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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 08/04/2008
Rowland House, Cranleigh



APPENDIX I
Waverley Borough Council

Executive – 8th April 2008

Title:
ROWLAND HOUSE, CRANLEIGH

[Portfolio Holder for Housing: Cllr Mrs P M Frost]
[Ward Affected: Cranleigh West]

Note pursuant to Section 100B(5) of the Local Government Act 1972

An annexe to this report contains exempt information by virtue of which the public is likely to be excluded during the item to which the report relates, as specified in Paragraph 3 of Part I of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972, viz:-

Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).

Summary and purpose:

This report proposes that the site of Rowland House, Cranleigh be redeveloped for subsidised affordable housing to meet local housing need, in line with the Corporate Plan 2008-11 priority of providing more subsidised affordable housing in the Borough. The main part of the sheltered housing scheme - Rowland House - is now vacant. Whilst plans are being progressed, it is proposed that the main building be retained and in the meantime that a small part of the building adjacent to the Cranleigh Day Centre be leased to Age Concern Waverley for a fixed term of one-year.

Environmental implications:

Any proposed redevelopment should incorporate the sustainability code to the highest possible standard. The proposed retention of the building would allow the redevelopment to recycle or reuse existing building materials as part of the new build scheme.

Social / community implications:

There are considerable social and community opportunities that could arise from the redevelopment of the Rowland House site.

Equality and diversity implications:

At this stage there are none, the proposed redevelopment will incorporate appropriate housing to meet identified needs.


E-government implications:

There are no e-government implications arising from this report.

Resource and legal implications:

The disposal of the site will provide subsidised affordable housing as well as generate a capital receipt for reinvestment in the council housing stock decent homes work. The costs associated with retaining the building until it is disposed of will fall on the Housing Revenue Account.

Introduction and Background

1. The Council owns a sheltered housing scheme at Rowland House, Cranleigh (Location Plan attached at Annexe 2). Some years ago the Council agreed to decommission this sheltered housing unit for a number of reasons:

the building comprised small self-contained flats with small bedroom, living room, kitchenette, and toilet and hand basin. Most of the flats did not have a bath or shower and residents had to walk down public corridors to communal bathrooms;

partly because of the facilities and rising expectations of this client group, it was proving increasingly difficult to let the flats when they became vacant. When the decision was made to decommission Rowland House, approximately 30% of the flats were vacant – some for a few years, and there was little prospect of letting them;

despite the fact that Waverley has an ageing population and one could therefore infer there was a need for sheltered housing, people are living longer, more healthy lives and are deciding to remain in their ‘own home’ rather than move into sheltered housing in their 60s and 70s, as had been the case in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Evidence shows that it is at a much greater age and when people are much frailer, requiring more care and support than is traditionally provided at sheltered housing schemes;

older people thinking about moving from a family home, now aspire to move into a property with two bedrooms, rather than one small bedroom – so that family members can stay and also to provide opportunities for carers to sleep overnight, or for a couple to have separate bedrooms. Rowland House did not offer such accommodation;

it was clear that the supporting people funding for sheltered housing was under pressure and likely to reduce; and

Rowland House was of an age when it potentially required significant refurbishment and upgrade, which would not have been possible to undertake whilst the property was occupied and, furthermore, the Council as a landlord did not have the capital resources to invest in any event.

2. Rowland House was Waverley’s largest sheltered housing scheme with some 55 flats in the main building (53 x 1-bedroom flats; 1 x 3-bedroom Manager’s flat; and 1 x 2-bedroom Deputy Manager’s flat). Another six properties are adjacent to the main building (4 x 1-bedroom bungalows and two flats (1 x 1-bedroom and 1 x 2-bedroom). It has taken some time for tenants to move to alternative accommodation.

3. Also connected to Rowland House is the Cranleigh Day Centre, now known as ‘Rowley’s’, the land on which it is constructed is leased from the Council by Age Concern Waverley.

Current Position

4. The Council’s target date for securing vacant possession of Rowland House was March 2008. In fact, the last residents at Rowland House moved to alternative accommodation in November 2007.

5. Due consideration has been given to the option of either to demolish the building or make it secure pending further redevelopment. The most cost effective option is not to demolish and the comparative costs are detailed in (Exempt) Annexe 1.

