Agenda Item 4


                                  29 MAY 2008


1.        Welcome and Apologies

Steve Gregory Chair (Sandwell MBC), Jenny Dereham (WMBC / CLA), John
Horseman (GOWM), Emma Kiteley (WMRA), Jo Hill (WMRA), George Daley
(Solihull MBC), Liz Larkin (NHF), Phil Street (SHMA/Bromsgrove) Ada Wells
(RSS Housing Policy lead) Tim Watton (HBF) Debbie Walsh (RICS) Richard
Gabb (Herefordshire) George Daley (Solihull MBC), Christine Seaton (Housing

Ayaz Maqsood (Coventry) Steve Price (South Shropshire) Yvonne Leishman
(CIH) Peter Jones (Housing Corporation) David Brown (RHIG)

In Attendance:
Lesa Kingham (Kick Start Partnership), Nick Dodd (Urbed), John Sharpe (SWM)

2.        Declarations of interest – none received.

3.        Minutes of last RHAF Meeting

The draft notes of the RHAF meeting held on 6th December 2007 and the
notes of the special meeting held on 17th January 2008 were agreed as a
true record.
Matters arising - Tim Watton (HBF) and Richard Gabb (Herefordshire) asked to
be added to the list of attendees for the meeting held 6th December 07 as they
had been missed off. List of attendees to be amended accordingly

4a)       Allocation of Regional Housing Pot 2008/2011 – final advice to
          Minister on NAHP and capital housing allocations to local
          authorities, including monitoring requirements

Emma Kiteley informed the meeting of the final advice to Ministers regarding the
allocation of the Regional Housing Pot and the need to reduce the local authority

capital funding to meet Government’s targets for the National Affordable Housing

It was reported that all Chief Executives, Regional Housing Partnership Members
and key contact officers had been written to in January 2008, in order to indicate
the provisional level of funding they will be likely to receive. Local authorities
were also asked to agree to the holding of Kick Start funds by Birmingham City
Council as the accountable body. The meeting were also informed that
Communities and Local Government (CLG) had asked for outputs / outcomes
from local authorities regarding the use of the Regional Housing Pot (RHP). This
had been collated, the group were asked to advise the Assembly of any
additional information they wished to submit as soon as possible as CLG were
hoping to formally advise by March 08.

The Chair questioned the possible use of LAA indicators as part of the RHP
John Horseman explained that LAA indicators were separate to the Regional
Housing Pot and were not directly related.

Christine Seaton gave the meeting an update the National Affordable Housing
Programme (NAHP). The group were reminded that the second year programme
ends in March 08. The Housing Corporation are set to deliver on both their
regional and national programme.
The new NAHP Programme was approved by CLG on 17th January 2008. There
are higher standards and efficiencies to achieve in the new programme, which
are challenging. The use of regular market engagement (RME) by the Housing
Corporation will assist Registered Social Landlords and Housing Associations in
accessing funding to meet the Government’s targets and deliver the Programme.

The group were informed that Peter Jones had now stepped up as the Housing
Corporation representative for the West Midlands and Margaret Allen is now
working directly with the Homes and Communities Agency.

RHAF received and noted the verbal update

4b)       Kick Start Programme Update

The meeting received an update on the Kick Start programme from Lesa
Kingham. Lesa informed the group:
    There had been a lot of interest in the Partnership by all local authorities
      and a new partner briefing event took place on 18th January 2008.
    New partners are asked to self assess their current position in regards to
      being ready and able to join the Partnership, via the completion of a self
      assessment questionnaire. The aim of the Partnership is to phase all local
      authorities into the programme.
    The Partnership is working with partners to:
   1. develop an action plan which will be put before RHAF when completed
   2. provide induction training to new partners.

        The Pilot scheme report has been published and the Partnership is
         currently looking at marketing strategies to attract home owners to the
         scheme. A copy of the Pilot Programme report is available to download
         at: http://www.wmkickstart.co.uk/background/pilot-programme.htm

The Partnership advocates a case worker approach to dealing with the
applications for loans.
The Chair highlighted that local authorities will use the same staff that used to
deal with the grant system to deal with the loan process, or in some instances
they could buy the service from other local authorities / or RSLs. The approach
varies between local authorities. There are barriers for some authorities in the
set up but the Partnership does offer value for money.
The group agreed the message sent to home owners is key to the success of the

RHAF received and noted the verbal update

5.       Sustainable Housing Action Programme (SHAP 3) 2007-08

The meeting received a presentation from Nick Dodd (Urbed) and John Sharpe
(SWM) and were then discuss the ways in which the climate change agenda can
be tackled within both existing housing stock and new build developments, at the
regional level.

