West North West homes Leeds
Environmental Estate Management
2008 - 10
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West North West homes Leeds (WNWhL) manages over 21,000 properties
across a large geographical area to the North and West of Leeds with a
diversity of communities, cultures and environmental conditions.
This strategy has been developed to highlight the main environmental issues
facing the whole district and to help identify the actions that West North West
homes might take to help address some of the wider issues affecting it,
thereby improving the standard of our estate environment. This forms one of
our existing strategic business objectives:
To set clear and ambitious targets to improve the customers perception of the
area they live in through environmental service improvements and targeted
investment. To measure perception through the eyes of the customer,
including through tenant inspections, estate walkabouts, involvement with
local associations and in partnership with local groups and bodies.
“Putting Customers First” is WNWhL’s Mission Statement and we will work to
this principle to ensure that services are developed through comprehensive
consultation with customers and stakeholders. We will also ensure that we
follow our Organisation’s Values:
• Putting the Customer First
• To be excellent
• Get it Right first time
• Learning organisation
• Embrace Equality and Diversity
• To be innovative
• Socially responsible and accountable
This Strategy also links to other organisational strategies and action plans
• Customer Involvement Strategy
• Value for Money Strategy
• Every Child Matters Action Plan
• Vulnerability Housing Strategy
• Equality and Diversity Strategy
• Communication and Marketing Strategy
• Leeds City Council Graffiti Strategy
• Community Safety Strategy
• Access to Services Strategy
We recognise that WNWhL cannot tackle all the environmental challenges
facing the area on its own. Achieving the aims of the strategy will involve
working in close partnership with other agencies, voluntary organisations and
all sectors of the community. The strategy therefore seeks to encourage
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working with residents and organisations to develop greater environmental
awareness, partnerships and participation.
The aims of the strategy are:
• Develop a performance management framework that pro-actively
manages estate issues
• Involve our customers in the design and implementing of service
changes and improvements
• Develop innovative new services to customers that offer value for
• Improve the provision of environmental services by working in
partnership with the council, and other organisations.
• Contribute to environmental improvements and the reduction of anti-
social behaviour in order to create safe, attractive places to live in.
• Ensure that effective mechanisms are in place to support those tenants
who are vulnerable, elderly or disabled in the environmental
maintenance of their tenancy
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This strategy has been developed following the merger of the two former
ALMO’s, Leeds North West Homes and Leeds West Homes into West North
West homes Leeds in April 2007. The merger of the two organisations has
resulted in the restructuring of staff teams and a reappraisal of policies and
Both former organisations had a strong focus on environmental issues and
the merger has afforded an opportunity to build on best practice elements to
organise and deliver services more efficiently and effectively for the benefit of
The successful implementation of the Environmental and Estate Management
Strategy will facilitate this process by introducing processes that will improve
the environmental management of the West North West homes area in
consultation with residents and partner organisations.
The judgement arising from the HQN mock inspection in October 2007
showed Estate Management as a fair, one star service and a more recent
provisional judgement by the ALMO’s critical friend in June 2008 assessed
Estate Management as a fair, one star service with promising prospects for
The report from The Housing Quality Network identified the need for several
improvements to our services, in order to achieve:
• Internal and external communal areas maintained to a safe standard
and with a cared for and attractive appearance.
• Clear and well publicised service standards.
• Regular, systematic and effective recorded estate inspections with
evidence of monitoring follow up actions, including resident
• Estate services costs fully understood and demonstrating value for
• Effective performance management of all activities including quality
and outcome measures.
• Partnership working to deliver services (including private sector
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CURRENT SERVICE PROVISION
West North West homes manages a large and diverse area which extends
from the inner city areas of Little London and Armley which are close to Leeds
City Centre out to Pudsey and Otley which border the neighbouring authorities
of Bradford and Harrogate.
Estate Management includes the range of services relating to the
management of housing estates, including all communal housing land, garage
sites and also residential gardens.
