Cabinet were being asked to agree the Homes for Lambeth business plan for 2018-19, Cllr Paul McGlone, deputy leader of the council (investment and partnerships) told the meeting.
Subsequent years would see an annual business plan.
“The key political message is it drives forward the ambition of this Labour administration to build 1,000 new council homes and progress estate regeneration.
He quoted housing waiting list figures dating from 2013 before telling the meeting: “Setting up Homes for Lambeth will enable the council to build more genuinely affordable homes more than could be built by housing associations and private developers.
“Homes for Lambeth is not like other council’s approaches. “It’s not a private developer – it’s 100 per cent owned by the council and accountable to the council.
“Doing nothing is not an option for this administration.”
Assured lifetime tenancies would be ensured by people moving back into homes on their estates.
“There’s virtually no difference between a secure tenancy and a lifetime tenancy” he told fellow cabinet members. ALTs would be a contract with the council, he added.
Council leader Cllr Lib Peck said: “What we can’t do because of national legislation framework, we can achieve our political ambitions to try in a small way to try and address some of the wider issues.”
Council officers were asked by Cllr Peck to respond to some of the points raised by Gerlinde Gniewosz, Cllr Tim Briggs, Mariana Nwagboso and Andy Plant.
Rachel Sharpe, director of strategic programming, said the financials were included in the business plan. “There’s a lot more information that could go into it, a lot of information that underlines the figures we could put in there.
“There’s been a range of analysis done. “We’re fairly sure this is robust. “There’s always risks with anything of this size.”
It would be impossible to include every single penny in the business plan, she added.
“We’re trying to produce a business plan that fairly balances the need to have that information up front and balances the risks throughout that we are asking the cabinet to agree.”
“Whatever we spend on these estates will not create the kind of quality (needed)
“We plan to ensure every single resident who needs a decent quality home will get one. “We started to talk to residents about what their needs are. We will be going back to ensure we get their needs right.”
This would include special needs like wet rooms. All will include 10 per cent wheelchair properties. “That’s part of the council’s planning standards” she said.
Jed Young, assistant director housing regeneration, said an appendix of the report to cabinet set out some of the key assumptions and the general narrative. There would be further gateway viability assessments made which is fairly standard industry practiced.
Planning applications were for the first phase. “We are currently in the applications process. “They have yet to be determined and formally reported on by the authority.”
Asked by Lib Peck about income generation Mr Young referred members to paragraph 5.2 of the business plan. Any potential fall in values that are achievable were provided for, he said.
All the costs had been produced by a professional services team. He admitted there would be some challenges in construction, referring to a shortfall of people in the construction industry. Half of all contracts have a level of extension time, he added.
Cllr Jackie Meldrum asked what happens when things go wrong. She hoped some homes could be built with two bathrooms.
Cllr Mohammed Seedat said nurses could not come to work in London because of the cost of travelling. By having this structure in place we can ensure we’ve got council rented properties, he added.
ASSURED LIFETIME TENANCIES
Rachel Sharpe said they would be providing homes for existing secure tenants at council rents. There would be affordable housing at London rent levels which will be in line with the council’s housing strategy.
Jed Young said: “The council’s intention is to provide a contractual ALT that maintains the strengths that are set out in the statutory tenancy agreement by a process of consultation or by statute.
Cllr Peck: “I think that was clear – that the security will be embraced by the contract.”
Cllr Jane Pickard said that Cllr Tim Briggs had talked about the legal framework. If he wanted a different way, suggested Cllr Pickard. she suggested his Government introduce a framework that allows councils to borrow more money and retain the proceeds of Right to Buy.
Cllr Matthew Bennett “I know there’s a concern about rents – we can only be judged by what we deliver.” He claimed that in a new development in Akerman Road SW9 heating and hot water utility bills were about £5 a month.
Cllr Jim Dickson said there were various reasons why they could not do secure tenancies absolutely exactly.
“We know we legally can’t. “We’d never regenerate estates and we’re not the only council doing this.”
(“That doesn’t make it right” said someone in the audience.)
Further reading: Conservative manifesto 2017: Homes For All pages 70-72.
Making it a reality – building more and better homes 17 January 2018 Written by: Cllr Paul McGlone, deputy leader of Lambeth council (investment and partnerships) 17 January 2018 (Source: Lambeth council’s Love Lambeth website)