South Kilburn regeneration programme
This report provides an update to Members of the Scrutiny Committee of the progress of the South Kilburn Regeneration Programme. It sets out the main aims, achievements to date and ambition of the programme.
The Chair invited Pete Firmin, Chair of the Gorefield and Canterbury Tenants and Residents Association to address the committee. He referred to the circulated report and stated that whilst it updated the committee there was no reference to some of the problems that had arisen from the redevelopment of the area. There was a need to critically appraise the project, review the balance between the provision of private and social housing and the implications of the delays to the project. He stated that the experience of contractors working with local people had not been all good. A new health centre was being provided but this was needed for the existing population before it increased from the new housing being provided. Pete Firmin also referred to a lack of consultation on the changes resulting from HS2. He felt that as the regeneration project moved forward there needed to be a new commitment to work with local residents. In response Richard Barrett (Operational Director, Property and Projects) replied that the report before the committee provided a broad outline of activity. He acknowledged that there was now a need to engage local people in the review of the South Kilburn masterplan. Councillor McLennan (Lead Member for Housing and Development) reminded the committee that the remit of the South Kilburn regeneration programme was to provide new housing with every secure tenant being offered housing within the redeveloped scheme. She responded to the suggestion that there was a lack of consultation and assured the committee that there was engagement with the local community and the regeneration scheme was giving hope to people that things would get better.
Questions were asked regarding how many units of social housing were being provided as compared to private housing. Councillor McLennan undertook to provide this figure. It was pointed out that successive schemes within the project appeared to result in the provision of less social housing. Concern was expressed that as budgets got tighter less social housing would be provided. Richard Barrett clarified that the target was to provide 50% social housing within the regeneration scheme overall.
Members enquired about the slippage to the programme and how local residents were informed of this. Richard Barrett stated that he attended a tenants steering group every 2-3 months to keep them up to date. He agreed that the delays were unwelcome and led to longer periods of disruption for local people. However, the scheme still offered local people the best opportunity for moving into better accommodation.
Reference was made to complaints received from residents about the behaviour of some contractors. It was explained that it was the responsibility of Brent Housing Partnership or the housing associations to work with the contractors. It was recognised that the Catalyst scheme had been the worst managed scheme and this had been raised with the developer and lessons learnt from it.
Questions were asked about employment opportunities within the area created by the regeneration programme. In answer to a question about Coventry Close, Richard Barratt explained that this was outside the regeneration area but the opportunity was being taken to try to influence the improvement of the area. The Committee heard how work with the police attempted to design out trouble spots within the new redevelopments. Members were interested in receiving more information on this.
Members were also concerned that the planned expansion of local schools would provide sufficient places for local children. Richard Barrett explained the plans for the expansion of Carlton Vale Infants and Kilburn Park Junior schools. He explained that discussions were ongoing to get agreement to an arrangement that both schools supported but that it was at an early stage.
Members expressed their continuing concern over the need to provide better outcomes for local people and not just provide new housing. At the invitation of the Chair, Councillor Conneely addressed the committee and stated that local people were very concerned about the way they were being decanted and moved back into the area. There was concern that local communities were being split up and the implication of this particularly for older people. She wanted to see the process completed on time and people treated fairly. Richard Barrett replied that every tenant was visited to assess their needs for the property they were moving in to. In partnership with the housing service, decanted flats were being used for temporary accommodation. Members asked for more detail on how this arrangement was working.
The Chair thanked Councillor McLennan and Richard Barrett for their attendance.
Requests for information:
· accurate figures on the number of social housing units existing pre redevelopment and the number post redevelopment compared to the number of private units provided.
· members to be provided with a schedule of rents for the area including a comparison with the pre redevelopment level of rents.
· a population profile for the area showing how the number of people was projected to rise.
· information on employment in the area so that it could be seen if the regeneration of the area was leading to a rising employment rate.
· more information on how the plans for the area attempted to design out potential crime and the involvement of the police in this.
· more information on the use of decanted units to house homeless people, including the number involved, the timeframes involved and the financial considerations.