(Housing Portfolio Holder) To consider the attached report (C-015-2017/18).
(Housing Portfolio Holder) To consider the attached, revised Equality Impact Assessment alongside the report.
(1) That the Housing Repairs Service and the Housing Assets Team be relocated to the Oakwood Hill Depot, Loughton to co-locate with the existing Fleet Operations and Grounds Maintenance Services at an estimated cost of the works (excluding fees) of £755,000 funded from the Housing Revenue Account (HRA);
(2) That the Capital costs of the relocation be funded from the existing budget allocation of £3.2million for the provision of the Repairs and Maintenance Hub;
(3) That, once assessed by Price Waterhouse Coopers as part of the Stage 2 Accommodation Review, the fit-out costs of the open plan area, based on an agile working environment, be also funded from the existing capital budget provision;
(4) That the remaining existing capital budget provision be deleted from the Capital Programme to realise a capital saving;
(5) That a separate report be considered by the Housing Portfolio Holder on the appointment of a multi-discipline Consultancy Service to oversee the detailed design, procurement process and contract management, with any fees being funded from the existing capital provision;
(6) That the Council’s Country Care Service and the Nursery Service no longer be relocated to the Oakwood Hill Depot as previously planned and that an alternative venue be sought elsewhere in the District for these services;
(7) That a planning application be submitted for the required off-site parking for staff and visitors at the Oakwood Hill Depot during working hours;
(8) That the off-site parking be made available to residents of the Oakwood Hill Estate and visitors to the Roding Valley Nature Reserve free of charge outside office hours; and
(9) That a report be submitted to a future meeting of the Cabinet by the Director of Neighbourhoods on the most appropriate future use for the Council’s land at Blenheim Way in North Weald.
In the absence of the Housing Portfolio Holder, who had given her apologies for the meeting, the Leader of Council presented a report on the relocation of the Housing Repairs Service and Housing Assets Team to the Oakwood Hill Depot.
The Leader reminded the Cabinet that it had previously agreed to relocate the Housing Repairs Service and the Housing Assets Team to a new purpose-build hub at Blenheim Way in North Weald, at an estimated cost of around £3.2million. However, it was subsequently identified that, subject to some alterations to the building along with the provision of off-site staff parking, the Oakwood Hill Depot could be used to accommodate the Housing Repairs Service and the Housing Assets Team, co-located with the Grounds Maintenance and Fleet Operations Services. The costs of achieving the co-location had been estimated at £755,000 inclusive of a contingency sum, but excluding fees and office fit-out costs for agile working.
The Leader stated that it was originally planned for the Council’s CountryCare and Nursery Teams to relocate to the depot at Oakwood Hill; however, this would not be possible if the Housing Repairs Service and Housing Assets team relocated to the Depot. An alternative option had been identified at Townmead Depot and it had previously been agreed to find the cost of this relocation from the capital receipt generated by the sale of Pyrles Lane Nursery.
The Leader reported that it would be necessary to provide an area of off-street parking for staff vehicles and an assessment had been made that a minimum of 75 parking spaces would be required. An suitable area of land had been identified on the Oakwood Hill Housing Estate, adjacent to but not in the Roding Valley Nature Reserve, but planning permission would be required and it was recommended that a planning application be submitted. It would be necessary to introduce a controlled parking zone restricting use of the spaces to Council staff vehicles during normal working hours, but outside of these hours it was proposed to allow residents and visitors to the Nature Reserve to use these spaces without charge.
Cllr Murray was disappointed that there had been no prior consultation with the Residents Association - who were a recognised consultee - Essex Wildlife Trust or ward Members. He felt that there would have been informal discussions with ward Members if this proposal had been in a different part of the District. The Oakwood Hill Estate was densely populated but the Council proposed to remove the only large green in the vicinity. The Roding Valley Nature Reserve was a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), the only one within the District, and the majority of visitors did not access the site from this location. The parking issues were at the top end of the estate, not the bottom end where the Depot was, and therefore neither the estate nor the Nature Reserve required further parking at this location. The Council had not liaised with the local residents on this issue and ... view the full minutes text for item 35