The group discussed issues around;
    Lack of use of the tools available in PPS 1
    Need to influence the home owner at point of least disruption, i.e. at point
      of house sale.
    The skilled workforce that was needed to do the technical performances in
      the building industry and the growing skills gap. Tim Watton offered to
      circulate a recent skills report that the HBF are responding to.
    The imminent recession and financial circumstances affecting the
      construction industry and the lack of people wanting to work in the industry
    Funding from different agencies was required to help research and
      complete work.
    The need to look at existing stock as well as new build – a good baseline
      of the existing stock is required. Germany was cited as a good example of
      where targets on existing stock had been raised year on year.

        Conflicts between building regulations and planning permission
        The issue of whether the need to push through carbon zero homes could
         be exacerbating the affordability problem.
        Issue of the potential to pass costs to home owners
        Role of local authorities as enabler and use of enforcement powers
        There is a challenge as grants from the Housing Corporation are reducing
         and sustainability requirements / targets are increasing, hence there are
         cost implications.

         The group was informed that an NHF national project will be looking at
          existing stock this year in terms of carbon emissions and not living in fuel
          poverty – energy inefficient homes
         Issue of higher delivery costs in rural areas, coupled with reductions in LA
          capital housing allocations
         AWM has a supply chain role regarding low carbon technologies and are
          working with Science City to look at supply chain and skills issues.
         There is currently no national priority to invest in stock and money is going
          to build new homes.
         Devolved power supply need to put pressure on regulators and utilities
         The Regional Energy Strategy needs to be looked at and possibly driven
          forward as it contains a lot of valuable information. There needs to be a
          fresh dialogue with industries and utilities.

The Chair summarised that everyone agreed that this issue needed to be tackled
and summarised the following points:
    Climate change is happening and needs to be tackled
    Low level of consumer knowledge
    Role for AWM and Regional Climate Change Panel
    How to stimulate the market for energy efficiency improvements in the
      private sector
    New build and affordable homes many are not at Code 3 and existing
      stock is not being addressed as money is targeted towards the new build
      sector – need Regional planning policies with industry to address this.

Suggestion of a regional workshop style event to raise awareness, possibly via
AWM in their new role.

John Sharpe informed the group that all comments would be fed in to SHAP
steering group 21st February 08.

RHAF received and thanked Nick Dodd and John Sharpe for their

6a)           RSS Revision Phase Two – Preferred Option update

Ada Wells RSS Housing Policy Lead informed the meeting that the RSS Phase 2
Consultation opened 7th January 2008. The Assembly are currently waiting to
hear from government as to the confirmation of the closing date of the
consultation. It has been requested that the closing date to the consultation was
extended due to GOWM commissioning a further study which will form part of the
evidence for the Examination in Public (EiP) for Phase 2.
 WMRA have requested that the brief for the work be publicly available. It is
anticipated that the brief will look at a sequential approach and the Eco-towns
bids in the Region will feed into the GOWM research. The research may delay
the EiP and a 4th or 5th option may stem from the research.

The group expressed concerns regarding the production of core strategies and
implications for the affordable housing thresholds. The Planning Body’s advice to
LPAs was that core strategies should be looking at the RSS Preferred Option as
a minimum.
There was also a concern about the production of evidence for the EiP that would
not be available for the public to comment on.
Ada mentioned that the Region had been asked to cooperate with the study.
There were concerns about the timescales and deliverability of the study.

Ada also informed RHAF of the Affordable Housing study / questionnaire which
has been sent to LPAs to update the evidence base for affordable housing
targets in the RSS in terms of the total numbers of affordable housing which
could be delivered over the 20 years.
Tim Watton queried when this information would be available and that there
should be access to it pre EiP.
Ada explained that it would be made available as soon as possible and that LAs
have this information already, it is merely being collated regionally.

