Report to: EXECUTIVE Decision
Earliest date for 21st SEPTEMBER
3. FUTURE OF QUEENS PARK ESTATE
1.0 Matter for consideration:
1.1 Proposal to demolish 487 existing flats and maisonettes at Queens Park
owned by Blackpool Council, and to acquire and demolish 8 flats owned by
leaseholders, to allow re-development of the estate for tenants of Queens
Park who want to stay and to increase the supply of family housing.
2.1 To approve the demolition of all 487 homes owned by the Council at
Laycock Gate, Healy Street, Walter Robinson Court, Elizabeth Court,
Churchill Court, Charles Court, and Ashworth Court.
2.2 To authorise the buying back of 8 properties owned by leaseholders at
Queens Park for demolition funded through Housing Revenue Account
2.3 To authorise the payment of statutory Homeloss and Disturbance payments
to qualifying persons
2.4 To cease re-letting any properties becoming vacant at Queens Park with
2.5 To authorise officers to engage in negotiations to procure a design and
construction partner to work with the Council, Blackpool Coastal Housing and
the Queens Park community to develop a new neighbourhood at Queens
Park. Designs will be invited to consider the estates relationship with
surrounding public open space.
2.6 To agree that the agreement of terms with the design and construction
partner will be determined by a report to a future meeting of the Executive,
outlining the costs and funding available for the construction.
3.0 Category grouping: Corporate/Strategic
4.0 Sustainable Communities Plan Goal :
Goal 1: Improve Blackpool's Economic Prosperity - Creating Jobs and
Opportunities for Local People
5.1 The Government’s Housing Revenue Account reform proposals will give the
Council more responsibility and more control to manage its Council houses
to ensure that they are financially sustainable and meet the needs and
aspirations of its current and future tenants in the long term. The Government
plans to agree a Final Settlement with Councils which includes consideration
of the number of homes the Council plans to demolish or hold void over the
next 5 years. The deadline to inform Government of any plans it has to
demolish property has recently been extended from the 31st August to the
10th October 2011.
5.2 The Queens Park estate currently consists of 495 properties that are set up
for residential use, of which Blackpool Council owns 487. Of the 487 owned
by the Council, 36 are currently not being let. The estate is made up of 4 no.
16 storey tower blocks - Ashworth Court, Charles Court, Churchill Court and
Elizabeth Court, each containing 32 one bed and 32 two bed flats - one tower
block with 129 one bed flats, and low rise blocks of maisonettes and flats
comprising 60 three bedroom maisonettes, 8 two bed flats, 26 one bed flats
and 16 bedsits.
5.3 Addressing deprivation on large social housing estates is a priority for
Blackpool as part of a wider approach of tackling unattractive
neighbourhoods and creating a better housing offer within the town. Queens
Park is located just outside the inner area of Blackpool and faces some
related issues because of the concentration of small flats and unpopularity of
5.4 A review of the sustainability of existing Council-owned properties was
carried out by Blackpool Council and Blackpool Coastal Housing, using a
range of indicators. This was intended to identify where there are particularly
severe problems with deprived neighbourhoods and poor quality or
5.5 Queens Park emerged as an area with a concentration of properties that are
less popular, and severe deprivation, especially in terms of low incomes. It
has a high priority as a Council-built estate where major improvements are
required alongside continuing action to tackle entrenched deprivation. The
challenges facing the estate can be summarised as:
Queens Park is a relatively unpopular estate, with a high turnover of
properties - the annual turnover rate is 25% compared to 13.5% for all
Blackpool Council stock. This turnover rate is likely to have a negative
impact on the sustainability of the neighbourhood and carries higher
costs to manage and repair.
Almost a quarter of properties are refused due to the applicant having
changed their mind with regard to the area, despite applicants being
encouraged to only place bids for properties in areas they are
Significantly fewer bids are placed on properties on Queens Park than
throughout Blackpool as a whole.
According to the latest Status Survey, satisfaction levels in terms of
overall quality of home, general condition of property, the
neighbourhood as a place to live and value for money for rent were
the lowest when compared to the rest of Blackpool.
Queens Park ranks as the 8th most deprived area in the country
overall (out of 32,000 areas).
The design and layout of the estate requires considerable security
costs leading to high service charges.
5.6 Queens Park currently costs the Council’s Housing Revenue Account money
as more is spent on maintaining and managing the estate than is received in
rents and service charges:
It is projected that the Housing Revenue Account will make a loss of
£11.4 million over the 30 year business plan period to maintain and
manage the properties on the estate, partly as a result of maintenance
work required in the next three years.
