Archive | June 2014

Council tenants and Leaseholders – experience based on Lambeth Council regeneration

The below has been kindly shared by another organisation, and raises some interesting and relevant points for Council tenants and leaseholders.

THE FOLLOWING IS A RESPONSE BY SU GOMER OF LAMBETH TO QUERIES RAISED BY MYATT’S FIELD NORTH TENANTS AND LEASEHOLDERS ABOUT THE RENTS BEING CHARGED IN THE NEW BUILD AND THE PARTICULAR PROBLEMS OF LEASEHOLDERS.

TENANTS TRANSFERRING TO THE NEW BUILD ARE FACING HIGHER RENTS BECAUSE THE GOVERNMENT SETS THE TARGET RENT LEVEL, WHICH PARTLY DEPENDS ON THE CAPITAL VALUE OF THE FLAT OR HOUSE. THE OLD FLATS ARE PROBABLY VALUED AT AROUND £100,000 WHILE THE NEW BUILDS ARE VALUED AT £250,000 UPWARDS, SO ANYBODY MOVING IN HAS TO PAY A HIGHER RENT.

BY THE TIME AYLESBURY TENANTS ARE EXPECTED TO MOVE INTO THE NEW BUILD PROPERTIES, THE TARGET RENT SET BY THE GOVERNMENT WILL BE HIGHER STILL, WHILE WAGES AND HOUSING BENEFIT ARE LIKELY TO BE LOWER. THIS WILL LEAD TO A SITUATION WHERE AYLESBURY TENA NTS CANNOT AFFORD TO MOVE INTO THE NEW BUILD PROPERTIES.

NOTTING HILL HOUSING TRUST MAY SAY THAT THEY DO NOT WANT THE AYLESBURY TO END UP LIKE THE HEYGATE. BUT UNLESS RENTS ARE HELD DOWN TO AVERAGE SOUTHWARK LEVELS (ITSELF DIFFICULT BECAUSE OF GOVERNMENT POLICY), THAT MAY WELL COME ABOUT.

ALSO, WHAT HAPPENS TO THE FLATS WHEN AYLESBURY TENANTS ARE UNABLE TO AFFORD THE RENT AND SEEK A MOVE TO CHEAPER COUNCIL PROPERTY. ARE THESE FLATS THEN OFFERED TO OTHERS ON THE WAITING LIST AT TARGET RENTS, OR DO THEY GET SWEPT UP INTO THE GENERAL HOUSING STOCK OFFERED FOR SALE BY BRYANT’S ?

AS FOR LEASEHOLDERS, TWO LEASEHOLDERS ON THE AYLESBURY ARE CHALLENGING THE VALUATIONS THEY HAVE BEEN GIVEN BY SOUTHWARK’S VALUERS. THE GROUNDS OF THE CHALLENGE IS THAT SOUTHWARK HAS A CLEAR CONFLICT OF INTEREST IN USING ITS OWN VALUERS AND SHOULD USE INDEPENDENT VALUERS. A DECISION IS EXPECTED SOON.

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LAMBETH’S REPLY TO TENANTS AND LEASEHOLDERS IN THE PFI SCHEME AT MYATT’S FIELD NORTH

i refer to your enquiry  of 13th April, regarding  the issues that you have raised relating to Myatts Field North, in particular the process for rent setting .I understand that you did not receive a response to your enquiry for which I apologise. Cllr Robbins has now handed over to Cllr Bennett who is currently on leave. Please accept the response from myself, copied to Cllr Bennett.

Whilst Residents of Myatts Field are benefitting from refurbished and new homes, I also understand the pressures that this has brought to the community and the Council is doing all that it can to ensure that rents are affordable and increase levels of support for Residents.

The Council must set rents in accordance with Government direction otherwise we could be penalised in a number of ways. The Council through consultation with tenants and mindful of keeping rents as low as possible to support Tenants who are juggling the many calls on their pockets set the lowest rent increase that it could of 4.9% and froze most service charges. As agreed during the consultation before Myatts Field Regeneration started, the Council as opposed to Regenter would set rents and these would be at Target rents as opposed to Affordable rent levels. The focus on maintaining Target rents   was agreed in the Tenancy Strategy, so as to ensure that rents remain affordable for families on low income.

