Agenda and minutes
Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Windmill Street, Gravesend DA12 1AU. View directions
Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Ejaz Aslam and Daniel Killian. Cllr Gary Harding and Mark Osborn attended as their respective substitutes.
The minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on Tuesday, 22 March 2022 were agreed and signed by the Chair.
Declarations of Interest
No declarations of interest were made.
The Service Manager (Housing Operations) presented Members of the Committee with an update against the Performance Management Framework, as introduced within the Council’s Corporate Plan, for Quarter Four 2021-22 (January to March 2022).
The Service Manager (Housing Operations) highlighted the following areas:
· PI 20 – Total number of households in temporary accommodation – There are currently 162 households in temporary accommodation
· PI 21 - 100% of emergency jobs completed on time
· PI 22 - 100% of council properties with valid gas safety certification
Following questions and comments from Members, the Service Manager (Housing Options) highlighted the following:
· In relation to gas compliancy, 5 or 6 years ago the council took the opportunity to redesign the process for No Access, working closely with other teams looking at the intelligence we have on residents which enabled us to pull together a robust No Access process so we have a clear evidence trail to be able to go to Court to gain access
· Following positive responses from customers it was agreed that this praise should be fed back to the operatives in question
· At previous committees the Service Manager (Housing Options) has highlighted an increase in the number of households in temporary accommodation. The increase has a number of reasons including an increase in Domestic Abuse, evictions can now go ahead therefore people losing properties, broken relationships and this has all had an impact on the demand for temporary accommodation and that isn’t peculiar to this area, it is across Kent. We are looking at what we can do in terms of getting more decent temporary accommodation
· During the pandemic there was a lot of outreach work with tenants particularly with residents struggling to pay their rent and helping them with financial plans
· Checks are undertaken by our temporary accommodation officers and private housing to ensure temporary accommodation is habitable, including checking for damp and mould. Any further information on unsuitable properties will be circulated by the Service Manager following the meeting
· PI 18 shows that the average time taken to re-let council housing has decreased in Q4 and this is a very positive step forward
· Final testing of the new housing system is taking place this week and it will hopefully go live next week. An update will be brought to the September committee
· The council is working with landlords to tackle property standards, empty homes and homes in multiple occupation and eight Improvement Notices were served in Q4. The Service Manager agreed to forward a briefing note on the requirements for HMO
The Committee noted the Corporate Performance Report: Quarter Four 2021-2022.
Presentation from Energy & Sustainability team
The Project Surveyor (Energy & Sustainability) gave Members a presentation which introduced the Energy & Sustainability Team and gave an update on the work being carried out by the Team.
At the Housing Services Cabinet Committee in September 2021 the Compliance & Projects Manager gave a demonstration of Portfolio to Members which is a web-based assessment tool to help design, cost and implement strategic carbon reduction programmes for our housing stock.
In mid-2020 the council purchased Parity software to store the housing stock’s energy data which allows us to run scenarios for improvements and provide financial forecasts for future budgetary requirements. Recently a data update was carried out to ensure the information we hold on our housing stock is accurate. This has improved energy performance generally and will further assist us to set achievable improvement targets and measure our progress towards Net Zero.
Current projects include:
· The Local Authority Delivery Scheme Phase 2 – Gravesham has been awarded £297k and the council will contribute an additional £148,500 with the aim of helping those most likely to be in fuel poverty. Key rules for funding are that eligible homes are EPC bands E, F and G although some D rated properties are permitted. Around 130 properties will benefit from a number of energy efficiency measures including loft and cavity insulation, air source heat pumps and Solar PV panels
· Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Wave 1 – Received £823k with the council contributing £800k. 364 Council owned homes will benefit from insulation measures to improve the thermal comfort for tenants and improve the energy performance of the property. There is a deadline to finish the works of March 2023
· Merston Court & Hermitage Road – Ground Source Heat Pumps – 16 Flats, 11 on electric storage heating and 5 on gas central heating. Improvement in EPC ratings from E/D to C/B. Carbon saving of 82% for Hermitage Road and 68% for Merston Court. Installation of smart controls will enable residents to save on heating bills
· Empty property whole house retrofit trial – A property in Luddesdown became empty in March 2022. EPC rating was E using electric night storage heaters as no gas. Solar PV, Air Source Heat Pump, Loft and Cavity wall insulation were installed to improve energy efficiency. Solar hot water diverter was also installed so that any excess energy from the solar panels will power the hot water. £5k contribution from Local Authority Delivery funding scheme. Carbon emissions reduced from 4.5 tCO2 to 0.456 tCO2 and the EPC rating improved from an E to an A
· Delivered two Air Sourced Heat Pumps to a property on solid fuel and to a property on electric storage heating
· Working with the Energy Saving Trust - delivered first cohort of Energy Advice Training to create ‘Energy Champions’ within the Housing Service and created an Energy Saving Advice Leaflet for residents
· Developed a Retrofit Resident Engagement Strategy
· Progressed 28 ECO3 projects consisting of cavity wall and loft insulation. Properties completed to date equate to over £50k ... view the full minutes text for item 41.
