Agenda and draft minutes

Strategic Housing Board - Wednesday 27 January 2021 2.00 pm

Venue: Virtual Meetings - This meeting will be held virtually. Details of how to access the meeting on YouTube are contained in the meeting page, along with the agenda and papers.. View directions

Note: This meeting may be viewed on YouTube by highlighting and opening the following link: https://youtu.be/RQwjtwszaRk 

Items
No. Item

36.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence received.

37.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest from Members including the terms of any Grant(s) of Dispensation by the Audit Board or the Strategic Director (Internal Services).

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest made.

38.

Confirmation of the minutes of the meeting of the Strategic Housing Board held on 14 October 2020 and Matters Arising pdf icon PDF 195 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting of the Strategic Housing Board held on 14 October 2020 as an accurate record.

Minutes:

Councillor Mote, the Chairman, reported that it had been intended that representatives from the Association of Mortgage Lenders would be invited to attend the meeting to update the Board on the financial products available to home-buyers.  However the Association had declined the invitation to attend. 

 

In view of this it was noted that two representatives of Bellway Homes were present and would report on their work and development in the Borough.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Minutes of the Strategic Housing Board held on 14 October 2020 be confirmed as an accurate record of that meeting.

 

 

39.

Urgent Items

Minutes:

There were no urgent items for the Board to consider..

40.

References from Other Committees

There are no references from other committees.

Minutes:

There were no references to the Board from any other committees.

41.

Bellway Homes - Sales and Marketing in Dartford

Jamie MacArthur, Divisional Planning Manager, Bellway Homes, will attend the meeting to explain local Bellway sales and marketing initiatives designed to inform and encourage property purchases by existing Dartford residents.

Minutes:

The Chairman introduced Mr Jamie McArthur and Ms Caroline Webb from Bellway Homes, currently the largest new housing developer in the Borough.

 

Mr McArthur updated the Board on the two housing developments being undertaken by Bellway Homes in Dartford and on the progress made in each site.  He reported that around 1100 new units were being constructed on the site adjoining Lowfield Street with a further 200 at Ebbsfleet Cross, in Swanscombe.  Of these, the properties in Swanscombe were due to be completed in the forthcoming months and those in Lowfield Street sometime later in 2021/2022.

 

Ms Webb informed the Board of initiatives undertaken by Bellway to market their properties to local residents which included:

 

·         A Sales event at Dartford Football club

·         Local Press Advertising

·         Use of Social Media (Facebook)

·         Website Advertising

·         Physical Advertising on Hoardings

 

She stressed that the need to maximise the information available to prospective purchasers was paramount, as quite often enquirers underestimated the size and quality of properties which were available, and the various aid schemes available to them.

 

As a result of an enquiry from a Board Member, the Board was informed that current “Help to Buy” schemes, which were not developer led, required specific criteria to be met by applicants and there was no specific limit imposed by the Developers on the numbers of properties which could be purchased in this way. It was also noted that it was possible that the Council’s web site could be better used to raise awareness of the various products available to purchasers but that much information was also available from the various advertising media used by Bellway Homes.

 

Finally, the Board enquired at the necessity for ongoing service charges to be made on property sales.  It was noted that these were imposed on leasehold purchases where maintenance of buildings was undertaken, but increasingly were imposed on freehold sales where grounds and roads maintenance was to be financed.

 

Issues often occurred where Management Companies, engaged or established to look after public areas or enforce parking restrictions, failed in their responsibilities, and the Board urged Bellway Homes to ensure that adequate provisions were made in this respect.

 

Councillor Mote, the Chairman, thanked Mr McArthur and Ms Webb for attending the meeting and for the information and help that they had given to Members.

 

 

42.

Dartford Strategic Housing Mosaic - Update pdf icon PDF 222 KB

To consider the latest version of the Dartford Strategic Housing Mosaic.

Minutes:

The Board considered the latest update on the Housing Mosaic, a matrix designed to guide applicants through the initial phases of looking for Housing in the Borough and to signpost the way forward for other people seeking accommodation.

