Skip to main content
Luton Borough Council

Quality homes and neighbourhoods


What do we hope to achieve?

Luton Council makes a difference on the ground through active housing management, in line with tenant input; effective estates management and ensuring homes, of all tenures, are of good quality. The council will be an exemplar for building safety within the town. 

Our activities contribute to the council’s Zero Carbon target as part of the Luton 2040 agenda and improvements to energy performance also tackle fuel poverty in the town. Homes and neighbourhoods support our ambitions to be a Child Friendly Town. 

Open all

People in Luton really care about the town and we know that they have concerns about poor quality homes and neighbourhood issues such as fly tipping and anti-social behaviour. Responses to our consultation indicated concerns with parking, access to green spaces, and tackling poor quality homes. 

Work to reduce carbon emissions and reduce fuel poverty was particularly supported by those who engaged with the consultation, and was the second most important issue for young people with 40% saying this was a priority. 

Good homes are essential to health, and people’s wellbeing, therefore our work to tackle fuel poverty and improve standards, especially in our own stock and in the private rented sector, will be a major contribution towards improved outcomes for people. 

As a landlord to around one tenth of homes in the town, the council has important responsibilities towards building safety, providing good quality sustainable homes and supporting wellbeing. During the Covid pandemic, our actions helped to keep people safe at home, including in vulnerable settings such as sheltered housing and temporary accommodation. 

Government and regulators are increasing their scrutiny of building safety. The council has a very strong record in regard to buildings compliance, and intends to retain and strengthen this approach. 

We have invested heavily in improvements and works to homes, including major cladding projects in our tower blocks to improve energy efficiency. We have also grown our tenant involvement over recent years, despite the challenges of the pandemic, making sure that we are listening to our residents and responding to their concerns, to meet the expectations of the Social Housing Charter and White Paper. 

Our tenant scrutiny committee has set out a programme of work to review our services. Their first report on the repairs services has been accepted and improvements are now being tracked. 

Our Healthy Estates approach supports active lives, wellbeing and social integration in our council estates. We know that if people feel safe they are more likely to engage and become part of their neighbourhood. Making the environment more attractive will encourage people to exercise, socialise and play, keeping active and connected to their community. 

Safe play is a central part of our Child Friendly Town, along with safe walking and cycling routes especially to schools, which also supports our climate change actions. Feedback from the consultation discussions on Child Friendly Town emphasised the role of shared space and community safety to support social interactions and community building. 

Cast study: High rise cladding project

High rise cladding project image

The council owns ten high rise blocks and is well advanced on a programme of improving these with insulated cladding. Due to start in 2017, the project was held back to engage with tenants, test our materials and provide reassurance about fire safety. So far, work has commenced on all ten blocks, with three blocks completed.

The £34M project is funded through the Housing Revenue Account matched with £8M European ERDF funding through SEMLEP and delivered with Engie and United Living. When the project completes in 2022 it will have improved 1064 homes by increasing their energy rating, ensuring all the homes are at EPC C standard.

Our enforcement work within private sector housing helps to ensure a good quality private rented sector in the town. We are on target to consult around additional licensing across the borough for HMOs and selective licensing for all privately rented homes in South ward. At present, 440 HMOs are licensed, with research from BRE indicating that extending our licensing schemes will bring an additional 4,000 HMOs and 3,500 properties in South Ward under this protection. 

We actively pursue a range of enforcement options against landlords who disregard the law by providing unsafe homes and exploiting tenants. We also influence the local lettings market through Luton Lets Squared which is helping to improve standards locally especially for lower income households. Using licensing to tackle poor landlords were supported by over 90% of respondents to our consultation. 

Domestic dwellings account for 39% of CO2 emissions in Luton. If we are to be a carbon neutral town by 2040, this will require significant investment and a step change in sustainable technologies for insulation, heating and hot water across all homes, including initiatives which will be attractive to homeowners. 

Some of this is outside the council’s control but we can inform and encourage energy efficiency for all residents, and we have set minimum energy performance standards for all homes we provide as temporary accommodation. The council has also set minimum standards for new council homes, decarbonising heating where possible. 

Long term empty homes can blight neighbourhoods so we have targeted support, backed up by enforcement action, to encourage homes into use, successfully bringing 50 homes into use in 2020 to 2021. 

Our influence over the homes that we own and manage is a great opportunity to continue to be a local leader in low carbon design, retrofit and housing quality. Our maintenance of our homes, the standards we set for new homes, as well as considering active travel, design and the provision of charging points, all help us to work towards Zero Carbon. We will continue to work with tenants and residents to improve the quality and energy efficiency of homes in the town. 

