The Assistant Director of Property and Development presented the report in doing so, he informed Members Cabinet approved the preparation for the delivery of up to 500 new Council homes for Thurrock residents over the next 5 to 10 years through the Housing Revenue Account (HRA). Cabinet also agreed to refer decision to the Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee for its consideration and advice on ensuring the successful delivery of the new Homes Delivery Programme. He continued to advise the Committee each approach and project would require different governance and approval arrangements whilst following similar project management disciplines.
Members were then informed that the first phase of 200 homes had been proposed and sites would need to be quickly identified and assessed so that the programme could commence in a timely manner.
Councillor Baker questioned as to where the 500 new homes were to be built. The Assistant Director of Property and Development stated there were a variety of methods to be used to identify possible sites, however as yet there was no distinctive list.
The Chair of the Committee queried that there was no distinctive list, when the report stated the Council had undertaken a significant review of its estate through Retain, Release, and Reuse programme. She continued that she welcomed new housing and homes in the Borough; however she felt that the process should include consultations with Ward Councillors, the Portfolio Holder and residents, before the Committee were asked to endorse the program.
During discussions Members commented they felt the programme was ambitious and that if it was an individual developer and not the Council then the sites would not be known to Members until the Planning application stage, where any objections could be heard. It was mentioned that some Members had concerns that if consulting with residents and other Councillors before the initial process had begun, could slow down the overall development.
It was commented that it was important to have Members and residents on the journey of the development, with Officers using the Your Place, Your Voice consultation to assist with looking at recommended sites in more detail. It was further stated that residents would get the opportunity to speak at the planning application state.
The Chair of the Committee enquired if it was possible to consult on the first 200 homes and to report back to the Committee at their October meeting. She further asked if Officers had thought about infrastructure within the development, such as the impact on Schools or Doctors.
The Assistant Director of Property and Development explained the planning process would look at all of the concerns raised by Members. He continued by stating the development was still in the early days and that sites had not yet been selected, even for the first 200 homes.
Following discussions between Members of amending recommendation 1.1, the Corporate Director of Adults, Housing and Health suggested the recommendation read:
That Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee endorse the delivery of a New Homes Delivery Programme, including the consultation detailed at points 5.3 of the report
The Committee agreed this wording.
RESOLVED that Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee:
1. Endorse the delivery of a New Homes Delivery Programme, including the consultation detailed at points 5.3 of the report.
2. Endorse the delivery arrangements in place to ensure the successful delivery of a new Council Homes Programme through the HRA.
3. Update the work programme to receive regular updates on the new Council Homes Programme to assist in its successful delivery.