencing on 1 July 2024 be awarded in principle as set out in the accompanying Part 2 (Exempt) report).

 

RESOLVED: That the Council’s Executive be recommended to:

 

1)  Approve the short extension of terms with Pinnacle for a period of 12 weeks commencing 1 April 2024 and expiring 30 June 2024 at an estimated value set out in the accompanying Part 2 report;

 

2)  Approve award of contract in principle, as detailed in the accompanying Part 2 report;

 

3)  Grant delegated authority to the Director of Housing, Planning and Regeneration to finalise the award of contract subject to heads of terms being agreed, in agreement with the Director of Corporate Services and the Director of Finance; and,

 

4)  Grant delegated authority to the Director of Housing, Planning and Regeneration, subject to agreement with the Assistant Director: Governance and Contracts, the Director of Corporate Services, the Director of Finance and the Portfolio Holder for Renewal, Recreation and Housing, to apply the extension option in due course.

53.

POLICY DEVELOPMENT AND OTHER ITEMS

53a

RENEWAL, RECREATION AND HOUSING PORTFOLIO DRAFT BUDGET 2024/25 pdf icon PDF 376 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

  Report FSD24008

 

The report considered the Portfolio Holder’s draft 2024/25 Budget which incorporated the future cost pressures, planned mitigation measures, savings from transformation and other budget options reported to the Council’s Executive on 17 January 2024.  Members were requested to consider the initial draft budget being proposed and to identify further action that might be taken to reduce cost pressures facing the Local Authority over the next four years with a view to the Council’s Executive making recommendations to Council on the 2024/25 Council Tax levels.  There were still outstanding issues and areas of uncertainty remaining and any further updates would be included in the 2024/25 Council Tax report to the meeting of the Council’s Executive on 7 February 2024.

 

In response to a question from a Member on the high demand for temporary accommodation, the Head of Finance: Adults, Health and Housing agreed that growth pressures remained challenging but that a projected increase of twenty households per month had been factored into the draft 2024/25 budget which would help contain costs.  The Member asked whether selective licensing for private rented properties that were not Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) had been explored as an option and the Portfolio Holder confirmed that all housing options were considered but that licensing came under the remit of the General Purposes and Licensing Committee.  The Chairman further advised the Committee that Gareth Bacon MP had recently contacted the Home Office to highlight pressures on temporary accommodation in the London region from the placement of asylum seekers in local hotels.

 

RESOLVED: That:

 

1)  The update on the financial forecast for 2024/25 to 2027/28 be noted;

 

2)  The initial draft 2024/25 budget be noted as a basis for setting the 2024/25 budget; and,

 

3)  The Council’s Executive be recommended to note the comments of the Renewal, Recreation and Housing PDS Committee on the initial draft 2024/25 budget at its meeting on 7 February 2024.

54.

RENEWAL, RECREATION AND HOUSING INFORMATION BRIEFING

The briefing comprises:

 

·  Park Buildings Lease Process and Grant Payments

·  Empty Homes in Bromley

 

This briefing is circulated for information only, but issues can be debated at the meeting at the request of any member of the Committee. Such requests should be made to the Democratic Services Officer at least 24 hours before the meeting and should set out which aspects of the information briefing need to be discussed.

 

 

Members have been provided with advance copies of the briefing via e-mail.  The briefing is also available on the Council's Website at the following link: http://cds.bromley.gov.uk/ieListMeetings.aspx?CId=559&Year=0

 

Printed copies of the briefing are available on request by contacting the Democratic Services Officer.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The items comprised:

 

·  Park Buildings Lease Process and Grant Payments

·  Empty Homes in Bromley

 

In response to a question from a Member on the Empty Homes in Bromley Information Briefing, the Head of Regeneration explained that empty properties were primarily reported to the Council Tax service but could be identified in other ways, such as through untidy site enforcement.  Whilst the Local Authority had the power to serve compulsory purchase orders, such measures had a significant cost implication and work was underway to develop a more affordable support package that would bring vacant properties back into active usage.  The Local Authority had recently submitted a bid to the Mayor of London’s Council House Acquisition Programme which could fund the purchase of additional homes for use as social housing if it was successful.

 

RESOLVED: That the Information Briefing be noted.

PART 2 (CLOSED) AGENDA

55.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1972 AS AMENDED BY THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT (ACCESS TO INFORMATION) (VARIATION) ORDER 2006, AND THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000

The Chairman to move that the Press and public be excluded during consideration of the items of business listed below as it is likely in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings that if members of the Press and public were present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the Press and public be excluded during consideration of the items of business referred to below as it is likely in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings that if members of the Press and public were present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information.

 

The following summaries

refer to matters involving exempt information

 

56.

EXEMPT MINUTES OF THE RENEWAL, RECREATION AND HOUSING PDS COMMITTEE HELD ON 15 NOVEMBER 2023

Minutes:

The exempt minutes of the Renewal, Recreation and Housing PDS Committee meeting held on 15 November 2023 were agreed as a correct record.

57.

PRE-DECISION SCRUTINY OF PART 2 (EXEMPT) EXECUTIVE REPORTS

Minutes:

The Committee considered the following reports on the Part 2 (Exempt) agenda for the meeting of the Council’s Executive on 7 February 2024:

57a

HOUSING MANAGEMENT CONTRACT (AWARD) PART 2 (EXEMPT) REPORT

Minutes:

The Committee considered a Part 2 (Exempt) report on the Housing Management Contract.

58.

APPENDIX A - QUESTIONS TO THE PORTFOLIO HOLDER pdf icon PDF 190 KB