This page provides shows you the information which was presented at the 5th March 2016 exhibition on Central Hill.
Click on the links below for more information or scroll down the page:
- Where are we know?
- More and better homes
- Central Hill, the Housing Revenue Account and the Lambeth Housing Standard programme
- What the Council has considered for Central Hill
- What can be delivered
- Housing Standards
- Heritage Issues on Central Hill
- Next steps
- Have your say
- Supporting information and links
- Do you have a question?
Where are we now?
A Letter from Cllr Matthew Bennett (Gipsy Hill Ward Councillor and Cabinet Member for Housing)
I’ve been one of your local councillors for the past six years and throughout that time people have been asking when problems on the estate would be sorted out and their homes improved.
The Council has a serious funding crisis for refurbishment. In 2012, after a major cut in the Government grant that Lambeth was expecting, the council estimated that it would be £56,000,000 short in funding refurbishment of all council homes; now we believe that gap has grown to over £85,000,000. This means there is not enough money to refurbish every council home in Lambeth.
On Central Hill the cost of refurbishment is £18,000,000 with £13,000,000 needed in the next five years. This represents a very high level of cost per home. This means we have to consider alternatives to guarantee that all tenants can live in a warm, dry, decent home.
This is why the Council has been looking at rebuilding the estate. This would mean significantly increasing the number of homes for local people, something we desperately need given the scale of the housing crisis. There are currently over 1,800 homeless families in Lambeth, including almost 5,000 children, and there are over 21,000 people on the waiting list for a council or housing association home.
Rebuilding the estate would mean that every existing tenant would be offered a new home with enough bedrooms to meet the needs of their family, it would also offer a range of options for homeowners to stay living on the estate in a home that they could afford. In addition, Lambeth wants to maximise the number of council rent level homes with the priority for these given to local families in housing need.
I know this process has caused stress and worry for many people but the Council can’t turn a blind eye to the growing housing crisis or ignore the lack of money for the refurbishment of tenants’ homes. I hope that today’s exhibition provides you with much greater clarity and certainty about what is being considered and, importantly, your rights in this process.
More and Better Homes
Lambeth Council’s goal is to address the housing crisis the borough is facing. This extends to the supply of additional new homes and enhancing the quality of existing social homes. There are:
- Over 21,000 people on the waiting list for a council home
- 1,800 homeless families in temporary accommodation
- 1,300 families living in severely overcrowded homes
In October 2012, the Cabinet approved a programme to examine how its lower density and/or poorer quality estates could provide additional new homes. Central Hill was identified as one of these estates in December 2014.
What is the Estate Regeneration Programme?
Along with plans to improve its housing stock through the Lambeth Housing Standard programme, the Council is committed to building more homes in the borough.
Estates have been included in this programme based upon the following criteria:
- The costs of delivering the Lambeth Housing Standard would be too expensive and would not be good value for money
- Lambeth Housing Standard works would, in themselves, not address the fundamental condition of the homes nor address many of the wider social and economic problems faced by residents
- The wider bene ts from regeneration would justify the investment. This includes locations where the existing estate is relatively low-density and where there is an opportunity to create additional much needed new homes
“Reasons for inclusion of the Estate in the programme include the poor state of repair of many properties on the Estate, and the opportunity to build more homes, due to the relative low density of the Estate, given its location and public transport accessibility levels.” (Taken from the July 2015 report to Lambeth Council’s Cabinet)
Central Hill, the Housing Revenue Account and the Lambeth Housing Standard programme
What is the Housing Revenue Account?
The Housing Revenue Account (HRA) is a ring- fenced pot of money held by the Council to look after the homes it owns. All the money needed to manage, maintain and improve the Council’s social housing comes from this account. There are strict rules set by Government, which control how the Council must manage the Housing Revenue Account, for example it is not allowed to run a deficit
Where does the HRA get its money from?
Money comes into the HRA from Council tenant rents and service charges. In the last few years Council rents in Lambeth have been rising. However, in the summer 2015 budget, the Government announced that Council rents would be reduced by 4% over the next four years. This year-on-year 1% reduction, which starts in 2016, will mean £28.4 million less income by 2020. This reduction is not going to be replaced. The HRA is also losing income because of measures such as the Government’s ‘High Value Empty Homes Payment’ and Right to Buy.
What can the HRA pay for?
