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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 01/09/2003
APPENDIX J - OAKBRAES, GODALMING



Summary & Purpose
The Council owns a property at Oakbraes, Frith Hill Road, Godalming comprising seven flats. The property has a series of defects that are costly to rectify. The Council has previously agreed to examine the option of working with a housing association to redevelop the site. This option has proved to be unviable. This report therefore proposes that the Council should dispose of the property on the open market and use the resultant capital receipt for investment in other Council housing stock.

In order to take this course of action, the Council would need to obtain vacant possession as there are two secure tenants in occupation. There is a statutory procedure that the Council has to follow to obtain possession. The Council will have to satisfy the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and a County Court that it is serious in its intent for a redevelopment to be undertaken. The standard of proof required will be a planning permission. It is therefore proposed that architects be appointed to draw up plans for a commercial development of flats. Once plans have been drawn-up another report will be presented to the Executive seeking permission to submit a planning application.

In order to make progress, the Executive is being asked to approve the appointment of architects to draw-up plans for a redevelopment on this site.

Quality of Life Implications
Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe Communities
Local Economy
Natural
Resource Use
Pollution
Prevention and Control
Biodiversity
and Nature
Local
Environment
Social
Inclusion
Safe, Healthy
and Active
Communities
Local
Economy
N/A
N/A
N/A
Positive
Positive
N/A
N/A


APPENDIX J
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL
EXECUTIVE – 1ST SEPTEMBER 2003
_________________________________________________________________________
Title:
OAKBRAES, GODALMING
[Ward Affected: Godalming Charterhouse]
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Note pursuant to Section 100B(5) of the Local Government Act 1972

The (Exempt) 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 9 of Part I of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972, namely:-
_________________________________________________________________________
Summary and purpose

The Council owns a property at Oakbraes, Frith Hill Road, Godalming comprising seven flats. The property has a series of defects that are costly to rectify. The Council has previously agreed to examine the option of working with a housing association to redevelop the site. This option has proved to be unviable. This report therefore proposes that the Council should dispose of the property on the open market and use the resultant capital receipt for investment in other Council housing stock.

In order to take this course of action, the Council would need to obtain vacant possession as there are two secure tenants in occupation. There is a statutory procedure that the Council has to follow to obtain possession. The Council will have to satisfy the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and a County Court that it is serious in its intent for a redevelopment to be undertaken. The standard of proof required will be a planning permission. It is therefore proposed that architects be appointed to draw up plans for a commercial development of flats. Once plans have been drawn-up another report will be presented to the Executive seeking permission to submit a planning application.

In order to make progress, the Executive is being asked to approve the appointment of architects to draw-up plans for a redevelopment on this site.
_________________________________________________________________________
Quality of life implications – social, environmental & economic (sustainable development):

Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe, Healthy and Active Communities
Local Economy
N/A
N/A
N/A
Positive
Positive
N/A
N/A

E-Government implications:

There are no E-Government implications arising from this report.

Resource and legal implications:

The Council could generate a substantial capital receipt if it were to dispose of the Oakbraes building, and would also avoid the need to make a significant capital investment in this property when there are many other demands on finite resources.

At present only two of the flats are let. Both of these have secure tenancies and have indicated that they would rather not move. In order to obtain vacant possession, the Council would need to formally advise the tenants of the Council’s proposals and give 28 days for the receipt of responses. Having considered the responses the Council will then need to determine whether it wishes to proceed with its course of action. If so, an application will need to be made to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to enable the Council to proceed to a County Court to seek possession. The Council will have to offer alternative suitable accommodation before the County Court will make an order in favour of the Council. The standard of proof required to satisfy the ODPM and the County Court that the Council is serious in its intent will be a planning permission.
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Background

1. In 2001, the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the Executive considered a report concerning Oakbraes, Frith Hill Road, Godalming, which is held by the Council’s Housing Revenue Account.

2. Oakbraes is a 19th Century property with a 1960s addition and provides seven x 1- and 2-bedroom flats. The property has a series of structural and repair issues attaching to it which are costly to rectify – costing in the order of over 400,000 (some 57,000 per unit), see Annexe 1. It was concluded that the option of the HRA repairing the property was not a good use of finance given other pressing demands on resources.

