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 more houses and the Committee stated that Thurrock’s infrastructure would not be able to cope.
The Chair commented that the service had built 120 houses and should be trading with TRL. She asked for an update in regards to TRL. Colin Black answered that a report on TRL had been through Directors Board and would be heard at General Services Committee on 15 July which would set out the future of TRL.
Referring to paragraph 2.12, the Chair commented that the sites on Dell Road and Argent Street had been sold to private developers. She said that these sites could have been used to build social homes on. Colin Black explained that the land on Argent Street was fairly small and it had been leased out to a metal works company. There had been joint discussions in making the site sustainable but there had been no agreement on the site and was sold off. With Dell Road, it had been concluded that a capital receipt was more beneficial for the land. He said that there had never been an intention to build on the land as it was sold to a housing association back in 2014 but the sale had fallen through.
The Chair commented that there was land ready to be developed but was being sold off. She felt that the Committee needed to have oversight of these pieces of land. Councillor Redsell commented that across the river from Thurrock, there was Gravesend which had developed its river frontage. She felt that Thurrock could achieve a similar development.
Approach to Housing Delivery as set out in the report was agreed.