The issue relating to Myatts Field Tenants is that where they have moved to a New Build home rents are set based on the valuation of a new build home which is higher than for existing homes. There is no difference in the valuation for Tenants moving into a newly refurbished home. The differences between new build and other rents are as follows;

1 bed-£10.57, 3 bed maisonette -£14.72, 3 bed house, £39.60, 4 bed house £39.19. The average increase is £14.72 per week. Tenants can exercise a choice of moving to a new build, or to other properties within Lambeth. All are supported in ensuring that all benefits are claimed, even if they have not previously been eligible.  As at end April, there were 49 Notice Seeking Possession, 42 Tenants have arrears over £500.

The Council considered the implications of paying Transitional relief to support Tenants facing rent increases when Government rent fixing was introduced, and again reconsidered for Myatts Field in 2012. It was felt that the focus should be on supporting Tenants who may experience difficulties in paying the rent, debt counselling and benefit support.

I do realise that this is a difficult time for Tenants of Myatts Field and whilst rent data shows that generally arrears are decreasing, ongoing support is offered to all specifically those who are having difficulties in paying the rent. The Council closely monitors actions taken by Regenter.

You refer to historic capital receipts, Cabinet during its meeting of June 2006, agreed the application of the £2.9 million historic capital receipt to the MFN PFI Project for the specific purpose of the preliminary funding for the repurchase of lease/ freeholders whose homes will need to be demolished in order to deliver Decent Homes. This is through the PFI contract implemented through Regenter. In essence the Project Development Agreement that sits alongside the PFI

Contract provides that that any income, including contract penalties, is fed in as a ‘cash flow’ to the contract.
The Cabinet member has requested monthly briefings on the performance of Regenter and will continue to scrutinise the above to ensure that the balance of progressing the Myatts Field Regeneration scheme and supporting Residents whilst doing so is maintained.

Yours sincerely
Su Gomer
Lead Commissioner –Housing

What to do if you have any thoughts about the Consultation.

Email your Roehampton and Putney Heath Councillors;

Peter Carpenter – pcarpenter@wandsworth.gov.uk

Jeremy Ambache – JAmbache@wandsworth.gov.uk

Sue McKinney – SMcKinney@wandsworth.gov.uk

Please do copy us in at roeregeneration@yahoo.com as we’d love to see how this ‘consultation’ progresses and what concerns the residents of the estate. Or email us separately.

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It’s time to hear from some of the locals

We’ve been asked on a couple of occasions what it is we are hoping to achieve with this blog. Well, the answer is twofold.

The first, we are trying to obtain better information not just from the Council, but our Councillors and those organisations that have been providing feedback on the regeneration. Unfortunately, we don’t believe that these people have been representing Roehampton residents with respect to the regeneration, or if they do, they have been misinformed. There is a lot wrong with this regeneration, and this blog has already provided some feedback on this with regards to Danebury Avenue, Highcliffe Drive, Student housing in the town centre and the Roehampton Partnership’s lack of transparency and visibility.

The second, that the Council already has a plan in mind for Roehampton and this activity, such as the Team Roehampton website, around the regeneration is nothing but a ‘farce’. This is a land grab. This area is located next to Richmond park and is a developer’s dream, one can see the stunning views from Allbrook House and one can only imagine how much the new homes will cost with such views. The opening of one, or both, of Danebury Avenue and Highcliffe Drive will allow the new wealthier inhabitants better access. The concentration of the medical centre by the new homes is again for the new inhabitants, and the feature of the new access to Richmond Park is also conveniently placed near the new homes. Let’s not neglect the money to be derived from student housing. This land grab needs to be better explained to residents along with how their concerns are to be met (or not), otherwise this regeneration should not go ahead.

Anyway, it’s time for some feedback from locals.

From ‘A’;

“I agree with you, the so-called consultation process is a farce.  Somewhere in the bowels of the Town Hall, the plans are in readiness and we are asked our opinions again and again until either we tire of it or we get it right!

The building work has already started by the bus stop on Roehampton Lane beside one of the chosen sites, opposite the new flats, where the old Hangars Limb Factory used to be.

