The magazine for tenants and leaseholders brought to you by Hammersmith & Fulham Council
New home bonanza as council returns to house-building E
Amber lights up awards DEDICATED Fulham 24-year-old Amber Stewart followed her fatherâ€™s hard-working example to earn a national award. l For the full story see page 3
xciting plans to transform a derelict former health clinic in Shepherds Bush spearhead the return to housebuilding by Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council. The building in Becklow Gardens has been unused since 2006 and would be converted into two new one-bedroom flats. The site is one of seven locations across the borough where the council intends to construct a total of 25 affordable properties. The council announced last year that it would be establishing its own local housing company to provide new affordable homes for the first time in 30 years to help local residents get onto the property ladder. H&F has the fourth highest house prices in the UK and the proposals, which are still subject to resident consultation and planning approval, will give local people on low to middle incomes a Continue on page 4
INSIDE>> l Estate residents
have their say on the huge redevelopment of Earls Court SEE PAGE 3>>
l Members of the
armed forces at the front of the housing queue SEE PAGE 5>>
l All you
need to know about rent changes and news on repairs SEE PAGES 6-7>> l Thumbs-up
for highspeed rail means lots of new homes for north of the borough SEE PAGE 8>>
l First-time buyers given a chance to get on to the housing ladder thanks to affordable homes included in new schemes SEE PAGE 9>>
WELCOME to your home magazine>> special message from Hammersmith & Fulham cabinet member for housing, cllr andrew johnson
A very busy year in housing Dear residents, Welcome to the latest edition of Your Home Magazine. This year promises to be a particularly busy year for the council on the housing front with a number of key challenges to be faced. Without doubt one of the biggest will be the introduction by the Government of some of the biggest reforms in more than 50 years of how council housing is funded. From April, the council will be able to keep all of the rents collected from tenants, which will be used to provide housing services and maintain our housing stock. However, this move means we will no longer receive
any subsidy from the Government and 2012 is also the year when we take a we will have to become completely fresh look at how we allocate our scarce self-financing. social housing stock. More details will As part of the reforms we will also follow later in the year. have to start paying off our £200million+ However, I would stress that this will housing debt, which includes the cost of only affect new tenancies and existing the Decent Homes works. In real terms, ones will be unchanged – your current we are spending £12m a year just to tenancy for life will be secure. cover the interest alone. What it means is that we can try to This is why we have give a far greater priority to those decided to approve people who work, do voluntary a rent rise of 7.65 per work within the community, cent which is in line have served in the armed y l with government forces or who have a p m t si recommendations strong local connection e are no p rents W u and will still result to the area. g n i jack e for s in the average rent The review also u c x e as an ng waste means we can look at being under £100 i per week – among not cutt fficiency doing far more to tackle e the lowest in inner antisocial behaviour and in west London and only and come down hard on a fraction of the private those abusing the system, rented sector. including eviction or even But, rest assured, we are not stopping people from getting simply jacking up rents as an excuse for another council property. not cutting waste and inefficiency and On a lighter note, 2012 of course we will look at every possible way of marks not only the Olympics but also saving money we can. the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and I It’s not all doom as hope you are all looking forward to gloom, as we will be these fantastic events which will reaffirm spending £35.7m London as one of the greatest cities this year on doing in the world. up our housing Cllr Andrew Johnson stock.
Home-finding made easy for tenants through swaps Tenants looking to move from the borough to other parts of the country could benefit from a new scheme aiming to improve social housing mobility. HomeSwap Direct will give social housing tenants wanting to swap their home the chance to see every available property in the country. Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council is part of the West London Housing Partnership (WLHP), which has been awarded a share of £1million from the Department of Communities and Local Government to test innovative and costeffective ways of supporting mobility. Projects include seeing if landlords can save money through tenants moving
2 | Your Home Magazine
through mutual exchange rather than a transfer. Cllr Andrew Johnson said: “The scheme will make it easier for tenants in H&F who want to move, whether for work, to be closer to family or to homes better suited to their needs.” Mutual exchange offers households a chance to find a new home without waiting for a property to be advertised through choice-based lettings systems that operate in the area. With HomeSwap Direct, households that want to move to other parts of the country can now access more properties on offer. l See www.homeswapper.co.uk.
Want to move elsewhere? Consider swapping a home with tenants in other parts of the country
Willmott Dixon Group chief executive Rick Willmott and support services chief executive officer Chris Durkin give Amber Stewart her award
n A DEDICATED Fulham apprentice who followed her dad’s example by refusing to be stuck behind a desk all day has won recognition in a national awards ceremony. Amber Stewart’s I hated th e enthusiasm and of being s idea excellent service behind a d tuck provided to the day and w esk all borough’s housing an to do somethted tenants led to a a practical ing Special Achievement properties across its entire Award from 13,500 housing stock. Hammersmith & Fulham Amber said: “My dad has Council’s repair and maintenance always worked in the trade and I contractor Willmott Dixon. The 24-year-old, an apprentice helped him when I was younger. “I hated the idea of being plumber and gas engineer, works stuck behind a desk all day with H&F Council to provide a and wanted to do something full reactive repairs service in practical, so got a placement at the south of the borough and a college five years ago and then also carry out repairs to empty
started working for Willmott Dixon. “I really love my job because its so hands-on, and people rely on me and need my help to fix problems in their homes. “There have been some barriers along the way, but the bigger the barrier the more I’ll try and push it down.”
