Agenda item

Affordable Housing Windsor


Cabinet considered the report regarding an approach by Abri Housing Group for the potential refurbishment or redevelopment of Sawyers Close, Windsor.

The Leader of the Council and Chairman of Cabinet, Business, Economic Development and Property  informed Cabinet that unfortunately yet again there had been misinformation about a Cabinet report.   For transparency and after ward members had been consulted it had been decided to release the Part II appendix into the public domain.  This was Abri’s scheme to take forward and to secure resident buy in from their tenant base.  Cabinet were not here to comment on planning but to decide if we wished to facilitate plans by disposing of land identified in the appendix.  If it was decided to undertake regeneration then he supported the principle of only having to move residents once.  The Housing Strategy and this report go hand in hand and can help provide affordable housing.  The Council would seek full nomination over any additional stock so it would be allocated to local residents. 

The Deputy Leader of the Council, Resident and Leisure Services, HR, IT, Legal, Performance Management and Windsor supported the paper and said that the estate was unique in Windsor due to the high rise flats.  The site is now 60 years old with 192 properties with 400 residents, 3 properties were leasehold, 173 properties are let at a social rent level, and 16 are let at an affordable rent level.  Abri Housing Group are looking at either a substantial refurbishment of these assets, or the potential for a complete redevelopment of the estate.  The preferred option will be determined post a full public consultation with existing residents, and local key stakeholders.  Residents are concerned about the loss of open space and this would have to be overcome. 

The Lead Member for Climate Change, Sustainability, Parks and Countryside welcomed the report and that they were going into a full consultation.  She hoped that as part of the process they would also be looking at the carbon impact of any potential demolishing and rebuilding.  Maintaining green land was also important. 

Mr Ed Wilson addressed Cabinet and said that it was good that the Part II information had been released to alleviate residents concerns.  Its good to see that something positive is being proposed for Deadworth, its good that something is being done but there needs to be better communication.  Residents have contacted him about open space and if there were any alternatives for providing open space as well as pay areas and the new orchard.  He had also received questions about financing any proposal and if the Abri would meet legal costs.  Would S106 be used to improve the area and had there been any other approaches for the use of the land.  Would there be any clawback arrangements if nomination rights were not met.  He asked for consultation to be undertaken on open space and again mentioned the importance of communication with residents. 

The chairman said that this was almost a once in a lifetime opportunity to improve the area and the outcomes for residents.  He agreed that after this meeting Abri had a big job to do regarding communication and consultation.  S106 would be dealt with during the planning application process.  The issue regarding open space did need further discussion and consideration.  

Cllr C Da Costa addressed Cabinet and said that better communication with councillors could have alleviated some of the concerns raised by the proposal.  She supported the proposals but felt the council should not give away any land.  There could be leasing arrangements or joint venture with RBWM Property Company.  The Director of RBWM Property Company said that any sale of the land would be at market value, which for affordable housing was zero, but there would be a section 123 report.  If there is refurbishment they may only need temporary use of our land but if there is to be regeneration then they will need ownership to secure finances. 

Cllr Price said that she supported the improvement of social housing and Abri had been responses to questions.  She was concerned about the paper gifting open space to Abri, looking at the EQIA there was no mention of the loss of open space on the protected characteristics groups so how can a decision be made tonight.  She felt that the assessment was not robust and noted it had not been signed off by the monitoring officer.  She was concerned about the map being in Part II as there was no clear rational and mentioned that open space was protected by national and local policies, yet the paper did not mention them.  The open space was under the provision of children and young people and more of this type was required not less.  She requested that the council undertakes a in depth consultation above what was planned by Abri.  There also needs to be better communication with ward councillors. 

The Chairman reiterated that ward councillors were briefed back in February.  This was an opportunity to redevelop the estate and the council could help being the adjacent land owner.

The Council’s Chief Executive said that this was Abri’s project and not the councils so it was up to them to brief and undertake consultation.  The Abri consultation and planning consultation will look at the overall scheme. The policies mentioned would be tested with any planning application. 

Cllr W DA Costa mentioned that the new world we had to look at the environment and close the use of green space for development.  It’s a wildlife corridor and carbon sink.  Without stringent planning policies we would be reducing green space and its impact on the environment, local habitat and social use. There would also be a huge amount of carbon released during development.  It would be better to keep the land and look at redeveloping an office block. 

Resolved unanimously:  that Cabinet notes the report and:

i)                 Approves the disposal of land identified in appendix A to Abri Housing Group, at nil value for the sole use as affordable housing, subject to planning being achieved and the scheme progressing.

ii)               Delegates authority to the Managing Director in consultation with the Lead Member for Business, Economic Development and Property to enter into a contract for the sale of the land, subject to obtaining a s.123 report, confirming the value.

iii)             Delegates authority to the Managing Director in consultation with the Lead Member for Business, Economic Development and Property to consider any objections to the proposed disposal of land following publication of the Notice required under section 123(2A) of the Local Government Act 1972.

iv)             Delegates authority to the Managing Director in consultation with the Lead Member for Business, Economic Development and Property to dispose of the land identified at appendix A – subject to satisfactory planning restrictive to affordable housing.


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