 The big building above the library has already had so much money spent on it last year with the scaffolding up for months, it would be criminal to pull it down now.  Besides, those flat/maisonettes are designed for families as they have three bedrooms.

It is most unlikely that families would buy the new homes and flats, on a council estate, so property developers would buy them up and let them out at huge rents to students to share and nobody would take care of the external environment.

 What will happen to the families moved out during construction?  Will enough houses/homes be built to re-house them, and still have enough space to have more homes for others to buy?  Those homes will be like rabbit hutches!  What would happen to the large greens with the trees?  These are a famous feature of Roehampton and should not be lost.

 What would be a good idea is making Roehampton a vibrant learning village.  With the expansion of the university, we could have more learning opportunities for the residents in a Community Hall.  We have not got such a facility at this end of the estate”.  

From Philip Parr;

“Monitoring the council’s activities is useful, but is there not some need to set yourselves up as the recognised interface between it and the residents? The site should become the go-to place for us to know what’s going on. It would save everybody a lot of bother if the council automatically sent you any relevant document (or link to such). That way, anything not voluntarily forwarded, we’d know they are trying to keep quiet about”.

“It can only be a matter of time before Alton becomes part of a controlled (ie. charged for) parking scheme”.

From Joe Cairns;

“I think this “regeneration” is just another Wandsworth Council land grab on the Alton estate and must be stopped”. 

What to do if you have any thoughts about the Consultation.

Email your Roehampton and Putney Heath Councillors;

Peter Carpenter – pcarpenter@wandsworth.gov.uk

Jeremy Ambache – JAmbache@wandsworth.gov.uk

Sue McKinney – SMcKinney@wandsworth.gov.uk

Please do copy us in at roeregeneration@yahoo.com as we’d love to see how this ‘consultation’ progresses and what concerns the residents of the estate. Or email us separately.

 

 

 

Roehampton regeneration – documents that may be of interest

If, like us, you’ve struggling through the mire of emails and websites to try and find out whom, and which is group, is saying what about the regeneration, then hopefully this webpage will assist you. From one resident we’ve had the following feedback “The site should become the go-to place for us to know what’s going on. It would save everybody a lot of bother if the council automatically sent you any relevant document (or link to such). That way, anything not voluntarily forwarded, we’d know they are trying to keep quiet about”.

Going forward we’ll try to update this page with information about the Roehampton Regeneration that is available from the various groups. We can’t guarantee that we will capture all information here, though we shall do what we can.

Roehampton Partnership

Feedback we’ve had a Councillor regarding the prominence of the Roehampton Partnership within the regeneration process was that “The Roehampton Partnership is the key consultative body for the Roehampton Regeneration”. When asked about the lack of information available on this key consultative body the response “You are also right in thinking that information on the Roehampton Partnership on the Wandsworth Council website is rather sparse”. Shame it’s taken a resident from the Alton Estate to highlight this………………….

CLICK THIS SENTENCE TO READ TO ACCESS ROEHAMPTON PARTNERSHIP MINUTES, CONSTITUTION AND MEMBERSHIP LIST.

Roehampton Trust

CLICK THIS SENTENCE TO ACCESS INFORMATION ABOUT THE ROEHAMPTON TRUST

Roehampton Forum

Remaining 2014 meetings:

  • Friday 11 July 10:30 am to 12:30 – this will have “a presentation of the latest stage in the borough council’s production of a Master Plan for the future of the Alton Estate”.Meeting held at the Kairos Centre, Mount Angelos Road, off Danebury Avenue, Roehampton SW15 4JA. (Shame it’s during the day as there’s a few people that would have to take time off work to see this presentation………………….)
  • Thursday 25 September 5:30pm to 8pm
  • Friday 7 November 10.30am to 12.30

Information regarding the Roehampton Forum’s views on the Roehampton Regeneration are as follows;

  • 7th March 2014 – draft Minutes of the Meeting (We’ve asked the Secretary for the final version)
  • 15th May 2014 – we’ve asked the Secretary for the draft Minutes.
  • 29th May 2014 – Special Forum about Roehampton University’s plans – we’ve asked whether there will be Minutes issued.
  • 4th April 2014 – Forum’s letter to the Council regarding the Preferred Options

The Putney Society

This group seems to be the only one which is asking any probing questions about the Roehampton Regeneration. Have a look and see what you think….

