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December Steering Group Meeting
December 14, 2020 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
This is a closed meeting for those who have applied to be part of the residents steering group. It is mandatory to have attended the steering group training provided by Source Partnership. The steering group comprises of residents from both the old and new blocks and provides resident input into the next stage of new build and refurbishment of Kings Crescent.
For further information on joining the ‘Resident Steering Group’ please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
|Cllr. Brian Bell (BB) (Chair)
Cllr Clare Potter (CP)
Ron Greenwood (RG)
William Owen (WO)
Carol Squires (CS)
9 resident RSG members
Source Partnership (ITLA)
Source Partnership (ITLA)
|Introductions and apologies
Apologies were received from JWM and NC.
|Notes of previous meeting held 9th November 2020 and any Matters Arising not elsewhere on the agenda
The minutes from the last meeting were agreed as accurate.
|Phase 3 & 4
Programme update -RG
The three bidding contractors were shown round the estate on 8th Dec. Particular thanks to Menekse for allowing them into her flat. It’s likely that there will be another chance for them to visit the boiler room and the underground car park in the new year. All contractors were very positive and one said they had visited the estate 12 times. Therefore LBH are expecting very thorough submissions. LBH hope to arrange visits to tenderer’s schemes In late Jan/early Feb. WO will co-ordinate RSG involvement in the evaluation during February.
The tender period has been extended by 2 weeks in order to give the bidders time to put together a fully compliant bid; the LBH tender portal experienced problems with the amount of information uploaded onto it. Therefore, return date for tenders is now 8/2/21. RG confirmed that he will post the Social Value statement to the portal 15/12.
Unfortunately the planned workshop to demonstrate some of the materials specified was not able to take place because of the latest lockdown in November. A newsletter from LBH will now go out in January giving details again of the phase 3 & 4 proposals. RG apologised for the delay.
Follow up questions
JG asked if there was a process for residents not on the RSG to see the tenders. RG explained that only the sub group of residents who volunteered to evaluate some of the qualitative elements would be able to see the relevant sections of the documents and they would be required to sign confidentiality agreements.
EP – a lot of people may not have seen the design images. Will all residents get the newsletter? RG – yes.
EP also asked if there will be any opportunity for changing materials or colours at this stage. RG explained that the only way changes to these items might now be made would be if the budget did not allow for a particular specification. ES added that the planning consultation would have been the time when residents could have influenced changes.
|Leaseholder recharge proposals and FAQs
RG reported on the leaseholder surgeries that were held on 10th December. 7 appointments were made and very strong views were expressed, particularly from those who wished to sell now. RG stressed the LBH regeneration strategy of trying to achieve parity between existing and new build residents and the Council’s desire to specify high quality materials that have a higher capital cost now but which will have a lower long term maintenance cost. The surgeries confirmed the Council’s repayment options. In response to one leaseholder raising the option of the Council buying their flat back, RG made further enquiries with colleagues. LBH does have a programme of buy backs and a report will go to Cabinet in January to request approval of a budget for this for 2021/22. It ought to be possible to offer this option to some KC leaseholders, subject to valuations. A Council valuer could start to make appointments as early as Jan 2021. The Council will be writing to all leaseholders about this response to the surgeries. This approach would also benefit the Council by releasing properties that could be relet to secure tenants.
BB invited comments and questions but emphasised the need to stick to the overall policy impact and not to bring up personal concerns.
JG asked for clarification of the buy back option. RG replied that it is a borough-wide fund and will be subject to Cabinet approval in January.
JG recorded the general feeling of shock amongst leaseholders at the level of possible recharges and noted that a buy back policy might well help in particular non-resident owners. RG emphasised that it will be a specified pot of funding so will not be a limitless fund.
CS noted that there may well be many other leaseholders in addition to the 7 who came to the surgeries who would benefit from this and who also may have concerns, so it will be important to set a clear priority for applicants. RG acknowledged that prioritising will be a challenge and that LBH will need to establish the rules before formally offering the option. BB added that KC will be in competition with the rest of the borough for this funding.
NJ asked if a resident who is a tenant of an absentee owner would have to leave if the flat was bought back. RG – yes but they could apply for social rent housing, although the resulting vacant flat would be allocated to a family in priority need of accommodation.
EP asked if this was a short term solution. RG replied that it could be a longer term programme of buy backs, subject to funding availability.