Residents speak up on estate gh g ghgh g plans R
esidents have been telling Hammersmth & Fulham (H&F) Council what they think about proposals to include West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates in wider plans for the area. For more than a year the council has been asking local people about the pros and cons of including the estates in the huge redevelopment around Earls Court exhibition centres. Before making any final decisions it has always said that it would seek the views of residents. The council held a six-week
consultation where local people and businesses were sent a consultation pack and offered the chance to have their say online. If the estates are included within the wider plans, secure council tenants and resident leaseholders and freeholders living on the estates will be offered new homes in the redevelopment area. An economic assessment commissioned by the council has
provisionally concluded that including the estates would be in the best interests of local people. Council leader Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh said: “The council has to consider all the options available, which includes weighing up the disruption that redevelopment would cause for existing residents against potential longer term benefits, including new homes, job opportunities and other neighbourhood improvements.”
Your Home Magazine | 3
Top tips for taps keep water safe One of the ways the borough manages the risk to you from bacteria is through a contract with a water hygiene company. This firm undertakes risk assessments on its behalf and monitors the water supply
to make sure it is safe. In addition, if you follow the advice below it will also help you to ensure good water hygiene and reduce risk: l Make sure you use all the hot water taps in your home on a regular basis – once a week is recommended. l If you are away for a week or more, when you return you should run your shower and taps for a few minutes before you use them. This includes any taps that
you have outside as well as inside your property. Bear in mind that the risk from any water hygiene issue developing is very low. If you have any queries contact the call centre on 0800 093 3132. There are 1,300 water tanks in the borough and the council is replacing all 520 that need upgrading, with 320 replaced last year and the rest to follow in the next two years.
Cllr Andrew Johnson in a dilapidated H&F flat
Housing company brings old sites to life Continued from front page once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get on the property ladder and own their own home at a discounted market rate. Cllr Andrew Johnson, the council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “This is an extremely polarised borough for housing, with some of the most expensive house prices in Britain but some of the highest proportions of social housing in London. “We are committed to addressing this by helping more of our residents onto the property ladder through the promotion of low-cost home ownership for those on low to middle incomes. “For too long, hard-working families who aspire to home ownership have been priced out of buying a home in H&F. “The creation of the local housing company, and developing these seven sites, is part of our commitment to creating a low-cost home ownership Borough of Opportunity.” The seven areas that have been identified are primarily bin stores, pramsheds and garages that can be
4 | Your Home Magazine
For too long hard es ili m fa ng ki wor me who aspire to ho ve ha p ownershi been priced out in H&F
converted to create new affordable homes. The six other sites where some facilities could be better utilised are: Verulam House, William Church Estate and Lakeside Road, all in Shepherds Bush; Sulgrave Gardens, Hammersmith; Jepson House, Fulham; Lytton Estate, Barons Court. Cllr Johnson added: “This really is a win-win situation for residents. “People who live on these estates are going to see derelict sites – that have in some cases attracted antisocial behaviour – rejuvenated and brought back into use. “For residents who may have thought they would never be able to own a stake in their own home, this scheme could be the trigger that finally gets them onto the housing ladder. “Rather than be reliant upon developers and housing associations bringing forward sites for new affordable homes, we have taken the decision ourselves to use our land assets to improve the opportunity for home ownership in the borough.”
council new homes factfile>>
n Through the local housing development company structure the council will be able to maximise its financial return, retain the benefit of any affordable housing that is developed and maintain greater control over the design of the new housing schemes n The council will be writing to all residents on the estates selected to ensure they understand the benefits of development. Consultation events are being planned for February to discuss with residents the potential ideas and seek feedback before plans are finalised n The housing company will initially be funded by money the council has saved from selling off properties that are too expensive to repair but in the longer term is intended to become self-financing. Any profit made in the early years could be used to pay for estate improvements, such as better open spaces and play areas, and more new homes n The building work is expected to last two years. Becklow Gardens will be the first scheme with expected completion by May n Westminster, Islington and Wandsworth councils are also pursuing similar approaches to using council assets better for new affordable housing n H&F Home Buy will undertake the process of identifying suitable applicants from its Home Buy register of more than 4,000 people. To register with Home Buy call 020 8753 6464 or email h&fHomefirstname.lastname@example.org
Armed forces first in queue for housing in the borough
embers of the armed forces are to be placed at the front of the housing queue under a new pledge. Hammersmith & Fulham Council is looking to place former and current members at the front of the housing queue when it revises how it allocates social housing later this year. As well as ensuring that the armed forces are seen as a priority for housing, the council is also aiming to become the first local authority in the country to put members of the Territorial Army (TA) at a similar level on the priority list. The move comes as the council, which was the first in the country to start prioritising working households in 2007, looks to review how it allocates its social housing and Home Buy products to give a greater priority to those who also undertake voluntary service or have served in the armed forces. The announcement came after the Government made a commitment – endorsed by H&F – to ensure that priority is also given to former armed services personnel and their families who have a strong local connection to We do not b an area. that years elieve of H&F Council believes service sh loyal that the nature of military o u ld become a n obstacle work means servicemen and to finding women and their families all a home too often end up living in poor quality and expensive rented accommodation. The council also plans to give special constables priority for social housing. The borough is home to the Royal Yeomanry TA Regiment, which was awarded the freedom of the borough earlier this year. The Royal Yeomanry has a prestigious history and has served in every major campaign dating back to the Boer War in a variety of roles. The regiment is the oldest and most senior Territorial Army cavalry regiment. Cllr Andrew Johnson said: “H&F Council is eternally grateful for the courage and bravery of our armed forces serving in dangerous places across the world. “However, all too often, when they return home from duty they struggle to find appropriate housing. “This is unacceptable and we do not believe that years of loyal service to this country should become an obstacle to finding a home.”
