Kennington Park Estate Tenants’ and Residents’ Association
Annual Report 2019 to 2021/22
Annual General Meeting: March 2022
Kennington Park Estate Tenants’ Association has undertaken the following activities, among others,on behalf of all tenants and leaseholders during the period since the last KPETA AGM in September2019:
- KPE Housing Office: Magee Street
- Parking Management and Enforcement
- Estate Inspections
- Lateral mains replacement programme
- Service charge scrutiny and review
- Ward Boundary changes
- Hangars for bike storage
- Redevelopment of gas holder/Tesco site
- Redevelopment of the TfL site on Montford Place
- Surrey County Cricket Club (The Oval)
- Kennington Park Community Centre Community Benefit Society
- KPETRA Financial Report
Kennington Park Estate Housing Office
On 28 January 2022 Hyde announced on its website:
‘Due to the pandemic, all our receptions closed in March 2020. Following consultation with customers, we made the decision to permanently close receptions at the following offices: Stockwell, Oval, Chichester and Hillside’. The announcement claimed that residents will be able to access services on line. (You can access all our online forms and our traditional services through our Property Managers, Tenancy Officers and ASB Officers. Since closing our reception services, we introduced online parking services, which previously accounted for 36% of all reception visits. We’re also covering income enquiries, digitally or on the phone.’
The announcement also claimed:
We’ve spoken to customers and conducted a survey of our reception services. This survey highlighted that the current arrangements of delivering services online is providing you with a better service. The survey confirmed that 81% of our customers had accessed our services without using their local reception since March 2020, or had already been doing this prior to the pandemic”.
The survey did not specifically refer to the proposal to close local offices. It was an ‘on line’ survey, the audience for which was predisposed to feel comfortable with on line services. There was no consultation specifically about closure of local offices and local representatives such as Tenants’ Associations were not consulted. KPETA formally expressed concern, particularly as both Oval and Stockwell offices are now closed.
Tenancy issues can be reported via Customer Services 0800 3 282 282 or by email, CustomerServices@hyde-housing.co.uk. Tenancy Advisors deal with tenancy issues on an appointments basis. Other issues, including repair requests can be reported to Customer Services by phone or email.
As the TA is well aware, this modern, digital, on line system sometimes means vulnerable and/or elderly residents are left out. The TA supports residents to try to ensure good communication with Hyde and access to essential services.
Parking Management and Enforcement
Residents may have noticed that Wings, the previous parking management contractor, ceased to function on the Estate at about this time last year. In April or May Hyde awarded the parking management and enforcement contract to UKCPM. Residents may also have noticed that, throughout the remainder of 2021, there was still no parking management service on the Estate. The shambles started with UKCPM not taking the trouble to establish the extent of the Estate and failing to make arrangements to display the required UKCPM notices in every block. It took UKCPM until September to rectify the issue, following several prompts/guidance from KPETA the abysmal performance continued. The TA continued to point out to Hyde head office the many failures in mobilisation of the parking management contract.
KPETA works very closely with the Property Manager on Estate Inspections. The contract for cleaning and grounds maintenance is with Cleanscapes and Groundscapes. Hyde is in the process of retendering the contract. Estate Inspections were curtailed only briefly during lockdown and quickly returned to a regular, detailed schedule. The Property Manager and TA representative recently focussed discussions with Hyde senior managers on guttering and drainage repairs. Communal repairs still have to be reported time and time again. It is well known that Mears, the repair contractor, has experienced recruitment and other problems resulting in poor performance. Hyde managers are well aware of the problem and action is in hand to improve the situation.
Electrical mains replacement programme
Residents of Key, Sherwin, Lockwood, Blades and Hornby Houses will be aware of the electrical mains replacement programme undertaken over the last few years. It was a noisy, disruptive process. Hyde informed residents the replacement work was required because:
- Existing electrical rising and lateral mains system obsolete. Cables, distribution boards and associated switchgear require replacement. Existing installation no longer complies with current regulations Spares for distribution boards and associated switchgear no longer available.
- It is necessary to install a new system of extended risers and trunking on the ceiling of the communal access balconies.
- Whilst undertaking these essential works, new communal and emergency lighting will be installed throughout the block.
The TA intervened when Hyde notified residents of Blades and Hornby of the cost of this work in these blocks. The charge to leaseholders was estimated at a figure greatly in excess of the work in Key and Sherwin. The TA immediately made representations to Hyde to challenge the basis on which the same work was anticipated to cost so much more. In response Hyde reviewed the contract figures and reduced the costs to Blades and Hornby.
The work in Lockwood, Hornby and Blades could have been more effectively managed. The contractor appeared to have left work unfinished. Only when the TA pressed the point repeatedly with Hyde was the outstanding work completed. Though, ‘completed’ is overstating the situation. The quality of the work left much to be desired.
Service charge scrutiny and review
Letters notifying residents of rent and service charges for 2022/23 were published and issued to residents in the last few weeks. Although the letters were dated 24 February, some did not arrive until the second week of March. The Tenants’ Association will seek clarification in relation to charges for servicing fire safety equipment and emergency lighting, legionella testing, playground safety inspections, communal lighting inspection and repair, and as always the disproportionate cost to KPE residents for closed circuit television monitoring and repair.
