New Homes (and Buckle) Cabinet Meeting - Fiona House
17th February 2016 By Fiona House (from notes so forgive any inaccuracies)
Well hasn't it been an interesting couple of weeks in the press and on the boards with much speculation, procrastination and scaremongering following the announcement of the Emergency Cabinet meeting?
Sylvia, myself and 2 staunch supporters attended the Cabinet meeting (thanks for the day off boss!).
It was pleasing to see a good turnout in the public gallery from Seaford residents and Councillors.
Report from the Public Gallery
Andy Smith commenced the meeting by explaining the Cabinet and the role it plays. Also at the table were members of the working group appointed at the Full Meeting in December.
There were no written questions from Councillors.
There was a question from Mr Peter Calliafas
"Taking into account report 30/16 relating to the New Homes Project, the previous concerns expressed by the local community and the wider issues that now arise from this, what lessons will you, as leader of Lewes District Council, take away from today to ensure that there is not a repeat in the future?"
The response which I sadly did not note in detail was that this will not occur again and indeed other schemes during the same timescale have been completed in full consultation from the off. (Which inspires a little more confidence in moving forward.)
We were told that the 2 key sites, in Seaford, The Buckle and Normansel were no longer financially viable.
Lewes District Council are under downward pressure from National Government to provide housing, and the Planning and Housing Bill is due to receive Royal Assent in the Summer (this is likely to increase pressure. So research into what this Bill will mean locally will need to be looked into.)
Lewes District already has several projects underway which have been developed from the outset in consultation with residents and local town/parish councils etc. Many of these are developing garage sites.
One thing that was clear is that LDC will not be springing pre-commitment (before releasing to public domain is the assumption) on sites going forward .
Also the unusual strength of the covenants on the Buckle and Normansel (?) meant it would have been too costly and risky to have these lifted.
TOLD representative asked how much of the £0.57m cost would be met from the HRA budget. the response (as understood) was that it depends on what is done and that no HRA rules would be breached. Currently Robinson Road is to be a mixed development of affordable and market homes and TOLD would prefer the homes to become part of LDC housing stock.
Cllr. Ron Maskell (Housing) confirmed consultations and meetings with TOLD will continue going forward (?).
Cllr. Osborne provided a breakdown of costs to date:
Robinson Road £335k
Transport (implications study??) £22k
and a late invoice for Consultations, sketches & designs £53k (Karis getting last drops before the cow dries up?)
The figure quoted (fed from ?) in press of £3m 'lost' in grants should read £1m and there is nothing to say that LDC cannot apply for grants under the same or new schemes for future properly consulted schemes going forward!
Cllr. Gardiner (sp) spoke to assure that there are an entirely new set of fresh eyes on the new commmittee looking at housing (proposals) to ensure projects are within bounds of financial and national constraints.
The vote was carried on the recommendation "To terminate the Conditional Sale Agreement and the Profit Share and Project Management Agreement dated 30th July 2015 which are in place between the Council, Karis Developments Limited and Southern Housing Group Limited in accordance with provisions set out in paragraphs 3.4.3 and 4.3.3 of the Conditional Sale Agreement".
While this would appear to be the end of this sordid debacle I understand from speaking to my Ward District Councillor that procedure is Councillors will now be notified of this decision by Cabinet. They (Cllrs. ) then have 3 days to object. (would any one in their right mind do this one wonders?)
I am still a little hazy on whether Cabinet's decision, if not challenged, still has to be 'ratified' at full Council so....
Keep the Champagne on ice for now people but it looks like all those who said it couldnt be done and they'd eat their hats better get the salt and pepper out!
Just goes to show that ensuring peoples voices are heard, without the shackles of politics from on high, works. We are lucky in Seaford to have passionate people at our backs with the many community groups who helped make this happen.
IfS Your Voice for Our Town