Top

Top

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting - 16th November 2011

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Safety

 

Report to consult on amendment to the Housing Renewal Policy

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To seek approval to consult stakeholders on amending financial assistance available through the Housing Renewal Policy to deliver improvements in the area of upper Holton Road.

Recommendations

That the Council consult with stakeholders on amendments to the Housing Renewal Policy to deliver improvements in the upper section of Holton Road.

Reasons for the Recommendations

2.             To determine the most effective and sustainable financial assistance option to deliver improvements in the upper section of Holton Road.

 

Background

3.             On June 2011, the Council adopted the Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy 2011-13.  This policy details the financial assistance available to owners within the Vale, including the Castleland Renewal Area.

4.             In April 2010 the Castleland Renewal Area was declared.  This area includes Holton Road.

5.             The upper section of Holton Road, Barry no longer functions as a main commercial centre.  Over time there has been a gradual move away from commercial use to residential accommodation.  In addition to the change of function, the following are also issues in this section of Holton Road:-

·               A high level of vacant units on the ground floor of the street.  In the upper section of Holton Road 16% of the ground floor units are vacant.

·               The poor visual outlook to the upper section of Holton Road.  The quality of the conversation of shop fronts to residential accommodation is haphazard and inconsistent. The shop fronts that remain are in a mixed state of repair with the majority using roller shutter screens to secure the property.  The haphazard and dilapidated street scene does not inspire confidence within the area.

·               A high concentration of privately rented poorly converted Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and self-contained flats in the upper section of Holton Road.

6.             To enable regeneration of the area through improving confidence, enhancing pride and encouraging private investment, three initiatives are being proposed.  Two initiatives are promoting opportunities through planning legislation and where necessary using environmental health enforcement powers.  These initiatives are subject to separate reports to Cabinet. The third initiative, outlined in this report, deals with the financial incentives to boost regeneration and hopefully encourages further private investment to help increase confidence in the area.

Relevant Issues and Options

7.             To encourage private investment and support the Council's objective of improving this upper section of Holton Road, it is proposed that, subject to available funding, financial incentives be made available to owners.

8.             This financial assistance would be linked to the design standards in the proposed Supplementary Planning Guidance and Additional HMO licensing scheme and would aim to help owners achieve the standards over a shorter period of time.

9.             The Council would stipulate eligible works for this assistance and would look to carry out the work to ensure consistent quality and workmanship through the Council's grant agency service.  The eligible work could include the conversion of a shop to a residential dwelling or the repair and improvement of the existing shop or residential facade.  It is estimated this work would cost between £20-25,000 per unit.

10.        There are two options available to the Council when offering owners this assistance, subject to funding being available:

·               A grant to cover part of the cost of the eligible works, or

·               A loan to cover all of the cost of the eligible work. 

 

11.        The use of grant aid would cover part of the cost of the eligible works and encourage the owner to invest the remaining amount.  For example, a maximum grant of £10,000 could be offered to the owner on the condition that all of the required eligible works are undertaken and the property is occupied over the next 5 years.  As part of the grant conditions, the outstanding value of for the work would be required as a contribution to the grant payable before the works begun.  Also, attached to the grant would be conditions of occupation that would state the grant would be repayable in full if the property becomes vacant for a period of more than 6 months within the 5-year grant condition period.

12.        Alternatively, an interest free loan could be offered to owners to cover the full amount of the works.  The owner would be required to repay the loan back to the Council over a fix period of 5 years.  Over this period, the Council would not charge interest on the money borrowed but owners who fail to repay would be subject to legal action being taken against them for the recovery of the money.

13.        In this report approval is sought to consult with relevant stakeholders on the above options to determine the most effective and sustainable option that would deliver improvements in this area of upper Holton Road if funding can be secured.  Following consultation the outcome of the consultation would be reported back to Cabinet and approval sought to amend the Housing Renewal Policy to enable the chosen financial assistance to be offered. As with all the assistance detailed in this policy, it would be subject to available funding.

14.        The form of assistance in upper Holton Road, capital funding would need to be identified.  Subject to the response received from the consultation, a project proposal may be submitted to the Welsh Government’s Regeneration Area Board for funding to support this scheme. 