Local Government Boundary Commission
From the time of the local election in May this year, all ward boundaries in Lambeth will change. In the face of strong objections, the Boundary Commission divided Kennington Park Estate between two wards instead of keeping it united in the same ward. Ten blocks transfer into the new Kennington Ward, with Grace and Brockwell Houses remaining in Oval Ward.
When reviewing ward boundaries, the Boundary Commission is required to take into account:
*the need to secure effective and convenient local government.
*the need to reflect the identities and interests of local communities;
Included in the community identities and interests criterion is the desirability of fixing boundaries which are and will remain easily identifiable, and which will not break local ties. Our aim is to identify clear and long-lasting boundaries for ward/division.
Strong representations were made to the LGBC during the consultation process in terms of community identities and interests and convenient local government. The LGBC ignored its own priorities in the case of our Estate.
The Berkeley Homes development of Oval Village remains in Oval Ward.
Hyde recently introduced a separate service charge for the pest control contract. TA Officers investigated the terms of the new contract and were reassured to some extent that charges to residents would be based on pest control work actually undertaken.
Hangars for secure bike storage
A few years ago the Property Manager succeeded in the face of resistance to have secure bike hangars installed on the Estate. Circumstances are now even less encouraging and Hyde more reluctant to allocate a budget for such initiatives, however the PM and the TA continue to press Hyde for more bike hangars on the Estate. It is a fire safety risk to store bicycles on balconies, it is, therefore, not permitted to store bikes and other items on balconies and in other communal areas where it impedes free movement, hampering potential means of escape.
Development of the gas holder and Tesco sites (Oval Village) by Berkeley Homes
TA representatives attend the Berkeley Homes regular community liaison meetings to ensure the community is kept up to date with progress on demolition and construction on the sites.
The TA and the Property Manager take a close interest in demolition work and the work to dewater, decontaminate, then dismantle the gas holders. A commitment was made to produce a notice for display on the hoarding notice boards and in the Tesco store to inform residents of details of the work to be undertaken and the potential noise, vibration, etc. Information should also be available on the Berkeley Homes Oval Village website.
The TA raised specific concerns in relation to the opening and decontamination of the main gas holder located next to Read and Kilner Houses. Berkeley Homes committed to distribute door to door information to Read, Brockwell and Kilner to ensure residents were made aware of the date on which the gas holder was to be opened to reveal the water, sludge, sediment, hydrocarbons etc, so that residents might be prepared for the noise and vibration of the cold cutting required to access the water and for the possibility of odours from the water and sludge which had been in situ for many years.
Servicing of the construction site is undertaken via Vauxhall Street and Montford Place. Road works and road closures in Vauxhall Street disrupt residents of Grace and Brockwell. The one way system has been frequently reversed without notification to residents of those blocks. The road surface in Montord Place has been destroyed by huge, heavy construction vehicles. The TA has made many representations to the Council along with Cllr Davies of Princes Ward. The Council is reluctant to resurface the road until all construction work is complete (some six or seven years!)
Work to introduce a new cycle lane and landscaping features in Vauxhall Street a couple of years ago, even though at the expense of Berkeley Homes, not Council Tax payers, has been totally wasted as the road surface has been dug up in so many places so many times.
TfL site redevelopment, Montford Place
The site is owned by Transport for London. In partnership with Grainger plc, the planning application to build some 150 homes including 40% affordable, plus live/work light industrial space/studios was approved by the Council twelve months ago. As TfL appears to have vacated the site, work has started on the new development. Grainger is a registered provider (the status of a housing association) at the forefront of build to rent. TfL is to remain the freeholder of the site. .
Surrey County Cricket Club (The Oval)
Residents will be aware that construction of the new stand and facilities in place of the Peter May stand is now complete. However, SCCC was allowed to close the section of Kennington Oval for the duration of the construction work to use it as a work site and the road is closed again for road improvement works as part of the S106 contribution to mitigate the effects of the new development. The TA representative at meetings with SCCC raised concern at the inconvenience to local people. Construction of the new hotel on the Oval House Theatre site is scheduled to start shortly.
Community Centre (For Information)
Registration of Kennington Park Community Centre Charitable Community Benefit Society was formally confirmed by the Financial Conduct Authority in September 2018. After a year of negotiations with Hyde, the Lease and Management Agreement between Hyde and the new Community Benefit Society came into force on 1 September 2019. The initial term of the lease was three years and lease extension discussions between Officers of the Community Benefit Society and Hyde are in progress. If the terms of a new Lease and Management Agreement can be agreed, the Community Centre will continue to operate under the management of the Community Benefit Society.
The Community Centre continues to offer free school holiday activities along with good food, funded by Lambeth Council and the Department for Education.
Kennington Park Estate Tenants’ and Residents’ Association financial situation: March 2022
Current account balance £784.66 at March 2022.
Expenditure: Website: April 2020, £133.01, January 2021, £21.58. June 2021, £89.94. Secretary expenses, April 2020, £68.80. Payment for leafleting, February 2020, £20. Total £333.33.