The Roehampton Voice

Shame this is not published online, so we’ve taken upon ourselves to put it online starting with April (because that’s when we started to scan them!).

CLICK THIS SENTENCE TO READ ABOUT ROEHAMPTON VOICE CONTENT ON THE REGENERATION AND TEAM ROEHAMPTON’S INPUT.

Labour Party

Let’s see what the Labour Party have had to say about the regeneration. It’s been commented that this regeneration process is a ‘farce’ but what is being done about it?

CLICK THIS SENTENCE TO READ ABOUT LABOUR PARTY CONTENT ON THE REGENERATION.

Conservatives

Let’s see what the Conservatives have had to say about the regeneration. Not a lot, we’ve seen just the one example.

  • May 2014 – just before the elections is the first time the Regeneration is mentioned as a resident concern, with Danebury Avenue being highlighted)

UKIP

What did UKIP say prior during the 2014 Council campaign.

  • May 2014 – ‘against over development of Roehampton.

Local Council Election results

CLICK THIS SENTENCE TO SEE THE RESULTS OF THE 2002, 2006, 2010 AND 2014 LOCAL COUNCIL ELECTIONS

Council

There are various Council documents. They will be added in due course.

What to do if you have any thoughts about the Consultation.

Email your Roehampton and Putney Heath Councillors;

Peter Carpenter – pcarpenter@wandsworth.gov.uk

Jeremy Ambache – JAmbache@wandsworth.gov.uk

Sue McKinney – SMcKinney@wandsworth.gov.uk

Please do copy us in at roeregeneration@yahoo.com as we’d love to see how this ‘consultation’ progresses and what concerns the residents of the estate. Or email us separately. We are going to share some of the feedback we’ve had soon.

Roehampton regeneration and car parking charges?

One topic that keeps popping up is what will happen with regards to car parking spaces under this Alton Area Masterplan. Page 10 of the Preferred Option Consultation highlights that;

“The preferred option involves:

According to the plans, at this stage, there will be another 450 to 500 new homes. Now, we haven’t seen any projected population growth numbers with regards to this, so let’s say 20% (should it be more, 50%?) of the new homes will have cars, that could be 90 to 100 new cars on the estate, if you assume each house will have one car. This does not include any potential car increase through the student housing.

It doesn’t include any potential impacts either through the change of housing mix. By that, if 300 to 350 existing houses are demolished it may be case that the newer, more expensive homes may bring in a higher car usage than the demolished homes.

Feedback to date from various groups and residents has been that more thought needs to be given to this aspect of the regeneration. Examples being;

The Putney Society feedback to the Roehampton Regeneration Team dated 9th April 2014

“The POP (Preferred Option Proposals) appears to ignore the issue of parking provision throughout the scheme’s proposals. This is a serious weakness which undermines the creditability of the proposals”

Roehampton Forum to Wandsworth Town Hall dated 4th April 2014

“Overall the Forum felt that greater consideration should be given to the parking and traffic implications of regeneration”.

Someone with a keen eye showed us an article in The Independent which highlighted an area in Yorkshire which has been going through a housing build and concerns were raised about the introduction of parking charges. The paragraph of relevance is below.

“But in recent months local determination to restore Yorkshire’s ancient northern borders have seen local sentiment grow – fuelled by anger over plans to build up to 2,000 new homes there as well as concerns over the replacement of the town’s historic cobbles and the introduction of new parking charges”.

So, this lack of information about car parking lead us think, what options does the Council have? Perhaps the introduction of charges will deter people from having cars? Also, it would be a source of sustainable income for the Council. A potential win-win for the Council?

What to do if you have any thoughts about the Consultation.

Email your Roehampton and Putney Heath Councillors;

Peter Carpenter – pcarpenter@wandsworth.gov.uk

Jeremy Ambache – JAmbache@wandsworth.gov.uk

Sue McKinney – SMcKinney@wandsworth.gov.uk

Please do copy us in at roeregeneration@yahoo.com as we’d love to see how this ‘consultation’ progresses and what concerns the residents of the estate. Or email us separately. We are going to share some of the feedback we’ve had soon.