6. If the Council retains the building until it is disposed of, the HRA would manage the main building as it stands and this could involve boarding-up the building, along with other security arrangements. Empty property Council Tax would be payable on the dwellings. It would also allow the potential reuse of building materials from the scheme as part of the redevelopment. It is on a value for money and environmental basis the recommended course of action.

7. Whilst the demolition option would involve fewer risks in terms of managing an empty building it would also require active management until disposal.

8. The full process of preparation and procurement of the Rowland House site is expected to take approximately 2 years with a 12-month minimum construction period. The projected timetable set out in Annexe 3.

9. A ‘Risk Assessment’ has been carried out on the consultation and procurement process and is detailed in Annexe 4.

Future of the Rowland House Site

10. There are a number of options available to the Council in respect of the Rowland House site. Rowland House is owned by the Council and held for housing purposes within the Housing Revenue Account. The Council has two roles as a strategic housing authority seeking to promote more subsidised affordable housing, which is a key corporate objective and as a landlord.

11. As a landlord, the Council does not have the resources to contemplate a redevelopment and, indeed, the prospect of achieving a capital receipt to reinvest in the Decent Homes Standard is attractive.

12. In terms of the Corporate Plan the provision of subsidised affordable homes is one of the Council’s key priorities. At the end of February 2008, the Council’s Housing Needs register had 2,892 applicants across Waverey. In respect of Cranleigh:


Interest Cranleigh
Cranleigh Resident
1 bed
529
185
2 bed
209
76
3 bed
98
32
Total
836
293

Cranleigh has a relatively low number of family vacancies that arise from Waverley’s vacancies and continues to have a significant need for family housing. A suggested housing mix of 10% 1 bed homes 60% 2 bed homes and 30% 3 bed homes of which the vast majority would be social rented.

13. The Council has a number of options that could be considered:

a) Open Market Disposal - 70 % Open Market and 30% Affordable
b) Open market Disposal - 50/60 % Open Market and 50/40 % Affordable
c) 100% Affordable General Needs. 14. The option of working with a registered social landlord/affordable housing provider to secure a capital receipt and achieve a subsidised affordable housing scheme meets the Corporate Priority. As this site is a prime site a more extensive selection process for the partner is proposed at Annexe 3.

15. It is proposed, therefore, that officers should advise its partners in the Cranleigh area on the proposed future use of the Rowland House site and the Day Centre.

Associated Matters

16. Whatever the Council decides to do with Rowland House has a knock-on effect on the Cranleigh Day Centre and its operation.

17. Cranleigh Day Centre is physically connected to Rowland House with internal doors leading from one to another, which had been very useful for the residents of Rowland House accessing the day centre in a convenient way. As good neighbours, the Rowland House communal lounge was made available for Cranleigh Day Centre to use from time-to-time; as was the assisted bath.

18. At this stage, it is suggested that the communal lounge, manager’s office and assisted bathroom be retained so that Cranleigh Day Centre can use these facilities until such time as the future of the site has been determined. Early discussion will commence with the Day Centre Management Committee to jointly explore the different options for maintaining the seamless continuity of this service. It is suggested that this part of Rowland House be leased to Age Concern Waverley on a into a fixed term lease for one year (excluded from the 1954 Landlord and Tenant Act). A copy of the area proposed for leasing is attached as Annexe 2A. It is suggested that Age Concern Waverley be charged 5,000 pa for this area.

19. By doing this, the day centre can continue to provide its bathing service until such as new arrangements are in place.

20. Officers have already had initial discussions with Age Concern Waverley about the future of the day centre. The Trustees of Age Concern Waverley have indicated that they wish to see a continuation of a day/community centre facility for older people in Cranleigh and are willing to discuss alternative options for their part of the site.

Resource and Legal Implications

21. The proposed disposal of the Rowland House site for the subsidised affordable housing scheme would generate a capital receipt on disposal for reinvestment in housing in the Borough.

22. The cost of managing the building are deemed to be revenue expenditure and would therefore be a call on the HRA Repairs Fund. On the basis of the comparative cost as detailed in (Exempt) Annexe 1 and the likely programme for the redevelopment the retention option is proposed.

23. The Council would need to enter into a fixed term lease for one year (excluded from the 1954 Landlord and Tenant Act) with Age Concern Waverley in respect of the area outlined in Annexe 2A. The HRA would receive an income of 5,000 for a year.