Referrals received in the Environmental Services Team for the three month
period from mid February 2008 to mid May 2008 are varied as shown below:
Area Panel General Fly tipping Graffiti Total
North West Inner 201 98 35 22 356
North West Outer 101 22 4 7 134
West Inner 170 51 14 26 261
West Outer 145 47 31 6 229
Total 617 218 84 61 980
West North West homes are responsible for managing all housing estates and
services are delivered through both the ALMO’s Environmental Services Team
and eight locally based Neighbourhood Housing Management offices.
These services include:
Estate Walkabouts and Inspections
Regular estate inspections and walkabouts are undertaken by staff and local
housing offices to identify issues. We include our customers and partners e.g.
Neighbourhood Wardens in this process to ensure that the estates are
regularly monitored in consultation with residents and issues of public concern
highlighted. These walkabouts will be advertised in a variety of ways including
the website, to maximise the opportunity for customer involvement.
Communal areas includes garages and parking
Monitoring of these issues is undertaken by housing office staff,
Neighbourhood Wardens and estate caretaking teams. Appropriate actions
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are identified and referrals may be sent to other teams within the organisation
including Environmental Services Team, Tenant Enforcement Team, Repairs
and Maintenance Team and Neighbourhood Planning Team.
Fly Tipping, Litter and Graffiti
These issues can substantially detract from the appearance of estates and
graffiti in particular can have a negative effect on the overall visual
environment thereby contributing to the fear of crime for residents and visitors.
New legislation such as the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act
2005 and the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 have provided new powers to
address environmental crime. More detail can be found in our Environmental
Estate Management Policy, Anti Social behaviour Policy and Community
West North West homes Environmental Services Team undertakes the
removal of fly tipping, litter and graffiti in-house.
Grounds Maintenance is presently delivered by Glendale Services through the
city-wide Grounds Maintenance Contract which commenced in 2005/06 and is
being re-tendered to commence from March 2010. The contract is
administered by Leeds City Council (City Services) and monitoring is
undertaken by West North West homes Leeds’ Environmental Services Team
in consultation with our customers and a team of Tenant Inspectors. The
contract is structured to provide differential frequencies of cutting to general
estate grass (standard) and grass surrounding sheltered housing complexes
Regular contract performance meetings are held which are attended by staff
of Leeds City Council, the ALMO and the contractor to identify issues and
suggest areas for improvement.
The West North West homes area includes a large population of trees that are
located within the gardens of our properties, on communal land and in
woodland areas, many of which are adjacent to our estates. These trees are a
valuable visual contribution to our urban and rural landscapes and also
provide a number of environmental benefits.
The management of trees in the West North West homes area is administered
by the Environmental Services Team in consultation with other organisational
stakeholders including housing office staff, sheltered housing wardens and
customers and issues are identified from estate inspections/walkabouts and
customer enquiries. We review requirements for tree maintenance on an
estate wide basis and promote the planting of trees where appropriate in
consultation with residents and staff.
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Cleaning Services to West North West homes buildings are undertaken by
both the in-house Multi-Storey Caretaking Team and also the Commercial
Services Division of Leeds City Council. The number of buildings cleaned are
Multi-Storey Blocks (includes 5 sheltered housing blocks) 47
Low Rise Sheltered Complexes 45
Low Rise Blocks 292
Office Sites 7
Total Sites 427
The cleaning of the building includes communal areas, lifts, stairways
including landings and refuse collection areas. The cleaning of these areas is
presently under review
There is regular on site contact between the ALMO’s caretaking staff and the
cleaners employed by Commercial Services to maintain standards in Multi-
Storey blocks and cleaners also work closely with wardens in sheltered
complexes to ensure high levels of cleanliness. Site monitoring is undertaken
by supervisory staff of Commercial Services and also West North West homes
The cleaning of buildings also includes contracts in respect of window
cleaning to the exterior of Multi-Storey blocks, Sheltered complexes and low
rise properties. One contract applies specifically to the external cleaning of
communal windows to multi-storey blocks with two contracts for the remaining
low rise dwellings. Monitoring is undertaken by caretaking and supervisory
staff of West North West homes who also administer payments.
