£100,000 to be spent on urgent fire risk assessments in York Council flats

Fire exit direction sign in York Council block

The backlog in undertaking fire risk assessments, in blocks of Council flats in York, is to be addressed with a £100,000 injection of funding.

Immediately after the Grenfell Tower fire in London it was revealed that 322, potentially vulnerable, properties had not been checked recently for fire risks.

The risk assessments are due to be undertaken every 3 years (1 year at hostel/sheltered accommodation) in the City’s 592 properties.

As part of a review, 70 properties were newly identified as needing an assessment.  It appears that the Council had not previously recognised that these buildings had communal areas.

The Council now aims to complete the outstanding assessments by February 2018. Contractors will be employed to undertake the work.

The Council says that it has already installed hard wired smoke alarms at 5000 of its 7700 properties. The rest will be upgraded during the “tenant s choice” modernisation programme. In the meantime, tenants will be offered lithium (10 year) battery operated detectors in their properties as an interim measure.

Regular inspections are taking place aimed at removing any obstacles to fire exit routes in the communal areas of flats.

York has no Council owned blocks which are over 18 metres high.

A copy of the Council report can be read by clicking here The report makes no mention of the situation at privately owned blocks of flats in the City.

Bed blocking – Care Quality Commission to probe failings in York

The probe comes in the wake of figures that reveal that the total number of days that patients have were delayed during the year to May 2017 was 10,436.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is reviewing the York health and social care system and delayed transfers of care.

In a report to be considered later this week, the York Council says, “The review will highlight what is working well and where there are opportunities for improving how the system works”

This equates to, on average, 28.6 beds each day being occupied because of delayed discharges, although, during the most recent three-month period, this figure was 24.5.

A delayed transfer of care occurs when a hospital patient is deemed medically fit to be discharged, but cannot be released from hospital because they are awaiting a package of care from either the NHS and/or a local authority

There continues to be a downward trend in the number of days that patients are delayed leaving hospital that are attributable to adult social care.

In 2016/17, on average, patients were delayed for 3.73 days in hospital due to adult social care services.

The Better Care Fund provided the Council and hospitals with finances to work together on a range of measures, including delayed transfer of care, aimed at improving outcomes for NHS and adult social care users in the City of York area.

New elderly persons homes planned for Clifton plus changes for services for adults with learning disabilities

Burton Stone community centre to be demolished

New community facilities and 33 new homes for older people could be built in Clifton.

The homes include the city’s first available to buy for shared ownership on a council-built care scheme. This proposed £6.667 million scheme will meet increasing need for extra care for the city’s growing number of older residents and replaces an existing community centre.

The 29 new extra care apartments and four two-bedroomed bungalows would be built as an annexe to the Marjorie Waite Court extra care scheme. Up to ten homes could be sold on a shared equity basis, helping older homeowners – 80% of whom own their own home in York – to move to more appropriate accommodation.

It forms part of the council’s programme to increase high quality accommodation with care for rising population of older people, as agreed in June 2015.

The scheme’s tenants, local residents and groups using the Burton Stone Community Centre site were consulted on and their feedback has helped shape the proposal.

Besides using the land currently occupied by Burton Stone Community Centre to extend the extra care scheme, new community facilities will be built to meet the needs of local people, groups and Marjorie Waite Court tenants. Some of the existing users of the Burton Stone centre will move to new facilities in Burnholme, Tang Hall.

City of York Council’s Executive will also be asked to give their consent for the council to go out to the market to procure support providers that will deliver services for adults and young people with learning disabilities when they meet on Thursday 31 August.

At their meeting Executive will be asked for their consent to go out to tender for two schemes, a day base at the Burnholme health and wellbeing campus and a short breaks service, currently at Flaxman Avenue.

If they agree, Executive will be asked to delegate the award of the tenders to the corporate director of health, housing and adult social care in consultation with the executive member for health, housing and adult social care.

If approved, the day base will be part of the new Burnholme health and wellbeing campus, where building work is currently ongoing. The site, as a whole, will see over £35m of public and private sector investment and provide care, health, community and sports facilities as well as new housing and is expected to be ready in 2018.
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Old Manor school buildings set to be demolished

York’s planning committee is being recommended to approve an application to demolish the old Manor School buildings on Low Poppleton Lane.

The planning application, which will be discussed at a meeting taking place on 17th August, also contains details of major changes to road junction arrangements in the area.

The changes are necessary to allow new access roads, to the former British Sugar site, to be constructed.

In turn, this will facilitate the erection of new housing in the area.

