Monday 14 November 2022

Brent Cabinet asked key questions on conversion of council housing to other tenures, including Shared Ownership

 Cllr Anton Georgiou addressed Brent Cabinet this morning on issues surrounding affordable housing in the borough and the New Council Homes Programme. Brent Council Leader, Muhammed Butt said the Council would come back to him with a detailed reply but said that he hoped that the council and its officers were not being accused of deliberately misleading the public. Cllr Butt went on to attack 'nimbies'  who claimed to support council housing but opposed housing applications at Planning Committee meetings.   As much of the opposition currently is from council tenants concerned about the detrimental impact of  in-fill applications that is stretching the nimby label somewhat. 

Cllr Georgiou's presentation:

Collectively our main objective must be to ensure that the Council are providing the homes our community needs, in doing so, reducing the growing housing waiting list in Brent and also reducing the number of people in temporary accommodation. 


The demand for Council homes is significant and will likely grow in the coming months and years. Many will turn to Brent to assume their housing needs.


Whilst I welcome the update in the report presented to Cabinet this morning, entitled, ‘Update on the supply of New Affordable Homes’, I would specifically like to ask some points of clarification.


The report references 684 new Council homes, which is a different figure than the one provided by the Leader to Scrutiny last week. I believe you quoted 768 following questioning by myself, what does that figure refer to? 


To the 684 homes referenced in the report, can Cabinet please confirm what these units consist of…


On Rent levels:


How many of the 684 are:


  • at Council rent level 
  • at London affordable rent level 
  • at London housing allowance rent level 
  • how many are shared ownership 


What kind of tenures do the 684 represent:


  • how many are assisted living
  • how many are temporary accommodation 
  • how many are social rent homes
  • how many have shared ownership tenure 


Further to that, are there any shared ownership homes within the HRA account? 


If yes, how many please?


To shared ownership specifically…


The Report recommends the "conversion" of homes from London Affordable Rent level to Shared Ownership, but then further down at recommendation 2.8 states that the Cabinet, will agree to commission a report into Shared Ownership demand in the borough. 


How can the report recommend conversion of London Affordable Rent to Shared Ownership without fully understanding the demand? Where is the evidence? Are these really the type of homes our community truly wants and needs?


It must also be noted that Shared Ownership is already being provided in significant numbers as part of the affordable housing component of many private developments in Brent. 


Here are a few examples but not an exclusive list:


  • Euro House ................................. 141 units
  • Bridgewater Road ......................... 119 units
  • Northwick Park Hospital ................ 111 units
  • Alperton Bus Garage ...................... 98 units
  • Abbey Manufacturing Estate ............ 66 units
  • Watkin Road ................................. 61 units


These figures were all correct at the time of approval by the Planning Committee.


It is important to agree that Shared Ownership is not and never will be an affordable housing model. The umbrella term used by government is wholly inaccurate and I would go as far to say purposefully misleading. 


There is no need for Brent to be considering a ‘shared ownership offer’ when it is fact that this housing model is in no way affordable to local people, or even potentially, what local people want. Many Alperton residents and others in Brent are already trapped in Shared Ownership schemes. It is a nightmare. 


Therefore, I implore Cabinet to 


-      reject the recommendation to convert London Affordable Rent units to Shared Ownership

-      to not allow developers to get away with using Shared Ownership to mask their failure to provide more genuinely affordable units

-      and finally to not pursue a Brent Shared Ownership Offer without facts and evidence that there is demand for this type of housing in Brent. I for one do not believe there will be, if the true scam of Shared Ownership is explained to local people. 



Anonymous said...

Residents loved the NIMBY bit in Butt's hubris driven rant (and there were a lot of those today), and yes, NOT IN BUTTS YARD. They don't give a fig for current residents, but they do love Gasslighting don't they. As for T.Taltler's protestation that we need the extra council tax, no one has proved that we are better off, especially when the Council Owned Properties are all through borrowing, as for the CIL we collect, like Johnson, spaffed up the wall. Then of course there are the thousands of Student Accomodation Units that don't pay Council Tax.

Going back to King Hubris's rants and Gaslighting, it is(n't) strange there were no rants about the very embarrassing items such as Granville, School Places and New Affordable (everyone laughs) Homes. Also, the avoidance of stating the amount of Council Borrowing and the Interest Payable was the Elephant in the room along with Islamia and the other wastes of CIL.

Anonymous said...

What a clueless lot this cabinet are. Butt and Tatler obviously think that 'Residents of Brent' are unimportant by calling them NIMBIES, presumably as an insult to Brent Residents. What they actually are are people who loved where they live, that's right the 100 plus different communities of Brent do not agree with Butt's Ego driven Council and the current disinterest of the well heeled Cheif Executive (watch her on the webcast).

Well done Cllr. Georgiou, keep winding him up so that (Gold Star driven) Downs can manage (bully) the disporate political groups, and Butt can manage his pratronage driven disporate group.

Anonymous said...

I've read what cllr. Georgiou said. It makes good sense. I don't think he was saying it to wind up cllr. Butt.

Martin Francis said...

As a seasoned observer I don't think one needs to have an intention to wind up Cllr Butt - it happens automatically when someone puts forward an alternative argument or view.

David Walton said...

If Mt Butt really wants to stir up Brent Nimby's he should have officers propose building three eight story blocks not on South Kilburn Public Open Space woodland (the Brent plan since October 2022), butt on anti-any-population growth at all area located Tiverton Green.