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Our customers tell us that the environment in which they live is important to
them and this is reflected in the high number of enquiries we receive
regarding our environmental services.
Enquiries from customers relating to environmental issues vary considerably
throughout the year and closely reflect the growing season, particularly in
terms of those enquiries regarding grass cutting and other horticultural
Between January and March 2007, we received 387 environmental and estate
management queries through Contact Leeds whereas from July to September
2007, this rose to 1342.
Enquiries were made regarding communal area cleaning, fencing, fly tipping,
garden, grass cutting and permissions. Of these queries, around 50% were
made regarding garden services and around 25% regarding communal area
cleaning. We also received a significant number of queries regarding grass
In terms of customer satisfaction and priorities, we regularly analyse
satisfaction with a range of services, including Environmental works.
In December 2007, WNWhL carried out a comprehensive Status survey of
tenants. The results show that around 19% of tenants are either dissatisfied or
neither satisfied or dissatisfied with their neighbourhood. When this is broken
down, key issues that tenants identified as problems were:
• Vandalism over 50%
• Graffiti over 50%
• Litter and rubbish over 60%
Prior to the most recent Status survey, the two former organisations also
analysed satisfaction with environmental services through comprehensive
surveys carried out in 2006, and found similar results in terms of overall
In Leeds West homes, a more detailed survey of tenant satisfaction identified
that 39% of tenants felt the area they lived in was of a poor condition, rising to
65% in the Bramley ward. The key issues identified, reflected those from the
most recent Status survey:
• Litter and rubbish
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This is also reflected in the priorities we have identified through consultation
with a customer sounding board in developing our new Estate Management
Service Standards. These focus on ensuring the effective maintenance of the
areas in which our residents live, such as good quality grounds maintenance
and grass cutting, building cleanliness, removal of graffiti and dealing with fly
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1. Develop a performance management framework that pro-actively
manages estate issues
In response to feedback from our customers and analysis of our performance,
West North West homes Leeds is developing a Corporate Performance
Management Framework which combines local and corporate indicators that
will allow for consistent and effective reporting.
Performance Indicators have been identified for Environmental Estate
Management, based on our service standards. These cover a range of issues,
including the speed with which we deliver a service, the number of estate
inspections and walkabouts we carry out each year and customer satisfaction
with the services we provide.
We will use these indicators to share performance data with our staff and
customers and to identify areas for improvement in our service. Our approach
will be open and transparent.
We will do this by continuing to involve customers in monitoring our
performance, through our Service Improvement Groups, Customer Sounding
Boards and regular publicity.
West North West homes will continue to develop close working between the
Environmental teams, housing offices and customers to ensure the estate
management issues can be identified quickly and appropriate responsive
action taken with agreed timescales. Our approach will be outlined in relevant
We will use our performance management information to analyse patterns of
demand for environmental services so that we can deploy resources
effectively and efficiently to reflect seasonal fluctuations and other changes.
This will allow us to develop a more planned approach to work which uses
resources more effectively and better meets customers’ expectations.
2. Involve our customers in the design and implementing of service
changes and improvements
During 2008, we have developed a comprehensive approach to service
development and service improvement which is based on customer feedback
and consultation. Within Environmental Services, a Service Improvement Group
(SIG) made up of staff and customers has led this process, with a Customer
Sounding Board also created to allow regular dialogue with our customers to
shape service improvements. We have also developed customer satisfaction
surveys which will further enhance the range of information available to inform
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This structure compliments the existing Customer Involvement and Governance
arrangements, such as tenants and Residents Associations, Area Panels and
Board and Sub Committees.
The feedback that West North West homes has received from customers through
these channels has identified several areas for service improvement. These are
identified in our Service Improvement Plan.
