Report of the Director of Community and Children’s Services.
Members received a report of the Director of Community and Children’s Services which provided an update on the progress on the Housing Major Works Programme and advised Members on issues affecting progress on individual schemes.
There was some discussion on planning delays, noting that resourcing for dealing with planning applications was an issue generally in local authorities. Members suggested that timescales should take into account the likely delays in the planning process, so as not to show regular unavoidable slippage. Officers explained that they have tried to assist the planning process by arranging pre-planning meeting. Tenders were sent out very quickly once the approval notice was received.
Officers now kept a comprehensive ‘Issues Log’ which documented all stages in the programme for each project, including details on delays and slippage and why they had occurred. The Assistant Director advised that, currently, only 2 planning applications were awaiting decision; one from Islington (Holloway Estate) and one from Lewisham (Sydenham Hill). Members were reminded that the Housing Major Works Programme, by its very nature, will continue to generate a large number of Planning and Building Regulations applications, particularly in respect of the fire safety improvement works such as sprinklers and fire doors. Members noted that, in some cases, developers were able to assist with resourcing in local planning authorities, to get large applications through quicker. However, this could be problematic if, as in the City’s case, multiple boroughs were involved.
In response to a question about window replacement at Crescent House, Members noted that this would be a separate stream of work, running parallel with the wider window replacement programme on the Golden Lane Estate.
In concluding, the Chairman suggested, and Members agreed, that future estimates should come with a health warning that they might be subject to planning delays in other authorities. Given that poor resourcing in planning departments and subsequent delays was a London-wide issue, the Chairman of the Community and Children’s Services Committee agreed to speak to the Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee about the possibility of raising this at the Local Authority Leaders’ Committee.
RESOLVED, That – the report be noted.