Our growing tenant engagement will help us to target our building safety and community involvement work towards the things that matter most to our residents. The ability to engage closely with tenants provides opportunities to tackle issues such as anti-social behaviour, hoarding and cuckooing which impact on residents and neighbourhoods more generally.

Housing also has access to community assets which can act as a hub for interaction and community building, supporting thriving neighbourhoods, improving community safety and tackling social isolation. Housing projects contribute to the local economy through skills, apprenticeships and local procurement, all helping to build economic resilience in Luton. 

We are establishing partnerships around green skills and construction which will create good employment opportunities for local people. 

Luton benefits from a strong and active voluntary sector which already delivers street-level improvements such as clean ups, and helps to build a sense of safety and community. It’s important to build on this asset in our town, working with our social justice and community engagement teams. 

Working with NHS partners, social care and education colleagues and learning from the NHS Healthy New Towns provides us with a great opportunity to create health-promoting homes and neighbourhoods. This means helping people to eat well, be smoke free, physically active, socially connected and live in thermal comfort. 

Access to green space and amenity space was also a strong theme in the discussions around what would make Luton a Child Friendly Town and consultation responses also emphasised the importance of safe walking and cycling routes. 

As new funding becomes available for improving housing quality and efficiency, we will take up as much opportunity as possible to attract this investment into Luton for the benefit of tenants and residents. We are also exploring opportunities to deliver energy efficiency projects as part of broader carbon offsetting activity linked to London Luton Airport. This could be transformative, especially for privately owned, older homes in the town. 

Our expanding licensing activity and our own co-owned lettings company provide opportunities to shape and improve the standards of the private rented market across the town. We also intend to learn from other places, such as Oxford, which have used planning enforcement policies to limit the prevalence of HMOs to protect family homes and limit disruption to neighbourhoods. 

We face significant challenges to meeting our low carbon ambitions. Funding options, especially for private homes, availability of trusted skilled installers, and appropriate advice and information are all issues we need to overcome. The growing necessity to retrofit homes will create opportunities in terms of supply chains and training options. We are working strategically with education and training providers to support these new green skills. 

Another challenge in this area is how we measure our performance. There is limited comparable data covering the private sector homes in the town. We will work with partners including installers, residents, charitable organisations and local businesses to track our impact.

Case study: Tenant engagement making a difference to neighbourhoods

Tenant Participation staff supported a tenants and residents group in Park Town, which has helped to resolve issues through engagement. For example, consultation with residents led to a change of approach in door security measures making the block safer. The residents have also influenced improvements to a play area to enable it to re-open.

  • Council homes to meet EPC Band C by 2025. 
  • A minimum of 400 private homes per year to receive efficiency/decarbonisation improvements via external funding schemes. 
  • No temporary accommodation will be used if it has an EPC rating of D or below. HMO licensing to cover all appropriate properties by 2025.
  • Selective licensing to cover all appropriate properties by 2025. 
  • Evaluate current licensing arrangements and Government White Paper proposals to inform an extension of licensing across the borough. 
  • Review the options to limit the prevalence of HMOs in specific areas. Bring 40 empty homes a year into use through council intervention.
  • Review opportunities to use ring fenced council tax income on empty homes to support work to bring homes into use. 
  • At least 300 statutory notices resolved per year. 
  • Annual increase in homes which are licensed and inspected. 
  • New homes developed by the council or Foxhall homes to be minimum EPC band B by 2025. 
  • EV charging points to be incorporated in all new housing developments and provision in council estates to be improved. 
  • The council will take an active role in ensuring that sufficient training and skilled labour is available locally to support retrofit activities. 
  • Refresh our asset management plan to include our selected options for the replacement of gas boilers across the council housing stock by 2026. 
  • As a landlord we will observe all new building safety compliance requirements. 
  • We will grow our tenant engagement and meet all expectations of the Social Housing Regulator on consumer regulation. 
  • We will continue to involve tenants from all across the town and respond to the findings of the regular STAR survey. 
  • We will encourage council tenants to organise and promote the option of tenant management organisations, including co-operatives, under the Right to Manage. 
  • An active programme of tenancy audits will ensure contact with 1800 tenants each year.
  • Rollout of Healthy Estates Strategy to improve external environments on council estates.
  • Housing services to be linked to our Child Friendly Town activities.
<< Back

Reducing homelessness

Next >>

Supporting wellbeing

© 2024 Luton Council, Town Hall, Luton LU1 2BQ