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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting:  10 March, 2014

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety

 

Adoption of the Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy 2014

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To adopt the Housing Renewal Policy 2014 and agree a Commercial Improvement Grant for Upper Holton Road, Barry.

Recommendations

1.         That Cabinet approve the Housing Renewal Policy 2014

2.         That a Commercial Improvement Grant is offered to businesses in Upper Holton Road, Barry.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To provide clear policy on what financial assistance the Council will offer private sector owners to help repair, maintain and adapt their properties.

2.         To offer a grant to commercial business in Upper Holton Road, Barry for 2014/15 to 2016/17 inclusive, to replace the shop front and repair the front elevation of the property and assist the regeneration of the area.

Background

2.         The Regulatory Reform (Housing Assistance) (England and Wales) Order 2002 requires the Council to have a Housing Renewal Policy in place in order that it can provide grants and other forms of assistance for private owners.  Without such a policy the Council would not be able to offer assistance to fund adaptation work above the Disabled Facilities Grants statutory limit of £36,000, to carry out improvement works in the Castleland Renewal Area or offer loans for empty property owners

3.         The assistance the Council currently offers residential home owners is set out in the Housing Renewal Policy 2011-13.

4.         Welsh Government has provided an indicative capital budget to support existing renewal areas for the next three years.  In addition, there is capital funding allocated to Castleland Renewal in the Council's budget.  With funding available, the Renewal Area team can develop a programme for the Castleland Renewal Area for the next three years.

5.         On 18th March 2013 (C1268), Cabinet made a resolution that officers would continue to explore options for introducing funding streams to bring forward schemes in Upper Holton Road, and that a further report be presented to Cabinet in due course on progress relating to the Upper Holton Road area.

Relevant Issues and Options

6.         The current Housing Renewal Policy 2011-13 was reviewed, updated and amended to form the Housing Renewal Policy 2014 which is attached in Appendix 1, a copy of which is available in the Members room and on the Council's website.   This report recommends the adoption of the policy attached.

7.         The Housing Renewal Policy supports the Council's aim to raise standards of, and access to, housing across the Vale of Glamorgan to protect residents' quality of life, health and well-being.  It also supports the Council's regeneration aims by sustaining vibrant communities.

8.         There has been no change to the priorities identified in the Housing Renewal Policy 2011-13.  That said, the new 2014 policy reflects the need to change the financial assistance available in the Renewal Area to enable a programme to be developed for the next three years; amends the grant aid available to support the physical adaptations of properties to assist their administration and create a tenure neutral package; and amends the section detailing the Council's enforcement tools in relation to housing to reflect changes to legislation.

Disabled Facilities Grants

9.         To assist the administration of disabled facilities grants (DFG), the 'top up' grant for a mandatory DFG has been replaced with a Major Adaptation Grant.  This is for administration purposes within the Council.  Also, to reflect the growing pressure on capital budgets and the introduction of the priorities and guidance document for adaptation work, the limit for this grant has been reduced to £60,000 from £72,000.

10.      The Relocation Grant to assist people to move where their current property cannot be reasonably or practicably adapted has also been amended.  The amendment has removed the option of the grant funding a proportion of the purchase price of the new property.  The amount available through the grant was limited and in the Vale's housing market had little impact to support a move. 

11.      The Relocation Grant has also been amended to enable private sector tenants whose landlord has refused the adaptation works and who has lived in their rented home for two or more years to apply for assistance to help them move.  The grant will cover the cost of moving between the two properties and any letting agents fees, but will not cover bonds.  This change creates a tenure neutral grant, a direction the Welsh Government is moving towards for adaptations.

Castleland Renewal Area and Upper Holton Road

12.      The Renewal Area offers an opportunity through targeted investment to deliver a measurable improvement in the quality of the built environment in the area; increase property owner/business confidence; and, act as a catalyst for private sector investment.

13.      During 2013-14 Welsh Government provided the Council with indicative funding for area renewal for the next three years.  With the Council's capital budget, the Renewal Area team has now been able to develop a three year programme for the Castleland Renewal Area.  This programme includes completing the existing residential Facelifting programme during 2014/15 and support offered to owners to improve the energy efficiency of their property if the property has not been included in a Welsh Government's ARBED programme.  Through this funding opportunity, officers have been able to identify £1.5 million funding to support the renewal of the fabric of buildings in Upper Holton Road, and so meeting the Cabinet's resolution 2 made on the 18th March 2013 (C1268). Appendix 2, a copy of which is available in the Members room and on the Council's website, shows the indicative boundary for the target area of investment in Upper Holton Road.

