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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 06/12/2005
Report of the Minutes of the Meeting of the Executive held on 1st March 2005



ANNEXE 1
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL
MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE EXECUTIVE – 1ST MARCH 2005

SUBMITTED TO THE COUNCIL MEETING – 19TH APRIL 2005

(To be read in conjunction with the Agenda for the Meeting)
*Miss G B W Ferguson (Chairman)*Mr P Haveron
*Mrs C E Savage (Vice-Chairman)*Mr C H Mansell
Mr M J D Allan*Mr K T Reed
*Mr S D EdgeMr J E Robini
*Mr B Grainger-Jones*Mr V K Scrivens
* Present
Mr P D Harmer, Mr A Rayner and Mr C C E Slyfield were also present

Mr Harmer spoke on Agenda Items 5, 9, 13 and 14 (Minute Nos. 8, 7, 11 and 12 refer)

1. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Mr V K Scrivens and Mr C H Mansell both declared personal interests as Farnham Town Council members on any relevant item.

2. QUESTIONS

There were no questions received in accordance with Procedure Rule 10.
PART I - RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE COUNCIL

3. Adoption of the Equality Standard for Local Government
[Wards Affected: N/A]

3.1 The Standard is a nationally recognised framework which has been designed to help local authorities to ‘mainstream’ equalities into all aspects of service and employment. It will support the principles behind already adopted equality policies within Waverley in that it aims to ensure fair treatment and equal access to services and employment for local residents and current and prospective employees. It will help identify any, potentially discriminatory, barriers to equality of opportunity and enable actions to be taken to eliminate those barriers.

3.2 There are five levels of achievement in the Standard against which a council can assess its progress. They are: -

Commitment to a comprehensive equality policy; Assessment and consultation; Setting equality objectives and targets; Information systems and monitoring against targets Achieving and reviewing outcomes 3.3 The Standard requires best practice in the following thematic areas:

Leadership and corporate commitment;

Consultation, community development and scrutiny;

Service delivery and customer care; and

Employment and training

3.4 Achieving the Standard will require an effective partnership between the Council and the community that it serves. Specifically, successful implementation will depend upon and involve: -

Councillors to:Provide leadership and support
Ensure resources are available
Engage with the local community
Provide a scrutiny role
Managers, Staff and Trade Unions toWork towards speedy implementation
Organise and participate in training
Challenge existing cultures and traditions
Engage with the community
Community and the voluntary sector toWork with the equality planning process

3.5 Attached, as Annexe 1 to this report, is a summary of the Equality Standard for Local Government as endorsed by the bodies that have participated in its development.

3.6 Achievement of the Standard is now a national Performance Indicator. It replaced the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) standard in 2003/04 as the measure of a council’s progress towards equality of opportunity. Under the CRE standard, Waverley had assessed itself as being at Level 1. Although aspects of the Standard at levels 3 and 4 were in place, the Council could not progress beyond level 1 without an effective approach to consulting the local community.

3.7 The initial assessment against this wider Equality Standard indicates that Level 1 had been achieved – see below. However, the scope for consultation, which has been limited under the CRE standard given the low representation of black and minority ethnic people in the Waverley community, would become more open.

3.8 The Council has in place appropriate equality policy statements: -

Equal Employment Opportunities (since 1992) Equal Opportunity in Service Delivery (since 1997) Race Equality Statement (adopted in July 2003) and (some) practices and procedures for implementing those policies.

3.9 Waverley has, therefore, accepted the need to have these policies in place and has demonstrated its support for the principles behind these policies by making the public commitment, through its Vision, Aims and Objectives, to ensure equal opportunities through every aspect of Council activity.

3.10 However, no formal decisions have yet been taken to direct resources specifically towards achieving that objective.

3.11 The approach, so far, has been to drive the equality agenda from an officer group, The Equality Advisory Group. This Group advises the Chief Officer Group which, in turn, advises the Executive and the Council. Officers who make up the Group take on this activity voluntarily and in addition to their normal duties. They are committed to this work and make progress, but the pace of progress is constrained by the amount of time that the Group members can afford to give to this work. The Group does have a chief officer champion.

3.12 For further information, Waverley officers participate as active members of the Surrey Equality Partnership. This was set up by Surrey County Council and membership is open to public sector bodies within the County.

3.13 The adoption of the Standard would require a shift in the emphasis given to equality work. It is proposed that the Equality Advisory Group should continue to do the preparatory work, but that its terms of reference should be redrafted to reflect the requirements arising out of adopting the Standard.

