Agenda item - Chairs Communications
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3.1 The Chair stated that she had informed opposition members attending the pre-meeting that as there were a large number of items on the agenda for this meeting, she would be restricting the number of questions members could ask to three questions per councillor on each item. The Senior Lawyer confirmed that the role of the Chair was to ensure that business was properly transacted. Procedural rules allowed the Chair to organise the meeting as she saw fit and this was not a matter for a vote.
3.2 The Chair informed members that she was looking forward to officiating at the topping out ceremony at Hobby Place, Whitehawk Road on Friday, to celebrate the completion of the concrete frame for the 29 new council flats being built there under the Council’s New Homes for Neighbourhoods programme. Afterwards, the Chair would have the pleasure of awarding the prizes to the pupils at Community Academy Whitehawk, next door, who produced the winning designs for the site hoardings in the programme’s latest art competition.
3.3 The Chair was pleased to advise that the council’s submission to Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to secure the full funding allocation available under the new Community Housing Fund was successful and work was now underway to set up the Community Housing Hub. This initiative would be led by the community housing sector in the city with council involvement on the Programme Board of the Hub.
3.4 The Hub would provide both technical and funding support to local groups who were seeking to develop alternative housing solutions for the city. It would also aim to promote the sector and increase engagement from the wider community. This was in line with commitments in the council’s Housing Strategy and the Fairness Commission action plan.
3.5 The Chair was also pleased to advise that the Strategic Housing Partnership had agreed to refresh the city’s Student Housing Strategy, which was written in 2009. Initial discussions had started with the universities to scope out the requirements for a new strategy. A report would be brought to Housing & New Homes Committee in September 2017 outlining the evidence and options for the strategy, and permission would be sought to go out to consultation on the strategy in the autumn. The results of the consultation would then be brought back to committee and approval would be sought for a new strategy for the city.
3.6 The Chair reported that as previously mentioned in Chairs’ Communications, Brighton & Hove was joining a project partnership alongside a number of other housing providers in the region to demonstrate a new approach to delivering net zero energy homes. Based on the Dutch model ‘Energiesprong’ the partnership had been successful in the first round submission of an outline bid for European Structural Investment Funding via the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership. The final business case would be submitted in the autumn and if it was successful the Council would identify a number of properties within its own housing stock to receive a significant retrofit of ‘built off site’ energy saving and energy generating measures. The aim of the project was to pilot this approach across the partnership with the ultimate aim to deliver this level of energy improvement at greater scale, ultimately without subsidy. This was an exciting opportunity, not currently being carried out anywhere in the UK. Further updates would be provided to committee in due course.