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Agenda and draft minutes

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/mGt_hQwx-fQ 

Items
No. Item

47.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

An apology for absence was submitted on behalf of Councillor Maddison, who was feeling unwell. Councillor Oakley-Dow attended the meeting as a substitute Member. The Chairman sent his best wishes to Councillor Maddison and hoped that he felt better soon.

 

Apologies were also submitted on behalf of Peter Dosad, Head of Housing Services, and Sonia Collins, Head of Planning Services.

 

The Chairman welcomed Brian Downton (Downton and Ali Associates), Terry Hyatt and Michelle Deogun (Urban Sticks) and  Melinda Bush (Quartz Financial Services, to the meeting for the panel discussion on mortgage and other financial products available in the local housing economy. 

48.

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 .

49.

Confirmation of the minutes of the meeting of the Strategic Housing Board held on 27 January 2021 and Matters Arising pdf icon PDF 222 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting of the Strategic Housing Board held on 27 January 2021  as an accurate record.

Minutes:

The Strategic Housing Board considered the minutes of the meeting held on 27 January 2021.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes of the meeting of the Strategic Housing Board held on 27 January 2021 be confirmed as an accurate record.

 

 

50.

Urgent Items

Minutes:

There were no urgent items.

51.

References from Other Committees

There are no references from other committees.

Minutes:

There were no references to from other committees.

52.

Mortgage and Other Financial Products available in the Local Housing Economy - Panel Discussion

Minutes:

The Chairman thanked Mr Downton for his help in bringing together a panel of local mortgage advisors to discuss the financial products available on the market. He welcomed the Panel who introduced themselves and outlined their roles and experience as mortgage brokers in the local area, which included experience of shared ownership and help-to-buy products as well as a range of mortgage products.

 

The mortgage advisors explained that they were all passionate about helping local people to get on the property ladder, and along with many other mortgage advisors in Dartford, attempted to offer a friendly and knowledgeable service to their clients. They stressed that many people were unclear over whether they would be able to secure a mortgage, and the amount that they might be able to borrow, and that they provided friendly, free advice to explain the different options and products available. This could involve advice on borrowing and credit history, identifying any issues and how these could be approached, advice on the best ways of saving for a deposit, schemes available from the Government, and identifying other costs that should be taken into account, such as service charges and ground rents. The mortgage advisors envisaged establishing a wider panel of their local colleagues to provide a free advisory service on a no-obligation basis.

 

They explained that many people found it difficult to purchase property on the open market due to the size of the deposit required by many lenders, which could be £40,000 to secure a £300,000 mortgage. One alternative option available was shared ownership, ‘part-buy, part-rent’, where a loan could be secured for a 5% deposit and was more affordable. This was a good way for people on lower incomes to get a foot on the property ladder. Another option was the Government’s Help-to-Buy scheme, although this only applied to new-builds, whereby the purchaser paid a 5% deposit and the Government put-in a further 20% as an equity loan, which was interest free for the first 5 years. The purchaser had the option to buy-out the Government’s share of the property at a future time if they wished to do so. This scheme broadened the options available for first time buyers and could allow them to obtain a better property than they might otherwise be able to afford.  

 

The advisors stressed that they would explore the range of options available with their clients and that their commitment to helping them went much further than simply carrying out an initial assessment. Sometimes it could take many months of working with a client to get them to a point where they could secure a loan and the advisors would continue to provide support and advice in a friendly and accessible manner.   

 

The Leader of the Council said that many local people felt that they were being priced-out due to increasing demand from people coming to Dartford from London and other areas and asked whether the advisors felt that this was happening. He also asked them what their interaction  ...  view the full minutes text for item 52.

53.

Dartford Strategic Housing Mosaic - Update

The Chairman will provide an oral update on progress on the Dartford Strategic Housing Mosaic.

Minutes:

The Chairman explained that the Strategic Housing Mosaic had been 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. It initially took the form of a matrix that would allow people to drill down using their own needs and circumstances to direct them to the information and services required. Further work had been carried out to develop this on the Council’s web site with the aspiration that this would provide an intuitive IT tool for people seeking to access the Council’s housing services and sign-post other services available. The Chairman provided an overview of the design and content of the pages on the Council’s web site and explained, that if the Board was happy with the approach, further work would be undertaken to refine the Mosiac and to provide links to other organisations.