Some of the key actions that are being undertaken as service improvement
• Estate Inspections/Walkabouts – we have developed a system of regular
estate inspections and walkabouts incorporating effective monitoring and
resident involvement, including staff training regarding service standards and
• Customer Satisfaction – we will develop our approach to the monitoring
of customer satisfaction in respect of estate services and incorporating
residents views in service development plans.
• Value for Money – we will develop a system for measuring and recording
value for money in all estate services, including a review of SLAs and
Contracts and incorporating resident involvement.
• Caretaking and Cleaning – we are developing options for the future
delivery of the Multi-Storey Caretaking and Building Cleaning service.
• Grounds Maintenance – we are reviewing our grounds maintenance
contract to improve the standard of grass cutting and examine options for
delivering a “Parks Standard” specification.
• Weed Spraying – we will identify additional areas for weed spraying (non
contract) and undertake treatment.
These issues are covered by our new suite of service standards, which we
have also developed with our customers and will continue to review on a
In response to customer feedback we are also working with Neighbourhood
Offices and Contact Leeds to improve the way we deal with customer queries
and ensure that accurate and clear advice is provided at the point of contact.
3.0 Develop innovative new services to customers that offer value for
The merger of the former ALMO’s has provided an opportunity to review the
innovative approaches that have existed in the previous organisations provide a
platform for the development of new services across the ALMO that will enable
us to continually improve our services and increase levels of customer
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Several new services have been identified through our SIG process and are
being developed, including:
• Graffiti Removal
All graffiti work will be undertaken in-house to improve responsiveness and
value for money and avoid using contractors.
• Multi-Storey Chute Unblocking
This work has also been undertaken through a combination of in-house teams
and contractors. Developments are being made within the Multi-Storey
Caretaking Team to provide a mobile resource across the ALMO to enable
blocked chutes to be cleared in-house. This will improve our responsiveness
to blockages to minimise inconvenience to residents and will also provide
financial benefits through reduced contractor costs.
• Multi-Storey Paladin Bin Cleaning
Maintaining clean and tidy Multi-Storey blocks is essential and the
environmental conditions in blocks can be adversely affected if chutes and
rubbish bins are not kept in a clean condition. West North West homes have
developed a twice yearly schedule for the cleaning of all paladin bins in our
multi-storey blocks. We also propose to regularly review the arrangement with
our contractor to ensure that we continue to receive value for money in this
area of service.
• Review of existing cleaning and caretaking
Through our service reviews and customer feedback, we have identified
inconsistencies in the way multi storey and other block of flats are cleaned
and in the way caretaking services are managed.
As a result we are currently reviewing all existing cleaning and caretaking
arrangements to ensure we provide a consistently high standard of service to
our customers which is delivered efficiently and effectively.
The outcome of this review is due to be reported to our Board by August 2008
and will be based on consultation with staff, customers and an assessment of
value for money.
• Review of existing Grounds Maintenance contract arrangements
We are also reviewing the way in which we deliver our grounds maintenance
services in conjunction with our partners within Leeds City Council.
A thorough appraisal of contract options is being carried out, including risk
assessments and customer satisfaction information and consultation.
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The review will develop options for future contracts and we will ensure that
this delivers improved performance so that our estates are visibly more
attractive and accessible to all our customers.
The new contract period is due to start in 2010 and we are preparing for this
process by testing new equipment and specifications in order to inform our
A more planned approach to service delivery, based on an analysis of
customer demand and workloads will also allow us to improve our efficiency
and the value we deliver to the community
4. Improve the provision of environmental services by working in
partnership with the council and other organisations.
The area in which we work is extensive and in order to effectively manage our
environment, it is crucial that we work effectively with a range of organisations
We currently work in partnership with a range of organisations in order to
deliver our day to day services, including grounds maintenance, building
cleaning, van hire, equipment hire, tree maintenance, and tipping.
