Agenda and minutes

Housing, Economy and Business Committee
Tuesday, 13th June, 2017 7.30 pm

Venue: Civic Offices, St Nicholas Way, Sutton SM1 1EA

Contact: Davena Palmer, Committee Services Officer  Tel.: 020 8770 4990, Email:  committeeservices@sutton.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Welcome and Introductions

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed all those present to the meeting.

 

2.

Apologies and Substitutes

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence received.

3.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

7. Draft Character Appraisal of the Burton Estates ASLC (Produced by the Belmont and South Cheam Neighbourhood Forum)

 

Councillor David Hicks, Non Pecuniary, board member of the Belmont and South Cheam Neighbourhood Forum.

 

9. Management of Housing Stock Review

 

Councillor Joyce Melican, Non Pecuniary, board member of Sutton Housing Partnership.

 

Councillor Nick Emmerson, Non Pecuniary, board member of Sutton Housing Partnership.

 

4.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 151 KB

To approve the minutes of the Housing, Economy and Business Committee, 21 March 2017.

Minutes:

RESOLVED: that the minutes of the meeting held on 21 March 2017 be agreed as an accurate record.

5.

Housing Economy and Business Performance Report pdf icon PDF 119 KB

This is a covering report to present performance and financial data to the Housing Economy and Business Committee via the Council’s performance management system (Covalent).

Minutes:

Scott Funnell, Head of Environment Commissioning, presented the report and Covalent Performance system live to the committee.

 

Working through the red indicators, members discussed the proportion of collectable income from households on housing benefit and enquired as to how collection rates were to be improved. Assistant Director for Housing and Regeneration explained that local authorities had successfully lobbied the DWP, in arguing that households in emergency accommodation should not be moved to universal credit, and this change is expected to be implemented in October 2017.  

 

Members queried as to why tenant satisfaction with non-communal responsive repairs had fallen slightly. Jerry Austin of the Sutton housing Partnership, explained that there was no one reason but SHP look at trends to identify patterns of failure and try to rectify ongoing problems.

 

The Chair concluded the item by commenting that the presentation of the Covalent system system live wasn’t purposefully working in a committee meeting setup and perhaps in future it should be done as an informal workshop with members.

6.

Review of Pre-Application Service in Planning pdf icon PDF 167 KB

This report provides an update on the impact of the changes to the charging and delivery schedule for the pre-application service in Planning. In addition, this report assesses the potential for more participation in the pre-application process and scope for changes to the way that Members and residents can participate. The report draws from information collated on the take up of the service since 1 December 2015, the results of a customer survey, national planning guidance, best practice, legal advice and experience.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Andy Webber, Head of Development Management and Strategic Planning, presented the report.

 

Members discussed the creation of reader’s panel to look into complaints about the clarity of information published about the service, and welcomed the use of local committees at the pre-application stage as a means to encourage more discussion and transparency. The Head of Development Management and Strategic Planning explained that at the pre-application stage there are no formal requirements for consultation, so Local Committees wouldn’t replace formal consultation. Further the National Planning Policy Framework is ambiguous on consultation but the Planning Department encourages it, and has a clear expectation that developers  engage with the local community. The Chair commented that a reader’s panel could be useful and effective if it included third parties and not just experts.

 

Members discussed the publication of pre-application advice letters as is done is some other London boroughs and asked whether this could be looked into to implement at Sutton Council. The Head of Development Management and Strategic Planning advised that Planning will have a look at it and they had received legal advice on the matter. Members commented that they would like to see the legal advice and have this issue looked into in more detail.

 

Members asked for clarification on what the costs were in providing the pre-application service and whether the full costs were met by the charging schedule. The Head of Development Management and Strategic Planning explained that it was difficult to be precise on the costs but some samples could be taken to look at what conclusions can be drawn.

 

The chair concluded the item and Councillor Neil Garratt motioned that recommendation 2.2 of the report be amended to include that the publishing of pre-application advice letters as standard be investigated.  

 

RESOLVED: that

  1. The impact of the revised fees and delivery schedule agreed on 29 September 2015 be noted
  2. It be agreed existing charges be maintained for a further 12 months, but to introduce further choices within the existing offer.
  3. It be agreed that pre-application submissions are not publicised without the applicant’s agreement and the publicising of pre-application advice letters as standard be investigated.
  4. It be agreed that current Member and community engagement continues but is formalised to include notification to Members of all major pre-application proposals received.

 

7.

