To receive any questions from members of the public which have been submitted in advance of the meeting in accordance with the cabinet procedure rules.
The following public questions were submitted as follows:
Question from Toby Eckersley to Councillor Mark Williams
The council's "advance payment" duties under S.52 Land Compensation Act 1973 being designed to provide rehousing resources to those facing compulsory purchase, at what stage does the council consider itself bound to accept an advance payment request, and would it ever delay an advance payment until after taking possession?
Section 52 of the Land Compensation Act 1973 sets out arrangements for the advance payment of compensation to a homeowner where the council has taken possession of a property following a compulsory purchase order (CPO). The purpose of this is to ensure that dispossessed homeowners are able to receive the majority of the compensation to which they are entitled on or soon after the Council taking possession of their property, even though the final amount of compensation payable remains unresolved. This is required because it can take some time after possession of the property has been taken for the final level of compensation to be resolved, in some cases requiring determination by the courts.
Upon receiving a valid request for advance payment, the council is required to make a payment of 90% of its assessed value of the property on the later of the date it takes possession of the property or 3 months from the request. This is termed an “advance payment” as it is made in advance of resolving the final amount of compensation to which the homeowner is entitled; it is not a payment made in advance of the council taking possession of the property, and the council is not required to release any payment in until it has taken legal possession of the property.
The council works very hard to negotiate with homeowners to purchase their properties by agreement and to avoid having to exercise its compulsory purchase powers, and with success: Taking possession without the owner’s agreement affects only a very small minority of owners, less than 2% of properties on the Heygate Estate and less than 7% on the Aylesbury Estate, for example. When this is unavoidable and to mitigate the financial impact on those affected, advance payments are typically made within days of valid claims being received and well before the three month statutory limit.
Mr Eckersley asked a supplemental question relating to advance payments. It was agreed that Councillor Mark Williams and council officers would meet with Mr Eckersley to discuss the matter.
Question from Beverley Robinson to Councillor Mark Williams
Noting that "rehousing assistance" for leaseholders facing compulsory loss of home often requires compulsory re-direction of pre-existing savings, what steps are being taken to improve policies and procedures to mitigate the stress and unfairness perceived by leaseholders in regeneration areas, with particular regard to the financial assessment procedures?
Through its rehousing assistance scheme, the council offers a range of rehousing options for leaseholders affected by estate regeneration programmes who are unable to purchase a new property locally on the open market. This process can result in the offer of a new tenancy with the council or with a housing association, or in the option to purchase a new leasehold property through shared ownership or shared equity schemes with the council or with a housing association, depending on the individual leaseholder’s personal and financial circumstances. For the regeneration of the Aylesbury Estate, to assist leaseholders, this process is set out within a re-housing guide which is available on the Council’s website:
The council’s current policy for council shared equity purchases, in which leaseholders do not pay any rent on the proportion of the property that they do not own, is that the purchaser is required to purchase the maximum amount of equity in the new property that they can afford. This currently means that the purchaser will be required to invest any additional savings above £16,000 into purchasing equity within the property. The reason for this is to ensure that the council shared equity scheme remains prioritised towards those who do not have sufficient capital to be able to afford to buy a property in the local area on the open market. The level of retained savings within the council’s rehousing assistance programme was set when the policy was approved in 2010 but, in order to ensure that the council’s rehousing assistance effectively assists existing leaseholders to move without adverse impact on individuals’ personal and financial circumstances, this policy will now be reviewed with a view to a final decision to be made this autumn.
The council also seeks to put in place additional arrangements with each of its development partners on major regeneration schemes to provide further rehousing options for leaseholders. For example, in the case of the regeneration of the Aylesbury Estate, under its development partnership with the council, Notting Hill is offering a number of new-build shared equity properties to existing resident Aylesbury homeowners on terms tailored to meet the needs and the financial circumstances of individual leaseholders.
Ms. Robinson asked a supplemental question relating to the review and evidence from leaseholders. Again it was agreed that Councillor Mark Williams would meet with Ms. Robinson and council officers to discuss the matter.
Question from Martin Koder to Councillor Victoria Mills
Please explain in detail why the March decision to expand Ivydale (4FE from 2016) was partially reversed within 2 months, assuming due diligence on construction schedules supported the original decision? No criticism, however transparency needed - a) what’s changed March-May b) have all options been explored e.g. January 2017 FE?
The decision has not been reversed – partially or otherwise. The school will be expanding in two phases - from 2FE to 3FE in September 2016, and from 3FE to 4FE in September 2017. The expansion to 4FE is contingent on a second site for the school to expand onto, and a number of factors beyond the school’s and council’s control have meant that this particular site will now not be ready until February 2017.
Officers and councillors have met with the school leadership team, school governors and staff to consider all the options for adding capacity to the school. As there are already two ‘bulge’ classes working their way through the school at the moment, there is insufficient space, in the school’s opinion, to accommodate an additional 2FE on the existing site from 2016. However, with some reconfiguration, the school have now agreed to take an additional form of entry in September 2016 bringing the publish admission number (PAN) for this year to 90.
Due diligence was followed on construction schedules, following the appointment of a contractor and detailed consideration of the programme.
Mr. Koder asked a supplemental question relating to evidence, transparency and declaration of members interests. Councillor Victoria Mills and the council’s deputy monitoring officer responded to this question.