n H&F Council says that under its new Tenants Charter it hopes to prioritise allocating council housing on the condition that people find work or enrol on a training course or undertake voluntary service while in part-time work. New tenants who are able to work but refuse to do so may forfeit their right to a council property within the borough. Cllr Johnson added: “If we want to build strong, mixed and sustainable communities we need to prioritise hard-working local people when considering applications for council housing.”
Your Home Magazine | 5
Service charges Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council is set to become the final local authority in London to introduce service charges for its tenants in April. The move heralds a new era of fairness for tenants, who will only pay for the services they receive. It means tenants will be able to distinguish between the cost of their accommodation and the cost of their services and there will be no increase in service charges until next year. Rises are to be phased in over time to ensure tenants are not hit with hefty increases. Even taking into account the recently announced rent increase, council tenants already pay among the lowest rents of all tenants in London – an average of £99.24 a week in a borough with the fourth-highest house prices in the country. The new service charge is broken down within rent bills being sent out in April so tenants can see exactly what their money is being spent on. Cllr Andrew Johnson said: “The current system of paying for services isn’t working. “For example, at present someone living in a street property in Shepherds Bush pays towards the cost of communal heating and lifts for a tall block in Fulham. That simply isn’t right or fair on those who end up contributing to the costs of things they don’t actually benefit from. “The proposed changes to our rent bills are to make them as fair and transparent as possible. Under this tenants will only pay for the services they actually receive. “Of course, we know that that we’re living in challenging financial times. That’s why we’re putting measures in place to make sure that residents are not going to be hit by steep rises when we bring them in.” Charges will take into account services such as caretaking, CCTV, communal lighting, concierge, door entry, cleaning, grounds maintenance, heating, TV aerials, fire alarms, lift maintenance and window cleaning. The model being proposed is fixed service charging, which means that residents will be told in advance what their service charge will be for the year, making it easier to budget. Increases in service charges bills will then be capped so the charges will increase by no more than the rate of inflation plus half a per cent. Tenants will also have the opportunity in future to pay for enhanced services if they wish – for example residents of one estate may choose to pay extra in return for more grounds maintenance.
6 | Your Home Magazine
Rents remain low despite the need for a rise S
OCIAL housing rents in the borough delivering services and therefore it will are to remain some of the lowest in want to pare this debt down over time. The council decided to abolish the west London. arms-length management organisation, Rates in Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) are still significantly below market H&F Homes, last year to save money. It now joins all other local authorities rates, despite the impact of the biggest shake-up in how the council funds its in having to balance rent levels with the need to ensure enough money housing stock for 50 years. is available to keep the stock in good The shake-up follows a condition. decision by the Government To do this, the council has a formula to radically reform how used in previous years to calculate rent council housing in England levels and is recommending a rise of is financed and will see the council become self-financing 7.65 per cent for the coming year, in line with the Government’s recommended from April this year. increase. This still keeps the levels lower Under the than those in present system most of inner the Government Average rent per London and pays local housing on nd Lo ermeans the new authorities a housing inn in ek we average rent, subsidy to cover any age Aver Local authority inclusive of shortfall between k wee rent per service charge, notional expenditure will be £99.24 and income. However, Hammersmith & Fulham for 2012-13. The under the new 2012-13 (with 7.65 per cent 4 £99.2 increase) majority of the model there will be 8 £92.1 Hammersmith & Fulham 2011-12 most vulnerable no subsidy and the £98.88 Kensington and Chelsea 2011-12 £104.49 residents in the council will retain all of Westminster 2011-12 £111.79 borough will the rents it collects to Wandsworth 2011-12 6 £91.7 Camden 2011-12 not notice any spend on its housing change to their stock. Rent increases for other finances as the As part of this, boroughs not yet known increase will the council will have be covered by to produce a 30-year housing benefit. investment plan, which details how it H&F is one of the highest-cost intends to invest in its housing stock, housing boroughs in the country and and, more importantly, how it will start despite the rises the level of council rent to manage its £200million+ of housing debt. This means the council has to pay is only a fraction of that in the private rented sector. around £12m per year interest on the The rise in rent also follows news of debt, money that cannot be used for
Comparative table of average council housing rents and private sector rents in Hammersmith & Fulham Property size Studio flat One bed flat One bed house Two bed flat Two bed house Three bed house
Average council housing rent with 7.65 per cent increase £77.86 £88.86 £96.22 £98.86 £109.75 £122.97
Average private sector rent per week £217.30 £298.05 £324.77 £401.84 £462.18 £606.09