Draft Character Appraisal of the Burton Estates ASLC (Produced by the Belmont and South Cheam Neighbourhood Forum) pdf icon PDF 135 KB

This report seeks approval of the Draft Character Appraisal for the Burton Estates Area of Special Local Character (ASLC), which has been prepared by the Belmont and South Cheam Neighbourhood Forum. This draft Character Appraisal has been prepared in consultation with planning officers and the local community and will be used as a material consideration in the determination of planning applications.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Andy Webber, Head of Development Management and Strategic Planning, presented the report. The Chair then invited Peter Mattey of the Belmont and South Cheam Neighbourhood Forum to address questions on the item.

 

Members queried what the priorities were in relation to paving or not paving front gardens. Peter Mattey clarified that the character appraisal was looking for balance with soft landscaping and hard areas for parking. From a street scene point of view the character appraisal only gives guidelines of which not all are enforceable.

 

Members asked what the objectives of the character appraisal were. Peter Mattey explained it was to clearly outline what arts and crafts characteristics were in the area,  provide guidelines that people would want to conform to, and build upon existing ASLC guidelines.

 

Members discussed concerns regarding the discouragement of contemporary forms of the spirit of the area, and the level of support from the community. Peter Mattey said the idea of the appraisal is to give people flexibility to enhance their homes and following wide consultation no negative feedback had been received.

 

The Chair suggested that the appraisal be taken to Local Committee, which Peter Mattey welcomed.


RESOLVED: that the Burton Estates Draft Character Appraisal be approved for use as a material consideration, in the determination of planning applications within the designated ASLC.

8.

Estate Regeneration Engagement Proposals - Programme Delivery pdf icon PDF 118 KB

This report presents to Committee the programme of activities and emerging issues in relation to resident engagement where estate regeneration may be under consideration, and the work required to establish Estate Residents Charters as agreed at the meeting of this Committee on 21 March 2017.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Simon Latham, Assistant Director for Housing and Regeneration presented the report.

 

Members questioned what is hoped to be achieved by appointing an Independent Resident Adviser as mentioned in the report, and what specific factors will determine where regeneration takes place. The Assistant Director explained that the adviser will seek to ensure an inclusive approach to all the community is taken, and residents associations receive continued advice.

 

The Assistant Director said further there were a range of criteria to assess to determine where regeneration take place including: initial feasibility work, the views of residents, viability of design and wider needs of the borough in building more homes.

 

Members discussed the importance of a residents advisor, the importance of resident led regeneration, and the inclusion of ward councillors in the engagement process.

 

RESOLVED: that

  1. The programme of activities in support of the Council’s approach to resident engagement be agreed.
  2. The planned work be approved to agree Residents’ Charters with residents on estates where estate regeneration is under consideration.

 

9.

Management of Housing Stock Review pdf icon PDF 136 KB

This report provides the outcome of the commissioning review of the Council’s Housing Management Service and seeks approval of the recommended option.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Scott Funnell, Head of Environment Commissioning, presented the report. The Chair then invited Steve Tucker, CEO of the Sutton Housing Partnership (SHP), to address questions on the items.

 

Members sought clarification on the details of Option 1 as set out in the report. The CEO of SHP highlighted that the patch sizes for housing managers would be decreased to allow housing managers to spend more time with residents, and the workforce was enthusiastic about the organisation's objectives.

 

Members queried whether Option 3 as set out in the report was still a consideration. The Head of Environment Commissioning responded that the recommendation was not to pursue the option, but that it could be revisited in the future.

 

Concerns were raised regarding the retention of staff and the minimisation of functions. The CEO of SHP outlined that the assessment of back-office services and delivery aimed to save money and the staff changes could take the form of a shared service arrangement or moves to different organisations. A decision is to be made by September 2017, implemented in autumn 2017 and then reported back to the committee in December 2017.

 

Colin Hawkin of Sutton Federation of Tenant and Resident Associations (SFTRA) spoke of the new leadership in SHP being a critical turning point and the start of change within the organisation

 

Under Option 1 as set out in the report, members questioned whether the fees for the SHP service would remain the same. The Strategic Director for Environment, Housing and Regeneration, explained that the fees would be adjusted depending on the outcome of the review and management agreement, which will come back to the committee.


RESOLVED: that the recommended ‘Option 1’ to re-model Sutton Housing Partnership (SHP) as detailed in Section 5 of this report, be agreed.

10.