14.      As reported to Cabinet on 18th March 2013 (C1268), consultation was undertaken with owners, residents and business in Upper Holton Road seeking opinion on what assistance they would support in the street.  The results should 98% of respondents wanted financial help in the street to improve their property, with 88% wanting a grant and the majority wanted work to improve the whole of the front elevation of the property and not just the ground floor.  In acknowledgement to this response, the programmes of works and assistance to be offered have been developed accordingly.

15.      It is proposed that a number of grant and loan products are offered to support the regeneration of the Upper Holton Road in addition to existing policy tools.  At present, the Upper Holton Road Supplementary Planning Guidance supports the transition of commercial properties to residential outside an identified core area (As agreed by Cabinet on 11th June 2012, C1739), while the Castleland Renewal Area additional HMO licensing scheme seeks to improve the quality of the HMOs (Agreed by Cabinet on 18th March 2013, C1269).  The Housing Renewal Policy 2014 details two grants and one loan product to further facilitate and support change in the area.  The policy details; a Conversion Grant that will help owners to convert the front of commercial properties to residential properties; a Town Centre Living Grant that will help property owners to provide independent access from the front elevation to the 1st and 2nd floors where there is a commercial use on the ground floor; and a Houses into Homes loan that will support the internal reconfiguration and refurbishment of empty properties.

16.      In addition to the policy, under the promotion of the well being powers (Local Government Act 2000) it is further proposed to offer a Commercial Improvement Grant in Upper Holton Road to support the replacement of shop fronts and improve the front elevation of the property at 1st and 2nd floor level.  This will be an 85% grant with a 5 year grant condition period requiring the property to be let or occupied.  If the grant conditions are breached, repayment will be required at a reducing amount as the time expires.

17.      The Commercial Improvement Grant will aim to fund work to bring the front external elevation of the property up to a reasonable standard of repair.  Applicants who take up the offer of grant aid will be asked for a contribution of 15% the cost of the works payable in full before the works begin.  If the cost of the works increases once works begin, the Council will not request additional funding from the applicant.

18.      A Commercial Improvement Grant available to the rest of Holton Road is subject to a separate report to this Cabinet.

19.      It is proposed that the programme of works in Upper Holton Road will be carried out over the next three years, with the programme completed on a block by block basis.  For each block the commercial and residential work will be completed together to support the aim of renewing the fabric of the front elevation of the buildings and improving the visual impact of the street.

20.      Through the above proposals the Council will take the lead in generating an opportunity to bring positive benefits to the shopping area and improve the availability of affordable accommodation.  In taking this lead and creating this opportunity, the regeneration of the area will also help to meet housing need and demand in the area through facilitating access to and the use of empty space.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

21.      There are identified Capital Budgets to enable the approval and processing of financial assistance offered through the Policy as detailed below.  

Disabled Adaptations

Year

Council Capital funding

2014/15

£1,000,000

2015/16

£900,000

2016/17

£900,000

Renewal Area funding

Year

Council Capital

Indicative Welsh Government Grant

Total

2014/15

£500,000

£677,981

£1,177,981

2015/16

£500,000

£677,981

£1,177,981

2016/17

£500,000*

£677,981

£1,177,981

2016/17 Council funding is in the final proposed budget which is being presented to Cabinet on the 24th February and Council on the 5th March 2014 for approval

Houses into Home Loan

This is funded from the Welsh Government's Houses into Homes scheme.  Funded is provided on a regional basis to be drawn down across 2012/13 and 2013/14 financial year.  The drawn down amounts for the Cardiff and Vale region is detailed below by local authority.  There remains £234,261 to be drawn down by the end of March 2014 which we anticipate will be achieved.

Year

Vale Council

Cardiff Council

Total

2012/13

£300,000

£1,164,186

£1,464,186

2013/14

£220,520

£1,009,405

£1,229,925

Total

£520,520

£2,173,591

 

 

22.      There are staffing resources in place to deliver the financial assistance in the Policy within Public Protection.  The grants and loans attract a fee income that is used to fund staff to deliver the Council's Agency Service.

