Issue - meetings
North East Wales Homes - Update
(a) That progress in establishing and setting up the company and the first six months’ performance be noted; and
(b) That the future development plans of the company be noted.
The Flintshire Strategic Housing & Regeneration Programme Manager introduced the report detailing progress on the establishment of North East Wales (NEW) Homes along with progress to date against the business plan since the company had started trading in April 2014. Members were reminded of the Council’s objectives in creating the housing company - the first in Wales to do so - which had been acknowledged in the award mentioned by the Chairman at the start of the meeting. Information was shared on the setup and role of the Board of Directors and the working arrangement with Council officers, recharged to the company.
To date, 15 new-build properties had been transferred to the company by developers as part of Section 106 obligations, with a further ten expected over the next 12 months. These properties currently managed by the company (2-3 bedroom homes in Penyffordd and Penymynydd) were helping to address local housing need in those areas and provided income streams for re-investment.
Although the take-up on the landlord management offer was below that projected, it was felt that the target number in the business plan may have been too ambitious in the first year, however negotiations were ongoing with other interested private landlords. Proposals were also outlined for an over-55 lease scheme (identified as an area of need), although slower progress was anticipated due to the complexities involved.
Work was being undertaken to develop a robust framework to deliver services in the long-term and there were plans to increase marketing of the company which had so far been limited. As part of the Strategic Housing & Regeneration Programme (SHARP), the number of affordable properties managed by the Council would increase in future years and discussions were taking place on proposed sites, with the successful bidder due to be announced by May 2015. Although progress on NEW Homes had been slower than expected, partly due to some issues outside the Council’s control, it was felt that excellent progress had been made overall and lessons learned which would be taken forward.
Councillor Rosetta Dolphin said that slow progress was positive as it was important to get it right. In response to queries, the Flintshire Strategic Housing & Regeneration Programme Manager advised that the properties managed by the company were exempt from Right to Buy legislation and that no future delays were expected on gifted units as the process previously used was now in place and the Welsh Government aware of the company’s aims. Assurances were given that charges for Council officer time and the type of work undertaken for NEW Homes was closely monitored so that this was not at the expense of the Council. As the company’s portfolio developed, future income streams would enable staff to be directly employed. In response to comments on the over 55 lease scheme, this would take longer to develop due to the complex process involved and to ensure that this was not to the detriment of individuals already on the housing register.
Whilst Councillor Amanda Bragg welcomed the ... view the full minutes text for item 39