Update on the City’s S20 Dispensation

Please find below an update on progress on the City’s Application to the First Tier Tribunal for a Section 20 Dispensation, from the Sub-Committee co-ordinating the BA response. 

Update on the City’s S20 Dispensation

The BA response is being co-ordinated by a sub-group comprising: 

  • Adam Hogg, Chair BA; 
  • Sandra Jenner, Chair RCC; 
  • Brendan Barnes, BAGC member; 
  • David Graves, Lessee who is also a Solicitor 
  • Richard Tomkins, Lessee who originally identified the City’s unlawfulness. 


  • No City S20 consultation in 2017 for an important contract for Agency Workers which contributed significantly to our service charges to the tune of £2+mn – unlawful
  • City Solicitors did not answer for six months after a resident queried a charge for agency workers and asked if a contract had been entered into without consultation. 
  • City took a further year to apply for a dispensation after conceding that S20 consultation should have been undertaken – unreasonable and compounding of unlawfulness
  • City applied for a S20 dispensation with an ill-considered and perfunctory Application seemingly without considering whether any other residents/estates may be affected – unreasonable and unlawful
  • City Solicitors sought agreement from respondents to the original dispensation application to a withdrawal stating the reason is to pursue settlement. The prime reason is actually because other HRA residents need to be included if the case goes ahead.

Current position:

  • The City has been told by the FT Tribunal that it must notify all residents of its Withdrawal Application, not just those who have objected to the original Dispensation Application.
  • We shall be applying for our costs associated with the Withdrawal Application to be reimbursed by the City and also for the City’s costs not to be charged to our Service Charges 
  • The City will need to make another S20 Dispensation Application in due course. The ball is in their court. 

Recent Letters from City of London to Lessees

Dear Barbican Lease Holders

All lessees will have received two letters from the Corporation on or around the 16th of August:

  1. An application to the First Tier Tribunal seeking dispensation from consultation from the City Solicitor.
  2. A Section 20 Notice of intention to enter into a qualifying long term agreement.

The two are related and refer to the City’s failure to consult in 2017 when setting up a contract to provide temporary labour.

As significant sums of money are involved the RCC and the BA are seeking legal advice on your behalf.

We will report back to you with more detail and advice on how we should respond to these letters as soon as possible.

Adam Hogg & Sandra Jenner

Barbican Estate Office Review (Stage 2 Report and Action Plan)

There is an RCC meeting on the 7th August 2023 and the RCC has invited responses via the RCC rep for each block:

To Members of the RCC

From Sandra Jenner Chair RCC and Adam Hogg Chair BA

Altair Report on BEO for RCC meeting on 7th August

Members of the RCC have been asked to consider how to respond to the Altair Report on the Barbican Estate Office at a special meeting on the 7th August.

The review of the Barbican Estate Office was set up by the City as a result of pressure from the Service Charge Working Party (SCWP) by David Lawrence, Adam Hogg Chair BA and Sandra Jenner, now Chair 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. 

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.

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 paper to be considered by the RCC on the 7th of August includes for completeness a number of appendices which have already been circulated. A list of the new papers and pages is provided at the bottom of this message to help you manage the volume of papers. 

[With reference to page numbers from the agenda pack…]

For an in-depth understanding two redacted reports Interim Pages 13-76 which sets out the failings of the BEO and Pages 77-124 Stage 2 and the Action plan 155-162.

Residents should be able to form a view from reading pages 3-9.

Some comments

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.

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. 

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.

The redaction exercise should not have taken so long.  The City should have started work on it earlier, however, some of the time was taken up with the need to agree proper criteria with and for proper scrutiny of the process by residents’ representatives. The redactions were deemed essential to allow the widest circulation of documents and the criteria for them has been published. 

If you have any comments of questions please share them with you RCC representative.

New papers [with page numbers from the agenda pack] are:

Pages 3-8 The introductory paper from Ros Ugwu providing a summary.

Page 9 A forward from Judith Finlay Director of Community and Childrens’ Services

Pages 77-124 Stage 2 Redacted Report Options Development and Recommendation

Pages 155-162 Action Plan.

Pages 163-164 Approval to recruit Head of Barbican Residential Estate

Barbican Estate Office Review (update)

Please click on the button below to view a copy of the redacted version of the Altair Interim Report – Appraisal of Current Services which details their evidence-based findings in the first stage of the BEO Review

Fortunately, it did not need many redactions. Where possible generic headings/information has been inserted where it has been redacted to aid interpretation.

Redactions have been made based using the following criteria:

  • Information which could lead to individual employees being identified.
  • Reference to performance of individuals or teams in a way which could be identifiable of individuals.
  • Information or relative cost calculations which could cause general prejudice to our commercial position and is commercially sensitive.
  • Information which indicates a potential change to a substantive post, redundancy or change to contract of employment in advance of formal consultation with recognised trade unions and employees. 
  • Resident safety and security

The Altair Stage 2 Report – Options Development and Recommendations has needed significantly more redactions and therefore needs the action plan to accompany it to assist with interpretation. This is still being worked upon and should be posted shortly. 

These will be discussed at a special meeting of the RCC on 7th August.