The properties on Queens Park require investment of £6.5 million out
of Blackpool Council’s remaining £20.6 million Decent Homes funding
to bring them all up the Decent Homes standard. Investment is
required on new heating systems and new kitchens and bathrooms.
The cost of managing and maintaining the properties at Queens Park
is higher than properties elsewhere in Blackpool, and this would still
be the case even after the Decent Homes investment was completed.
It is estimated that if the whole estate were demolished, the Council’s
Housing Revenue Account Settlement from Government would
improve by £2.3 million.
5.7 While there would be a cost associated with demolition; an estimated £1.9
million for demolition plus a further £2.8 million in total Homeloss payments
and costs acquiring properties, demolition of any part of the estate would
improve the Council’s Housing Revenue Account settlement and on-going
Housing Revenue Account financial balance, and would make money
available for capital investment to provide new homes and improvements on
other Council owned estates.
5.8 New homes on the estate will be funded through grant funding from the
Homes and Communities Agency, through borrowing financed by future
rental income streams and from savings within the Housing Revenue
Account as a result of the demolition.
5.9 Consultation process
An initial consultation event was held on the 15th June 2011 to seek
residents’ views on the future of the estate. Residents were asked their views
on four possible options;
1. Retain the estate in its existing form and improve to the Decent
2. Demolish Walter Robinson and all the low rise properties and retain
the four remaining tower blocks. This would allow for limited building
of new family homes.
3. Complete demolition and redevelopment of the estate.
4. Demolish Walter Robinson Court, all the low rise properties and two of
the remaining tower blocks.
5.10 A total of 147 residents attended the event and 138 completed
questionnaires were returned. There are currently 459 tenants and
leaseholders on the estate, so just less than 1/3rd of the existing residents
attended. In order to reach as many residents as possible Blackpool Coastal
Housing staff visited each property where the resident didn’t manage to
attend the consultation event. Homes were visited up to 3 times to give every
chance of a response. A further 165 residents completed questionnaires as a
result of these visits, making a total number of 303 completed questionnaires
- two thirds of households on Queens Park.
5.11 A summary of the analysis from the completed questionnaires is that:
The most popular option was for total demolition (33.3%)
Just less than two thirds (65.7%) of residents said that their preferred
option was some level of demolition and re-development,
Just over a quarter (27.2%) preferred partial demolition and
5.2% preferred an intermediate option of keeping two of the tower
Just under a quarter of people who completed questionnaires (24.3%)
want no change.
There are a significant number of residents who would want to stay at
Queens Park if they were affected by redevelopment (43.3%),
Over a quarter of residents would want to move to another area close
to Queens Park (28.8%) and (36.1%) would want to move to another
area in Blackpool.
The majority of households who want to stay at Queens Park are in
the older age groups – 42.4% are 45-59 and 29% over the age of 60.
5.12 Residents also expressed an anxiety that the existing community will be
broken up, that the Council wouldn’t be able to provide suitable re-housing
options and that the process would be very disruptive.
5.13 It is clear that most residents support some level of demolition and re-
development, with the majority of residents supporting significant change.
However, residents are concerned about the impact of change for them and
want to know that they will be able to stay in the area if they wish to do so, or
that they will be helped to find appropriate housing elsewhere.
5.14 The Preferred Option
Having considered the outcome of the initial consultation; a preferred option
was selected to demolish the whole of the Queens Park estate. A further
consultation event took place on 11th August 2011 at which this proposal was
presented. The proposal showed that demolition and re-development could
be undertaken in phases and that tenants who want to stay on the estate
through the redevelopment process and move into a new home will be able
to do so. These plans were widely reported in the local media.
5.15 The proposal made clear that existing residents will be fully supported
through the process of change, whether they choose to move to another
property somewhere else or to stay on the estate and move into a new
5.16 The Council has more than enough accommodation to be able to offer all
existing tenants alternative accommodation. If its in existing stock the terms
of tenancies will remain unchanged, if its in new stock we also confidently
expect to be able to offer the same security of tenure. Rent levels may be
slightly higher for new homes, although this will be largely offset by reduced
service charges. The difference between the cost of renting an existing flat
and a new home is likely to be least for the 1 bedroom properties that are
needed by the majority of existing residents.
5.17 Following this event the Queens Park Residents Association ran their own
ballot which confirmed total demolition to be the most popular option and that
many tenants would like to return to a redeveloped estate. A total of 177
residents took part in the ballot, 47% voted for total demolition and 60% said
they would like to return.