3.14 In addition, your officers consider it important that there should also be a Member champion. The most obvious and credible way of doing that would be for a member of the Executive to have equality (and diversity) added to their portfolio.

3.15 The Executive accordingly

RECOMMENDS that
4. SHERRYDON, CRANLEIGH – AFFORDABLE HOUSING SCHEME
[Wards Affected: All]

Any terms proposed or to be proposed by or to the authority in the course of negotiations for a contract for the acquisition or disposal of property or the supply of goods or services.]

4.1 Some years ago, the Council agreed to dispose of a parcel of land at Sherrydon, Cranleigh to First Step Housing Company. (See location plan at Annexe 2 to this report).

4.2 In 1998, the Council agreed to dispose of the site at nil value in exchange for nomination rights to the affordable homes to be built. At that time the open market land value was equal to the value calculated for the nomination rights. In short – the Council could effectively ‘give’ the land to First Step Housing Company in exchange for nomination rights, having demonstrated ‘Best Value’ because the Council would be able to nominate households from the Council’s Housing Needs Register to the homes.

4.3 It should be noted that whenever the Council disposes of land to support affordable housing, it has to be valued to ensure that there is a clear understanding of how much public subsidy is being applied to support the affordable housing.

4.4 Unfortunately, there was something of a hiatus and the planning permission for six homes, which had been secured some time earlier, elapsed and it was necessary to make another planning application. In the intervening period, the Local Plan had changed and there was a new national directive to increase density levels. In the event, a planning permission was granted for nine dwellings on the Sherrydon site.

4.5 With the passage of time and the increase in the number of dwellings, the land value has risen significantly since 1998. The Committee authority to dispose of the land to First Step at nil value in exchange for nomination rights is no longer possible for officers to pursue, because the value of the land is now well in excess of the nomination rights. The Council would not be obtaining ‘Best Value’ if the land were disposed of on this basis and the public subsidy could, potentially, go unrecognised. Officers would not be acting in the best fiduciary interests of the Council if this were not drawn to the attention of members.

4.6 An exercise of re-valuing the land was carried out recently and this is detailed in (Exempt) Annexe 3 to this report. After deducting ‘abnormal development costs’ (which relate to the diversion of the road that cuts through the two parcels of land which constitute the Sherrydon site) and once the nomination rights have been deducted, a residual land value remains. It would be reasonable to expect an ordinary purchaser to pay the Council this remaining sum.

4.7 There have been discussions with representatives of First Step who see and understand the dilemma. However, as First Step had been moving forward on the basis of effectively receiving the land at ‘nil value’ it has not budgeted for the additional expense of having to pay an increased land value.

4.8 There are a number of options available to the Council:

4.9 It is hoped that Members would prefer the latter approach, given that First Step has invested considerable time and effort (certainly in recent times) to bring this matter towards a conclusion.

4.10 One source of additional finance, to bridge the gap between the land value and resources available, is the Housing Corporation which can provide Social Housing Grant (as can the Council). The Council needs to maximise its resources, including capital receipts, but it also has a role enabling affordable housing.

4.11 As members will see from the (Exempt) Annexe, the residual land value is 378,000. In an effort to help resolve the issue, the Housing Corporation has agreed to make a social housing grant of 192,000 (in 2005/06) to First Step as a contribution towards the residual land value. It is suggested that the Council effectively gives a grant-in-kind by way of the land in the sum of 186,000.

4.12 In practical terms, the residual land value is 378,000. This would be paid for by First Step who would give the Council a cash sum of 192,000 and the Council would be providing a grant-in kind of 186,000. In effect, the Council would be deciding to forgo a potential capital receipt of 186,000.

4.13 Of course, the Council should recognise that it could achieve a much greater land value by simply disposing of this site on the open market. However, it has a number of objectives to achieve – both optimising income and helping to meet housing need locally, which is a Council priority.

4.14 Under the Local Government Act 2003, capital receipts arising from the sale of non-Right-to-Buy Housing Revenue Account assets are to be pooled and 50% passed to central government. However, where the Council makes a specific resolution to apply the receipt for affordable housing or regeneration schemes, the Council can then retain the receipt for that purpose.

4.15 The Executive

RECOMMENDS that

EX5. the Sherrydon, Cranleigh site be disposed of to First Step through a combination of:- o nomination rights (100% in the first instance and 75% thereafter); o the Council making a gift-in-kind of 186,000 by way of land value; o the receipt of a sum of 192,000; o the three elements constituting the land value after deductions for abnormal site conditions; and
5. 1 & 2 QUEENSMEAD, CHIDDINGFOLD
[Ward Affected: Chiddingfold and Dunsfold]

5.1 1 & 2 Queensmead, Chiddingfold, are a pair of currently vacant semi-detached bungalows built around 1950. A location plan is attached at Annexe 4 to this report. They are of traditional construction with cavity walls and pitched tiled roofing. They are two bedroom bungalows, but the second bedroom is very small indeed and the reception room is also small.

