Minutes

Proposed venue: County Hall, Usk - Remote Attendance

Contact: Democratic Services 

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

 

2.

Public Open Forum

Minutes:

No public submissions were received.

 

3.

Empty Homes Strategy - To scrutinise the strategy for addressing empty homes

Minutes:

Ian Bakewell presented the report and answered the members’ questions with Amy Langford and Stephen Griffiths.

 

Challenge:

 

We have a continuing problem with housing. One of the buildings highlighted is the former nunnery on Old Hereford Road. It has a history of being used as a residential property and has fantastic potential. We, as a council, should take it on and not let it go to private developers.

 

This building is listed. It has an historic core and more modern element. It had planning permission for conversion to flats, then new builds were constructed to the rear. It could be a fantastic opportunity for a large number of flats. We want to facilitate the use of these historic buildings. If it gives the opportunity for housing that wouldn’t be brought forward in other ways, then we need to try to grasp it. It is worth reminding members though that the problem of phosphates remains very large in the north of the county when it comes to delivering housing, but colleagues are working very hard to find solutions.

 

How many properties are on the at-risk register that could be utilised, rather than building on fresh ground?

 

We don’t have the exact figures to hand. We have around 20 listed buildings at risk that are more rural properties. As part of our service improvement plan, we are going to set up a ‘buildings at risk’ strategy and action plan. We will identify specific actions within specific timeframes, essentially looking at formal notices. We need to take firm action where we can, but also engage with the owners and encourage them as best as possible.

 

Does the 15-year rolling loan from Welsh Government in relation to empty properties in the town centres include ‘for sale’ properties?

 

We haven’t gone into the details of the funding yet, but we see it as an opportunity, albeit with it being a loan and not a grant. One of our challenges is that there’s no dedicated funding stream for these levels of enforcement or general work. Regarding properties for sale, we are confident that this loan facility wouldn’t support buying properties per se, but should support compulsory purchase and enforced sale. With the approach that we’re taking there are a number of other potential opportunities e.g. social housing grant that we make available to housing associations for the development of affordable housing. If there were scope to link a housing association with an empty property, it might present an opportunity. Also, new this year is that the council can access the social housing grant, which we will factor into our considerations. There are funding streams through town centre regeneration, for example, though this again probably wouldn’t go towards buying a property. In terms of buying properties, we are looking at whether MCC buys accommodation, rather than always relying on housing association partners. Housing Benefit regulations don’t allow us to buy a property and then place a homeless applicant in there, with us managing the property –  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

Adults Select Committee Forward Work Programme pdf icon PDF 500 KB

Minutes:

The Gypsy and Travellers workshop is likely to happen in the early new year.

 

5.

Cabinet and Council Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 186 KB

6.

To confirm the minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 482 KB

Minutes:

7.

Next Meeting: Tuesday 14th December 2021 at 10.00am

Minutes:

It was agreed not to hold the December meeting as it is additional and isn’t needed, and to push back the January date for Budget scrutiny as the reports won’t be available for 11th January.