16 Jun 2017

Housing and Planning

EMBARGOED: Cabinet asked to decide on the future of commercial guardianship schemes

EMBARGOED UNTIL 00.01 SATURDAY JUNE 17 OR UNTIL CABINET PAPERS ARE PUBLISHED - WHICHEVER HAPPENS FIRST.

Bristol City Council's Cabinet is being asked to consider ending the use of the commercial property guardianship scheme and replacing it with alternative measures for securing empty buildings.

The report going to Cabinet on June 26 recommends that contracts with commercial guardian companies for buildings with a history of known problems are ended as soon as possible.

It also proposes that contracts with commercial guardian companies on buildings with a lower level of risk are ended when the council needs the buildings back for redevelopment.

Cabinet will also be asked to approve the recommendation that no new commercial guardian arrangements are entered into in future.

Most of the empty buildings used for guardianship properties are being held until projects are ready to deliver new school places, social care accommodation and affordable housing.

For this reason, the council may need to get the buildings back at short notice, which may no longer be possible following a recent court ruling which concluded that a guardian occupier is a tenant with protection from eviction rights.

Councillor Paul Smith, Cabinet Member for Homes and Communities, said: “We have plans for most of the sites currently being used as guardianship properties and we need to make sure that we do not hold up re-development by being unable to obtain vacant possession of the buildings.

“For this reason it is being proposed that we begin a managed withdrawal from all of our current guardianship schemes, to make the best use of the land we have for housing, education and social care.

“It is also being recommended that the council do not enter into any other commercial guardianship schemes in future, however, this would not affect the charity guardianship programmes which offer temporary accommodation for homeless people.”

Under these new proposals, vacated buildings would be demolished, redeployed or where suitable transferred to a not-for-profit organisation for temporary housing accommodation. Where this is not possible then security measures would be put in place to protect the empty buildings.

Cabinet is also being asked to spend £1.41m in 2017/18 on demolishing the vacated buildings in advance of their future redevelopment. This would be funded from previously approved budgets for redevelopment. 

Cabinet papers are available to view here https://democracy.bristol.gov.uk/ieListMeetings.aspx?CommitteeId=135