5.2 As part of the usual ‘voids process’ they were both surveyed to determine what works need to be carried out to bring them up to a lettable standard and meet the Decent Homes Standard.

5.3 The survey has revealed a number of serious faults as follows:- Severe cracking to internal walls;

Leaking foul drainage to rear and flank walls, which has weakened the subsoil beneath the foundations and attracted roots from adjacent oak trees;

Cracking to external walls caused by a combination of suspect underground drainage and tree root activity, creating desiccation and shrinkage of clay subsoil;

Poor internal wall lintel construction;

Differential vertical cracking to party wall, either side of chimneybreasts; and

Significant subsidence towards the house, along the flank footpath.

5.4 There are two options available to the Housing Revenue Account viz:-

Refurbishment and modernisation

Demolition and re-building

Option 1 – Refurbishment and modernisation

5.5 The cost of bringing these properties back into a lettable standard and meet the Decent Homes Standard is in the order of 115,000. This is a considerable sum for two dwellings, but reflects the level of work needed to these homes because of the defects described at paragraph 2 above.

Option 2 – Demolition and Re-building

5.6 The cost of rebuilding the two properties to a lettable and Decent Homes Standard is estimated to be in the region of 139,000. This sum is based on known building costs of similar properties built elsewhere in the borough.

5.7 The advantage with this route is that any new build would result in dwellings that have rooms that are a much better size and configuration than the existing dwellings.

5.8 Were members to agree this route, a decision could be made in due course as to which way to provide the new homes would be most beneficial to the Council.

5.9 It is considered that the demolition and redevelopment route offers a better value long term solution and the Executive accordingly

RECOMMENDS that

EX7. approval be given for the demolition of a pair of semi-detached bungalows on the site identified as 1 and 2 Queensmead, Chiddingfold.

The Executive agreed, in addition, that

6. DELEGATION OF AUTHORITY TO MAKE PLANNING APPLICATIONS
[Wards Affected: All]

6.1 At present, before the Housing Department can make any planning applications, the Director of Housing is required to formally seek authority to do so from the Executive. This includes minor works relating to Disabled Adaptations and car parking. It is proposed primarily in order to expedite matters, that the Director of Housing be given delegated authority to make planning applications relating to disabled adaptations and car parking. It is also proposed that before any planning application is made, the local members be informally advised as a matter of courtesy. Proposals for planning applications – other than disabled adaptations and car parking - will be brought before the Executive in the usual way.

6.2 Within the HRA Major Repairs Allowance Capital budget for 2004/05 money has been identified to carry out adaptations to properties where an occupant is considered disabled.

6.3 The Surrey County Council Occupational Therapist advises the Council on what disabled adaptations are necessary and appropriate for the individual with the disability, within the context of the family and home environment. The Council is following their recommendations in this case.

6.4 In addition, Housing Officers consider under the Council’s Policy for Disabled Adaptations to Council (Managed) properties, whether it is reasonable or practicable to carry out these recommendations. The officers consider the size of the property in relation to the medium and long term family needs, the ‘reletability’ of the property with such adaptations, whether the tenant in the property is in rent arrears or they or their family are in breach of any other tenancy conditions such as anti-social behaviour.

6.5 In a number of cases, requests for major adaptations are identified where substantial alterations and / or extension are required in order to provide the facilities necessary for the disabled occupant and their family. The extent of the work frequently requires planning permission.

6.6 The Housing Department has been working in a variety of ways to improve the problems associated with parking on Council estates, for individual tenants and residents with communal parking.

6.7 A number of the estates within the Borough, when originally constructed, had a limited provision for parking of residents and visitors’ vehicles. With the increased use of the motor car, the limited parking has created difficulties on many estates.

6.8 Parking can be a great source of tension and often leads to neighbour disputes and, indeed, some anti-social behaviour. Officers in the Housing Department have been developing a range of ways of working to help reduce these problems.

6.9 In some circumstances the only way to overcome some of the problems is with the provision of additional parking areas or improvements to existing areas. This has been recognised and numerous schemes to improve existing and provide new parking areas have been successfully undertaken. The proposals for any parking improvements are developed by officers in consultation with any tenant representative groups in the area. Most work of this type requires planning permission.