 

The Leader of the Council felt that the algorithm was right but that the original intention had been for the mosaic to be more pictorial to make it easier and clearer for people to access. He suggested that it might be appropriate to introduce the mosaic and to develop it towards this aspiration if it gained traction with the public. The Chairman agreed with this direction of travel and said that the next step was to establish how best to communicate its existence. He noted that the Housing Department had a number of communication initiatives that could be used. He suggested that the mosaic could be made available to members of the Board for a month to give them the opportunity to interrogate this first iteration. This could then be made available to the public and further thought given as to how best to develop it based on experience. He also wanted to establish how the mosaic could sign-post the availability of independent financial advice services, as discussed earlier in the meeting. It was also agreed that a short booklet should be developed to publicise the housing services available which could supplement the mosaic. This should contain flow charts that were easy to understand and follow and could be given to partners such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and similar organisations for distribution. The Chairman undertook to draft and circulate a booklet to the Board before its next meeting.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

That work on the Dartford Strategic Mosaic should be progressed as discussed.

54.

Private Sector Housing Stock Condition Survey pdf icon PDF 124 KB

To consider the main findings of a private sector stock condition survey that was commissioned by the Council in order to better understand the dwelling stock and to inform the development of a private sector renewal strategy.

Minutes:

The Housing Policy and Development Manager presented the results of a survey of the housing stock in the Borough carried out by the Building Research Establishment, on behalf of the Council. The survey was commissioned to obtain a better understanding of the dwelling stock and, in particular, the private rented housing stock in the borough. The methodology, modelling and statistical techniques employed provided information on the housing stock which could then be aggregated to provide accurate information based on any geographical area, including wards. The Board’s attention was drawn to the key findings of the survey. The information arising from the survey provided the Council with a resource for querying and collating information relating to the housing stock and could be used to support the development of strategies and to inform housing related decisions that would allow for a targeted intervention to improving housing. It was intended to use this information to inform the development of a new Private Sector Renewal Strategy for Dartford during the coming year.

 

She drew attention to the estimated 2,908 dwellings in the private sector which had category 1 Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) hazards, the most serious rating, and that the highest concentrations of HHRS hazards were found in Newtown, Longfield, New Barn & Southfleet and Swanscombe wards. The average Simple Standard Assessment Procedure rating for all private sector dwellings in Dartford, used to predict energy efficiency and to model potential improvements, was slightly better than the national and regional average. The model also identified that there were 784 Homes in Multiple Occupation (HMO’s) in the Borough of which approximately 141 would come under the mandatory licensing scheme.

 

The Chairman expressed some surprise that Longfield and New Barn had high concentrations of category 1 HHSRS hazards and Members felt that this was probably a result of the age of properties and the age profile of residents in those areas. The findings on concentration of fuel poverty were not unexpected.

 

The Housing Policy and Development Manager confirmed that the findings of the study would be used to develop a new Private Sector Renewal Strategy for Dartford which would be reported to the Cabinet for approval.

 

          RESOLVED:

 

That the Strategic Housing Board notes the findings of the survey conducted by the Building Research Establishment that will be used to inform the development of a new Private Sector Renewal Strategy for Dartford, to be presented to Cabinet in due course.

55.

Date of Next Meeting and Future Items

The next meeting is provisionally scheduled to take place at 2.00pm on 14 July 2021.

Minutes:

It was noted that the Board’s next meeting was provisionally scheduled to take place at 2.00pm on 14 July 2021.

 

The Chairman thanked the Panel of mortgage advisors for attending the meeting.

 

He also recorded his thanks for the advice and support provided by the Strategic Director (External Services), Mrs Sheri Green, who was due to retire in May, which was reiterated by the Leader of the Council who also paid tribute to her enormous contribution to the people of Dartford over many years.

 

The Chairman congratulated Peter Dosad on his promotion to the post of Director of Housing and Public Protection and noted that it was intended that Paul Koster, Housing Maintenance Manager, would be attending future meetings of the Board in his new role of Head of Housing.

 

Finally, the Leader of the Council advised Members that consideration was being given to expanding the participation in the Board to include representatives from key housing partners such as the YMCA as it had always been the intention for the Board to work closely with relevant partners. The Chairman welcomed this move and noted that the YMCA could make a valuable contribution to the Board’s work.