“A key part of this will be to start paying down the housing debt and reducing the interest bill through managing our stock more effectively. Very few people realise that the council’s housing budget is held entirely separately from our general funds. “So while the council has been cutting its historic debt mountain from an eyewatering £176m in 2004 to a projected £94m by the end of the next financial year, we now need to start the same process in housing. “If it’s a case of rents rocketing or selling an increasing number of expensive empty properties in a poor state of repair to pay the debt, it’s the latter every time. We also have to H&F Council has also remember announced plans to cut that the council tax by 3.75 per Decent cent which is projected to Homes catapult H&F into the top funding three of low tax boroughs was never nationwide actually real (see page 13) money given to us, only the freedom to borrow, and now that it’s finished it’s time to start paying the bill as it forms a part of our debt. “That said, we will still be making significant investments in our housing stock over the coming year, including spending over £35m on the capital works programme for things like new lifts, painting and decorating, controlled access and making our stock more energy efficient – works needed, in many cases, since before the days of the Almo [arms-length management organisation].” Despite the huge increases in the cost of gas and electricity nationwide, the council intends to freeze heating charges for 2012/13. However, in line with the increase in the cost of living, water bills are set to rise by 5.8 per cent, and garage and parking spaces by 7.65 per cent. The council intends to fund its maintenance work without the need for further borrowing by selling off dilapidated properties that are too expensive to bring back into use. Over the next nine years, the council expects to sell 282.
Despite having to pay the Decent Homes bill, Hammersmith & Fulham Council will still be spending more then £35million on a capital works programme covering works such as painting and decorating the completion this month of the £215m decision to raise rents by 7.65 per cent Decent Homes project, which started in was not taken lightly and even after this 2005 to improve the borough’s council rise they will still remain some of the housing stock, and was paid for by the lowest in west London and far below council borrowing hundreds of that of the private rented sector. millions of pounds. “Clearly though, our The works have resulted tenants and our leaseholders in thousands of kitchens expect us to make sure the r and bathrooms being that rents and service e ft a n e v E l il modernised, electrical charges are the last thing w ts n rise re e upgrades to more than 9,000 to rise, which is why we’ll m o s in a rem homes, new boilers or heating be focusing hard over in t s e of the low on systems installed in more than the coming 12 months to d n west Lo 8,000 properties and new roof strip out unnecessary costs coverings to nearly 5,000, but this and waste within the housing money will now have to effectively department. start being paid back. “So far we’ve already identified Cllr Andrew Johnson said: “It is clear significant savings for next year and that 2012 will be a really challenging year around £4m a year from 2014, but more for us in housing. With this in mind the needs to be done.
Quality control A review of Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council’s sheltered accommodation aims to help older people retain their independence and enhance their quality of life.
The council has around 1,000 properties designated as sheltered accommodation. These are grouped together into 22 distinct sheltered housing schemes. H&F will soon embark on a stock condition survey to ensure that all of its housing is fit for purpose. This review is the first strand of that. It will assess the quality
and provision of its current sheltered housing stock and the potential to convert 105 units into ‘extra care’ housing. Extra care provides an intermediate stage for people requiring greater support and care but not the intensive level offered by residential care. The outcome of the review will be reported
back to the council’s cabinet within 12 months.
Your Home Magazine | 7
An artist’s impression of the Park Royal City design which is set to revitalise the rundown Old Oak Common area of Hammersmith & Fulham
Sublet? Jail could be your new home...
full speed ahead
for old oak common hub! A drive to outlaw subletting has been welcomed – and the borough has already moved to weed out anyone abusing the system. At the moment, it is not a criminal offence to sublet a council house – a loophole that allows tenants to move out and take rent from someone else. However, anyone caught subletting can be evicted for breaching their contract. The council has welcomed steps by the Government to go one step further and potentially jail offenders, and is continually carrying out an audit of its housing stock to ensure the correct tenants are living there. It has also been working with other parties to share intelligence and target suspected fraudsters. Cllr Andrew Johnson said: “Every home that is sublet is a property that is taken away from a person or family in need. “If you are illegally subletting your home we will find you and take it back and you may face criminal charges.” The council has joined forces with Experian, the UK’s largest credit reference agency, to deploy the latest fraud detection and data matching techniques to tackle social housing fraud.
8 | Your Home Magazine
wathes of derelict industrial land in one of London’s poorest areas will be transformed after Old Oak Common was named as the location of southern England’s main high-speed rail station. At least 20,000 jobs could be created in one of the capital’s most deprived neighbourhoods now that the Government has given the green light for the £32billion rapid rail link between London and Birmingham. Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council has long argued that an interchange station in
the area is not just vital to making the overall HS2 plans work properly but can also act as a catalyst to transform the area.