Conclusion

24. The decommissioning of the Rowland House sheltered scheme presents the Council with an opportunity for the site to continue to be used for meeting the changing housing needs in Cranleigh. As the proposals include retention and an impact on the Day Centre, it is important to ensure that partners are made aware of the Council’s proposals.

25. The proposed disposal of the site to a Registered Social Landlord/affordable housing provider, would also generate a capital receipt that could be used to reinvest in decent homes works to the Council’s housing stock.

Recommendation

It is recommended that:

1. the Council proceeds with a 100% Subsidised Affordable Housing Scheme on the site;

2. the decommissioned building be retained and secured until its replacement by the new redevelopment scheme;

3. Age Concern Waverley be offered a fixed term lease for one year (excluded from the 1954 Landlord and Tenant Act) for the area of Rowland House outlined in Annexe 2A and be charged a rent of 5,000;

4. officers proceed to undertake the selection process as detailed in Annexe 3 and seek to mitigate the risks identified at Annexe 4; and

5. Officers advise its partners and the Cranleigh community about the future proposed use of the Rowland House site.

Background Papers (DoHC)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.

CONTACT OFFICERS:

Name: David January Telephone: 01483 523361
E-mail: david.january@waverley.gov.uk

Name: Steve Thwaites Telephone: 01483 523463
E-mail: steve.thwaites@waverley.gov.uk

Name: David Simmons Telephone: 01483 523374 Comms/exec/2007-08/270

ANNEXE 3

Rowland House site redevelopment - timeline


1. Introduction

A Core group of key officers has met to discuss: -

1. the timescales involved in achieving the objective of redevelopment and
2. Timeline for an open competitive process - Creating the brief

2.1 A) Creating the brief

Indicative timetable for design process and delivery

Formulation of an officer core group of officers to oversee
The process 12-02-08

Report to CMT 12-03-08

Report to Executive 08-04-08

Write and complete brief 08-04-08

Advertise opportunity for Housing associations to
Submit expressions of interest 09-04-08

B) Programme of consultation

In parallel to the brief the Core Group to
C) Long list of applicants

Receipt of expressions of interest 1-06-08

Selection process by Core Group for short
List of four AHP’s 1-07-08

Report to Advisory Panel 1-05-08

D) Short list of applicants

Invitation to AHP’s to submit design proposals 21-07-08

Submission of schemes mid Oct 08

Schemes to be exhibited for limited stakeholder
E) Selection decision

Preparation of report from the Advisory Panel
F) Scheme preparation

Scheme design and consultation

Submission of planning application July 09


G) Implementation

Land transfer Sept 2009

Tender process for construction Sept 09-March10

Site commencement April 10

Completion April 11

ANNEXE 4

Risk assessment

The following risks have been identified as key in the preparation and procurement process. These have been drawn out of a comprehensive Core Group exercise to identify all potential risks. The full list is attached at Annexe 1.

Risk 1
The location of the Day Centre presents a challenge to the demolition and subsequent redevelopment of the site.

Action
A Programme of Consultation needs to be formulated and put in place as part of the Core Group preparation. Early discussion will then occur with the Day Centre Management Board to find a satisfactory and agreed solution both temporary and permanent.

Risk 2
If retention is a preferred option the security of the building needs to be carefully managed until the disposal

Action

The Programme of Consultation must include an effective publicity campaign to explain the reasons for the redevelopment and crucially the timescale involved.
The style and type of security measures for the site must be carefully considered.

Risk 3
The formation of a Separate Advisory Group (i.e. Selection Panel to oversee the tender and competition process) includes it own inherent risk that the members of the panel fundamentally disagree with the objectives of the brief.

Action
Organise and recruit the Advisory panel to agree the brief prior to its adoption and implementation.

Risk 4
The matrix for assessing the short list competitors in the tender process must be clear and unambiguous as its main criteria will be quality issues, which have the potential for being subjective.

Action
Seek advice internally with experienced staff as to how the matrix should be devised.

Risk 5
Portfolio Holder and or the Executive disagrees with the advisory panel selection or the executive rejects the concept.

Action
Include the Portfolio Holder in the Advisory Panel and engage CMT regularly in the progress of the process.

Risk 6
The public and press interest turns negative, with a danger that the process of selection of partners becomes a quasi-planning debate over style.

Action
Be aware to the issues and prepare for difficulty within the Programme of Consultation.

Comms/exec/2007-08/270