Agenda and minutes

Housing, Finance and Corporate Services Policy and Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday 13th April, 2016 7.00 pm

Venue: Rooms 5, 6 & 7 - 17th Floor, Westminster City Hall, 64 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6 QP. View directions

Contact: Reuben Segal; Senior Committee and Governance Officer  Tel: 020 7641 3160; email:

No. Item



The Head of Legal and Democratic Services to report any changes to the membership.


1.1       There were no changes to the membership.


Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations by Members and Officers of the existence and nature of any personal or prejudicial interests in matters on this agenda.


2.1       The known standing declarations as tabled at the meeting were as follows:


            Councillor Holloway declared that he is a board member of CityWest Homes.


2.2       Councillor Wilkinson declared in relation to item 6 that she is a landlord of a HMO licence property.


2.3       Councillor Mohindra declared in respect of item 6 that he had signed a contract with Hugh Bullock and Gerald Eve LLP in relation to a property development.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 186 KB

To sign the minutes of the previous meeting as a correct record of proceedings.


3.1       RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held on 9th March 2016 be signed by the Chairman as a correct record of proceedings.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 213 KB

Additional documents:


4.1       RESOLVED: That the responses to actions and recommendations as set out in the tracker be noted.


4.2       ACTIONS: Obtain Members availability for a potential additional committee meeting in the week beginning 4th of July.  (Action for Reuben Segal, Committee & Governance Services)




Update from Cabinet Members pdf icon PDF 250 KB

An update from the Cabinet Members on key areas within their portfolios are attached.

The Cabinet Member for Housing, Regeneration, Business & Economic Development will be in attendance to answer questions from the Committee.


Additional documents:


5.1       The Committee received written updates from the Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate Services and the Cabinet Member for Housing, Regeneration, Business & Economic Development on the key aspects of their portfolios. 


5.2       The Cabinet Member for Housing, Regeneration, Business & Economic Development officers responded to questions on:



            Delivering Housing Renewal: Church Street

5.2.1    The Cabinet Member was asked for details about the redevelopment of Lisson Arches and Orchardson Street.  He explained that Lisson Arches would provide new affordable workspace.  Three show homes were now available for residents to view at Orchardson Street and would provide an indication of the types of homes that will be made available.  He stated that the homes were of a high specification and illustrated what regeneration could achieve.  Officers will shortly be looking at how the completed properties could best be allocated.


            Futures Plan

5.2.2    The Cabinet Member was asked about the type of affordable housing that is intended to be developed as part of the Futures Plan and how this fits with the concept of “community interest”.  The Cabinet Member referred the committee to the revised business case for the regeneration of Cosway Street as a helpful illustration.  He explained that the initial proposals for the street included townhouses. Despite these being supported by local councillors he did not consider that these properties would be affordable for local residents.  Additionally, part of the proposed design would have resulted in some properties being closed off which could have limited the residents living in those properties from engaging in the community. The revised business case is now considering live/work units.  He hoped that young people who are likely to occupy these units would stay in them for a number of years and become part of the local community using its local services including shops and Church Street market.


5.2.3    The Cabinet Member was asked how the City Council could stop speculators from purchasing homes for investment purposes which they either let out or simply leave empty.  He advised that the Council had no powers to stop this occurring in the private sector but could impose conditions on any properties that it built itself.


            Affordable Housing

5.2.4    The Cabinet Member was asked how the composition of affordable housing being delivered in the City relates to the demand for such accommodation.  He was referred to the fact that there is a high demand in the borough for family sized units.  The Cabinet Member advised that the Council produces an annual report which sets out the issues that will influence the allocation of social housing including affordable housing supply and projections for demand from various groups including homeless households.  By way of example he advised that the initial proposals for live/work units in Cosway Street were effectively bedsits.  He had not considered that these were suitable to meet the community’s needs and had asked officers to revise the proposals.  Barbara Brownlee, Director of Housing & Regeneration, advised that in the initial planning submission for West End Green which had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


The Housing and Planning Bill - Affordable Housing Supply and Private Rented Sector pdf icon PDF 380 KB

Report of the Director of Housing and Regeneration, Head of Residential Services and Head of City Policy and Strategy


6.1     The Committee received a report that provided an overview of national policy changes being made through legislation currently before Parliament (and in particular the Housing and Planning Bill which at that time had reached its report stage in the House of Lords) relating to affordable housing supply and regulation of private rented sector.  Increasing home ownership and house building are key themes of current national policy.  The report discussed their potential impact on Westminster and the Council’s lobbying objectives. 