John Horseman (GOWM) informed RHAF that the LAA’s were currently being
agreed and some included affordable housing targets. LAA information would be
shared with RHAF once publicly available.
Emma Kiteley informed RHAF that the sub-regional housing market area
assessments would also feed into the RSS revision process once they are

RHAF received and noted the update

6b)        RSS Revision Phase Three – Gypsy and Traveller Update

Jo Hill provided the meeting with an update on the current activities being
undertaken within the WM RSS Phase Three Revision process, to review existing
Gypsy and Travellers Policy and also the need to ensure the political sign off of
the sub-regional Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessments. The
reference group was currently being set up and Jo requested that anyone
interested in participating to contact her on: j.hill@wmra.gov.uk, tel: 0121 678

The Chair highlighted recent publicity for Gypsies and Travellers and the
discrimination they face. Jo Hill informed RHAF of a DVD which had recently
been produced by WMRA in conjunction with other regional assemblies so help
dispel some of the myths regarding gypsies and travellers.

The issue of funding cuts and conflicting policies were also raised as issues
which negatively impacted on gypsies and travellers.

RHAF received and noted the report

7.        Sub National Review (SNR) - response by the West Midlands Region

Jo Hill informed the group that Rose Poulter Director of Policy at the Assembly
has been seconded to AWM to lead their SNR transition team. Mark Middleton
from Worcestershire CC will be taking over as Director of Policy during her
The group discussed the involvement of the Other Stakeholders Group and the
West Midlands Business Council in the new structures and the accountability of
AWM. The group hoped that the consultation response been prepared by the
Region would cover these issues and were keen to ensure housing input into the

RHAF received and noted the report

8.         Sub Regional Housing Market Area Partnerships

North Housing Market Area Partnership

      The core strategic group continues to meet every two months.
     Issue specific sub-groups meet as appropriate dependent upon the
     commission and its stage of progress.
     The next meeting of the North Housing Market Area Partnership Forum (wider
     stakeholder forum) is planned for spring 2008.
     The core group now includes County Council representation through Helen
     Trousdale. Further to this, Planning and other colleagues are invited as

        Sub-Regional Choice Based Lettings (Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle,
         Stafford) – following a successful bid for funding, this proposal will now be
         taken forward accordingly.

        Sub-Regional Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment Study –
         commission completed December 2007 and signed off by the North
         Housing Market Area Strategic Group in January 2008. The report is now
         being taken through the local authorities political decision making
         processes. Recommendations will be implemented through a cross
         authority steering group.

        Sub-Regional Housing Market Assessment – due to complete spring

South Housing Market Area Partnership
Phil Street updated the group on work ongoing in the South HMA.
The South HMA were keen to stress the need to retain the evidence collated for
the Housing Market Assessments within the Sub National Review framework.
The Partnership will be working with the IDeA to plot where the Partnership is at
the moment and its future. There were also concerns about resources and
capacity. Phil highlighted the need for the Sub-regional Housing Market Areas to
engage in the development of the Single Integrated Regional Strategy.

RHAF received and noted the report

9.             IDeA – Strategic training programme

The meeting received an update on the progress to date with the IDeA Strategic
Housing Programme in the Region following the launch event held on 7th January
    The South HMA proposes to re-launch their HMA Partnership at an event
      currently proposed for 4th April (to be confirmed) as part of the IDeA

          The IDeA is also in discussions with Heads of Strategic Housing in
           Warwickshire to address any potential areas for work with a view to
           holding an event.

          An event in Bromsgrove has been arranged for Members this is due to be
           held 12th February 2008.

          The Central 3 area has been in discussions with the IDeA and proposals
           are in place for a sub regional conference sometime in April 2008.

          Sandwell MBC has planned a QA of their draft Housing strategy for mid

          Birmingham City Council has planned an initial meeting with the IDeA for
           11th March to discuss possible support.

          There are ongoing discussions with Shropshire, regarding a possible
           event based on unitary working and its implications.

RHAF received and noted the report

      For Information Only:

          a) National Housing Federation event- 28th February 2008
          Liz Larkin informed the group of the upcoming NHF event

          b) Home Build event 26th and 27th June 2008
      Gemma Poxon informed the group about the Assembly’s involvement in the
      Home Build Show (Unfortunately, the Home Build Show has since been

      c) CLG Key Workers- Press release

RHAF received and noted the reports

10.           AOB – No other business

11.          Date of next RHAF meeting Thursday 29th May 2008, 9.30am at
             the Regional Partnership Centre


To top