Agenda Item No
The Vale of Glamorgan Council
Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection): 10th October, 2012
Report of the Director of Visible Services and Housing
Sustainable Investment - Housing Investment Programme
Purpose of the Report
1. To update Members on the ‘sustainable investment’ approach and the work of the ‘Hard to Treat’ group prior to the report and recommendations being forwarded to Cabinet.
2. To outline the need for Cabinet to endorse further work being undertaken on the options appraisal of the best way forward for Brecon Court in Barry and the Airey properties throughout the Vale.
1. That the sustainable investment approach and the work of the ‘Hard to Treat’ group be noted.
2. That further work is undertaken on sustainability testing and completion of the options appraisal of the Brecon Court scheme in Barry.
3. That investment in the seven Airey ‘non traditional dwellings’ which have already had structural frame improvement work be progressed, subject to an acceptable scheme being developed at reasonable cost. The scheme to be based on structural and thermal improvement to a good standard, though noting that this will not be the full licensed repair process.
4. That re-development of the five unimproved Airey ‘non traditional dwellings’ option be further progressed.
5. That Brecon Court and the unimproved Airey properties be placed on hold for review with no major investment permitted, though that they continue to be maintained on an ‘essential only’ limited responsive maintenance basis plus essential cyclical work (e.g. statutory gas servicing).
6. That consultation with tenants and stakeholders on the options appraisal and best way forward is undertaken, and where tenants in the unimproved Airey dwellings have expressed an interest in moving to more suitable housing, these options be taken forward.
7. That Committee endorses the report recommendations and refers the same to Cabinet for consideration.
Reasons for the Recommendations
1. To inform Members.
2-5 To ensure sustainable investment and the delivery of the asset management strategy.
6. To ensure the views of tenants are considered as part of the options appraisal.
7. To include the views of the Committee in the deliberations of Cabinet on this matter prior to any decisions being made.
3. One of the main components of the Housing Asset Management Strategy is to achieve sustainable investment using sustainability testing and where necessary the options appraisal of housing stock. This reduces liabilities and generates funding for future housing re-investment.
4. The sustainability testing approach was reported to Housing and Public Protection on 24th February 2009 (Minute C828 refers).
5. Following sustainability testing and an options appraisal of The Butts in Cowbridge, Cabinet at its meeting of 4th November 2009 (Minute C667) agreed the disposal of the three dwellings, saving the Council considerable funds for re-investment in our more sustainable housing stock.
6. Airey houses are pre-fabricated concrete properties built following the Second World War. Further details of their locations and issues with their construction are provided within the report and at Appendix ‘A’.
7. Brecon Court in Barry is a block of 32 flats. There are structural issues with this building along with ‘space’ and access problems. These issues are considered in greater detail in the report and at Appendix ‘B’.
Relevant Issues and Options
8. To ensure that investment is sustainable, a ‘Hard to Treat’ officer working group has been established as a sub group of the Housing Investment Group to ensure this approach is properly implemented.
9. One of the primary elements of the Welsh Housing Quality Standard is energy performance and the standard requires that all stock is improved to a minimal energy performance SAP score of 65 out of 100.
10. Some housing stock is extremely expensive to improve to meet this standard and may be termed Hard to Treat. To date the group has identified 491 hard to treat properties as detailed below.
11. Energy performance of the housing stock is vitally important with fuel poverty estimated to affect 26% of all households (332,000) in Wales; based on Living in Wales Property Survey 2008.
12. The Council has a large amount of non traditional housing stock which require considerable structural and energy improvements to meet the standards. It is envisaged at this time that most of the necessary works will be affordable, though additional funds are being pursued both from Arbed (Welsh Government initiative) and Energy providers` obligation (CESP/ CERT).
13. However the Council has five unimproved Airey properties which require exceptionally costly repairs and a separate progress report is attached at Appendix B which outlines why an options appraisal on these properties is underway.
14. Further work on identifying other ‘hard to treat’ stock is being progressed.
15. The Council owns a considerable amount of older stock and current records indicate that 577 dwellings were constructed before 1945. This stock is often expensive to improve to a good standard with costly repairs such as damp proof course work, re-plastering, underpinning, new floors and front wall re-builds sometimes required.
16. These properties have caused problems in the past when the void responsive repair budget was not sufficient to meet the cost of repairing them to a letting standard. This has caused pressure on the void responsive repair budget and consequently the Housing Business Plan.
17. The Council owns 68 bedsit properties which will be considered by the group. Some of these properties do not meet modern space and lifetime home standards and are often responsible for some of the Council’s worst ‘hard to let properties’ which year on year have a detrimental impact on the Councils void performance and rental income/ Housing Business Plan.
18. The Council is preparing an older persons’ accommodation strategy which is an essential piece of work and it is envisaged that some of the `bedsit` dwellings will be considered as part of this work.
19. Brecon Court in Barry has also been considered by the group with its structural and other problems and a progress report is attached at Appendix A. The report outlines why an options appraisal process is underway.
20. Given the nature of the housing stock and the high cost of non component replacement repairs experienced in voids / WHQS pilot schemes, close monitoring and analysis of the budget will be in place over the first six month of the framework contract. This analysis will be used to help determine the scope of the planned repair works which are affordable.
21. Where high cost dwellings are flagged as estimated to cost more than £20,000, a sustainability test will be undertaken which will be reported to the ‘Hard to Treat’ group to ensure a sustainable approach is adopted.
22. Energy improvement external funding will also be considered by the group such as Arbed, CESP, CERT and Green Deal (due to be launched later this year).
Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)
23. All housing Investment must be within the financial constraints of the Housing Business Plan.
Sustainability and Climate Change Implications
24. Carbon Reduction and energy improvement of the housing stock is a primary element of the Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS). All stock should be improved to a SAP (2005) score of 65 or more to meet the standard.
25. Sustainability testing is an integral element of the Asset Management Strategy and is undertaken prior to major planned investment.
Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)
26. None at this time. Further advice will be sought should disposal / demolition of properties be determined as the most appropriate way forward.
Crime and Disorder Implications
27. Achieving the Welsh Housing Quality Standard could help address Crime and Disorder issues and components will be designed to meet Secure by Design Standards where practical.
Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)
28. WHQS and the Asset Management Strategy will incorporate improvements to equal opportunities.
29. Satisfying WHQS will improve the housing stock therefore contributing to the health, wellbeing and safety of tenants and other residents.
Policy Framework and Budget
30. This report is within the policy framework and budget.
Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)
31. There has been no Ward Member consultation undertaken as issues of housing investment are Vale wide. Relevant local Members will be involved as matters progress.
Housing and Public Protection Scrutiny Committee Meeting 24th February 2009
Minute 828 refers Welsh Housing Quality Standard – Sustainability Testing.
Council Cabinet Meeting 4th November 2009
Housing Asset Disposal 1-3 The Butts, Cowbridge (dlpphs) (scrutiny - housing and public protection) (exempt information - paragraph 14) Minute C667 refers
Rob Lucas – Asset Manager Tel No. 01446 709151
Mike Ingram – Operational Manager Housing
Jane Wade – Operational Manager Property Services
Steven Morris – Head of Building and Vehicle Services
Simon Davies – Project Manager
Miles Punter Director of Visible Services and Housing