5.18 Total demolition is the most popular option and has the greatest positive
impact on the Council’s Housing Revenue Account. It is therefore proposed
that the Queens Park estate is demolished with the view to rebuilding new
homes that will both enable as many existing tenants to return as desired to
do so, and that provides more family homes. Leaseholder interests will also
need to be acquired to enable redevelopment.
5.19 In order to protect the existing Queens Park community as much as possible,
it is proposed that the development will be phased to enable as many
residents as possible to stay on the estate during the development. This is
likely to be achieved by retaining one or two of the blocks on a temporary
basis whilst early phases of the development take place. Whilst this may
require more that one move in some cases it will enable the community to
stay together during the redevelopment.
5.20 The design of the new neighbourhood and phasing of its development will
determine which blocks will be retained. It is proposed that tenants will only
be asked to leave once the redevelopment plans are in place. However as
soon as a decision to demolish is made, those tenants that want to leave will
be allowed to do so with the benefit of statutory Homeloss and disturbance
payments. However tenants will only have priority on the Choice Based
Lettings System once they have formally been asked to leave. This will
happen when the formal relocation programme starts which will not be until
we have a better idea of the development. This will enable us to plan
relocations to enable the development to take place.
5.21 It is proposed that no re-lets will take place with immediate effect.
5.23 The redevelopment of Queens Park is an exciting opportunity to create a
high quality neighbourhood that meets the needs of both current and future
residents for generations. Quality of design will be a major determining factor
with regard to the long term success of the development. In order to select
the best design and ensure its delivery; it is proposed that the Council
procures a design and construction partner to build the development. This
partner is likely to be a collaborative partnership of designers and building
5.24 Queens Park lies immediately adjacent to an area of Public Open Space,
Layton Recreation Ground, and it is proposed that this land should be
included within the site defined for the redevelopment masterplanning
process. This will allow flexibility to achieve a better, more integrated
development but is on the understanding that there will equivalent re-
instatement of the Public Open Space. This approach is entirely consistent
with the provisions of Policy BH5 of the Blackpool Local Plan and will be
included as part of the consultation process.
5.25 It is proposed that an OJEU compliant procurement process is undertaken.
Potential partners will be asked to bring forward proposals to rebuild the
estate along with clear costs. The selection will be made both on the quality
of the design and the build costs as well as other criteria to be set in a
development brief such as opportunities for local labour. Queens Park
residents will have the opportunity to be fully involved in the design and
selection process through resident groups and consultation events.
5.26 It is anticipated that up to 250 new homes will be build as part of this project.
These will mostly be available at affordable rent with a smaller proportion
being sold as shared ownership and outright sale. Redevelopments of this
scale however always take a long time to get going and to build and public
sector funding is very rarely confirmed beyond the next year or so. The
Council has secured funding in 2013/14 and 2014/15 to build 70 new homes
and create a further 75 through remodelling. It is proposed that this new build
allocation is used at Queens Park to fund the first development phase. The
possibility of changing some of the remodelling funding to new build will also
be explored to facilitate a larger first development phase. Further funding
tranches are expected to be available in the next Comprehensive Spending
5.27 In the meantime other housing providers also have housing allocations for
the Fylde Coast but their allocations have not yet been finalised. We have
discussed the possibility of other Registered Social Landlord using their
allocations on Council owned land with Blackpool Coastal Housing as
managers. The Homes and Communities Agency has also advised that there
may be additional funding available over the next few years; Blackpool will be
very well placed to access this. It is therefore quite likely that additional units
will be available within the current spending review period.
5.28 Key Milestones
5.29 If the recommendations of this report are approved; it is proposed that
tenants who are required to leave Queens Park by the Council will receive
statutory Homeloss and Disturbance Payments subject to qualifying
5.30 The design and construction partner procurement process will be initiated
with the view to selecting a partnership team.
5.31 Procurement Pre Qualification Questionnaire will be prepared with the view
to issue of OJEU Notice by the mid November 2011.
5.32 Development Brief will be prepared in consultation with local residents
outlining the requirements of the development by mid December 2011.
5.33 Shortlisting of design and constructors to be invited to tender against
Development Brief will be undertaken at the end of January 2012.
5.34 The selection process will involve key consultation stages to enable the
community and the Council to consider and comment on emerging
Final tender submissions will be made by during May 2012.
5.35 Relocation of residents for the first phases of development is expected to
start from April/May 2012 through to March 2013.
5.36 Selection of preferred design and construction partner by end of June 2012
and subsequent report for formal approval.
5.37 Funding for the first phases of new development will come principally from a
funding allocation for new affordable housing recently granted to Blackpool
Council by the Homes and Communities Agency. Subsequent phases will be
the subject to further funding bids at the appropriate time.