The announcement paves the way for a thriving new neighbourhood, dubbed Park Royal City,
according to the council. A new generation of high-speed trains, running at speeds of up to 250mph, will stop at this major new interchange station just north of Wormwood Scrubs before terminating at Euston. The Government has recognised Old Oak Common’s vital role in taking pressure off busy central London terminals. Around a third of all high-speed (HS2) passengers are expected to transfer at Old Oak Common onto the station’s unrivalled rail and road connections, including a new Crossrail and orbital rail interchange.
Connections from the new Old Oak Common high-speed station (above) and Sir Terry Farrell (left), architect of the Park Royal City scheme which could include the Hammersmith & Fulham hub
Bayonne Estate residents John and Ann Ford with PM David Cameron and Hammersmith & Fulham Cllr Andrew Johnson
Cameron pops in for a cuppa An innovative project to keep homes warm and insulate residents from spiralling energy bills has been praised by Prime Minister David Cameron. He toured the Bayonne Estate in Fulham to see how council tenants are benefiting from new cavity wall insulation thanks to a combination of government grants and a partnership between Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council and Climate Energy Ltd. It means 283 homes will be given the wall insulation. Ann and John Ford, who have lived on the estate for more than 20 years, invited Mr Cameron in for a cup of tea and We are w a chat. “We used now and arm to have a can have we wicked draught complainno ts whistling through our windows and from under the door,” John told the PM. “But since the council has fixed them and we’ve just had our walls done we only need to put one radiator on instead of the four we had blasting last winter. We are warm now and we can have no complaints.” Mr Cameron said: “We need to make the energy market more competitive and it is also in all of our interests to get as many homes as possible insulated properly so we can get bills down and keep warm.” The homes of elderly residents in other parts of H&F have also been prioritised with the improvements expected to slash £100 a year off each property’s energy bill and cut each home’s carbon emissions.
First-time buyers given help to get a foot on the ladder N
early 600 first-time buyers have been helped into home ownership by Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council in the last four years, according to the latest figures. The borough has the fourth highest house prices in Britain and many people who would like to own a place locally are currently priced out of the market. But the council’s Home Buy team, a one-stop-shop dedicated to getting local residents onto the housing ladder, is making a big difference. Since 2007, 452 people have bought a new home through the council’s shared ownership schemes. These schemes allow first-time buyers on low and middle incomes to part buy and part rent their home. Residents can buy as little as 25 per cent of a new home and build up the percentage they own over time, until they own it outright. Seventy-eight people have also been helped onto the housing ladder through discounted market sale (DMS) schemes and that figure is likely to increase further over the Schemes at Chelsea Creek (top) and Star Road coming months. (above), both in Fulham, have been designed to DMS is a low-cost home ownership include affordable homes for first-time buyers product where a new-build property is purchased at a discounted price. The discount is usually around 30 per cent. This is possible because when the under £54,000 for each property. development was negotiated with the The development comprises 14 council, this discount was stipulated to one-beds and four studios. try to help people get onto the property Cllr Andrew Johnson said: “With ladder. property prices so high and hard-working A series of studio and one-bedroom residents finding that their disposable Manhattan apartments have recently been income is shrinking it is becoming harder made available for DMS at the Chelsea and harder for first-time buyers to take that Creek development in Fulham. Eighty-two first step onto the housing ladder. contracts have already been exchanged “The problem is particularly stark for with the majority due for young people who feel they have little completion before June. prospect of owning their The council has also own home. t more teamed up with Pocket “This is why this council l To find ou buyer e Developments to sell 18 is committed to creating a about first-timmersmith apartments on a new Borough of Opportunity by homes in Hamcall H&F development in Star helping those who aspire to & Fulham 53 n 020 87 o y u Road, Fulham, at just 80 own their own home.” B e m o H ter online per cent of the market The council has also helped 6464 or regis f.gov.uk/ value. This means the 57 people into home ownership at www.lbh uy homeb starting price for a studio through the Right to Buy scheme is under £150,000 and a onewhich allows council tenants who bed £220,000. wish to buy their council property The total discount for the 18 properties outright to receive a discount on the total is almost £1million and averages at just value of the property.
Your Home Magazine | 9
Are you ready for snow?
Sign up for e-alerts!