South Kilburn already doubled in population since year 2000 and to more than double that new population again by 2040, obviously needs its 50-year-old Local Park urgently Local Green Space Designation strong protected being a Bent neighbourhood of great access to nature and green space need.

Google earth just like TfL has map deleted both South Kilburn Public Open Space and Tiverton Green.

Anonymous said...

110% correct Martin

Philip Grant said...

I have watched the webcast recording of yesterday's Cabinet meeting, and am now in a position to add my own comment to those above.

Cllr. Georgiou made his presentation to the meeting as set out in the blog above, but it was noticeable that when Cabinet "considered" the Update on New Affordable Homes, no mention was made of the points he had raised.

Cllr. Promise Knight, the Lead Member who introduced the report, just seemed to repeat that Brent was on target to deliver the number of new homes they had promised (without any reference to whether they would be new AFFORDABLE homes).

Cllr. Shama Tatler, when praising Cllr. Knight and the New Council Homes team for their efforts (and in another comment elsewhere in the meeting) gave the impression that they most important thing was money. New homes meant more Council Tax receipts. Regeneration produced large sums of Community Infrastructure Levy money that the Council could spend.

Other Cabinet members, with what looked like their own prepared statements, took swipes at the Tory government.

There was no discussion of what the Report was actually about - the "conversion" of up to 50% of new homes the Council proposed to build from "genuinely affordable" homes for Brent people in housing need, to shared ownership, open market rent or even to open market sale!

I had raised some legal points about the Report with Brent's Monitoring Officer (see my guest blog of 11 November "Brent's New Affordable Council Homes promises shredded!", and comments under it).

Two Corporate Directors at the meeting did declare an interest, in that they were directors of i4B, the Council-owned company to which "converted" homes would be transferred. But they did not contribute anything to the discussion, and no Cabinet members asked the Corporate Director, Resident Services, who had signed off the Report they were supposedly considering, any questions about what he was proposing, or the list of recommendations he was making to them.

The Chair of the meeting, Cllr. Muhammed Butt, almost jokingly made (with a smile on his face) what should have been a declaration of interest, saying 'I think my brother may be a director of i4B as well.'

He then went into self-congratulatory remarks, that Brent was the top Council housing provider in London, etc., before his attack on "nimbies", as reported by Martin above.

It wasn't just "nimbies", it was certain individuals who claim to support Council housing but oppose applications for that a Planning Committee meetings. I suspect that I am one of the individuals he had in mind.

I do claim to support genuinely affordable Council housing, including at the Council-owned Cecil Avenue site, where Brent has planning permission for 250 homes, but proposes to allow a developer partner to sell 152 of them privately, and only have 37 of them (possibly even less after this Report) for rent to Council tenants at London Affordable Rent level.

I did oppose plans, that included 65 homes at London Affordable Rent level (though that is also now under threat), at 1 Morland Gardens in Stonebridge. That was because those plans involved the demolition of a heritage building, against Brent Council policy and promises, and building over public realm that includes a community garden.

My reasons for my views on both have been well explained, to Cllr. Butt, his Cabinet colleagues and the main Council Officers involved, as well as publicly in guest blogs here, and letters published in the Brent & Kilburn Times.

But, as Martin has commented above, the Council Leader gets worked up whenever anyone puts forward a view which differs from his own, even if it is a sensible and well-reasoned one.

Anonymous said...

The lack of scrutiny on cabinet is deafening, all we get is more gaslighting from them. Their aim is bedrooms and as many as possible so they can be the number one council. Butt's rants are becoming pathetic, who does he think listens to him, never mind believes him beside his sycophantic Cabinet of yes persons.

Philip Grant said...

I am glad that the recorded Cabinet decision on recommendation 2.1 of the New Affordable Housing Update report is shown as below.

It was amended following the legal concern I raised over how unspecific the recommendation was as to which Officers were being authorised to make the proposed "conversions" from genuinely affordable housing to shared ownership or open market sale.

It is odd, however, that no amendment was made to the recommendation as shown in the published Report, and nothing was said at the meeting about the wording being changed! Do Cabinet members even know what they silently agreed when Cllr. Butt asked them for their agreement to the Report's recommendations?

Amended resolution:

'(1) To note the content of the report and approve (as a result of clarification provided) the following officers, namely Corporate Director Residents Services and Corporate Director Communities & Regeneration being authorised in respect of projects which are the responsibility of their departments (in consultation with Cabinet Members for Housing, Homelessness and Renters Security & Regeneration and Planning respectively):

· To convert schemes to include alternative tenures, either shared ownership or open market sale, with a view to making schemes viable and prioritise delivery of larger homes;

· To utilise conversion in larger schemes to address financial pressures on schemes currently in contract;

· To utilise conversion in larger schemes in order to address viability gaps for schemes not yet in contract but would provide much needed larger family sized accommodation.'

Anonymous said...

One must not question the wisdom of our dear leader

Anonymous said...

M Butt and his cronies are dictators in the making if not already are. How dare M Butt insult Brent residents by referring to them is Nimb’s. He should be taken to court for these derogatory remarks. Shows what he thinks of people who are paying their wages. Absolute disgrace behaving like this.

Anonymous said...

Butt and his sycophants don't care about Brent residents