5.38 It is anticipated that the first new homes will be completed from around
March 2014, and that re-development of the whole estate will take around
five years to complete.
5.39 Does the information submitted include any exempt NO
6.0 Legal considerations:
6.1 There is a legal requirement to provide statutory Homeloss and Disturbance
payments to qualifying persons.
6.2 In the event that agreement could not be reached with leaseholders to
acquire their interests, the Council would need to consider using its powers
of Compulsory Purchase.
7.0 Personnel considerations:
7.1 The re-development of Queens Park will be overseen by existing staff within
the Council’s Housing Strategy and Planning teams, and the re-location of
tenants will be carried out by staff of Blackpool Coastal Housing, working
with the Council’s Housing Options team.
8.0 Financial considerations:
8.1 The financial implications for each of the options considered for the future of
Queens Park is set out below.
8.2 Demolition HRA HRA Final Demolition Total HRA New
of: Business Settlement Homeloss Impact Homes
Plan Acquisition Bonus
None £0 £0 £0 £0 £0
£3.2M £1.1M -£1.4M £2.9M -£0.48M
towers £7.3M £1.7M -£3.0M £6.0M -£1.01M
£11.4M £2.3M -£4.7M £9.0M -£0.83M
8.3 Total demolition of the Queens Park estate has the most significant beneficial
impact on the Housing Revenue Account.
8.4 Demolition of property will however have an impact on the levels of New
Homes Bonus that the Council is likely to receive. The Council has ring-
fenced the first 6 years of New Homes Bonus (NHB) receipts to support the
redevelopment of the Rigby Road/Tyldesley Road scheme. There has
however been a higher than expected level of new dwelling units registered
for Council Tax which has meant that NHB payments are higher that
expected and it is anticipated that the target levels can still be achieved en
with this level of demolition.
9.0 Performance management considerations:
9.1 A managed decanting process will create voids which will reduce a
performance against this indicator in the medium term. A change in the
stock profile from flats with high turnover to family housing will reduce
turnover and improve the profile of the Council’s Housing Revenue Account
in the longer term.
10.0 Risk management considerations:
10.1 Risk of not having sufficient alternative accommodation to meet the needs of
all existing tenants - the profile and turnover of other Council homes is such
that re-housing all residents over a 3-4 year period should not be a problem.
The Council already has funding allocated by the Homes and Communities
Agency for the first phase of re-development and that will be focussed on
meeting the requirements of existing residents who want to stay at Queens
10.2 Risk of not being able to come to agreement with leaseholders on buy
backs - the Council is experienced in acquisition for re-development and in
the event of failure to come to a negotiated agreement can use compulsory
10.3 Risk of not being able to fund new affordable housing provision beyond the
first phase - mitigation is to work closely with the Homes and Communities
Agency and continue to promote re-development at Queens Park as the
priority for affordable housing investment in the Borough.
10.4 Risk associated with demolition - removal of existing telecommunications
masts, removal of asbestos, and a safe demolition process. Council officers
will start to address legal requirements and plan for how demolition will take
place as soon as approval to the principle of demolition at Queens Park
11.0 Relevant Officer:
11.1 Steve Matthews, Head of Strategic Housing
12.0 Relevant Cabinet Member
12.1 Councillor Gillian Campbell, Cabinet Member for Housing
13.0 Consultation undertaken:
13.1 Extensive consultation, as set out in the report.
14.0 Background papers:
15.0 Key decision information:
15.1 Is this a key decision? YES
15.2 If so, Forward Plan reference number: 10/2011
15.3 If a key decision, is the decision required in less than five days? NO
15.4 If yes, please describe the reason for urgency:
16.0 Reasons for Recommendations:
16.1 To meet the need for family housing, to stimulate the economy, to rebalance the
current housing stock, to meet the aspirations of this Council for the people of the
Queens Park Estate.
16.2a Is the recommendation contrary to a plan or strategy adopted or NO
approved by the Council?
16.2b Is the recommendation in accordance with the Council’s YES
16.3 Other alternative options to be considered:
Alternative options have been outlined in the report.
17.0 Call-in information:
17.1 Are there any grounds for urgency, which would cause this NO
decision to be exempt from the call-in process?
17.2 If yes, please give reason:
TO BE COMPLETED BY THE PROPER OFFICER
18.0 Scrutiny Committee Chairman (where appropriate):
Date informed: 13th September Date approved: N/A
19.0 Declarations of interest (if applicable):
20.0 Executive decision:
20.3 Reason(s) for decision:
21.0 Date of publication: