Council meetings

Agenda item

Lewisham Housing Strategy

Verbal update


Resolved: the Committee noted the verbal update


Genevieve Macklin (Head of Strategic Housing) and colleagues provided a brief verbal update, with a full report due to come to the next meeting of the committee. The following key points were noted:

4.1 Officers didn’t want to bring an update on the strategy that didn’t take into account the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy. A full report at the next meeting will outline progress on the four priorities of the housing strategy and there will be a separate report around what's happened since Grenfell.

4.2 Officers are also currently holding off of a full review of the housing strategy while the legislative outlook for housing remains unclear. A number of housing-related regulations have been delayed since the general election was called, including those on high-value voids, right to buy in housing associations, and fixed-term tenancies. It is still unclear, following the Queen’s speech, what direction the government is going to take in the area of housing.

4.3 Officers were also asked questions about the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy.

4.4 Lewisham officers are currently investigating the number of high-rise (over 6 floors) blocks in the borough and have so far confirmed 121. 71 of these are managed by Lewisham Homes, 10 by RB3, and 40 by a mix of housing association partners and private developers.

4.5 The Director of Customer Services has written to those responsible for the tower blocks in the borough. So far 6 tower blocks managed by Lewisham Homes have been found to have cladding. Samples are being removed and tested (BRE). So far 2 out of 6 have been sent for testing.

4.6 Some housing association partners have also identified how many of their tower blocks have cladding and need to be tested and this information is still being collated.

4.7 Officers will meet and plan the response when the test results come back. Results are expected to start coming in later this week (w/c 26 June 2017).

4.8 So far, across the country, buildings that have combustible cladding, but no other complicating factors, are not being evacuated. Additional measures such as fire safety officers on site are being taken instead.

4.9 Where it is just cladding that needs to be removed, the plan is to convey the results, meet and reassure residents, put fire marshals in place on site, and start the removal process. If there are other concerns, a different response may be needed. Contingency plans, including interim accommodation, are in place if it there is a need to decant tower blocks in the borough.

4.10 Officers are not sure if the Government is going to fund the cost of this work.

The Committee made a number of comments. The following were noted:

4.11 The Committee asked if councillors could be made aware of any tower blocks with cladding in their wards.

4.12 The Committee stressed the importance of the council working closely with the fire authorities to assess the risks.

4.13 The Committee also expressed concern that, regardless of who is responsible for a particular building, if something goes wrong people will look to the council.

4.14 The Committee expressed concern about the possibility of poor tenant representation with larger social landlords.

4.15 The Committee said that there is an argument for setting up a tenants’ forum in the borough to provide a direct relationship with tenants.

4.16 The Committee suggested that it would be beneficial to carry out safety checks with as much tenant involvement as practical.

4.17 The Chair informed the committee that the Chair of Overview and Scrutiny had written to the Council’s Chief Executive requesting further information on the fire safety of tall buildings in the borough and that the response to this would be coming to the next meeting.



Resolved: the Committee noted the verbal update