6.10 In order for the Housing Department to make a planning application a first resolution in accordance with Regulation 3 of the Town and Country Planning (General) Regulations 1992 is required. This means that a report must be presented to and agreed by the Executive. This inevitably generates a delay for any project where planning permission is required thus extending the period when either the disabled person is without the facilities we intend to provide or the residents and visitors of the estate continue to experience difficulties.

6.11 The proposal is to delegate to the Director of Housing the authority to make planning applications for any disabled adaptation or parking improvement or provision scheme in accordance with Regulation 3 of the Town and Country Planning (General) Regulations 1992.

6.12 It is intended that local members will be advised, as a matter of courtesy, of any planning application that the Director is intending to make.

6.13 The Executive concurs with this approach and

RECOMMENDS that
MATTERS OF REPORT

Part II – Matters Reported in Detail for the Information of the Council

7. TOWARDS THE SOUTH EAST: REGIONAL HOUSING STRATEGY
[Wards Affected: All]

1. Waverley Borough Council should continue to play an active role in feeding into the development of the Regional Housing Strategy in order to promote its interests and those of local authorities and housing associations in Surrey; 2. the Council responds to the consultation draft of the Regional Housing Strategy and makes the following observations:- c. there is concern that the Regional Housing Strategy does not look forward far enough in terms of future housing need/demand; nor does it project census figures forward far enough, and it appears to assume that the current dynamic within the housing market will remain constant into the future. There is no real "sensitivity analysis" to assess the impact of the variables may affect the housing market into the future; d. the Regional Housing Strategy does not seem to have taken on board the proposals contained within the Barker Report and the implications of "development impact assessments". And yet, the implications of reducing levels of public subsidy in many parts of the South East will have a direct effect on the viability of housing schemes where there is a significant requirement through Section 106 Agreements. It is hoped that the Regional Housing Board and the Government Office of the South East and, indeed, the ODPM itself will provide guidance to help local authorities, developers and the planning inspectorate understand better the implications of how competing demands on developers are to be fairly assessed and determined; e. Waverley warmly welcomes the Eco-homes proposals contained within the Regional Housing Strategy and the creation of a significant shift towards the very good standard; f. in terms of the appropriate weighting for allocations, Waverley considers that Option 9 should be the approach adopted, as it best reflects the balance of challenges facing the South-East as a whole. A more simple formula assessment of need with no differentiation between high and low need authorities would be fairer to all authorities; g. it is Waverley’s view that 60% of new resources be directed towards developing rented accommodation – because so many people simply cannot afford to access shared-ownership opportunities; h. the definition of keyworker needs to be widened to include other workers essential to the local community and economy; j. a portfolio of public sector land be created to support a revolving grant fund; k. it is considered that the description of Guildford-Woking sub-market, as described in the Consultation Paper, should read "include substantial rural settlements in Waverley and Guildford"; and 3. the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee, on 15th March, be invited to add its comments and observations to the Council’s response to the Regional Housing Strategy consultation. PART III – Brief Summaries of Other Matters Dealt With

8. FOUR MONTH ROLLING PROGRAMME
[Wards Affected: N/A]

9. CPA IMPROVEMENT PLAN UPDATE
[Wards Affected: All]

10. MONITORING OFFICER REVIEW
[Wards Affected: N/A]

1. the increase in the powers and duties of the Monitoring Officer and Standards Committee be noted; and

11. CONSULTATION PAPER: DRAFT CIRCULAR FOR GYPSY AND TRAVELLER SITES
[Wards Affected: All]

12. EAST STREET, FARNHAM
[Wards Affected: All Farnham Wards]

1. the site conditions of the Riverside site be noted; and
13. LEASE OF CRICKET SQUARE AND PAVILION – BROADWATER PARK GODALMING
[Ward Affected: Godalming,
Farncombe and Catteshall]

Any terms proposed or to be proposed by or to the authority in the course of negotiations for a contract for the acquisition or disposal of property or the supply of goods or services.]

14. VARIABLE INTEREST MORTGAGES – VARIATION OF MORTGAGE INTEREST RATE
[Wards Affected: N/A]

15. CASH COLLECTION
[Wards Affected: N/A]

16. 2005 PAY CLAIM

17. ACTION TAKEN SINCE LAST MEETING

The Executive noted the action taken by the Chief Executive, after the appropriate Member consultation, since the last meeting.
The meeting commenced at 7.00 p.m. and concluded at 8.51 p.m.
Chairman

Comms/sigs/05-06/073