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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 03/10/2006
MEETING THE DECENT HOMES STANDARD - OCKFORD RIDGE, GODALMING



Summary & Purpose
This report identifies particular challenges with meeting the Decent Homes Standard at Ockford Ridge, Godalming. There are a number of approaches that could be taken to address the issues. The report suggests that, before any decisions are taken, a consultation exercise with the community should be undertaken to determine the aspirations of local residents. The Housing Special Interest Group considered this matter on 14th September 2006 and was in full support of the approach outlined in the report. The recommendations arising from the Special Interest Group are set out below.

APPENDIX T
Waverley Borough Council

HOUSING SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP – 14TH SEPTEMBER 2006

EXECUTIVE – 3RD OCTOBER 2006

Title:
MEETING THE DECENT HOMES STANDARD - OCKFORD RIDGE, GODALMING
[Ward Affected: Godalming Central and Ockford]

Summary and purpose:

This report identifies particular challenges with meeting the Decent Homes Standard at Ockford Ridge, Godalming. There are a number of approaches that could be taken to address the issues. The report suggests that, before any decisions are taken, a consultation exercise with the community should be undertaken to determine the aspirations of local residents. The Housing Special Interest Group considered this matter on 14th September 2006 and was in full support of the approach outlined in the report. The recommendations arising from the Special Interest Group are set out below.

Environmental implications:

At this stage there are no environmental implications arising.

Social / community implications:

In recent years, the Council, with its LSP Partners, has been working with local residents and groups to build-up community capacity and provide more services/facilities. There have been a number of successful initiatives. However, there is more work to do to support the community.

E-Government implications:

There are none arising from this report.

Resource and legal implications:

There are potentially significant resource and legal implications dependant on the outcome to the community consultation exercise. The costs of embarking on a consultation can be funded from within the HRA consultancy budget.

Context

1. The decision by tenants to remain with the Council as landlord means that the Council is re-appraising the options before it, as it strives to meet the Decent Homes Standard in its own stock, whilst working to address housing needs across the Broough.

2. The Council, as landlord, faces significant financial challenges in both capital and revenue terms. It has agreed to prioritise resources to meet health and safety, statutory and cost effective Decent Homes objectives. It is clear that the Council cannot meet the Decent Homes Standard (DHS) by 2010 within the resources available to it.

Ockford Ridge Estate, Godalming

3. One of the areas where there are particular challenges in meeting the Decent Homes Standard is on Ockford Ridge, Godalming.

4. The Estate, of some 250 homes, was built in the interwar period (1920 – 1938) by Godalming Urban District Council. The homes are therefore some 70-80 years old.

5. 153 homes remain in Council ownership, the remainder having been sold under the Right-to-Buy since 1980, and are now in private ownership.

6. The construction method and age of the properties mean that many of the homes present particular problems when they become vacant and are relatively costly to bring into lettable condition. Some of the issues are:

most kitchens do not meet the DHS and are fairly small
rising damp through the floor slab
lack of wall ties, resulting in flank wall bulging
bathrooms so small that there is not room for a WC
small single-skin WC extensions are damp and cold (likely to be built post-war)
re-pointing needed
roofs need strengthening to hold the weight of new roof tiles
many of the houses have the original Crittal (metal) windows, which have outlived their life expectancy and are now out of alignment and therefore draughty, single-glazed and contribute to condensation. They need replacing.
Rainwater goods have reached the end of their life.
Overall, the properties are in poor condition, which is a reflection of the age and lack of regular investment over many years.

7. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, parts of the estate were subject to whole-house modernisations – with new roofs, kitchens, bathrooms etc. Because of the financial constraints place on the Council in subsequent years, it has not been possible to find sufficient funding to continue such an approach.

Stock Investment Needs

8. The properties are now seventy years old. Of the 153 remaining in the Council’s ownership, the vast majority - 123 - are unmodernised. In many cases these homes have their original kitchen, bathroom and windows

9. To carry out the most basic Decent Homes Standard (DHS) requirements to the homes at Ockford Ridge by 2010 will cost 1,087,700 over the next 5 years. This equates to 8,843 per property, however, it is estimated that the Council has resources amounting to 3,800, per property, to be spent on homes that are currently not decent over the next five years.

10. Looking further ahead, the DHS survey has identified that a total 7,085,000 is needed to maintain Ockford Ridge properties for the next 30 years.

11. In reality this means that all of properties on Ockford Ridge that were not subject to major refurbishment in 1980s/1990s will not meet the DHS by 2010.

12. Although responsive repairs are carried out when required, if the properties are to remain as homes fit for the next 60 years then substantial investment is required.

13. It is worth noting that the DHS investment does not include any investment in estate improvement works – to paths, fences etc. Whilst these are not essential under the DHS criteria, often estate works can have a big impact on the look of an estate and its acceptance by tenants as a pleasant environment in which to live.

Options for the Future

14. Because of the age and condition of Ockford Ridge, this estate has the largest concentration of homes that will fail the DHS.

15. It is considered that because of the size of the homes, the relative generous gardens and the costs associated with bringing homes up to the DHS and a modern-day standard, there would be merit in considering some redevelopment, rather than refurbishment of existing homes.

16. In summary the options are:

17. The redevelopment could simply be through creating development sites by selective demolition and by sale of the land on the open market. This would mean that the Council get nearer to meeting the DHS target by reducing the number of non-Decent Homes in its ownership, and by securing a capital receipt to reinvest in its other housing stock.

18. Alternatively, the Council could work in partnership with an RSL to redevelop parts of Ockford Ridge with a view to retaining the area as affordable housing. If this approach were adopted, consideration would need to be given to how any redevelopment might be financed.

Community Development

19. Over the last few years there has been much work with the community at Ockford Ridge to improve the area, develop more facilities and build capacity among local people. The Council and the County Council have been jointly funding a Community Development Worker since 2004 who has been working with residents to support and build capacity to address a range of specific projects.

20. It is clear, however, that the physical design and condition of the homes and the estate mitigate against these initiatives. The estate can be considered to be in transition with many long established residents and newer residents.

21. A community consultation exercise at Ockford Ridge could be used to raise the issues facing the Council, assess what local people hope and expect, and start to formulate a way forward for the estate.

Conclusion

22. Ockford Ridge presents challenges and opportunities for the Council, its partners and the community.

23. The community development work being undertaken by the community and the Council have addressed some of the issues identified by residents. The underlying issues of a mixed balance and social inclusion also need consideration.

24. The local school, St Marks Centre, Social Club all provide various opportunities for involvement and action.

25. It is therefore proposed that a community engagement exercise be undertaken to map out the stock condition, physical, social and community needs. As part of this activity a range of options would be developed including identifying possible RSL partners who could be invited to draw up proposals as to how they would regenerate the estate to achieve a more sustainable community.

Recommendation

It is recommended that:

1. a community consultation with local residents on Ockford Ridge be carried out to determine how the Council can best help improve the estate and the homes on it; 2. officers carry out further technical studies to study regeneration options to inform the consultation process; and 3. the Housing Special Interest Group be asked to consider the terms of reference and methodology for the consultation process.
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Background Papers (DoH)

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

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

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