Sunday, 11 September 2016

Resident questions Brent Council's arithmetic on Preston Library housing plans

A local resident has sent the following message to Brent Cabinet ahead of their discussion on an officer's report on the future of the Preston Library building.

Dear Cabinet member,

I wrote to councillors last week about why it is important to support Preston Community Library.

Since then I have looked more carefully at the report for Tuesday's cabinet, and have realised that the figures in it for housing just don't make sense.  I think you will need to adjourn the report so that officers can give you corrected information.

The report states that if you just built five flats on the library site, there would be an expected income to the Council of £158,000, including £51,000 from the community space.  The difference [£107,000] comes to an average rental income per flat of £411.54 per week, which is clearly not accessible for people in housing need.

For the larger site, the figures are £420,000 -£51,000 = £369,000.  At 19 flats this is £19,421 rent per flat, or £373.48 per flat.

The current rent you charge [2015-16] for a council home is £101.99 for one beds, £115.56 for 2 beds and £127.63 for 3 beds.  LINK 

This means that if the properties are let to social tenants you will not get anything like the rents the reports says.  If you are to rent to private tenants then the rents in the report are still much lower than other flats in the area. An example of a flat a couple of minutes walk away is HERE.

Income to the Council also needs to take account of Housing Benefit, which will reduce the income considerably.

The chair of South Kenton & Preston Park Residents Association has, I believe, written to you about the values quoted in the report, including the non-viability of achieving £51,000 from community groups, and also about the unusual and extremely high development costs of building these flats.  To meet housing need it would be much cheaper for Brent to purchase some of the flats and houses for sale in the district.

I feel that if this report is approved, then the planned for gains will not materialise; those in housing need will get no benefit, citizens will lose their valued library and it will be an embarrassment to the Council.  I hope that you will reject this report.

yours sincerely,
Linda Green

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