Agenda item

Housing Regeneration


The Chief Planner (CP) at Be First delivered a presentation on Housing Regeneration, which detailed:


·  Be First’s key strands of work;

·  The number of new homes consented since April 2019;

·  The number of new homes delivered since April 2019;

·  The pipeline of delivery in the Borough until 2037; and

·  The programmes of work within the Council and Be First’s pipeline until 2027.


In response to questions from Members, the CP and the Strategic Director Inclusive Growth (SDIG) stated that:


  • “Turnkey” properties related to those units acquired by Be First, that had been built by other developers, with the reason for this being that other developers could often build these units much more cheaply than Be First. It also helped with the viability in terms of bringing these schemes forward.
  • As part of the planning negotiations and up until the application was presented at the Council’s Planning Committee, discussions would be held around education, healthcare and transport infrastructure. Following the approval of the application, there would also be a Section 106 (S106) agreement attached to the approved planning permission, as well as the planning conditions, which were the legal obligations in terms of what the developer had committed to as part of the mitigations for the proposed development. Developers were also charged a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), which could be used by the Council to support local infrastructure; however, there was a reduced fund in the Borough due to the high level of affordable housing, with developers not required to pay the CIL if they built such housing.
  • With the Local Plan, the Council and Be First had an Infrastructure Delivery Plan which outlined the different types of infrastructure, such as cycle infrastructure and healthcare hubs. This document set the expectation of what would need to come forward as part of developments, to mitigate their effects.
  • Part of the Council and Be First’s placemaking strategy when they worked with new developers was to think about the design of the place, which looked at all of the infrastructure needed.
  • Whilst the Council and Be First were waiting for clarification as to cladding and building regulations, their schemes were built to current planning and building control regulations. Building control had become tighter and the Council and Be First had a good relationship with the Fire Brigade.
  • There was work being undertaken with Reside in terms of affordability, and in the current economic climate, in terms of viability. There were currently weekly meetings on this, where the Council and Reside were reviewing what was being built, the cost and understanding of what needed to be slowed down or paused. Several conversations had taken place with the Greater London Authority (GLA) around the Council receiving more grants for construction.
  • Residents who were looking to move into Reside properties received an information pack; as part of this, they would be informed about parking arrangements and that they would be taking on these properties, without parking spaces. The SDIG would ensure that the Managing Director of Reside, brought an excerpt of this information provided as part of the residents’ packs, to the 7 June 2023 Committee meeting, where Reside was to be discussed as part of the agenda. Going forward, residents would need to continue to be supported to understand these arrangements, especially for those moving into some of the newer properties.
  • Following the meeting, the SDIG would provide the Committee with the information stated in the tenancy agreements, as to whether residents were agreeing to not have a car, or whether they were only being given this information about there not being the facility for this.
  • In terms of the mix and the size of the units delivered, the Council’s housing register requirements, the viability, planning policy and the need to have a mix of different sizes, were all taken into consideration when planning this. The Council and Be First were very conscious of the need to deliver 3 and 4-bedroom units, which was incorporated into the overall portfolio in terms of delivery. Whilst these units were predominantly flats, there was a mix of flats and houses, depending on the location of the development.
  • Work was being undertaken around ‘Homes for Everyone’, reviewing the Council and Be First’s housing tenure and mix, and what their accommodation looked like for different vulnerable groups, including the elderly and families with vulnerable children and young people. They were also working alongside the Adults, Children’s and Health teams around vulnerable groups and how units were designed. Work was also being undertaken around smaller sites and what could be developed on these.
  • The Mayor of London specified different planning policy targets for each London borough; the CP would share this information following the meeting. Whilst the Borough had not historically met this target, the number of schemes that had come to Planning Committee had hugely increased over the past 3 years, meaning that the Council was increasingly closer to meeting this target. As part of the emerging Local Plan, much work had been undertaken around where development would be located to meet these targets; the Council and Be First now had a five-year housing plan outlining how it would meet these.
  • In terms of climate change, work was currently being undertaken to ensure that the Council’s emerging Local Plan met the London Plan, with the Council’s plan going further in some cases. The Council was also working to consider how it could achieve ‘gold plus standard’ policies around climate change, through aspects such as net zero and biodiversity gains, with this work due to be completed by December 2022. In terms of tidal flooding, the Council had conducted flood risk assessments as part of the Local Plan, which had shaped the terms of schemes that could come forward. Once planning application was received, the onus would be on the applicant to demonstrate that they had looked at the flood risk in more detail and that they had mitigated the impacts of this, before the scheme was approved, such as through contributing to financial contributions towards improving flood defences or through designing schemes without basement level living spaces.
  • In terms of parking, the Borough had to be in conformity with the Mayor’s London Plan, which set maximum parking standards according to the land use. The London Mayor was very encouraging of reduced car usage, with the Council echoing this, which was the reason behind “car light” and “car-free” developments coming forward. As part of this, the Council was working hard to promote the transport and cycle infrastructure required, to ensure that residents had viable alternatives to using their cars, as well as working with neighbouring boroughs to join up infrastructure and approaches.
  • Be First prided itself on high design quality. It had also set up a Design Board that critiqued major schemes, both of Be First and of third parties, which acted as a sounding board and was reported through to the Planning Committee. Be First also had a Design team, which ensured high design quality. The Council and Be First were very aware of the need for high quality provision that was also viable and worked hard to navigate this.
  • In terms of sustainability, Be First was working with the Council on “Passivhaus” (buildings created to very high energy efficient design standards so that they sustained a mostly constant temperature all year round). 
  • In terms of parking, Transport for London (TfL) was very much involved in discussions and the Council worked to advocate for increased transport infrastructure and ensuring that developers contributed effectively, as well as worked with TfL proactively to build relationships with it.
  • The SDIG would liaise with the Parking team around their plans for arrangements for individuals (for example, who were vulnerable and needed a car for transportation) and would respond to the Committee in due course.
  • Whilst B&D Energy was still charging lower than other companies in terms of energy, there was work being undertaken with the company currently, looking at the long-term and what needed to be thought through as prices changed.
  • There were requirements for buildings over a certain height to have lifts installed, in part to deal with fire safety; however, as part of any schemes put forward, such as for the elderly, the Council and Be First would consider who was using these as part of the design to ensure these were fit-for-purpose.
  • There was much work being undertaken around Community Hubs and Family Hubs, to consider infrastructure for young people, the elderly and families, as well as how to upskill residents and offer them additional support. A bid had also been placed to create a youth space in the Borough.


The Chair expressed her concern that more three and four-bedroom houses needed to be built, to better consider families going forward. She also stated that supermarkets needed to be better considered as part of local infrastructure, particularly for “car-free” developments, where residents may have lots of shopping to transport and where public transport may not be particularly reliable. The Committee also requested a breakdown of how many one, two and three-bed units had been built and their costs, expressing the difficulty in understanding the terminology employed and the likelihood of confusion, as what was “affordable” could be considered differently by different people. The Chair acknowledged the importance of the delivery of housing over the past three years, praising the dedication of all involved.

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