Agenda and draft minutes

Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 22nd June, 2021 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Offices, New Road, Grays, Essex, RM17 6SL (limited seating) and livestreamed via www.thurrock.gov.uk/webcast

Contact: Wendy Le, Senior Democratic Services Officer  Email: Direct.Democracy@thurrock.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 260 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 16 March 2021.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the Housing Overview and Scrutiny meeting held on 16 March 2021 were approved as a correct record.

2.

Urgent Items

To receive additional items that the Chair is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency, in accordance with Section 100B (4) (b) of the Local Government Act 1972.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

3.

Declaration of Interests

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

4.

Damp and Mould in Council Housing Properties pdf icon PDF 754 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report was presented by Susan Murray.

 

The Chair thanked officers for the report. Councillor Redsell said that she did not agree with some points within the report particularly on ventilation as the tower blocks in Blackshots did not have this. She explained that there was water leaking inside and outside of those tower blocks and the Ward Councillors for the Blackshots area had received reports from residents with issues inside those tower blocks. She pointed out that opening windows as suggested for ventilation was not safe as children could climb onto chairs to get to the windows. She stated that the tower blocks in Blackshots needed to be demolished instead of spending money on repairing those. She said that Mears painted over mould inside those flats and the mould would reappear again. She stated that she was not happy with this.

 

Councillor Fletcher asked if there were specific areas in the borough where damp and mould issues were more prominent than others such as the Flowers Estate in South Ockendon. He said that damp and mould issues had become more of an issue over the past few years and that residents felt that they were blamed for this. He noted that Resident Liaison Officers were trained but pointed out that the issue was desk based staff and said that first responders needed to understand the situation that residents were in. He went on to say that there could be an underlying issue to damp and mould which could be due to the Council housing families in small properties. He also sought further details on the Thematic Review from the Housing Ombudsman.

 

Susan Murray answered that there were no specific areas where damp and mould was higher than other areas. She said that it was due to the architype of certain properties. In regards to the Flowers Estate, she said that she did not have the specific damp and mould details for this area but would find out and send the information out. She explained that the damp and mould issues in the Flowers Estate had reduced due to the MVHR installations (Mechanical ventilation and heat recovery units). Tracy John added that the service was aware of the issues of overcrowding which was due to a lack of housing provisions nationally for families. She said that overcrowding would put pressure within a home and increase the likelihood of damp and mould issues. She went on to say that the Thematic Review was a call for evidence from the Housing Ombudsman which the Council had circulated to council housing involved residents and TRA groups and had encouraged them to respond. Ian Wake added that the report did not seek to blame residents for damp and mould issues and highlighted that the main cause was condensation. He said that the Transforming Homes programme aimed to improve buildings and noted that some properties had reached the end of their life expectancy which needed to be replaced. He explained that a deep dive had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Housing Delivery Approach pdf icon PDF 181 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report was presented by Colin Black.

 

Councillor Redsell declared that she was on the Local Development Plan Task Force. She commented that the Claudian Way development in Chadwell St Mary was beautiful and that more developments like this was needed in Thurrock. She queried whether residents living in that development had come from the housing list. She said that more bungalows were needed in Thurrock. She noted that the St Chads development was mentioned in the report and pointed out that the development was no a high quality build and that residents living had complaints about the homes there. Kelly Myers explained that St Chads was built to a certain quality which had a different design quality to the other developments mentioned in the report. She said that the Council had its own design quality standards to adhere to now.

 

The Chair asked whether the St Chads site could be brought back to Thurrock Council where it could be managed by the Council. She pointed out that the development was an ‘eyesore’. Ian Wake explained that the site was currently owned by Thurrock Regeneration Limited (TRL) and that it was possible for the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) to acquire the site depending on whether there were Right to Buy (RTB) receipts. He said that it would be a better option to use the RTB receipts for other schemes instead such as acquiring affordable homes in Thurrock. He briefly discussed the tower blocks in Blackshots.

 

Councillor Fletcher asked how the number of social homes could be increased. He noted that the housing waiting list had now decreased to 7,000 and questioned what had happened to the other 3,000 people and whether this had been due to the abolishment of band five. He commented that infrastructure needed to be considered alongside housing, schools and doctors. Colin Black explained that infrastructure was considered through the planning stages as a key consideration. He said that the allocation of housing was a part of the Local Plan process. Kelly Myers added that the service worked with other departments in the Council to consider education and highways in terms of infrastructure.

 

The Committee commented that officers needed to speak with Ward Councillors on potential housing developments and that there needed to be better conversations held between council departments. They discussed how reasonable affordable housing was.

 

Regarding the Local Plan, the Chair commented that the number of homes identified had been 40,000, then 28,000 and was now 32,000 again. She sought clarification on the number. Colin Black explained that the figure of 32,000 was based on assessments from 2017 that addressed growth. He said that the figure would be revised following on from recent studies and the revised figure would be announced in October or November.

 

The Committee highlighted concerns of an increase in Thurrock’s population following on from the recent national census and was concerned that this would put extra pressure on the economic growth in Thurrock. This highlighted the need for more and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Housing Development Programme Update pdf icon PDF 231 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report was presented by Colin Black.

 

Councillor Fletcher commented that local resident had not been keen with the proposed development for Culver Fields but the consultation process had been managed well. He said that the consultation for Broxburn Drive had one meeting which had been held over Zoom and only two people had joined and had stated their objections against the proposals of Broxburn Drive. He pointed out that the survey questions for Broxburn Drive had been designed to give certain unfair answers only and said that the second consultation needed to be better. He referred to the site options list and said that infrastructure had not been considered and questioned the rationale behind some of the chosen sites for development.

 

The Chair said that the site options list was not fit for purpose and most of the sites were unsuitable. She felt that work needed to be undertaken to check whether the list of sites were right for development. She said that a process was needed on how sites were chosen and that she would prefer to meet with the Portfolio Holder for Housing sooner rather than later. She commented that the Committee needed to see a list of council land. Councillor Redsell commented that a piece of land in Brentwood Road had been considered five years ago but had not heard more on this since then. She said that other boroughs were building portahomes and said Thurrock needed to do this as well.

 

RESOLVED:

 

Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee were asked to:

 

1.1       Note progress on the housing development sites to be taken forward for further detailed work, involving engagement with stakeholders and communities.

 

1.2       Note that a review of the current process and reporting of the Site Options List is to be agreed with the Portfolio Holder for Housing in consultation with the Chair of Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee and that any revised proposals be brought back to a future meeting of this committee

7.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 114 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Democratic Services explained the process of briefing notes which had been implemented following on from the Scrutiny Review last year. Members agreed for briefing notes to be sent in between meetings and were aware that they could request a full report of a briefing note if needed.

 

The Chair asked that the Housing Development Programme Update be deferred until a meeting between herself and the Portfolio Holder of Housing was held. She also asked for a report on HMOs. Tracy John explained that the Private Sector Stock Condition Survey report would include HMOs.

 

The Committee asked for a briefing note on void homes to be circulated.

 

The work programme was updated as follows:

  • Portfolio Holder for Housing to be invited to the meeting on 21 September.
  • Homelessness Report – 21 September.
  • Review of 3 Year Council Housing Properties Inspection – 21 September.
  • Damp and Mould in Council Housing Properties Update – 9 November.
  • Garages Update – 9 November.
  • Rent Setting – 11 January 2022.