3. A location plan of Oakbraes is attached at Annexe 2.

4. In attempting to strike a balance between retaining affordable housing and securing a capital receipt, officers were asked to examine whether, by working in partnership with a housing association, it might be possible to achieve a new affordable housing development on this site.

5. Over the last eighteen months, Council officers have worked with Mount Green Housing Association – which already owns accommodation in this area – to try to promote a development. This has proved impossible because of:

a. the location and nature of the site;
b. the Council’s Planning Policy for this area; and
c. the cost criteria within which housing associations work to demonstrate value-for-money.

6. The site occupied by Oakbraes is a challenge to develop because the house is on the side of a very steep hill. In order to overcome some of the heavy infrastructure costs, a housing association would need to achieve at least 14 units of accommodation to secure Social Housing Grant sufficient to cover the costs of development. Given the location of the property – neighbouring ‘The Red House’, a Lutyens Grade II listed property - and being in an area covered by the Council’s Godalming Hills Planning Policy, the schemes that have been drawn up are too large a scale to satisfy the planning policy for the area.

7. The abolition of Local Authority Social Housing Grant (LASHG) is also a factor that needs to be taken into account. At the time the option of passing Oakbraes to a housing association was being proposed, it was expected that the Council would be able to commit LASHG to fund the new development. As LASHG has now effectively been abolished, this is no longer an option.

8. In light of the above, your officers have reluctantly concluded that an affordable housing scheme is simply not a viable option on this site.

9. With this option put to one side, the other options remain:

i. the existing property be refurbished by the Council;
ii. the Council demolish and rebuild; or
iii. the Council dispose of the site on the open market.

10. Your officers do not consider refurbishment to represent good value for money. The option of the Council demolishing and rebuilding would, again be costly, and there are other pressing areas for investment and there is no provision for expenditure on Oakbraes in the capital programme.

11. In order to dispose of the site on the open market, the Council will need to obtain vacant possession. There is a statutory procedure that the Council has to follow to obtain possession – see Annexe 1. The Council will have to satisfy the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and a County Court that it is serious in its intent for a redevelopment to be undertaken. The standard of proof required will be an outline planning permission. It is therefore proposed that architects be appointed to draw up plans for a commercial development of flats. Once plans have been drawn-up another report will be sent to the Executive seeking permission to submit a planning application.

Conclusion

12. Having examined the option of passing Oakbraes to a housing association for redevelopment, it transpires that this is not financially viable given the circumstances, as explained above. Similarly, other options to do with the retention of the property are costly and there are other priority projects that need funding.

13. Over the last year, a number of residents have moved and there are only two households now occupying the building.

14. It is concluded, therefore, that the best way forward for the Council is to dispose of Oakbraes on the open market. The property has been recently valued and this is detailed in (Exempt) Annexe 3.

15. In order to achieve vacant possession, notice will have to be served on the two remaining tenants advising them of the Council’s intentions. Before doing so, the Council will need to demonstrate that it is serious in its intent and obtain an outline planning permission for a proposed development. The Executive will have to consider responses from the tenants. Having done so, should the Executive then wish to proceed, an application would need to be made to the Deputy Prime Minister, asking permission to go to the County Court to seek possession.

16. In order to progress matters, it is now necessary to appoint architects to draw-up plans for a scheme that would be agreeable to the Council as a Planning Authority and which would maximise a capital receipt for the Council. The cost of drawing up plans and making a planning application can be met from the HRA Capital Programme and once a capital receipt has been received on disposal, the cost of the enabling works can be netted off the capital receipt.

17. As a fair amount of work has already been undertaken in relation to this site by the architects appointed by Mount Green Housing Association, it is considered that, in order to expedite matters, it would be appropriate to waive Contract Procedure Rule A108 and appoint Bernard Grinstead architects to undertake this exercise.

Recommendation

It is recommended that:

1. the proposal to dispose of Oakbraes be approved in principle;

2. the Executive waives Contract Procedure Rule A108 in order that Bernard Grinstead Architects be appointed to draw-up plans for a development on the Oakbraes site which will maximise the capital value of the site; and

3. once plans have been drawn-up, a further report be made to the Executive to progress matters further.
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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: Mr J Swanton Telephone: 01483 523375
E-mail: jswanton@waverley.gov.uk


Comms/exec/2003-04/213