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Luton Borough Council

Good quality homes and places


Luton residents are proud of their homes and neighbourhoods and improvement of poor quality homes is helping the most vulnerable households.

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Across Luton, the quality of homes and neighbourhoods impacts on health, safety and life chances for our residents.

Although most residents are satisfied with the town, where dissatisfaction exists, the condition of neighbourhoods is a key reason.

Through the LIF, we're working to improve quality of place and change perceptions of residents and visitors to Luton. Housing and neighbourhood quality are both key to achieving the ambitions of the LIF.

The Housing Strategy supports the Local Plan 2011 to 2031 in terms of creating a good quality place, for example through Policy LLP27 which provides guidance regarding balancing green spaces with development in the town.

Our most recent information on private housing quality is in the Housing Condition Survey from 2009 which identified that privately owned homes in Luton were better than the England average, and that poor conditions were concentrated in central areas.

Luton has had a higher than average private rented sector which has grown in the last 10 years to 23 per cent, nearly a quarter of homes. The quality of privately rented homes is therefore a high priority locally.

The council itself owns one in ten homes in the town and we're committed to investment in council housing stock, to maintain high quality affordable homes and neighbourhoods.

The standard of our housing management and maintenance is a key success factor in creating good quality places.

A major consideration in housing quality is thermal comfort and fuel poverty. Fuel poverty has been falling but still affects an estimated one in eleven of households and impacts on both physical and mental health.

Key facts

  • According to latest available data, 32 per cent of private homes fail the decent homes standards, for council homes this figure is lower than 1 per cent, compared to a national average of 5 per cent.
  • 11.8 per cent of households experienced fuel poverty in 2016
  • 20 per cent of people are dissatisfied with Luton as a place to live, with over a quarter of those citing quality of place reasons.

Information collected in 2017 from enforcement teams shows that the wards of Biscot, Dallow, Farley, High Town and South are particularly affected by issues such as:

  • noise
  • crime
  • fly tipping
  • poor housing conditions

These are the four wards with the highest proportion of privately rented homes.

Local engagement highlighted that the quality of homes in the private rented sector was a particular concern for family workers and health partners as well as residents of the town.

Neighbourhood issues such as inappropriate parking, community safety and exploitation of vulnerable people were raised by residents and third sector groups.

We have a strong focus on enforcement and housing quality has recently been incorporated in a broader approach to community enforcement. Our private sector housing team has been proactive in bringing rogue landlords to task, having a dedicated Rogue Landlord team.

In addition to serving statutory notices we have succeeded prosecuting in 19 cases, the largest fine of which amounted to over £70,000, relating to over 30 homes since the Rogue Landlord Project began in June 2015. Our selective licensing scheme is impacting on standards in the private rented sector.

Our 30 year HRA business plan has been developed with a focus on investment. In the first five years of the business plan we have allocated £124 million investment to maintain and improve our council homes, as well as funding to transform Marsh Farm and build new high quality homes.

We're implementing projects to improve neighbourhoods on our estates including:

  • parking enforcement
  • new cleaning contracts
  • concierge services

We've installed 52 boilers and carried out 32 heating works to 84 homes of people who are vulnerable and in need of affordable warmth over the past two years (2016 to 2018).

We've attracted £105,000 over two years iBCF funding for an Energy Doctor scheme which will support vulnerable people with heating advice and access to Healthy Heating grants. This follows up to £2 million inward investment secured through ECO initiatives since 2011.

We have delivered over 150 measures in low income households, covering small repairs, garden maintenance and home security.

Our recent research into the housing needs of older residents identified a requirement to improve advice and guidance for older homeowners to maintain their homes in good and safe condition and we are actively working with the CCG to target frailer households with support and information.

Our wholly owned housing company, Foxhall Homes, is bringing high quality family homes to surplus land sites, which contribute to the quality of place in Luton.

The health impacts of poor housing are well understood and for this reason, our Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) identifies improvements to housing quality, especially in the private rented sector, as a priority.

Addressing poor housing is also incorporated into the Luton Health Inequalities Strategic Plan.

Initiatives to support affordable warmth are also central to our Public Health approach, with targets including the improvement of all homes in Luton especially private rented sector homes.

Our Corporate Energy Strategy seeks to:

  • reduce CO2 emissions
  • support greener initiatives
  • improve our performance in reducing energy use

Domestic energy use is a part of this strategy which drives projects in Photovoltaic energy generation, insulation and energy efficiency installations.

We own one in ten properties in the town and have planned a significant investment in our homes.

This includes the regeneration of some areas such as High Town and Marsh Farm to make broader neighbourhood improvements, including a new community room hub in Marsh Farm.

  • Commission an updated housing condition survey which specifically identifies conditions in the private rented sector to improve the targeting of our work to improve housing quality.
  • Review our Housing Assistance policy to clarify our commitment to quality homes and wellbeing.
  • Reduce levels of fuel poverty by 25 per cent over three years.
  • Provide services to vulnerable homeowners who need help to maintain their own home by relaunching handyperson services and better targeted advice.
  • Establish the Energy Doctor scheme and support over 250 clients by 2020 with affordable warmth and wellbeing initiatives.
  • Build strategic partnerships with health organisations, installers and funders to increase our impact in tackling fuel poverty, and improving housing conditions, demonstrated by increases in EPC ratings across the town.
  • Seek all opportunities to maximise external investment in low energy initiatives.
  • Commission new homes built to good quality through both Foxhall Homes and new council housing with a minimum of 400 homes completed by 2022.
  • Invest in council homes to ensure that all homes reach EPC Band D by 2020 and Band C by 2025.
  • We’ll implement a new tenancy agreement for council tenants by 2019/20 setting out rights and responsibilities to support good neighbourhood management.
  • Continue to improve estate management for council homes, based on feedback from our tenants, including new contracts for cleaning and grounds maintenance.
  • Capture improvements in the private rented sector to demonstrate effectiveness of our improvement activities such as licensing.
  • Deliver tenancy sustainment initiatives which support vulnerable tenants at risk of hoarding, self-neglect and cuckooing, and minimise the impacts on wider neighbourhoods.

Financial resources are a primary risk for our grant programmes as our private sector grants are discretionary. The focus on attracting inward investment will help to mitigate against any loss of public funding.

However, we note that funding programmes for energy works have often been through EU programmes such as European Regional Development Funding. It’s not clear at this point how these would be replaced after the UK leaves the EU.

In order to ensure that eligible households take up services which are available, we will work with community partners and embed a communications plan to target hard to reach and vulnerable households.


Download the Housing strategy 2019-22 (pdf/a)
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