ES asked if a new secure tenant would be able to buy the flat. RG to check but probably, yes, subject to standard criteria for length of residency etc. CP pointed out that discounts for RTB are not as generous as they used to be so there is less incentive to exercise RTB.
NJ noted the possible impact this will have on community cohesion as some people are forced to leave. CP noted that numbers involved will be quite small and it could be that non-residents are prioritised.
JG thought this would be positive for non-resident leaseholders faced with a potential £80k bill. BB’s view is that non-resident owners should pay in full and they should not be the priority for any very limited funding for buybacks.
CP made the point that values of properties will increase as a result of the refurbishment works.
JG asked that the whole issue of recharges is approached sensitively as it is an emotive subject for many.
EP noted that most owners are ‘ordinary’ people (not rich landlords) and that the bill and the arrangements were sprung on them. RG reminded the meeting of the sliding scale of charging and that there are two further stages of consultation next year as part of the S20 process.
EP queried whether this was in fact a consultation. RG replied that LBH had made this overall estimate of possible recharge levels in response to requests from the first stage of the S20 process, rather than waiting for stages 2 and 3 when estimates are usually produced for the first time.
EP asked what the ongoing consultation can achieve. For instance, can some of the design proposals be amended to save some money? RG repeated that the regen. will benefit the estate and its residents and add value to properties. There will be a positive impact on the external appearance and the public realm will improve. EP – some dispute this.
RG challenged this assumption and asked if EP thought that values would decrease. EP thought that it was difficult to argue that values would increase by £80k. She re-emphasised the request that conversations around the size of the bill should be dealt with sensitively. RG reminded the meeting of the repayment options and that the LBH Leasehold Team can consider genuine financial hardship on individual cases.
KH asked what the £80k represents as a proportion of the property value and would the recharge be adjusted if property values decreased (so the recharge becomes a higher % of the total value). RG explained that the charges are calculated as an apportionment of the costs applicable for leaseholders to pay over the whole scheme; it’s not linked to existing property values. RG added the point that as values are likely to increase, the proportion represented by the recharge figure will decrease.
CS made the point that there needs to be ongoing discussions. For many leaseholders who regard their flat as their permanent home for life, this is an excellent deal. RG added that the current arrangements are unique to Kings Crescent, not offered to any other LBH estate.
|Unit C update
WO reported that tenders should be received on Friday with evaluation scheduled for January.
BB asked about a target date for completion.
RG suggested that an optimistic date would be end of March, probably April. The main delay will be Building Control approving the ventilation arrangements.
|Phase 1 & 2 remaining items
EP asked how the review of documents with Higgins was going. RG reported that discussions had been very challenging. This is now not Higgins’ top priority to deal with. LBH hope to get more information from further post-occupancy evaluation surveys. More detail will hopefully be available at the next RSG.
AA sought confirmation that residents will have the opportunity to give feedback. RG confirmed that surveys will be co-ordinated in the new year and the survey form will be brought to the next RSG.
RG noted that the issues are now only around the latent defects that affect all the northside blocks.
KH asked if some of the defects are covered by the 10 year NHBC guarantee and if LBH are aware of issues that fall in this category. Could LBH check if the NHBC guarantee is appropriate?
ES raised the issue of entrance doors that have had new fittings that are inappropriate for the design consistency of the rest of the building. E.g. a new handle has been fitted on one block that is out of keeping with the look of the other doors. More substandard additions seem to be appearing as time goes on. RG could only comment that these were approved by the LBH design team.
EP is meeting Bronwen before the January TRA meeting to go over outstanding defects. She is frustrated because nothing seems to get resolved. Is it possible to sign off the things that have been sorted out so that the outstanding items can be properly dealt with?
EP reported that there was a productive meeting 2 weeks ago to discuss community and social initiatives. The TRA has £3k unspent from the LBH Community Development Fund. Some ideas that emerged from the meeting were: support for a local resident film maker who is making a film about BLM – she requested some money to pay extras (who could be local people), Zoom art sessions, a gardening event and art ‘safari’ around the estate. There is also still a budget for the summer party that had to be postponed.
|Update from ITLA
CS gave an update: we have been supporting many leaseholders, some with in depth advice and information. We attended the surgeries and are continuing ongoing discussions with some. Leasehold Services were helpful; it’s worth continuing to engage positively with leaseholders.
We participated in the onsite visits with the tendering contractors.
|Any urgent business
|Date of next meetings
8th February 2021 at 7.00 via Google Meet
The agenda will be posted here when available and the minutes will be posted here after the meeting