The Service Manager (Housing Operations) updated the Committee on tenant engagement activities within Housing Options in relation to Net Carbon Zero and asked for comments on the content of the Resident Engagement Plan and Energy Advice Leaflet prior to the design work commencing.
Decarbonisation of homes is essential if the council is to reach its net zero carbon targets and this cannot be achieved without retrofitting the majority of its existing housing stock. To enable this to happen it is important to have buy-in from the residents.
The Resident Engagement Plan outlines the different stages of the customer journey from pre-works, right the way through to handover and aftercare. A copy will be available on the website and residents will receive a hard copy which the Resident Engagement Officer will talk through with the tenant. There will also be an Energy Advice Leaflet which will educate tenants on a number of matters including ways to reduce energy costs. The leaflet will be available on our website and will be issued to new tenants on sign-up and rolled out to all tenants.
We have also recently commissioned Tpas, the tenant engagement experts, to help increase tenant engagement around Net Zero and building safety. The programme will include behavioural insight workshops for housing staff, data analysis, qualitative research and trialling using the new engagement methods for tenants who are due to have energy efficiency improvements carried out to ensure what we do is going to make a difference to our estates.
Tpas have confirmed that we will be the first housing provider in the country to take this approach to Net Zero and building safety and believe it will be an award winning scheme.
Following questions and comments from Members, the Service Manager (Housing Operations) highlighted the following:
· The Energy Advice Leaflet will be shared with Private Housing and can be disseminated across the borough. We are turning projects into case studies to share
· The heat pump caused a positive stir with private residents asking contractors how it works and how much it costs. We are making positive progress on the social housing side and it is a good opportunity to use this in the rest of the borough
· Communication with Merston Court was second to none and residents were impressed at how they cleaned up after works
The Committee thanked the Service Manager (Housing Options) for the update.
The Compliance & Projects Officer gave a presentation to update the Committee on the substantial compliance, health and safety, energy sustainability and improvement works carried out at Carl Ekman House and works planned for 2022/2023.
Carl Ekman House is the tallest GBC residential building in the borough with 14 floors. The Building Safety Bill introduces new requirements for building owners and landlords to assess and manage building safety risks in high-rise residential buildings. Reasonable measures must be taken to manage the risk of the spread of fire and structural failure.
As well as meeting requirements and safety of tenants much of the work will prolong the life of the building and reduce future maintenance. In addition, delivering energy efficiency measures such as renewable heating and solar PV will contribute to climate change, thus reducing carbon emissions, lowering energy consumption and fuel bills for tenants and the council.
Highlights in making the building safer:
· As a result of the degrading condition of the 60 year old water main, soil vent and rainwater pipework a new booster pump system was installed to ensure water supply is maintained in the event of a major power cut
· Fire sprinkler upgrade – As part of the water mains upgrade it presented us with an opportunity to upgrade to the latest system
· Evacuation Alert Control & Indicating Equipment – Upgraded as part of the upgrade to the sprinkler system. It is operated by the Fire Service via a control panel located on the ground floor.
· Flat Entrance Fire Door Replacement Programme – The new doors have data pin identification which can be read by a mobile device linked to a web based platform which allows us to digitally record installation certification, component parts and maintenance records
· Balcony Safety Guards – To install steel mesh to all three sides of each balcony and eliminate the gaps between the metal railings to provide a safer balcony for residents and mitigate danger from falling items
· Passenger Lifts Replacement – Replaced with new modern gearless versions which can travel at a faster speed, are more energy efficient and have a quieter and smoother operation. They will be easier to maintain, increase reliability and provide a cleaner, more welcoming experience for residents and visitors. Also installed cloud-based remote monitoring equipment. The lift can be viewed live via CCTV and controlled remotely via the web-based portal. Faults can be identified faster
· New motor room equipment – a number of service and maintenance inspections are carried out, gas, electrical safety etc which would take 5-6 days for different inspections. What we are doing in the high-rise schemes is incorporating them in safety inspection days to reduce the inconvenience of residents having to stay home 5-6 times over the year to carry out this work. It has given us a better non-access rate, we now achieve 90% access whereas before it was 70=80%. It provides a more efficient joined-up service and feedback has been very positive from residents
· Currently reviewing options to improve the front entrance ... view the full minutes text for item 43.