The Council can only use money in the HRA to fund:
- Managing the Council’s housing and looking after its tenants
- Maintaining, repairing and improving the Council’s housing stock
- Capital investment (e.g. major improvements or repairs): and
- Interest and loan repayments relating to amounts borrowed to fund capital expenditure on HRA properties.
Can the Council ‘top up’ the HRA from its other budgets and accounts?
The Council can put money into the HRA from the ‘General Fund’. This is the money the Council gets in from Council tax, business rates, grants and other income. However, given cuts in Government funding, the Council needs to make £100m worth of savings over the next few years.
Can the HRA borrow money and receive grants?
The Council can apply for grants from Government or the Greater London Authority (GLA). The Council can also borrow money through the HRA. However:
- There is less grant funding available than in previous years. In addition, grants generally come with very strict conditions.
- The Government has set a limit on how much money the Council can borrow through the HRA and for the foreseeable future there is little room for the Council to borrow more without putting the financial viability of the HRA at risk.
How is the Lambeth Housing Standard programme funded?
In 2012 the Council agreed to bring all homes in Lambeth up to the Lambeth Housing Standard (LHS) with works to make them warm, dry and safe and include the Government’s Decent Homes Standard. The LHS was co-produced with residents. It was estimated that the LHS programme would cost £490m based on a sample survey. Of the £490m required, the Council estimated in 2012 that it was able to fund £431m through a combination of borrowing and grants. The programme was scheduled to take five years to complete.
When LHS refurbishment work is started on homes additional work is often needed. This is because it is only when work starts on a building that its true condition becomes apparent. This additional work, of course, needs to be paid for.
As the HRA loses stock and income from Right to Buy and rent reductions, the Council must prioritise how it will deliver its commitments to residents.
What the Council has considered for Central Hill
1. Refurbishment of the Estate
Put simply – Lambeth doesn’t have enough money to carry out major works on all of its properties through its Housing Revenue Account. Investment Costs on Central Hill The cost of refurbishing the properties on Central Hill is high. The map below sets out average costs for refurbishing the different types of properties on the estate:
Total average cost per home would be around £44,000. This refurbishment also would not include works such as:
- Drainage improvements,
- Insulation – to reduce heating costs, condensation and mould
In addition it wouldn’t improve the estate through design by:
- Designing out crime – for example by not having blind corners, etc.
- ‘Stacking’ rooms, so there are not living spaces or outdoor areas over bedrooms
- Improving space standards and layout
How have we calculated these figures?
Lambeth Council has drawn these investment figures from Stock Condition information and investment surveys e.g. asbestos removal for Central Hill, which we carried out to assess the condition of Council-owned homes on the estate. It is estimated it would cost £18.5 million over 20 years to refurbish Central Hill (not counting for inflation). Most of these costs would be required within the next 5 years.
This is not value for money.
2. What about building homes on vacant land – will that cover the cost of refurbishing our homes?
The Council has looked at building over 100 homes on land within the estate. However:
- This still wouldn’t give us enough money to cover the cost of refurbishment.
- Homes for Lambeth could not borrow money from the sale or private rents from new homes to fund the refurbishment for Council homes at this level.
- Even if the Council could borrow, the loans would be for longer than the works on the existing properties would last.
- Furthermore, this option would only deliver approximately 40 new affordable homes.
Diagram showing plots examined for infill potential
3. Retaining homes where the costs of refurbishment are less
For the homes at Central Hill (evens), Vicars Oak (odds), and Highland Road (odds), we have looked at whether we could build and sell some homes to fund the costs of the refurbishment.
To do this, money would only be available at the end of any development programme (5+ years down the line). Estimates we have show that works required within the next 5 years are in excess of £27,000 per tenanted property.
Not developing this site will mean there would be an overall net reduction of over 150 new homes – 20 at council-rent levels could be lost. The costs of refurbishment would still be high – and not represent value for money.
What can be delivered?
PRP Architects have carried out an Options Appraisal to come up with viable scenarios for the redevelopment of Central Hill. The new development will be funded through Homes for Lambeth - you can see more information on Homes for Lambeth here.
What is an Options Appraisal?
An Options Appraisal explores the different ways in which new homes could be delivered and existing homes improved taking into account:
- Will the options deliver high quality homes, attractive public spaces and a good community in which to live?
