Agenda Item No 9
The Vale of Glamorgan Council
Homes and Safe Communities Scrutiny Committee: 12 September, 2018
Report of the Director of Environment and Housing
Environment and Neighbourhoods Strategy (Housing) - Six Monthly Monitoring Report
Purpose of the Report
- To update the Committee on progress implementing the Environment and Neighbourhoods Strategy (Housing).
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 ensure that the external environment on public housing estates is maintained to a good standard and, to provide Scrutiny Committee Members with the opportunity to make any comments on the Strategy which would include ensuring that any actions identified are addressed.
- 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 the Homes and Safe Communities Committee. This report updates Members on progress against the actions identified.
Resident consultation and priorities
- The Strategy was informed by extensive consultation with tenants; this included a satisfaction survey of all tenants and a specific environmental survey completed as part of the Welsh Housing Quality Standard works.
Monitoring and evaluation
- There has been a significant progress with implementation and all of the actions are either complete or are on target to be completed by the target date. 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 actions that have already missed target or very likely to miss the target.
Relevant Issues and Options
- 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 benefits from significant estate improvement works.
- Following a wide ranging consultation with local tenants and residents, a programme of works was agreed, the contract has been let and contractors are 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 6 months.
- 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.
- 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 Gibbonsdown, a rubbish 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 to 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.
- 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.
- Finally, there are still some changes to be made regarding the use of a smaller sum of revenue money for estate improvements. There are some good examples of this fund being used to make improvements to recycling and rubbish disposal at blocks of flats, however there is scope for further publicity of this funding so tenant groups across the Vale can make applications to fund creative solutions in their area.
Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)
- 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 per annum have been set aside to fund smaller scale estate and environmental improvements identified by local residents and groups.
Sustainability and Climate Change Implications
- 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)
- There are no direct legal implications arising from this report.
Crime and Disorder Implications
- 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)
- Environmental improvements will take into account the needs of tenants from a variety of backgrounds as well as people with protected characteristics.
- 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'.
- 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
- This report is within the policy framework and budget.
Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)
- This report will affect all council tenants and therefore no individual ward member consultation has been undertaken.
Nick Jones - Housing & Strategic Projects Team Leader.
Mike Ingram, Head of Housing
Andrew Treweek, Operational Manager, Building Services.
Operational Manager Finance
Miles Punter, Director of Environment and Housing.