6.2     The report was supplemented by a Powerpoint presentation that highlighted key provisions in the Bill and the position the Council had taken on each.


6.3     The committee was asked to comment on the Council’s response to date and provide guidance on any further lobbying activity and to provide a view on the Council’s response to the recent Starter Homes Technical Consultation.


6.4     The Committee heard from Hugh Bullock, Chairman, Gerald Eve LLP, who provided a perspective on behalf of investors and developers on the proposed policy relating to starter homes.  Mr Bullock informed the committee that he had worked in Westminster for over 30 years acting on behalf of many applicants.  He had been Town Planning Adviser to the Westminster Property Association since the early 1990s.


6.5     Mr Bullock began by outlining the context of developing in Westminster.  He explained that the functions of housing supply in Westminster were exceptionally complex.  Factors that influenced investment within the City included the fact that high existing asset values create a high entry price to development.  Therefore, substantial additional value and return must be generated to justify development.  The latter is affected by widespread constraints created by historic scale and plot size together with broad limitations on substantial additional floorspace on development.  The costs of non-market and other subsidised housing in Central London are exceptionally high which can have an adverse effect on total housing supply.  Most major developments in the City are necessarily subject to the undertaking of financial viability analyses.


6.6     Mr Bullock then highlighted a number of particular issues for the City arising from the Starter Homes Regulations - Technical Consultation published by the Department for Communities and Local Government in March 2016.  These included that as initially drafted there would be a potentially considerable windfall tax-free capital gain, after 8 years of occupation, wholly to the benefit of the first-time buyer.  There were all so concerns over how starter homes are to be valued.  The minimum threshold is set at schemes of 10 units.  However, in practice, the City has found it more appropriate to use floorspace rather than the unit numbers as a threshold in planning policy.  While the target nationally is for 20% of all homes delivered to be starter homes, the consultation paper asserted that, in London boroughs, the affordable housing targets are more commonly closer to 50%.  However, in Westminster, the proportion of affordable housing actually secured has seldom achieved even the City Council’s policy targets of 25% to 35%.  He considered that the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Total Facilities Management - Performance and Contract Report pdf icon PDF 527 KB

Report of Head of Facilities Management (Tri-Borough)


7.1       The Committee received a report that provided an overview of the total facilities management (TFM) service that was implemented in October 2013.  It covered both the outsourced service provider (Amey) performance and information on the in-house FM team (Link) working for the Tri-borough councils including added value and objectives.


7.2       The report provided details of what had gone well and what changes were required to improve service delivery.


7.3       The Committee was asked for views on the perception of the service delivery in order for consideration to be made in regards to taking the service forward.


7.4       The Committee considered the issues set out in the report and submitted questions to Debbie Morris, Head of Facilities Management (Tri-borough).


7.5       Members asked whether a list of the problems identified following the transfer of the contract to the new provider had been recorded to inform any future change in contractor.  Questions were also asked about whether the Council had the option to terminate the contract early.  Ms Morris informed the committee that information regarding the problems identified during the transition of the FM contract would be compiled as there would need to be an exit strategy for the future relet of the contract.  She advised that the contract was performing well so there was no reason to end the contract prematurely.  She highlighted that while this was possible it would involve a significant sum at this stage.


7.6       The Committee asked whether any financial deductions had been imposed by the enforcing of the Payment and Performance Mechanism within the contract.  Members were informed that £370,000 of penalties had been implemented.  The mechanism was a useful tool to achieve improvement in the contractor’s performance.


7.7       Members noted that LINK had identified duplication of facilities management costs at WCC depots and enquired whether building maintenance costs accrued by the Council had been reclaimed.  She confirmed that the information had been passed to Corporate Property to make the necessary lease changes and recover costs accordingly.


7.8       Ms Morris was asked whether the contract took advantage of economies of scale by purchasing wholesale electricity and gas on a Tri-Borough basis.  She advised that this had not occurred as it was not included within the specification of the contract although she stated that there was the ability to do so if desired.


7.9       Ms Morris was asked how feedback on how the contract was operating was gathered from service users.  She explained that this information was obtained through an annual customer survey.  She stated that to date the contract had not focused on the quality of performance due to issues encountered at the transition to the new contract.  There was an intention to focus on this in the future.


7.10    The Committee asked whether contracted staff received as a minimum the London Living Wage and whether staff’s perception of Amey as an employer had improved since the start of the contract.  Ms Morris explained that many of the current staff transferred to Amey under  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.