23.      Grants and loans offered through the Housing Renewal Policy 2014 and the Commercial Improvement Grants will be subject to any necessary planning permission and other relevant consents.  The implementation of this policy in Upper Holton Road will therefore require cross service working. This will be achieved through the establishment of a working group reflecting the skills required to deliver the grant and will be lead by the Renewal Area team.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

24.      Through supporting the renewal and adaptation of existing housing stock, this reduces the demand for new build properties.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

25.      The Regulatory Reform (Housing Assistance) (England and Wales) Order 2002 requires the Council to have a Housing Renewal Policy in place in order that it can continue to provide grants and loans to private owners to repair, improve or adapt their property.  The attached Policy meets this requirement.

26.      Commercial Improvement Grants will be offered through the Council's power detailed in The Local Government Act 2000 (Part 1, Section 2 Promotion of Wellbeing), which provides the Council with the power, having regard to their Community Strategy, to do anything which they consider likely to achieve the promotion or improvement of the economic well-being, social well-being or environmental well being of their area. 

Crime and Disorder Implications

27.      There are no negative crime and disorder implications arising from the policy.

28.      Work in the Renewal Area may assist in reducing crime and disorder in the area.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

29.      An Equality Impact Assessment has been completed on the Policy.  This assessment is attached inAppendix 3 , a copy of which is available in the Members room and on the Council's website.

Corporate/Service Objectives

30.      The Housing Renewal Policy 2014 and the Commercial Improvement Grant supports the following two outcomes in the Community Strategy

·           Priority Outcome 7 - The underlying causes of deprivation are tackled and the regeneration of the Vale continues, opportunities for individuals and businesses are developed and the quality of the built and natural environment is protected and enhanced.

·           Priority Outcome 8: The Vale maximises the potential of its position within the region working with its neighbours for the benefit of local people and businesses, attracting visitors, residents and investment.

31.      The Housing Renewal Policy 2014 and the Commercial Improvement Grant supports the following two outcomes in the Corporate Plan

·           The Vale of Glamorgan has a thriving economy supporting cohesive sustainable communities.

·           Vale of Glamorgan residents have access to affordable, good quality suitable housing and housing advice and support

32.      The Housing Renewal Policy 2014 and the Commercial Improvement Grant supports the following objectives in the Improvement Plan 2013-14

·           Objective 6. Vale of Glamorgan residents have access to affordable, good quality suitable housing and housing advice and support.

·           Objective 2 To reduce the time taken to deliver disabled facilities grants to children and young people and to adults to achieve the Welsh average performance of 2011/12 as a minimum.

33.      The Policy and the Commercial Improvement Grant supports the following outcomes within Development Services Service Plan

·           Outcome 4 - Older people are valued and empowered to remain independent, health and active. They have equality of opportunity and receive high quality services to meet their diverse needs.

·           Outcome 7 - The underlying causes of deprivation are tackled and the regeneration of the Vale continues, opportunities for individuals and businesses are developed and the quality of the built and natural environment is protected and enhanced.

Policy Framework and Budget

34.      This report is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

35.      Consultation was undertaken with owners, residents and business in Upper Holton Road seeking opinion on what assistance they would support in the street.  This detailed in the body of the report and to Cabinet on 18th March 2013 (c1268), consultation was undertaken

36.      Ward Members for Castleland, Court and Buttrills have been consulted. The following response was received.

Richard Bertin - Elected Member

'I fully support the recommendations as I have been advocating change for years. These proposals will make a huge difference to the local community and must be welcomed. I recognise the need for urgency and note the proposed policy changes to reflect'

Chris Elmore - Elected Member

'Clr Drake and I are in full support'

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

37.      Housing & Public Protection

Background Papers

Welsh Assembly Government Circular 20/02

The Regulatory Reform (Housing Assistance) (England and Wales) Order 2002

Contact Officer

Elen Probert - Principal Housing and Pollution Officer 01446 709833

Officers Consulted

Legal Service - Mike Walsh, Principal Lawyer

Finance - Gemma Jones, Accountant

Adult Services - Lance Carver, Head of Adult Service

Development Control and Building Control - Marcus Goldsworthy, Operational Manager Development Control                                                                                                            

Planning and Transportation - Emma Reed, Operational Manager, Planning and Transportations

Housing Strategy - Pam Toms, Housing Strategy Manager

Responsible Officer:

D. R. Thomas, Director or Development Services.

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