15.        Whilst grant aid is being put forward as an option, the Welsh Government have indicated that their future funding arrangements may, in any case, restrict financial assistance to loans only.

16.        Consultation will take place from December 2011 to February 2012.  During this period owners’ views will be sort on the preferred option of a loan or part grant.  In addition, the Council will seek to obtain expressions of interest for each option if funding is available.

17.        As part of the consultation, drop-in sessions will be offered to all interested parties during January.  Known groups will also be contacted and offers made to speak to them direct.  In addition, mail shots will be sent to all identified owners and use will be made of the Council's website, social medial and traditional press to promote the consultation.

 

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment and Climate Change, if appropriate)

18.        There are no resource implications in undertaking the consultation.

19.        If the Housing Renewal Policy is amended to include one of the above mentioned financial assistance options there will be capital resource implications.

20.        The Housing Renewal Policy makes it clear assistance is only available subject to available capital resources.

21.        In the past, the Renewal Area has been successful in bidding for Council capital funding.  In 2011/12, £500,000 was allocated to the Renewal Area.  In addition, the Council has successfully bid to the Welsh Government for Renewal Area capital funding.  In 2011/12, £975,000 was awarded to the Council to support Renewal Area financial assistance.

22.        To deliver financial assistance to owners in the Renewal Area during 2012/13, a capital bid has been submitted to Council for £500,000.  It is anticipated the Welsh Government will also invite bids for capital funding for Renewal Areas.  If both bids are successful, this proposed assistance would be part funded from this capital resource.

23.        If interest is shown in the scheme from owners, this evidence will be used to support a bid for funding from the Welsh Government Strategic Regeneration Board in Barry.  If successful, this funding would support the scheme initially.

24.        If the loan option is adopted as the assistance to be offered, the repayments made against the loan could be recycled within the Renewal Area reducing the amount of future capital funding bids.  Indications show the Welsh Government prefer this finance model and may restrict future funding to loan based schemes, if funding is available in the future.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

25.        Legal Services will be consulted concerning the financial assistance option being consulted upon.  In particular, if a loan is adopted as the preferred assistance, legal advice and assistance will be required on the administration of this assistance.

26.        A further report will be required to seek approval to amend the Housing Renewal Policy 2011-13 to enable the Council to offer either financial assistance proposed in the consultation.

27.        Section 2 of the Local Government Act 2000 provides that a local authority has power to do anything which it considers likely to achieve the promotion or improvement of the economic, environmental or social wellbeing of its area. This includes the giving of financial assistance to any person. In exercising this power the Council must have regard to the Secretary of States Guidance and the Council’s own Community Strategy

Crime and Disorder Implications

28.        There are no Crime and Disorder implications in undertaking the consultation

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

29.        There are no equal opportunities implications from carry out consultation. Invitations to comment will be sent to all known stakeholders and interest groups to provide and opportunity for comments.

Corporate/Service Objectives

30.        Corporate Plan 2010-14 - Regeneration Priority

Aim - To work with partners to develop a sustainable community which maximises opportunities for economic growth, social improvement and environmental regeneration and protection

Improvement Objective 30

To encourage the development of a diversified and sustainable community by working in partnership to improve the quality of life of the Vale’s residents.

Policy Framework and Budget

31.        This report is a matter for Executive Decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

32.        Report is recommending consultation. 

33.        Local Ward members for Castleland, Butrills and Court wards were invited to a number of briefing sessions on the proposals. Councillors  C Elmore, P Drake, B Brooks and  R Bertin attended sessions and broadly supported action to regeneration this section of Holton Road.  Requests were made to ensure public consultation was inclusive and consideration given to the working hours of premises in the street.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

34.        Housing and Public Protection

Background Papers

Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy 2011-13

Contact Officer

Elen Probert, Principal Housing and Pollution Officer 01446 709833

 

Officers Consulted

Mike Walsh - Legal Services

Rob Ingram - Finance

 

Responsible Officer:

Peter H Evans, Director for Legal, Public Protection and Housing Services