There have been relatively few objections to the plan although the Council is being recommended to provide mitigation measures to protect the well-being of the bats that live in the school building.

Some better news for those on the housing waiting list in York

Mean waiting times on the waiting list for those seeking to rent one and two bedroomed properties reduced last year.

In 2015/2016 the median waiting time for a property from the housing waiting list was 259 days

Last year (2016/2017) this had fallen to 222 days

Waiting times for 3 bedroomed properties increased.

Listed below by year are the median waiting times for a property by assessed bed need

2015/16 2016/17

· 1-bed home

277 162

· 2-bed home

255

237

· 3-bed home

226

371

· 4-bed home 321

326

By the end of April 2017 the numbers on the waiting list in York for different sizes of property were

  • 1038 applications for a 1 bedroom
  • 642 applications with a 2 bed need
  • 200 applications with a 3 bed need
  • 45 applications with a 4 bed need
  • 5 applications with a 5 bed need

Applicants seeking to rent properties from social landlords in the City should visit the following web site. https://www.northyorkshirehomechoice.org.uk/

So are York house prices “going through the roof”

The media re reporting today that there has been a substantial increase in house prices in York over the last year. Well has there?

Actual sales figures confirm that only recently did house price levels recover to match those seen pre-recession in 2007.

House prices were level for 6 years before trending up from 2015.

This year median prices have been volatile but recently trended downwards. The median price for a flat in the City is now £168,000 but good properties are still available for under £150,000.

Retirement flats are available from around £80,000 . You can get a 2 bed terraced property needing restoration for £110,000

Houses are taking around 90 days on average to sell, with 2 and 3 bedroomed properties till the most sought after.

Labour politicians say with one breath that we need a Local Plan – the latest draft would see around 850 additional homes built each year – but then delay the adoption of the plan by “calling it in” for further discussion.

Few will have forgot that, when Labour took control of the Council in May 2011, one of the first things they did was halt the implementation of a Local Plan which was on the brink of adoption.

6 years later and the prevarication continues.

So, we need less exaggeration from the headline writers and more commitment from the politicians if we are to have a working Local Plan and with it controls on City development.

That remains a worthy and urgent objective

Numbers sleeping rough in York still too high

A council report reveals that the authority missed its target for reducing the numbers of rough sleepers in the City. It had hoped to reduce the number to no more than 12 but at the test date last November 18 were found on the streets. This was the same number as a year previously. (NB. Some rough sleepers refused offers of assistance)

There was better news for other classes of homeless, with the number accepted for rehousing being 97 in the year an improvement on the target of 100.

In addition, preventative work was undertaken in 752 cases.

The main reasons for people becoming homeless were:

  1. Parental exclusion / family licence terminations remain a major cause of homelessness
  2. The number of relationship breakdowns due to violence
  3. Homelessness because of the loss of Assured Shorthold Tenancies remains high.

The housing waiting list remains stable with, at 31/3/17, 1596 York people registered with North Yorkshire Home Choice.

306 Council houses became vacant last year in the City. 53 additional properties were built for social rent.

The report reveals that there are now 7 refugee Syrian families living in private rented accommodation in the City

The Council says that one of its housing priorities is to prioritise a “reduction in rough sleeping, street drinking and begging (in conjunction with Community Safety Hub) and explore need for day facilities and night shelter in light of rising numbers of rough sleepers and associated street drinking and begging”.

Help with Universal Credit for York residents offered by York Council

 

Ahead of Universal Credit rolling out for even more residents in York from 12 July, the council says it will support residents who need digital assistance and budgeting support with Universal Credit.

Universal Credit is a new benefit, handled by the Department for Work and Pensions, which helps people on a low income or not in work, meet their living costs. It combines six benefits, including housing benefit and working tax credit, into a single monthly payment.

Currently Universal Credit is only available to single jobseekers in York but from 12th July parents and couples, including people who can’t work because of their health, living in the city and making a new claim will also receive it.

Universal Credit is one of the biggest ever changes to the benefit system and this may cause people to be worried about what will happen to their benefits. People who need assisted digital support or personal budget support should contact the council’s benefits service on 551556 or to visit www.york.gov.uk.”

There are several changes to previous benefits with Universal Credit, including:

  • ·        payments are made in arrears once at the end of the month, rather than being paid every week.
  • ·        payments will go straight into a claimant’s bank account. This means people may need to set up their own direct debits for expenses like rent if it was paid directly to their landlord under the old Housing Benefit system.

