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Agenda Item No 6

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Homes and Safe Communities Scrutiny Committee: 14 February 2018

 

Report of the Director of Environment and Housing 

 

Environment and Neighbourhoods Strategy (Housing) - Six Monthly Monitoring Report

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. To update the Homes and Safe Communities Scrutiny Committee on progress implementing the Environment and Neighbourhoods Strategy (Housing).

Recommendation

That the Homes and Safe Communities Scrutiny Committee NOTE the six monthly monitoring report in relation to the Operational Delivery Plan for the Environment and Neighbourhoods Strategy (Housing).

Reason for the Recommendation

To provide an opportunity for Scrutiny to make any comments and to ensure the actions identified are progressed.

Background

  1. The Environment and Neighbourhood Strategy was approved by Cabinet in February 2017 and incorporated feedback from the Homes and Safe Communities Committee. One of the recommendations was to provide six monthly monitoring reports to this Committee. This report updates members of progress against the actions identified in the Operational Delivery Plan attached at Appendix A.
  2. There has been a significant progress with implementation and the majority of actions are either complete or are on target to be completed by the target date. There are however a number of actions which are either not due yet or are falling slightly behind. The standard red, amber green classification has been used to highlight the progress against each action. Green represents all actions which are complete or on target, amber is used for actions that are at risk of missing target and red is used for actions that have already missed target or very likely to miss the target.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. A key element of the strategy directs the targeting of large sums of capital investment into a smaller number of areas in order to maximise the impact and to this end the Buttrills estate in central Barry will benefit from significant estate improvement works over the next two years.
  2. Following a wide ranging consultation with local tenants and residents, a programme of works was agreed, the contract has been let and contractors have started on site. The improvements being carried out include: new roofs, replacement windows, upgrades of communal areas, external wall insulation plus external landscaping. Significant progress has been made already but work will continue on site for the next 18 months.
  3. The physical appearance of estates was also identified as a priority in the strategy and a 'photobook' has been developed which is a set of agreed environmental standards used to grade the quality of estates and drive improvements. Regular estate walkabouts are also an important part of improving standards and a more formal programme of walkabouts is now in place so tenants have the opportunity to take part or engage with their Neighbourhood Manager when they are on site.
  4. A number of community 'helping hand' events have taken place as part of the initiatives to improve the appearance of estates. These have involved tenants, contractors and partner agencies and have been very well received. At Llantwit Major a waste amnesty resulted in the removal of a large amount of rubbish and household items which had been building up in homes, outhouses and gardens. The events have been an effective means of raising the profile of the Neighbourhood teams and enabled staff to establish themselves as a key point of contact and build relationships with the tenants. A toolkit for running these events has been developed and will improve the success of future events in different areas. 
  5. Another important element of the strategy is estate action planning. The development of tailored estate action plans which pick up local issues and priorities is underway and draft action plans are in place for a number of estates.
  6. There is still progress to be made with regard to a small number of actions including: making the best use of open spaces on Council estates. There are significant parcels of land on some Council estates and these are not often used for the benefit of the community. As a consequence, over the next few months staff will be identifying a small number of pilot sites and are seeking to engage the community in how they would like to see the space used. This need not require large sums of investment and very often small initiatives, including benches or some signage can result in positive changes to the way the land is used.
  7. Finally, there are still some changes to be made regarding the use of the smaller pot of revenue money for estate improvements. There are some good examples of this fund being used to make improvements to recycling and waste disposal at blocks of flats, however there is scope for further publicity of this funding so tenant groups across the Vale can make applications for creative solutions in their area.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. Significant financial support has been set aside to deliver the objectives in the Strategy. This includes provision of a £8.4m budget for environmental and estate improvement works over the course of the next three years (which forms part of the Council's WHQS investment commitments). Revenue budget has also been set aside to fund two Community Investment and Involvement Officer Posts to take the lead in community engagement and drive a range of environmental improvements. Lastly, participatory budgets of £64,000 pa have been set aside to fund smaller scale estate and environmental improvements identified by local residents and groups.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. The investment in the environment will make Council estates more attractive places to live. It will also make a contribution towards more effective neighbourhoods, where people use green spaces, interact with neighbours and help build stronger community spirit.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. There are no direct legal implications arising from this report.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. A better quality environment contributes to residents feeling safer in their home and in the local neighbourhood. Initiatives like improved lighting, CCTV and more secure fencing enabled by this Strategy will make a positive contribution through discouraging crime and anti-social behaviour.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. Environmental improvements will take into account the needs of tenants from a variety of backgrounds as well as people with protected characteristics.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. This Strategy is consistent with the overarching vision within the new Corporate Plan, namely 'Strong Communities with a Bright Future' as well as several of the Well Being Outcomes, including 'An inclusive and Safe Vale', ' An Environmentally Responsible and Prosperous Vale', 'An Active and Healthy Vale'.
  2. It is also consistent with many of the core objectives (which support the Well Being outcomes), including: reducing poverty and social exclusion; decent homes and safe communities; promoting regeneration; sustainable development and protecting the environment; and active and healthy lifestyles.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. This report is within the policy framework and budget.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. This report will affect all council tenants and therefore no individual ward member consultation has been undertaken.

Background Papers

None.

Contact Officer

Nick Jones - Housing & Strategic Projects Team Leader.

Officers Consulted

Mike Ingram, Head of Housing

Andrew Treweek, Operational Manager, Building Services.

Committee Reports

Operational Manager Finance

Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter, Director of Environment and Housing.