- Can the options be funded given the limited range of options for funding available to the Council?
- To what extent do the options meet the Council’s objectives of delivering new homes and bringing existing homes up to the right standard?
The redevelopment options at both 874 and 960 homes have been considered in terms of viability and meeting the Council’s priority of delivering ‘More and Better Homes’.
These options are indicative only. If the Council’s Cabinet takes a decision to redevelop Central Hill, the next stages will be to develop a proposal that can be considered by Lambeth’s Planning Section – this is called a masterplan process. Residents will be involved in taking forward any design proposals.
When building new homes the Council has to consider a number different set of standards. These include:
- The National/Greater London Authority standards;
- Lambeth’s Planning Standards;
- and Homes for Lambeth own Design Standards.
Below is additional information on these.
The National/Greater London Authority standards
- Minimum floor space for new dwellings based on number of storeys, bedrooms & bed spaces.
- Minimum room areas (bedrooms) & room widths (bedrooms, bathrooms, hallways.
- Minimum internal built-in storage areas based on number of bedrooms • Minimum 2.3m ceiling height • All dwellings require step-free access.
- Adequate car parking space for disabled people.
- One parking bay for every wheelchair accessible or easily adaptable home
- Secure cycle parking provision
Lambeth’s Planning Standards
- Meets the density guidance set out in the London Plan
- The affordable housing should be provided at the preferred borough-wide housing mix for social/affordable rented. For market housing, a balanced mix of unit sizes including family-sized accommodation should be provided
- New dwellings should provide dual-aspect accommodation, with windows on two sides
- For new houses, 30m squared private amenity space per house should be provided. For new atted developments, communal amenity space of at least 50m squared per scheme should be provided, plus a further 10m squared per at provided either as a balcony/ terrace/private garden or consolidated with the communal amenity space
Homes for Lambeth Design Standards:
- We will involve residents in the development of the design of the new place, homes and spaces.
- Secure, warm, safe and comfortable homes with high levels of insulation and sound proofing.
- Practical homes with plenty of storage space and easy access to services.
- Personal outdoor space for each home • New homes are indistinguishable by tenure and fit well into the existing pattern of streets and open spaces
- Safe communal spaces that residents enjoy spending time in.
- Discreet and convenient storage for waste and recycling, and secure covered storage for cycles.
- Places that support the character of the area, contribute to Lambeth’s rich architectural heritage, and are built to last.
- Streets and public spaces that create a safe and secure environment for all.
- Sustainable buildings and spaces that are easy and economical to manage and maintain.
Heritage Issues on Central Hill
Ted Hollamby and his team (the architects for Central Hill and other Lambeth estates) built homes that met the needs of families in the 1970’s, the Council through Homes for Lambeth are looking at building on this legacy of developing quality social housing for the 21st Century. As part of the next stages of any development process, oficers will be working with the heritage section of our planning department to see if any parts of the estate should be retained to showcase the ‘Hollamby’ legacy.
This assessment will include the cost of refurbishment and the technical implications / practicalities of retention within a new plan for the estate. The areas for consideration are:
- A number of stepped maisonettes.
- The original bin chutes.
- The bunker under Pear Tree House.
As the engagement with residents moves forward the following programme will be followed:
- A further exhibition will take place in April – pulling together what residents have said from this engagement.
- Comments on the Key Guarantees will be included in a consultation – this will be across all regeneration estates.
- Design workshops will take place to look at how the estate may be developed – these will be open to all estate residents
- We will continue to take comments from estate residents
- This feedback will be recorded and reported to Cabinet.
- formal consultation process will start after the workshops and second exhibition.
Have your say
You can have your say in a number of ways:
- Complete the online feedback form here.
- Write to: Central Hill Regeneration FREEPOST RTLA-GHRX-SSXA, 77a Tradescant Road London, SW8 1XJ
Supporting information and links
Below are a number of links which you may find useful:
- The Key Guarantees
- Home for Lambeth
- Assured tenancy
- Homeowner options
- Independent Residents Advisor
- Frequently asked questions
Do you have a question?
If you have a question please get in touch with the Estate Regeneration Team for Central Hill.
- Fiona Cliffe (Project Manager) on 07860 18055920
- Marcus Shukla (Project Officer) on 0207 926 4166
- Email: Centralhill@lambeth.gov.uk