We sent the letter below to all residents in Verulam House in March 2021 about our proposal to let the former Tenants & Residents Association (TRA) to a third sector organisation.
Use of Verulam House Room
I’m writing to let you know that we’re exploring the opportunity to let out the room in Verulam House as an affordable office space. Some time ago, your Tenants & Residents Association (TRA) advised that they no longer want to manage the space and since that time it has not been in use. We want to change this and unlock its potential as a usable space.
Why we’re looking into this now
The council is continually considering ways to maximise the income it receives, so we can reinvest in the services that are provided to residents. It’s not cost-effective to have an empty space that is not being used, but we are still paying the bills for.
Who we might let the space to
The space would be let at below market affordable rent and we’ll be looking to offer this space in the first instance to a small business, third sector or charitable organisation who is doing work to support residents in the borough.
The space would be let as an office hub and only quiet activities such as computer and telephone work would be permitted under the lease agreement.
We want your feedback
What questions do you have and what feedback do you want us to take into account when managing the hub office? Please let us know your views either by:
- Returning the enclosed survey in the pre-paid envelope
- Completing the survey link at https://lbhfresidentinvolvement.typeform.com/to/wrP6NOM2
Please tell us your views by 19 March 2021. Thanks for reading!
Resident Involvement & Service Improvement Manager
Verulam House Proposed Room Usage Consultation Report – March 2021
The results were compiled on 22 March 2021. In total, 4 survey responses were received. This represents a response rate of 7%. This is broadly in line with the often low level of returns to surveys, despite their being postal and online ways to feedback.
The low response rate could reflect that residents at the block hold no view on the room and its usage, or aren’t aware it is there. They may also have viewed the consultation as only for information and see no need to provide comments and feedback.
The consultation report headlines are:
- 3 of the 4 (75%) are in favour of the room being used by a third sector organisation and as a source of additional income to the housing revenue account.
- Respondents in favour of the proposal saw it as a positive idea and cited their support for the room to be let to charitable organisations, to see the room in use and to prevent the future risk of antisocial behaviour resulting from the room remaining empty.
- 1 of the 4 respondents (25%) did not support the proposal, stating:
- They live in close proximity to the room and are concerned about noise and disturbance resulting from the room being used.
- The building is a residential property and shouldn’t be used for profit
- Additional people accessing the building could be a potential risk to security
Our response and proposed mitigation for these concerns are:
- Noise nuisance and disturbance would be kept to a minimum because the third sector tenant of the space would only be permitted to do computer work and telephone calls. The office could to be used for service users to visit as an outreach space. We would ensure that these stipulations are included in the lease head of terms.
- Maximising income from its assets is an important area of focus for the council. It is not about making a profit but rather finding ways to generate additional income to reinvest into housing stock and the services residents receive.
- The office space would only be suitable for a limited number of staff members of the third sector organisation. Any issuing of fobs would be carried out in a controlled way where the named fob holders would be recorded.
- The council would constantly monitor the letting arrangements for the room and work with residents and the tenants of the room to resolve and address any concerns in a collaborative way.
Based on the feedback from residents, we will be looking to let the former TRA room when an opportunity arises.
- 2 responses were from council tenants and 2 responses were from leaseholders.
We also used the consultation survey as an opportunity to ask residents if they would like to join the H&F Get Involved email mailing list:
- 2 residents asked to join the H&F Get Involved email mailing list. We will add their details to our mailing list.