Council Tax Reduction Scheme Annual Review 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 135 KB

This report sets out the latest position in respect of the Authority’s Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS), which was initially introduced on 1 April 2013 following devolution of the previous national council tax benefit scheme to Local Authorities.  The Council’s CTRS was most recently reviewed and consulted upon during 2016/17 and was revised with an implementation date for these changes of 1 April 2017.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

10. COUNCIL TAX REDUCTION SCHEME ANNUAL REVIEW 2016/17

 

Julie Turner, Assistant Director (Interim) for Business Services, presented the report.

 

Members questioned if any claim limits existed for the hardship fund. The Assistant Director confirmed there was no limit and claims were assessed on case-by-case basis.

 

Members asked why there had been an increase in the hardship fund and what the rationale was for the decision. The Assistant Director confirmed that the increase was based on the current estimate of the Sutton share and the rationale came from an integrated impact assessment, looking at the income band model, and considering how to mitigate against issues that could affect individuals and groups

 

Members enquired whether there had been any problems with the banding, and whether residents understood the banding. The Assistant Director responded that figures for May indicated there was increasing demand against the hardship fund which will continue to be monitored. An easy to read summary of the income banding scheme has been devised, and both telephone callers and visitors to reception are down.

 

Members requested an update on the hardship fund in 6 months’ time at the committee, if necessary, and monthly updates via email.

 

RESOLVED: that

  1. The out turn of the scheme in 2016/17 be noted.
  2. The work undertaken to ensure a smooth transition to the new Council Tax Reduction Scheme be noted
  3. It is agreed the Council Tax Reduction Scheme remains unchanged for the financial year 2018/19.

 

11.

Task & Finish Group: Discretionary Rate Relief Scheme pdf icon PDF 101 KB

This report details the need for a Task and Finish Group to undertake a review of the latest Revaluation and its impact on businesses in the Borough and to decide if a local Business Rate Relief Scheme is required. If so, the Task and Finish Group will need to agree a list of the possible options on which to consult the Greater London Authority on, and if the Committee wishes, the local business community.

Minutes:

Julie Turner, Assistant Director (Interim) for Business Services, presented the report.

 

Councillor Trish Fivey, Nick Emmerson, David Hicks, Neil Garratt, Amy Haldane and Jayne McCoy volunteered as members of the task and finish group.

 

RESOLVED: that

  1. The establishment of a Task and Finish Group to review the options for a locally defined Business Rate Relief Scheme be agreed.
  2. It be agreed that the Task and Finish Group will meet on at least two occasions between 19 June 2017 and 15 August 2017.
  3. The Task and Finish Group be requested to undertake a consultation on the possible options to be considered and for the consultation to run for four weeks from 10 July 2017 to 7 August 2017.
  4. It be agreed that the Task and Finish Group reports the outcome to the Housing, Economy and Business Committee 26 September 2017 for final decision.

 

12.

Property Acquisition Programme - Financial Model pdf icon PDF 175 KB

This report follows up on a previous report on the subject of setting up a property acquisition programme which was considered by the Committee at its meeting in March of this year.  As agreed at that meeting, this report sets out for Member approval the parameters and financial modelling of an initial programme covering 2017/18 and 2018/19 produced to illustrate its viability.

Minutes:

Simon Latham, Assistant Director for Housing and Regeneration, presented the report.

 

Members queried why the tenancies mentioned at 4.6 of the report, would become unsecure. The Assistant Director explained that they were currently being let as temporary accommodations and they were not associated with fixed term tenancies.

 

Councillor Neil Garratt motioned that the Property Acquisition Programme come back to the committee in January 2018 and on a 6 month basis thereafter.

 

RESOLVED: that

  1. Officers be authorised to commence a programme of property acquisitions on the basis of the parameters and financial modelling set out in section 4 of the report.
  2. It be agreed that the initial target for the programme, over the years 2017/18 and 2018/19, should be 36 properties comprising primarily one and two bedroomed units, with a budget of £11.2m comprising £3.4m of revenue from the Housing Revenue Account (HRA), £3.4m from net Right to Buy (RTB) receipts and up to £4.4m of borrowing from the General Fund capital programme.  
  3. It be recommend to the Strategy and Resources Committee to amend the current capital programme and grant approval to spend a budget of £11.2m in order to facilitate timely acquisitions of properties to be held in the HRA.
  4. The programme be reported back to the committee in January 2018 and every 6 months thereafter.

 

13.

Any Urgent Business brought forward at the Direction of the Chair

Minutes:

There were no urgent items.

14.

Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Housing, Economy and Business Committee is the 26 September 2017.

Minutes:

The next meeting of the Housing, Economy and Business Committee will take place on the 26 September 2017.