Sandra Jenner

Chair, RCC

Barbican Estate Office Review

The summary report was presented to members of the BRC and RCC on Wednesday 24th May. A commitment was made that redacted versions of the 2 detailed reports of Stages 1 and 2 will be made available in due course. Redaction is necessary so that confidential information about the employment position of City employees is appropriately protected.

This will be discussed by resident members of the RCC on 12th of June before responding to the BRC.

Podium Phase 2 Works – application now submitted

The planning applications for the Podium Phase 2 works have now been submitted. The relevant reference numbers are 22/01178/FULL and 22/01179/LBC (Listed Building Consent).

As you will undoubtedly be aware, the works are “for the installation of new waterproofing & drainage infrastructure. Works comprise the removal of existing tiled hard surfaces, membranes and soft landscaping, demolition of existing link building between Ben Jonson House and Frobisher Crescent, alterations to the existing entrance to Exhibition Hall including the construction of a new entrance portal, installation of a new waterproofing membrane across the site and the repair and replacement of drainage system and the reinstatement of a new tiled hard surface with a new soft landscaping layout……”

There is a huge amount of detail provided with the application which can be viewed on the Planning website on the links as shown above.

The Standard Consultation Expiry date for any comments/representations is shown as 10th February 2023. 

So is this finally the end of the yellow shed?

It certainly seems that it is and evidence of this is provided in many of the 100+ documents submitted with the application but the following two may be helpful in viewing the key elements of the plans – “Podium works link building demolition and plan” and the “Full public realm design illustrative master plan”.

This project has been subject to a long-standing consultation process and the proposals have been  displayed on the yellow shed between Frobisher Crescent and Ben Jonson House for some time. The Design & Access statements are always interesting, however, and Volume 1 and Volume 2 provide both some good historical context as well as the details of the necessity of the works.

So many blocked downpipes…..

It is probably worth pointing out that on Page 12 of Volume II in the section headed Downpipes, the following description can be found “The downpipes have been inspected by Flowfree. Of the 109 downpipes identified as starting at gully points within Phase 2 of the podium, 106 of them are partially or completely blocked. The pipes will need to be unblocked, repaired and/or replaced to allow the drainage system to function correctly”. This clearly explains why there is so much flooding on the Podium whenever it rains……but 106 of 109 sounds an excessively high proportion!  

For further information

Any further information can also be viewed here.

For any queries, please call 0800 772 0475 or email info@barbicanprojects.co.uk

Barbican Centre – HVAC replacement works in Frobisher Crescent

Another planning application from the Conference Centre has also recently been submitted. This one is “to undertake HVAC replacement works to improve the functionality, presentation, sustainability of the Conference Spaces on level 4 of Frobisher Crescent”. The planning reference number is 22/00942/FULL and can be viewed here. The Design, Access and Heritage Statement gives full details of the proposals and can be viewed here.

In brief and by way of background, “A major income stream comes from renting events and conference spaces in the Barbican Centre. A suite of conference rooms are located on level 4 of Frobisher Crescent. The current spaces have inefficient and outdated heating systems, which have been altered over time and are now comprised of a combination of different systems and elements, wall mounted storage heaters, underfloor heating, ceiling mounted electric heaters. The conditions in the rooms are not comfortable and this is leading to a reduction in rental income. The existing system is inefficient, uncomfortable for users, and detracts from the visual appearance and quality of the spaces”.

What is being proposed? “The proposal is to improve and rationalise the HVAC system serving level 4 conference rooms, removing existing chilled water pipework and electric heater batteries, replacing this with direct expansion heating and cooling coils on the existing air handling units. To improve the interior presentation and condition of the spaces it is proposed to replace the various heating units with a new radiator installation to corridors and reception areas, with wall mounted units that will be consistent in design and finish throughout each space. The new air handling coil and radiator installation would be fed from new air source heat pump installations which would be located in existing plant rooms on level 5 above, immediately adjacent to the existing plant rooms that currently house air handing systems and ductwork installations that currently serve the spaces”.

In summary therefore: “The Barbican Centre wishes to undertake work to improve heating provision and energy efficiency in order to improve the conditions within the Frobisher Crescent Conference suite. These works are essential to provide an acceptable level of heating and comfort for building occupiers. Care has been taken to ensure the proposals involve minimal alteration and neutral impact on the special architectural interest and historic fabric of the building”.

If anyone wishes to comment on this application they can do so here.

Barbican Centre – formation of community room in library

The expected planning application for the formation of a “Community Room within Library, with new steel screens and doors and alterations to existing screens” has now been submitted. The planning reference number is 22/00895/LBC and can be viewed here.

The background to and aims of this proposal were posted on this website on 5th September. However, there are a couple of interesting visual and detailed documents that have been submitted with the application which are worthy of viewing.

The first is a document titled “Photographs for Proposed internal alterations to Barbican Library to form a Community Room” and the second is the “Design, Access and Heritage Statement” which gives some more of the background and the proposals.

Designs for the proposed community room are also on display in the Barbican Library and a public information session is to be held there on Tuesday 18th October between 1pm and 2pm and again on Tuesday 25th October between 7pm and 8pm.