The review of the Barbican Estate Office (BEO) was set up by the City as a result of pressure from the Service Charge Working Party (SCWP) by David Lawrence, Adam Hogg Chair of the Barbican Association (BA) and Sandra Jenner, now Chair Residents Consultation Committee (RCC), following the City’s decision to reduce the number of Car Park attendants whilst increasing supervisors and managers in the BEO itself.
The review by independent consultants Altair, covered all services for which residents pay – those provided and by the BEO itself and also Repairs and Major Works which are not managed by the BEO.
On 31 October 2022, a review of the BEO began. The review was managed by a project board made up of Paul Murtagh Assistant Director Community and Childrens Services, Ros Ugwu Interim Head of Barbican Estate Office, and Sandra Jenner Chair RCC and resident.
For continuity Adam Hogg who was Deputy Chair of the RCC, a member of the SCWP and subsequently Chair of the BA has been closely involved.
The purpose was to conduct an independent review of the Barbican Estate Office and to investigate and report on areas of concern raised by Barbican residents, including:
- escalating service charges
- services provided and value for money
- potential for efficiency savings
- the BEO roles and responsibilities
- processes and procedures
- performance management
The summary report was presented to the Barbican Residential Committee and the Residents’ Consultation Committee on 24th May 2023.
As of the the middle of August, more reports are available in redacted form: Appraisal of Current Services, Options Development and Recommendations, and Transformation Programme. Redaction is necessary so that confidential information about the employment position of City employees is appropriately protected.
The BEO review has demonstrated that the services for which lessees pay are neither satisfactory nor value for money. In a nutshell, this is because there is no cost control nor service culture in any aspect of the services provided to residents as identified in the review.
To rectify this will require a Major Transformation Programme over a period of up to two years.
The Action Plan, at present an outline, will develop into a living document.
Residents will be represented on the management board governing this programme.
As you may know, Ros Ugwu is the Interim Head of the BEO. It has been agreed that the new Head of the Barbican Residential Estate must be responsible for all aspects of the services provided for residents. A new Head will be recruited shortly with handover.
Detailed scrutiny of the reports by Sandra Jenner and Adam Hogg ensured that residents interests were paramount.
Throughout, the residents’ position has been that the review is about providing value for money without any diminution of services. The City has not challenged this.
We are starting down what will be a long road and it is important that residents are consulted, involved and kept up to date and in the loop with progress. A big part of this information flow both ways will be your RCC rep (each House has a representative on the committee). To this end, also, the first “town hall” meeting is being scheduled by the City later this year so keep your eyes peeled for that. If you have any comments of questions please share them with your RCC representative, who has all the details, or you can visit the Barbican Association website barbicanassociation.co.uk and the latest news on the BEO Review is under the menu “What’s Happening”.
LOCAL ESTATE AGENTS’ COMMENTS
Marco Fugaccia at Hurford Salvi Carr: The summer months have most definitely been a much busier period. Following several interest rate rises, motivated buyers have remained sprightly and determined to secure a home before any further rate rises occur. For many buyers the “waiting game” is not paying off as predicted falling values have certainly not been reflected in the Barbican. The Barbican remains is own “castellum Romanum” – a strong fortress. For the buyers who have not found their ideal “type” these continue to wait and I would be delighted to hear from anyone thinking of selling as I more than likely have potential interest on a number of Barbican units. Hurford Salvi Carr have recently released their bi-annual Research report which gives a factual and precise update on local market conditions. If you would like a copy of this, please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nick Scott at Scott City: The mortgage rates continue to hurt the sales market with Buyers being cautious although we are seeing some of the big lenders reducing their fixed rates. Sellers are still keen so we’re seeing more new stock available for sale, some apartments in the City being very competitively priced. The Barican being its own micro climate is still seeing buyer confidence reflecting in the recent sales on the Estate. We have a shortage of Tower Flats at present, with continuing demand we are achieving good prices. If your thinking of selling please contact us email@example.com
Nicola Lee at Nicola Lee Limited: Fewer people have been putting their properties on the market, but viewings and interest remain consistent for the available stock of apartments. There is still a shortage of the larger types of flats; we have plenty of buyers keen to buy Type 20s and 21s, for example, despite the fear that higher mortgage rates are putting buyers off.
September is a busier period for sales, and you are always welcome to pop in to talk through selling your property, even if it isn’t something you intend to do immediately.
As ever, now is the right time to get ready for selling later, remembering that good presentation can make all the difference when it comes to commanding the best price for your property.
We have also recently produced another Analysis of Sales from the last year across the Barbican Estate; please contact us for a copy.
Glen Cook of Hamilton Brooks: With the lack of supply in the Barbican prices have held up very well considering the increase in the Base Rate set by the Bank of England, the rest of the country seems to see prices falling slowly.
We have seen a steady quarter with a number of apartments going under offer, some at asking prices. We do have a shortage of Tower flats for sale which will keep prices firm.
Tina Evans at Frank Harris: The last quarter has been one of our busiest for many years, with the sale of a fabulous Barbican tower penthouse, and a few unusual flats which we have sold “off market”. Demand still outstrips supply on the estate with a constant shortage of Barbican Tower flats, we have broken records on the prices achieved for a number of our recent sales for all types of flats. Please call Tina or her team for more information and a free market appraisal.
Marco Fugaccia at Hurford Salvi Carr: It’s the harvest season for the rental sector. September is its peak month and this year demand remains robust. A record number of corporate clients and private individuals are in search and whilst available stock levels remain low prices will again hit an all-time high. It is short lived and if you are keen to achieve optimum value, I would not recommend waiting too long, this hype will more than likely slow down in November.
Nick Scott at Scott City: The outlook continues very positive for the summer of 2023. Demand for rental properties has remained extremely high and prices reflect the shortage of property available. We’ve experienced more activity in the last month so are very short of stock throughout the City and especially the Barbican where tenants are prepared to pay premium prices for quality apartments. We require new instructions so if you’re thinking of renting your flat please contact us. firstname.lastname@example.org
Lindsay Lee at Nicola Lee Limited: We are now in our busiest rental period of the year. A low level of stock has ensured that rents remain buoyant, and with fewer properties available, Barbican and Golden Lane apartments are being snapped up.
If you are thinking about renting out now, or if you would like more information about lettings in general, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Glen Cook of Hamilton Brooks: It’s the same message as last quarter, virtually no flats to let, we need more stock!