Hammersmith & Fulham Council is prepared for severe winter weather conditions, including snow. Sign up for snow update email alerts for information about school closures, council services affected by bad weather, and how the roads are looking. Visit www.lbhf.gov.uk/snow and sign up! Information is also available on Twitter http://twitter.com/lbhf
10 | Your Home Magazine
Expert called in to boost people power in housing R
esidents will be given a greater develop a new approach to encourage involvement in housing more direct talks with tenants and management. leaseholders. More than 17,000 homes returned to Tenants collectively pay £160,000 to Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council Hafftra every year through a levy and Mr control last April after H&F Homes (the Morgan believes this represents a poor arms-length management organisation – value for money deal for residents. Almo) was replaced with a single housing He reported back that ‘the current and regeneration department. approach to resident involvement falls Following the move the council short of best practice’ and ‘there is some identified a greater say for residents in how resident involvement but not enough. The their housing services are delivered emphasis on solely working through as a priority. In October it invited a federation, representing tenant a leading expert, Phil Morgan, and resident associations, to carry out an independent is now almost universally There is review on how it, as a disregarded as a suitable way some residen landlord, works with of involving residents. t involvem tenants and leaseholders. ‘The arrangements for ent but not He spoke to a range of the relationship with Hafftra enough tenants and leaseholders, on the tenants levy are residents’ associations and outdated and no longer fit for other stakeholders to create a purpose’. draft strategy aiming to involve Cllr Andrew Johnson said: more residents in decisions. Initial “Since the council brought the housing conclusions recommend the council service back in-house, we have been adopts much broader forms of dealing working hard to ensure that we have with residents over issues such as repairs, a truly responsive, efficient service that contractor relations and housing services. delivers value for money and places Mr Morgan also found that the council tenants and leaseholders at the core should change the way it works with the of everything we do. Hammersmith and Fulham Federation “We brought Mr Morgan on board as of Tenants and Residents Associations a respected figure within social housing to (Hafftra) – the body that co-ordinates undertake an independent review of how and manages the way that the council we engage with residents and encourage engages and consults with council tenants. more direct dialogue with our residents to As a result, the council will be drive service improvements.” terminating its current contract with The council has been consulting this Hafftra and instead work with the month with all tenants and leaseholders federation over the next three months to once again.
Action was taken to seize back a flat in Ashcroft Square (above) which was being used as a drugs factory
drugs den is stamped out A flat in Hammersmith that was being used as a drugs factory has now been returned to the council’s possession. In July, police raided 6 Ashcroft Square following reports from Kings Mall security guards of people suspiciously loading plastic sacks into a number of cars. A trail of cannabis leaves and compost led to the front door of the flat. The tenant, Emily Douglas, was arrested on suspicion of cultivating cannabis and officers found that one entire bedroom had been converted to a cannabis factory and, despite the overnight harvesting, still had 30-40 plants. In October, Hammersmith & Fulham Council was granted outright possession of the property at West London Magistrates Court. Cllr Greg Smith, cabinet member for residents’ services, said: “Drug dealers have no place in our estates or anywhere else in the borough and if residents tell us where there is a problem, even if they do not want to be named, then we can and will take action.” Douglas is thought to have fled the borough and is being hunted by police.
Wanted! H&f backs rogues gallery to track down suspects who have fled and bring them to justice See page 14>>
Wanted! Your Home Magazine | 11
Super sewer plan is slammed – by expert who came up with it
hammer time A FORMER council flat in Shepherds Bush that was sold for £36,000 above market value has been featured on a BBC TV programme. Homes under the Hammer followed the sale of a ground floor property in Coningham Road that was originally valued at £185,000 but actually sold by auctioneers Savills for £221,000. The flat was sold by the council as it was in a poor state and it would not have made financial sense to carry out improvements. Cllr Andrew Johnson said: “We are absolutely delighted to have received well above the market value for this property. “This is a fantastic deal for taxpayers because the proceeds of this sale will go towards improving council housing across the borough as well as helping to create new supply for rent or lowcost home ownership.” l You can watch Homes under the Hammer at www.bbc.co.uk/ iplayer/episode/b017j8jq/Homes_ Under_the_Hammer_Series_14_ Episode_145
12 | Your Home Magazine
HE excessive cost of Thames Water’s super sewer could be halved – according to the industry expert who first came up with the plan. Chris Binnie, who was the original architect of Thames Water’s controversial £4.1billion super sewer, now says the benefits of the scheme no longer justify the colossal costs and there is another solution that could meet EU rules for half the cost. In a separate development, local authority engineers say the sewer construction site that Thames Water has earmarked for Kirtling Street, Wandsworth, could be expanded instead of using Carnwath Road in south Fulham. Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council is calling on Thames Water to review its Protestors at the December meeting about the Thames tunnelling strategy to enable Tunnel make their point about the super sewer plan the sewer to be driven directly from Kirtling Street to Acton Storm tanks. The move would bypass south Authority, and skimmers to collect the Fulham’s tight-knit residential neighbourhood, minimising disruption to floating litter, according to Mr Binnie. Carnwath Road residents in particular. “Considering the large cost increase, The council says the total drive length before proceeding further Thames Water would only be 2.7 miles longer than the current Thames Water plan and water bill- should set up an independent review of the benefit of bubblers, and then payers’ cash could be saved by avoiding the west tunnel, if necessary as part of the need to compulsory purchase land a phased implementation as and when around Carnwath Road and by only having one main site set-up cost, instead shown to be required,” he added. Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, H&F of two. Council leader, said: “There are Meanwhile, Mr Binnie says now two credible options on a shorter western tunnel, the table that could save running from Acton to 14m Thames Water’s Heathwall, could be customers a fortune built for around £1.9bn. l For more it is and importantly save Combined with the Lee v n o ti a inform residents from the Tunnel in east London, / k .u v unbearable disruption which is already being www.lbhf.go that the construction built, the amount of ersewer p u s site could bring. combined sewage “The only losers from discharged into the river either option are Thames would be cut by at least 72 Water shareholders who per cent, according to Thames stand to make a large amount of Water’s own figures. The other worst-offending discharges money if the super sewer gets the green light.” in the east of the capital, downriver Thames Water bosses are expected to at Greenwich and Deptford, can be make a final decision on the super sewer addressed by ‘bubblers’, as employed later in the year. very successfully by Cardiff Harbour
Householders set to gain from latest council tax cut C
ouncil tax bills are set to fall by 3.75 per cent in Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) – thanks in part to the fact that services are being combined with neighbouring authorities. It would be the fifth year out of six that the bills come down at the west London authority. The average council taxpayer in H&F could be £243 better off compared to the average Londoner… based on five years of tax cuts at a time when average council tax bills in the capital have risen by £73. The move will take H&F’s council tax level to the third lowest in the country. The former UK ‘Council of the Year’ is also on course to cut its historic debt from £176million to a projected £94m by the end of the next financial year, saving local taxpayers £7.1m in debt repayments every year. The news comes at a time when, according to a Local Government Chronicle survey, a fifth of councils across the UK may not take up the Government’s financial incentive to freeze council tax next year.
