(Housing Portfolio Holder) To consider the attached report (C-042-2017/18).
(1) That further consideration be given to reducing the amount of low-demand sheltered housing in the Council’s ownership and developing the resultant vacant land or buildings to provide either general needs housing, temporary homelessness accommodation and/or more appropriate accommodation for older people in order to help meet the housing needs of local people registered on the Housing Register in the future;
(2) That the “Sheltered Housing Standard”, attached at Appendix 1 of the report, be adopted - with an objective of all sheltered housing schemes retained in the long term meeting the Standard over a reasonable period of time;
(3) That a further report be submitted to a future meeting of the Communities Select Committee with:
(a) recommendations about which sheltered housing schemes should be decommissioned over a period of time and their site(s) redeveloped;
(b) an initial proposed approach to decanting the existing residents;
(c) a Communication Strategy for the Project;
(d) initial redevelopment proposals for each of the identified sites;
(e) indicative budget costs; and
(f) an Equalities Analysis;
(4) That the following criteria be used for the assessment of sheltered housing schemes considered most suitable for redevelopment:
(a) the number of bedsits;
(b) the lettability, demand and location of the scheme;
(c) the long term costs of improvements/repairs;
(d) the amount of sheltered housing within the locality;
(e) the number of lettings to local residents compared to applicants on the
Supplementary Waiting List; and
(f) the demand for general needs housing in the locality; and
(5) That a further report from the Select Committee be submitted to the Cabinet with its recommendations, after it had considered the further report in decision (3) above from Officers.
The Chairman of the Communities Select Committee presented the Select Committee’s initial scoping report on the rationalisation of the Council’s sheltered housing assets.
The Chairman reported that, at its meeting held on 16 January 2018, the Select Committee considered an initial scoping report from the Director of Communities on a proposal that consideration should be given to reducing the amount of low-demand sheltered housing in the Council’s ownership and developing the resultant vacant land or buildings. In recent years, there had been a sharp decline in the popularity of sheltered housing, with older people tending to prefer to remain in their own homes for much longer, until they needed to move directly into independent living, residential or nursing accommodation – which had resulted in many vacancies in sheltered housing becoming difficult-to-let. At the same time, the Council had increasing numbers of local people registered on its Housing Register in need of general needs housing.
The Select Committee was therefore proposing that the Council reduced the amount of low-demand sheltered housing, through decanting the existing residents at some sheltered housing schemes to other suitable accommodation and then developing the resultant vacant land or buildings, and that an appropriate number of schemes be identified by Officers for potential redevelopment in the medium to long term, having regard to the criteria proposed in their report. The Select Committee was also proposing the adoption of a “Sheltered Housing Standard” that the remaining sheltered schemes should meet, to provide decent accommodation that was fit for future purposes.
The Chairman stated that the Select Committee intended to report to a further meeting of the Cabinet on: which sheltered housing schemes they felt should be decommissioned and their site(s) redeveloped; an initial proposed approach to decanting the existing residents; a Communication Strategy; any initial redevelopment proposals; and indicative budget costs.
Cllr Breare-Hall (Environment) felt that the proposals from the Select Committee were pragmatic and would support them, but enquired as to what was a reasonable length of time in recommendation 2. The Director of Communities stated that it was difficult to set a definitive period of time, but it was likely to be four-to-five years at least due to the works required for the larger assets. This was an initial scoping report which raised the concepts of rationalisation, and future reports would contain more details.
In response to further questions from the Members present, the Director of Communities acknowledged that any decanting of existing sheltered housing residents was a difficult issue and this had also been recognised in the report. It would need time and careful planning, and this issue had not been looked at in detail yet. The use of the current sites would be included in the future report, but there was a significant need for affordable housing within the District. The Chairman of the Select Committee agreed that the process would take time and it would not be rushed. No one chose to be in sheltered housing but the Council would look ... view the full minutes text for item 108