We will continue to review these arrangements to ensure value for money and
effective service delivery and will also develop our key strategic links to
improve our services through closer working:
We will also work with Leeds City Council and the Environment Agency to
identify properties and areas at risk of flooding and take steps to reduce the
risks to our customers and properties.
We have set up a partnership with Groundwork Leeds to build on existing links
and develop community engagement and capacity building. The project aims to
develop friendly neighbourhoods and a comprehensive training programme
through Groundwork Leeds Environmental Response Team. West North West
homes has contributed £44k over two years which when supplemented by
funding from Groundwork Leeds and Access to Employment will aim to provide
funding in the region £369k for environmental improvements.
Leeds City Council (LCC)
We work closely with a range of departments within LCC, including City
Services, Highways and Parks and Countryside.
We are reviewing some of the relationships as part of the review of Grounds
Maintenance contracts but there is a requirement to further improve our
communication in order to deliver effective results at a strategic and
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operational level. We will therefore review all of our communication and
monitoring arrangements and develop a strategic approach to these
5. Contribute to environmental improvements and the reduction of
anti-social behaviour in order to create safe, attractive places to
Estate Management can impact upon customer’s quiet enjoyment of their
home or the environment in which they live. West North West homes Leeds
are responsible for managing these estates and dealing with a range of issues
that affect the quality of live of our residents:
• Fly tipping, litter and graffiti
• Grounds Maintenance issues
• Tree Management
• Communal areas including garages and parking
• Estate Walkabouts and Inspections
Our aim is to deal with breaches of tenancy relating to Environmental and
Estate Management issues in a way which improves environmental conditions
for customers, and creates “ cleaner , greener ” and safer communities.
Our objectives are to:
• Establish a high profile estate management service to our customers
delivering excellence that provides clean, safe and enjoyable place to live.
• Develop a systematic approach to management of our properties, estates
and neighbourhoods through estate walkabouts and inspections.
• Manage the environment around our properties and common areas
effectively providing clean, safe and well lit internal and external spaces
• Ensure all residents are aware of their respective responsibilities in terms
of their own surrounding environment.
• Work with internal and external partners to improve our approach to
dealing with breaches of tenancy
6. Ensure that effective mechanisms are in place to support those
tenants who are in the environmental maintenance of their
Our services are currently provided through our Management Fee and
therefore at no extra charge to our customers. However, good practice
amongst many ALMOs and local authorities has seen the development of a
range of services that address extra requirements of some customers,
especially those who are vulnerable, elderly or disabled.
We will therefore work with our customers to continue to explore options for
new services that address specific needs. We will work with our Tenancy
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Support Team and Neighbourhood Management team to identify further
service improvements that address key issues affecting our customers.
Garden Maintenance Scheme
We have identified that many residents are unable to maintain their gardens,
which then become untidy and more unmanageable. West North West homes
is presently only able to provide limited support to the most vulnerable tenants
and discussions in our Service Improvement Group have identified the need
to develop a garden maintenance scheme that can offer regular assistance to
those most in need. It is likely that such a scheme would incur a service
charge, however it is possible that these costs could be paid through housing
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MONITORING AND REVIEW
The monitoring of this strategy is vital to ensure that actions have been
undertaken effectively and outcomes properly evaluated. There are a number
of measures by which the success of West North West homes Environmental
Estate Management Service may be judged and these will include:-
• Performance management framework that measures our performance
against agreed service standards and local performance indicators,
including formal performance reporting through our Governance
• Assessments of customer satisfaction through comprehensive surveys of
• Consultation with customers and stakeholders through Area Panels,
Sounding Boards, Service Improvement Groups, meetings of resident
groups and individual comments.
• The appearance of our estates
• The financial efficiencies arising from the strategy and the contribution
made to West North West homes overall Value for Money Strategy.
• Implementation of the accompanying Service Improvement Plan
This Strategy will be reviewed annually along with the Environmental Estate
Management Policy, in consultation with customers and other partners.
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