“While the cost of living continues to rise, we are proud to be putting money back in the wallets of our local taxpayers and we are proud to be protecting frontline services.” Eric Pickles, secretary of state for communities and local government, welcomed the move by saying: “The Government’s council tax freeze initiative is helping keep bills down, but H&F has gone even further by cutting council tax yet again. Its councillors and officers should be congratulated for protecting frontline Council tax bills are set to be cut in the services and making creative savings borough for the fifth year out of six through more joint working and better property management.” The planned tax cut, which We are p r o Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, needs to be ratified by H&F’s u d t o be prote H&F Council leader, said: Full Council in February, comes cting frontlin “Combining services, as H&F, Westminster City servicese management, overhead costs Council and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and expertise across councils (RBKC) are combining services in is not only leading to better many areas, including children’s services in many areas, it is ensuring services, adult social care and that taxpayers are enjoying some of the library services. lowest council tax bills in the country.
leader steps down for a new challenge The leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council (H&F) has announced that he intends to stand down. Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, who has been leader since 2006, has overseen a council that is on track to reduce council tax five years out of six (see story above) while cutting its historic debt burden in half. Standing down will enable him to focus on how to decentralise power from the town hall and Whitehall to the neighbourhood so that local public services are more accountable to local people. He is helping to pioneer plans for a Neighbourhood Budget for the White City Opportunity Area. Nearly £70million of taxpayers’ funds – or £17,000 per
household – is spent in this area every year. Despite this, unemployment is twice the borough average, the area has high levels of overcrowding, relatively low educational attainment and relatively high levels of crime. H&F wants to pool central and local government’s spending into a single budget pot and involve residents far more in how that money is spent. Cllr Greenhalgh said: “I am keen to work with Whitehall and the town hall to develop a new approach to public spending at a neighbourhood level while continuing to serve the residents of Town Ward where I both live and work. “I do not think the people of White City are getting value for money out of that £70m, nor do I think are wider taxpayers.
I want to focus that money on getting much better outcomes for people living there and ensuring that the neighbourhood is fully involved in how that money is spent.” He added: “I do not think the “Being leader of the people of White City council is a remarkable challenge are getting value which I have been thrilled for money” to take on. I am immensely grateful for the energy and professionalism of my fellow councillors and staff in making possible such a radical transformation of the council over the last five years. “We can be so proud of what we have achieved in becoming such an influential, trail-blazing council. We have been the guiding star by which other councils seek to navigate.”
Your Home Magazine | 13
Enjoy the freedom of breaking away from leasehold More than 300 leaseholders are to be given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy their own homes from Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council. Under H&F’s ‘Right to Freehold’ , 308 leaseholders who live at 140 street properties across the borough will be able to purchase the freehold. Each of these buildings are comprised entirely of leasehold properties and residents will be able to join forces to buy the right to the land off the council. Buying the freehold of the block will give residents complete communal ownership of the block, and full communal management rights to the flats and the building. As freeholders they will no longer
Big recycling rise as new ideas stack up An innovative project has helped recycling in some parts of the borough to rise dramatically. Between July and October last year, residents living in selected blocks of flats in the borough were encouraged to change the way they recycled their household waste. Hammersmith & Fulham Council introduced new recycling chutes and delivered re-useable bags to residents’ homes that they can use to carry recycling to and from new Smart Banks outside their flats. Smart Banks were installed at 18 new locations, where previously there were limited recycling facilities or none at all, and about 20,000 properties were visited by recycling experts. The council measured the amount of waste collected from 528 households out of 1,470 which used the recycling chutes, both before and after the changes. The amount soared from around nine tons in July to 19 tons by the middle of October – an incredible 111 per cent. The figures also reveal an estimated annual increase of 137 per cent in the amount of waste being recycled in locations where new Smart Banks were put in place. H&F Council cabinet member for residents’ services, Cllr Greg Smith, said: “The price of throwing rubbish away continues to rise and the best way that residents can help us keep costs down is to recycle more.”
