Pre-Housing & Communities Committee Forum – open to all tenants and TRA representatives

Note of meeting on Monday 26th February 2024 at Church Street Council Offices, Dumbarton and on zoom.

People present:

Cllr Gurpreet Johal (Housing Convenor) - chaired meeting

John Kerr (Housing Development & Homelessness Manager)

June Todd (WDTRO)

Janette Donlin (Dalmuir MSF TRA + WDTRO),

Jacqui Peacock (Dalmuir MSF TRA + WDTRO)

Mary Paton (Willox Park TA)

Harry McCormack (Tullichewan TRA + WDTRO)

Jane Mack (Snr Housing Development Officer-Tenant Participation)

Jim McCarron ( HRA Business Partner)

Via Zoom:

Frances McGonagle (Littleholm TRA + WDTRO

Ana Deevy (Housing Development Officer-Tenant Participation)

Cllr David McBride

Apologies received from:

Cllr Hazel Sorrell (Vice Housing Convener)

Councillor Johal welcomed everyone to the meeting and advised that Councillor David McBride would be joining via zoom for the item on Willox Park.

ITEM 7A - Police Scotland Update Q3 April - December 2023

Cllr Johal advised that the Police now list all crimes from a single incident, so all figures are up.

No issues raised.

ITEM 8 - More Homes West Dunbartonshire - West Dunbartonshire Council Affordable Housing Supply Delivery Programme

John Kerr gave a summary of the ongoing new build programme. Bonhill gap site now been removed from the programme as it’s not economical – need for smaller and larger properties so are looking at a different configuration for the site so is still an option for a future development.

Paper sets out plans for creating 2 subsidiary organisations. Previously Local Authorities could only access financial support to build new homes for social rent but recent changes to the grant system mean can now get grants for mid-market homes, though at a lower rate. Mid-market can still be affordable new homes that are badly needed so worth investigating. For a mid-market rentals need a subsidiary to be able to issue a specific ownership/tenure agreement so these 2 subsidiary companies would enable the Council to do that. Proposal is to help give more options in addressing current housing shortage.

Key points from discussion

Question was asked if new housing developments always need to have affordable housing and John confirmed that they don’t – some private builders give Local Authorities a set amount but WDC not got an agreement in place. Social housing built does need to meet Design Standard and Housing Associations have a nomination agreement with WD so a percentage get let from the Council’s waiting list.

Jane asked for clarification on the number of properties planned for Queens Quay as table on page 25 says 100 but on page 28 it’s 20. John confirmed that currently projected as 20 but if can successfully acquire an adjacent site will go up to 100 which will make the site more viable.

Question asked about Queens Quay and John confirmed that the whole site has been decontaminated.

ITEM 9 - West Dunbartonshire Buy Back Scheme Policy Review - More Homes West Dunbartonshire

John advised that the Buy Back policy had been reviewed and updated to strengthen governance. Regular reports will be presented to the HACC and also have a dedicated officer working on the scheme. All properties that are bought back have to be empty so that they can be re-let and assist in reducing the housing waiting list. Will prioritise properties that are already energy efficient and so help the Council meet net zero targets.

Key points from discussion

No questions raised.

ITEM 10 – Willox Park Sheltered Housing Complex Options Appraisal

Councillor David McBride joined via zoom for this item.

John advised that this was a good example of working with tenants to get to this stage. Questions had been raised about the buildings fitness for purpose and meeting future housing standards. From surveys of the buildings and discussions with tenants, 4 possible options were consulted on and Option 3 got the most interest – of those who voted, 57% voted for option 3. Option 3 sets out to redevelop the site by replacing existing cottages with new energy efficient homes. Housing staff would also carry out personalised plans for each tenant and they can choose to stay on the site or be rehoused elsewhere if they wished. They will also be entitled to Homeless and disturbance payments. 17 new homes also being built on site of the old Willox care home.

Key points from discussion

Issue was raised that there were 24 remaining tenants but only 17 included in the new build at the care home site. John confirmed that are hopeful that everyone who wants to stay on site will be able to – some people have already expressed interest in moving elsewhere and John confirmed that personalised housing plans will mean that tenants have more choice.

Mary advised that some tenants are concerned about having neighbours above them as are used to being in single storey, but plans are for flats. John advised that building standards are high and that shouldn’t be a problem but in phase 2 of the development, they might be able to address that and see if single storey buildings could be included.

John clarified too that all tenant views were pursued and also sought views of family members if tenant wasn’t able. All tenant feedback been used to create this paper and the proposals included.

Councillor McBride also thanked all tenants for their input and for helping Housing get to this stage. 

ITEM 11 - Housing Revenue Account Budget Control Report to 31 October 2023 (Period 07) 

Jim McCarron outlined that there is a projected adverse revenue shortfall of £3.37m but will be offset by reducing the contribution from revenue to capital and using HRA reserves. Capital plan includes reprofiling of £66.48m and an overspend of £4.65m – the main overspent budgets being capitalised minor works, heating improvements, voids and environmental work.

Key points from discussion

Question was asked about the EESH compliance reduction on page 70 and what impact this will have on tenants. Jim advised that when work can’t get mobilised gets pushed into the next year. He confirmed that the money is not lost but gets pushed on – up to Building services to manage the work.

ITEM 12 General Fund Housing and Communities Financial  Report 2023/24 Period 7 (31 October 2023) 

Paper sets out the budget position of all the service areas that come under the Housing & Communities committee and is a small overspend (£284k).

Key points from discussion

No issues raised.

This Forum is open to all tenants and members of Tenant & Residents Associations

The next Pre- HACC Forum will be on Monday 29 April with the Housing Convenor and officers who have written the committee papers.

The papers are available the week before and electronic copies will be sent to all TRA Secretaries, WDTRO members and via TP Facebook page.

Paper copies will also be made available as are usually a lengthy document to read on a small screen- please contact Tenant Participation if you want a paper copy delivered to you.