14 November, 2018
The tragic events which took place on the 14th June 2017 have placed registered providers of social housing in the media spotlight and the public's hunger for information on social housing, as shown by the recent BBC documentary 'The Fires that Foretold Grenfell', shows no sign of slowing down. Kim Taylor-Smith, deputy leader of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) has received media attention this month when he voiced his concern on Clarion Housing Group's proposals to redevelop the Sutton Estate in RBKC, stating: "Housing Associations in the borough are, in some cases turning away from their core purpose".
In 2016 Clarion submitted plans to RKBC to redevelop the borough's Sutton Estate however RKBC rejected their application as it was considered the proposal: "would result in the net loss of social rented housing and fails to demonstrate that the maximum reasonable amount of affordable housing is being provided".
Clarion's new plans to redevelop the Sutton Estate will, according to the residents of the estate, reduce the amount of affordable housing available within RBKC. A spokesperson for Clarion has requested that RBKC council substantiate the claim it is behaving immorally. As we know from working within the sector RP's are generally restricted by grant funding requirements and planning when it comes to tenure.
The tragedy of Grenfell left many social housing tenants within RBKC homeless, hence the spotlight, the potential loss of further social housing on the Sutton Estate will only compound matters for those unable to establish a permanent residence within RBKC.
RBKC was the landlord at the time of the Grenfell tragedy which took the lives of 72 people. Grenfell Tower was managed by Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisations (KCTMO) which was a company created by RBKC to manage its housing functions, After the Grenfell fire KCTMO was removed from its management functions of RBKC's social housing properties, as Mr Taylor-Smith stated: "The reality is, if Grenfell had not happened, the KCTMO would still be in existence".
Instead RBKC are now re-evaluating how to manage their portfolio of social housing as are RP's generally following the tragedy.
RBKC has called on the government to reconsider the rules surrounding Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMOs) so it may bring some empty homes on the regeneration schemes back into use. EDMOs were introduced by the Housing Act 2004 and allow local authorities within England and Wales to take occupation of an empty dwelling. The EDMO was part of a larger commitment by the government at the time to find solutions to the problems posed by empty dwellings.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said there were no plans to change the EDMOs' rules which will come as a disappointment to local authorities and RP's alike.
The discussion on paper on the new housing policy for RBKC can be found here.
For more information contact Joe McCreadie in our Housing & Regeneration department via email or phone on 01772 220 250. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.