14 | Your Home Magazine
Buying the freehold can give you control over repairs need to pay a block service charge to the council and they will be able to jointly decide to abolish the ground rent. Owning the freehold will also give residents complete control over repairs and bills for major work. H&F Council has been enjoying its best year ever in relation to freehold enfranchisement with seven sales
completed and a further eight at a very advanced stage. Alexandra Johnson bought the freehold to her home in Nella Road, Hammersmith. She said: “We always wanted to own the freehold from the beginning but we had to wait for the flat upstairs to be in a position to buy the freehold too. “It only felt that we owned half of the property beforehand because someone could have come in at any time and changed the windows. Now it is an amazing feeling to know that it is all under our control. The council was very helpful throughout the process.” l For more information call 020 8753 6464 or email email@example.com.
ake a good look at these faces – they belong to some of west London’s most wanted. And the Met Police has joined forces with Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council to ask for YOUR help in bringing them to justice. The rogues’ gallery, with three foothigh mug shots mounted on a mobile ad van, has been touring west London as part of the joint initiative, which has been paid for by the council. Officers want to quiz the suspects for a range of offences including drug dealing, ABH and burglary. l Amy Libren who is charged with ABH on her partner in addition to three charges for possession of crystal meth, cocaine and mephedrone l Sean Patterson (top photo) and Darrell Richmond are charged with a £2,000 jewellery heist in W12. Both failed to appear at Isleworth Crown Court on November 3, 2011
H&F Council is spending £1.3million a year for three enhanced town centre squads of beat bobbies, meaning the borough has 44 more officers than it would do otherwise. “Criminals can run, but they cannot hide,” said Cllr Greg Smith, H&F cabinet member for residents’ services. “We need residents to take a long hard look at these faces and help us find these people. Our message is clear: if you know these people we want you to turn them in.” l If you have information dial 101, email hammersmithandfulham.police@met. police.uk or tweet: @MPSHammFul.
l Philip Brown failed to turn up to Kingston Crown Court for sentencing. He has pleaded guilty to supplying crack cocaine and heroin after being caught in possession of a large quantity of drugs
l Paul Dunkley is charged with burglary of a jewellers in Shepherds Bush and admitted the offence. However, he failed to appear in court in May last year
l Staff areas of pubs around W12 and W6 were targeted by Maria Calvi who failed to appear at West London Magistrates Court and is charged with two counts of burglary
l Adam Gryzec was sentenced to a year in prison for burglary and is wanted for failing to comply with his reporting conditions after he was released in November
new style of housing that could revolutionise urban development has been launched in the borough. Rational House, in Biscay Road, Fulham, is is the brainchild of architect Robert Dalziel and engineer Tim Battle, who took inspiration from the most successful features of housing around the world, past and present, and packaged them into a modern house. The result responds to a vital need in the UK to For mo provide highinformatre ion density, low-rise, visit w sustainable rationalhww. ouse. homes with com design and quality at an affordable cost. Much of the work for Rational House is done off site including the traditional concrete walls and floors. The walls are load-bearing, preventing the need for internal steel framework and producing an adaptable layout that can accommodate the changing needs of the people who live in it, or be easily converted into flats, offices or shops. The design creates an airy, light feeling through the use of large windows and high ceilings. The sustainable design means that running costs and energy consumption is kept low for the occupiers of the house. Hammersmith & Fulham Council leader Stephen Greenhalgh officially opened the site and said: “This is fantastic news for hard-working, middleincome earners who want to live in Hammersmith & Fulham.” Mr Battle added: “In essence we are creating tomorrow’s modern classic. We have achieved this by embracing the best of contemporary design and building techniques, including off-site manufacturing and low-energy performance.”
rational thought process Tim Battle from Rational House and David Lunts of the Greater London Authority at the Fulham launch of a new housing style
Tudor Rose centre ready for fast growth The brand-new £1million children’s and community centre on the Fulham Court Estate has been officially opened. Hammersmith & Fulham Council leader Stephen Greenhalgh performed the honours at the Tudor Rose. This has replaced a crumbling 20-year-old prefab building and combines a ground-floor children’s centre for families with children under five and a first-floor community centre able to host everything from youth groups to healthy-eating classes. The children’s centre at the Tudor Rose is run by the Pre School Learning Alliance,
Cllr Greenhalgh officially opens the Tudor Rose community centre on Fulham Court Estate
who will run four other H&F centres. Cllr Greenhalgh said: “While many local authorities have chosen to close their children’s centres, we have kept all of ours open and even managed to open a new one, bringing the total in the borough to 16. I know that the Tudor Rose is already proving to be very popular. “As more people learn about the building I hope it will encourage other groups to use the facilities.” The opening event was sponsored by local company Element Six and supported by Hammersmith & Fulham Volunteers Centre and Works 4U.
Your Home Magazine | 15
These are the types of questions H&F Council is asking as part of our work to reduce crime even further in the borough. We want to get your views on local community safety problems and suggest areas where we can improve. Have your say now by visiting: www.lbhf.gov.uk/crime2012
The consultation closes at 12.00pm, Saturday 31 March 2012
and your views will help set future crime fighting priorities in the borough.
Hammersmith & Fulham Council