 

The value of the Mosaic as a paper document was recognised but its development as an interactive digital guide was required to maximise its usefulness to applicants, other interested parties and Officers.

 

It was also noted that the draft of the Mosaic, in one form or another, had existed for a considerable period of time and required formal adoption in the near future.

 

RESOLVED:

 

1.    That Members consider the detail of the latest version of the Mosaic, and pass any further amendments to Officers by 5 February 2021,

 

2.    That the finalised document be passed to IT to take initial steps in development for digital use, and;

 

3.    An update on progress be presented to the next Board meeting.

 

 

43.

Homelessness Update pdf icon PDF 134 KB

To consider the Council’s current position with homelessness arrangements.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mr Dosad, the Head of Housing Services, presented a report which updated the Board on the work currently being undertaken in the Borough to aid those “sleeping rough” on the Borough streets.

 

He explained the work undertaken under the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) to protect rough sleepers during the coldest periods in winter, and also the work undertaken by both the Council and partner organisations in an effort to move rough sleepers from the streets regardless of housing need and support their efforts to find work and permanent accommodation. 

 

He also outlined proposed initiatives to address homelessness and rough sleeping in future months.

 

Arising from the report it was noted that

 

·         Current initiatives and the Council’s support of the Combined Dartford Churches homelessness activities could possibly be extended into future years to address homelessness and rough sleeping issues,

 

·         That the schemes could give opportunities to access individuals to enable their individual issues to be addressed; and,

 

·         The schemes could be used to address “rough sleeping” on a year round basis and not be limited to winter months.

 

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the report be noted.

 

 

44.

Update on the development of a new Housing Strategy for Dartford pdf icon PDF 116 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Jackie Pye, the Housing Policy and Development Manager presented a report which updated the Board on the development of a new housing strategy for Dartford. The Board was reminded that it had considered the need for an updated Housing Strategy at the meeting held on 20 October 2020, and had asked that the Head of Housing develop a framework for this for consideration by the Board.

 

Arising from this the Board received a list of contents for the proposed strategy but was informed that in order to align the Strategy with the Council’s Local Plan document (which is to be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in May 2021) and to allow the inclusion of information from the forthcoming 2021 Census it was proposed to defer preparation of the detailed Strategy pending their availability.

 

RESOLVED

 

That the Board

 

1.    Note the presentation of the “Contents” of the proposed new Housing Strategy; and,

 

2.    Agreed that the preparation of a new Housing Strategy be deferred pending publication of the new Dartford Local Plan Document, and availability of information from the 2021 Census

 

 

 

45.

Council New Build Housing Programme Update pdf icon PDF 138 KB

To note the update on the Council’s New Build Housing Programme.

Minutes:

The Board received a report on the progress of the current new build housing programme and was informed that this was funded by use of capital receipts from the sale of Council properties. 

 

It was noted that the Council had already developed three sites in Temple Hill providing 86 new homes and were in the process of building at a further four sites within the Borough which would contribute another 32 units, three of which were designed as wheelchair accessible.

 

Development at three of these sites was due to be completed in 2021 and the fourth in 2022.

 

In addition to these developments the Council had purchased a number of properties on the open market, including one at auction.  Since July 2020 a total of eighteen homes have been acquired in this way with a further four purchases expected to be completed in the near future.

 

As a result of both the developments and purchases it is not expected that Dartford will be required to refund to Government any of the capital receipts retained under the 1 – 4 – 1 scheme.

 

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the report be noted.

 

 

 

46.

Date of Next Meeting and Future Items

The next meeting is scheduled to take place at 2.00pm on 7 April 2021.

Minutes:

It was reported that the next scheduled meeting would be held at 2.00pm on Wednesday 7 April 2021.

 

Having noted that the Association of Mortgage Lenders had been unable to attend the Board it was still considered that it would be helpful to have an informed discussion on the mortgage market and other financial products available in the local housing market.  Accordingly it was proposed that a panel of local public and independent financial advisers be invited to attend the next meeting to facilitate that discussion. 

 

Additionally it was noted that feedback relating to the Housing Mosaic would be available at the meeting.