Agenda item

Agenda item


To consider a report by the Senior Officer Strategic Planning and Housing Officer (copy enclosed) on progress made to date in delivering the revised Housing and Homelessness Strategy and Action Plan approved by County Council in December 2020.

10.10 am – 10.40 am


The Chair welcomed to the meeting Councillors Tony Thomas, Lead Member for Housing and Communities and Bobby Feeley, Lead Member for Wellbeing and Independence who had joint responsibility for delivering the Housing and Homelessness Strategy.  The Head of Customers and Communities, Strategic Planning and Housing Manager, Senior Officer Strategic Planning and Housing and the Housing Development Manager were also in attendance for this item.


Councillor Thomas introduced the report (previously circulated) on progress made to date in delivering the revised Housing and Homelessness Strategy and Action Plan approved by County Council in December 2020.  The Strategy included priority areas for action based on six key themes with progress on the action plan set out in an appendix to the report.  Delivery of the action plan was overseen by the Strategic Housing and Homelessness Group (SHHG) together with allocation of the Social Housing Grant to help bring forward affordable housing development.  Councillor Thomas highlighted key areas of progress including the launch of the empty homes matching service and work on creating a supply of affordable housing, including energy efficient Passivhaus standard homes with work on site in Denbigh and Prestatyn, together with progress on future planned developments.


Councillor Feeley drew attention to the comprehensive report and the revision of the Strategy to reflect the greater emphasis on addressing homelessness with a theme dedicated to the main concerns and projects in that regard.  She was pleased to report that the Housing First project had been rolled out as business as usual and would be funded under existing budgets; work was underway to provide Denbighshire’s first temporary accommodation at Epworth Lodge, Rhyl, and Awel y Dyffryn Extra Care facility in Denbigh would be fully open in February.  The Strategy promoted resilience and independence and also supported corporate priorities.  Finally she took the opportunity to thank all the officers for their input in the process.


The Strategic Planning and Housing Manager added that, given the Strategy had only been adopted by Council in December 2020, its delivery was still in the early stages.  However, most actions were on track for delivery despite a few experiencing minor difficulties with delays largely due to the impact of Covid-19 and issues relating to the Local Development Plan.  She also reported upon the work of the SHHG in monitoring progress and welcomed scrutiny of the action plan.


The Chair noted that no major issues had been identified in terms of progress with the action plan.  Consequently he asked the Committee to focus on the minor issues identified given that all other actions were on track or had been completed.


The Lead Members and officers responded to questions/comments as follows –


·         Tai Teg was the affordable housing register and assurances were provided that it was regularly reviewed and councillors kept informed of any housing available in their areas; there was a link on the Council’s website to the relevant webpage

·         168 households were currently presenting as homeless which consisted of 218 individuals and the increase of those threatened with homelessness had largely been due to Welsh Government introducing a moratorium on evictions during the coronavirus pandemic which had since been lifted; significant work was ongoing to support those at risk of homelessness

·         the Council only had a duty to house Denbighshire residents and did not provide housing for people from outside the county who presented as homeless – in those cases the Homeless Prevention Team worked with the local authority in whose area they had last resided

·         for various reasons there were occasions where local authorities, including Denbighshire, housed homeless people outside of their own county area and questions were raised as to whether there was an imbalance in this regard with Denbighshire’s neighbouring authorities, particularly in relation to the use of hotels for temporary accommodation – the Chief Executive advised that further research would be carried out with partner authorities to ascertain the current position and the Chair proposed an information report back to members thereon

·         the age range of those presenting as homeless was varied but there was a significant number under the age of 35

·         members had previously identified the unauthorised residential occupation of holiday caravans as an issue, hence its inclusion in the action plan, and previous work undertaken in that regard and the involvement of one of the scrutiny committees was also highlighted.  To further address the issue required significant resource and a strategic/corporate approach.  The Head of Planning, Public Protection and Countryside Services advised that his service would likely lead on that work and he was meeting with key officers in the near future with a view to progressing that action as appropriate.  He agreed to liaise with the Scrutiny Coordinator to ascertain when the last report on the issue had been submitted to scrutiny and whether a further update or new report was required

·         the impact of Covid-19 on progress with the replacement Local Development Plan (LDP) had been highlighted in the report and Councillor Mark Young also referred to the impact of the delays associated with Technical Advice Note 15 and Flood Maps which was also beyond the Council’s control.  However, he provided assurances that the Strategic Planning Group work would continue and the necessary information handed over to the new Council

·         any queries regarding empty homes should be directed to the Strategic Planning and Housing Manager in the first instance and Councillor Tony Thomas referred to his willingness to assist and confirmed that he provided a quarterly update to all councillors with details of empty homes in their particular ward areas

·         the Head of Planning, Public Protection and Countryside Services agreed to ascertain whether occupants of holiday caravans could register that address on the electoral register to vote and report back to the Committee thereon

·         the Head of Planning, Public Protection and Countryside Services also agreed to look into Councillor Meirick Davies’s request for a Community Garden in Trefnant and report back to him directly outside of the meeting

·         an update on the development of Llys Awelon Ruthin was provided together with the reasoning behind its delay predominantly due to Covid-19 and other factors including planning conditions, signing of the tender contract and cost increase of building materials.  Assurances were provided that despite those issues the development would proceed as originally planned and there would be an uplift in the bid with funding already in place from the Welsh Government in that regard.  The development was likely to commence very soon in the New Year.


At the conclusion of the discussion the Committee –


RESOLVED that, subject to the above observations and the provision of the additional information requested during the course of the discussion to –


(a)       acknowledge the work undertaken to date to implement the Housing and Homelessness Strategy Action Plan, along with the progress made thus far with its delivery, and


(b)       request that a further progress report on the Action Plan’s delivery be presented to the Committee during the autumn of 2022.


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