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The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet Meeting: 11 January, 2016

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

Disposal of Small Parcels of Housing Owned Land

Purpose of the Report

  1. To seek Cabinet approval to declare surplus and to dispose of 11 small parcels of non-operational housing land (suitable for use incidental to the enjoyment of an adjacent dwelling house only) as attached at Appendix 1.

Recommendations

  1. That Cabinet declare the parcels of Housing land, identified in Appendix 1, surplus to Council requirements.
  2. That the Head of Finance be granted delegated authority to dispose of the parcels of land by the most appropriate means and on terms and conditions to be agreed, following consultation with the Director of Environment and Housing Services, the Leader and Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety.
  3. That the Head of Legal Services be authorised to prepare, complete and execute the required legal documentation in order to formalise the disposal in accordance with Consent E 4.1 of the General Consents for the Disposal of Houses and Land 1994, where the land has been declared surplus to requirements.

Reasons for the Recommendations

  1. To comply with the Council's Constitution.
  2. To ensure the Council obtains best consideration for the land in accordance with its statutory and fiduciary obligations.
  3. To formalise the disposal of the land in accordance with statutory provisions.

Background

  1. The Council owns small parcels of land which border existing, privately owned properties that are not suitable for development but are a continuing financial burden on the Council due to their ongoing maintenance and security costs. In many cases these properties were previously Council owned and have now been purchased by the previous or current owners under the Right to Buy Scheme.
  2. In 2011 the Council balloted Council tenants to determine whether tenants wanted their properties transferred to a Housing Association or retained as Council properties. In advance of the ballot a number of Housing Stock Option Appraisals were undertaken and, requests to purchase Housing owned land were delayed until the process was concluded. Following the results of the ballot the Council Housing Division sought and received permission to undertake an Options Appraisal for Housing Owned land. [Minute 745 16th January 2013] - Appendix 2.
  3. Cabinet subsequently considered a report on 4th February 2013, when it noted the matter [Minute C1997 4th February 2013] - Appendix 3.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. The Council has received a number of enquiries to acquire small areas of land which are held for the purposes of Part II of the Housing Act 1985 and are currently managed by, or are under the control of, the Housing Department. The Council is able to dispose of such land if it is no longer required for its operational purpose.
  2. The Council's Corporate Asset Management Group and its external partners on the Local Service Board (LSB) have been consulted to ascertain if there is a use for the parcels of land within the Council or the LSB. There has been no expression of interest from any of these parties in retaining these parcels of land and the parcels of land are therefore now surplus to the Council's requirements.
  3. Permission is now sought to dispose of this non-operational Housing owned land, to be used as additional garden space by purchasers. Disposing of the land will generate a receipt for the Council and remove ongoing maintenance costs associated with retaining the land.
  4. Any disposal would be subject to the Council receiving the best consideration for the land and the purchaser indemnifying the Council against all costs in relation to the sale and any other appropriate terms. There are currently 11 parcels of land which officers have highlighted as appropriate for sale. These parcels of land are identified at Appendix 1.
  5. It is proposed where appropriate that the Council sell its freehold interest in any area of land and place a covenant on the land to restrict the use of it to a purpose incidental to a dwelling-house e.g. domestic garden purposes only. In the event of the Council agreeing to remove a restrictive covenant at a future date, officers will ensure that a suitable claw back provision has been included in the sale documentation to guarantee that the Council benefits from any increased land value that might result from a change of use.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. The disposal of the land will generate a receipt for the Housing Section to be used to increase the supply of affordable housing in the Vale.
  2. The timely disposal of surplus assets should assist the Council in the reduction of its maintenance costs.
  3. Agreement will be sought at the outset for the prospective purchasers to cover the cost of Agents' fees and Estates and Legal officers' costs, even if the sale of the land is not completed, so that there will be no financial burden on the Council.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. Better use of land should be achieved by this proposal which also reduces the Council's land maintenance costs and makes more funding available for Council house repairs.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. Section 32 of the Housing Act 1985 gives the Council discretionary power to dispose of land held under Part II of the Housing Act 1985 (but has not been developed) with the Welsh Government's consent.
  2. However, the separate consent of the Welsh Government is not required as the disposal of these areas of land is covered by the "General Consents for the Disposal of Houses and Land 1994".
  3. Section 33 the Housing Act 1985 goes on to provide that the local authority may impose such covenants and conditions as they think fit, except that certain conditions specified in section 33(2) can only be imposed with the consent of the Welsh Government. As mentioned above, it is intended that a covenant will be placed on any land disposed of, restricting its use to a purpose incidental to the enjoyment of a dwelling house and also where the appropriate claw back provisions will be incorporated into the sales documentation.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. By disposing of these small parcels of land to adjoining householders, it will have a positive impact on crime and disorder by reducing the opportunities for vandalism and fly-tipping.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. There are no equal opportunities implications arising from this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. The disposal of these parcels of land is consistent with the Environment and Housing outcomes identified in the Corporate Plan 2013 - 17:

Environment - current and future generations of Vale residents and visitors enjoy the built and natural environments of the Vale of Glamorgan and actively protect and maintain them.

 

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

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. This is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. There has been no individual ward member consultation in respect of this report as the parcels of land are located in many areas of the Vale of Glamorgan.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Housing and Public Protection

Background Papers

Appendix 1 - List of parcels and maps

Appendix 2 - Scrutiny Committee Minute 745 16th January 2013

Appendix 3 - Cabinet Minute C1997 4th February 2013

Contact Officer

Elisa Faulkner, Affordable Enabling Officer

Officers Consulted

Pam Toms, Housing Solutions and Supporting People Team Leader

Lorna Cross, Strategic Estates Manager

Jocelyn Ham, Senior Lawyer, Legal Services

Lori Bigglestone, Accountant, Financial Services

Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter, Director of Environment and Housing Services

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