Residents who want to claim Universal Credit who are unable to use the internet or don’t understand how to make the claim can contact the council on 01904 551556 to ask for help through Assisted Digital Support (ADS).

People who would like to claim Universal Credit but are having trouble opening a bank account or managing their money can contact the council on 01904 552044 to ask for help through Personal Budgeting and Support (PBS). PBS can help with budgeting and advice on finding a bank account as Universal Credit cannot be paid into a Post Office card account.

The council has also teamed up with South Yorkshire Credit Union Ltd to give tailored advice which could include consolidating any repayments into a single, more manageable account at a lower, fixed interest rate, rather than resort to unregulated lenders or loan sharks.

Private or council tenants or mortgage holders are welcome to take advantage of the scheme which aims to help people budget and manage any debts.

For more information about the rollout of Universal Credit in York visit www.york.gov.uk

Latest Local Plan forecasts 20% growth in size of York by 2032

Papers published for a meeting taking place on 13th July say that an additional 19,000 homes should be built in the City before 2032.

Of the target of 953 dwellings per year, around 80 per annum (10%) have been added in order to make housing more “affordable”.

The papers are coy about where the additional 35,000 residents will come from.

Previous drafts have identified immigration as the main source of new labour, although this seems to be in conflict with the present governments polices. Around 2000 inward migrants have arrived in the City in each of the last five years.

A map of the proposed land allocations can be viewed by clicking here

Proposed land allocations – click to access

Hopes that the identification of more building land at threatened MOD sites (Fulford Road and Strensall) would reduce the pressure to build on green fields sites, like the Lowfields playing fields, have been dashed. Officials are recommending that the additional 1392 homes that could be built there over the next 15 years will simply add to the target housing  completion rate (satisfying the increased annual building target of 953 homes per year).

Average housing building rates in York have been about 700 pa over the last 5 years, although last year over 1100 homes were completed. Most homes built in York over the last decade have been erected on what are known, to the planng world, as “windfall sites”; meaning they were not identified as housing development land in local plans.

House prices and building rates

There are currently 3758 planning permissions for homes which remain unimplemented.

The Local Plan remains vague about how growth of the order proposed can be accommodated without serious -and very costly – improvements in infrastructure (notably, transport and healthcare).

Westfield

The new proposals have little direct impact for the Westfield area. None of the land between the existing built u-p area and the northern by pass is slated for development.

However officials have changed the proposals for the development of the playing fields at Lowfields. They are incorporating the plans favoured by some Councillors which would see the number of dwellings built increased from 137 to 162.

There were 10 objections to development of the Lowfields playing field (including Sport England) while only 3 representations were made in support of the Councils plans.

Extract from Council report covering Lowfields devlopment

 

 

 

Local Plan – September start for more consultation as MOD land set to be reserved for 1392 homes

 Labour set to oppose building more homes in York

Labour’s Local Plan proposals 2013

York councillors are to be presented with an update on progress with technical work on the Local Plan when they meet next week.

A report will be considered by the Local Plan Working Group on Monday 10 July before it is taken to the Executive on Thursday 13 July.

Councillors will be asked to approve the production of a comprehensive draft plan over the summer, ready for public consultation in September.

This will lead towards the publication of a final plan early next year.

Since the last major update, work has been ongoing to assess the impact of the release of three Ministry of Defence (MOD) sites in York which are to be sold off.

Councillors will be advised the MOD land at Imphal and Queen Elizabeth Barracks could be suitable for future housing development, potentially providing 769 and 623 dwellings respectively. Labour have already said that they oppose providing additional homes on these sites preferring to build on Green Belt land (see left)

The third MOD site, Towthorpe Lines, is not deemed suitable for housing but could be considered for employment use instead.

The Local Plan Working Group and Executive will consider issues associated with how land might be provided in the future for both new housing and employment development as well as setting a long-term green belt boundary for York.

Housing numbers. click to enlarge

The council has already consulted on the local plan ‘preferred sites’.  This happened for a ten-week period in 2016.  Over 2,250 responses were received from individuals, housing developers and stakeholders.

The next step is to produce a full draft plan.  Councillors will be asked to approve this.

It is expected that further consultation take place in September.  Pre-publicity would start in August when details of the proposals would be sent to residents in a special, York-wide, edition of the ‘Our City’ council newspaper.

The results of the consultation will be shared with the working group and Executive in January before a final version of the Local Plan is prepared.  It is anticipated this would be subject to final formal consultation in February 2018 and could be submitted to government in spring 2018.

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