Canterbury District Housing Strategy 2012 to Housing Strategy : summary of main achievements

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1 Key priority 1: To promote sustainable communities and support vulnerable people Strategic objective 1.1: Invest in urban and rural communities. We made good progress, working in partnership with the police and other agencies to resolve over 98% of reported incidents of anti-social behaviour. All new affordable homes met the Secure by Design Standard. Seven rural local housing needs surveys were completed in partnership with parish councils. Southern Housing Group began building eight rented homes in Bridge in 2010 for occupation in Strategic objective 1.2: Encourage initiatives that reduce the impact of homes and services on the environment. We prioritised construction of new homes on previously developed land, with 61% of new homes were built on Brownfield rather than Greenfield sites. The council accelerated the national timetable for sustainable construction. Since April 2010 all new residential proposals must achieve Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes. A sustainability appraisal was completed for the Local Plan. Strategic objective 1.3: Support and encourage a diverse range of services to meet the needs of vulnerable people. In partnership with Supporting People, a countywide review of services for older people was completed. There is a comprehensive and flexible range of floating support services, well in excess of our target of 140 places. In addition, the district has access to 151 units of floating support for people with drug or alcohol problems. We completed a joint scheme with Social Services, funded by the Private Finance Initiative. A project of six flats was developed in Herne Bay for people with mental health issues in partnership with Town and Country Housing Group and Social Services. Strategic objective 1.4: Ensure homes are linked with other essential services. The Strategic Housing Policy and Enabling Team make a full contribution to Development Management Group and other working groups to ensure that links between housing and key services on major developments are fully addressed. Strategic objective 1.5: Consult and involve communities in decision making about housing We successfully developed high service standards and introduced a complaints and compliments system. The council has been awarded Customer Service Excellence accreditation. In 2009, the Strategic Housing Market Assessment was commissioned jointly with Dover, Shepway, Swale and Thanet councils, which included a full housing needs survey. We also commissioned a private sector stock condition survey in 2009/10 jointly with other Kent councils. 1

2 Strategic objective 1.6: Develop partnerships to improve delivery and co-ordination of services in Canterbury and East Kent Many strong working partnerships have been forged to develop strategies and deliver services including the East Kent Homelessness Forum, which developed and monitors the East Kent Homelessness Strategy: the Joint Policy and Planning Board for Housing and Health, whose membership has expanded countywide: the Canterbury Community Safety Partnership: Kent Housing Group, which has expanded and influences policy development: East Kent Housing, a joint landlord service to manage all 18,000 homes owned by Canterbury, Dover, Shepway and Thanet councils. Key priority 2: To ensure that the condition of homes in the district is improved to the highest possible standard Strategic objective 2.1: Complete stock investment option appraisals for council owned homes, including stock with the poorest conditions, lowest demand or shared facilities. 100% of the council s homes reached the Decent Homes Standard. Shalmsford court was completed and King Edward Court completed as a PFI scheme. We planned to invest in the re-development of 44 new sheltered housing flats at Ellen Court and Franklyn House. We successfully bid for for grant from the Homes and Communities Agency to build new council homes. We are continuing to review of investment options for the council s housing stock in the future. Strategic objective 2.2: Work to improve conditions in the private sector and progress toward the decent homes standard. The council continued to invest in the improvement of homes in the private sector through its home improvement agency, Homestay, and the handyperson service. The main focus has been to improve the living conditions of disabled and older people using Disabled Facilities Grant. W e joined the House Proud equity release scheme, with a number of High Street lenders in 2006/07. Strategic objective 2.3: Improve energy efficiency and heating All new Affordable Homes meet at least Level 3 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, ensuring that they are warm, comfortable and energy efficient. Some money has been invested in promoting home insulation and micro generation measures in the private sector. Strategic objective 2.4: Prioritise neighbourhoods with the poorest conditions. Compared to many neighbouring districts, housing conditions in Canterbury district are higher. An evaluation of Herne Bay central area in 2007 indicated that a housing renewal area is not appropriate. 2

3 Strategic objective 2.5: Support work to adapt property for people with physical disabilities and reduce the risk of falls. Fall prevention is an intrinsic part of the work of Homestay and is a pre-requisite of undertaking Disabled Facility Grant work. In addition many smaller Handyperson jobs were completed via the joint Homestay / Volunteer Centre Handyperson Scheme. Strategic objective 2.6: Work to improve management standards in the private sector. We have maintained our landlord/tenant liaison service and continue to advise landlords on best practice. The Landlords Forum and the Student Landlord Accreditation Scheme are two examples of this work. Key Priority 3: To increase the supply of homes in all tenures to meet the identified needs of the district Strategic Objective 3.1: Increase the supply of affordable homes to meet needs. 690 Affordable Homes were built between 2005 and % were for rent and 40% for shared ownership. 40 PFI-fundedhomes were completed in Housing associations working in the district and the council have successfully attracted ongoing grant funding from the Housing Corporation and Homes and Communities Agency. Strategic Objective 3.2: Encourage a balance of market homes to reflect local needs and demand. During the life of the Strategy, a high proportion of market homes were apartments aimed at smaller households to meet emerging demographic needs, and because they were built on difficult brownfield town centre sites. Strategic Objective 3.3: Ensure existing housing stock is used to its full potential Approximately 20 households per year have been offered smaller accommodation and released family homes for larger households. Strategic Objective 3.4: Bring empty homes back into use. During the lifetime of the Strategy, it was decided to re-focus scarce resources on homelessness prevention, The number of long term empty homes increased over this period from 577 to

4 Strategic Objective 3.5: Encourage tenure diversity to meet a range of needs and affordability levels. We achieved our aim to enable 60% of new Affordable Homes to be available for social rent and 40% for intermediate tenures. The council has a policy of pepper potting Affordable Homes on new developments as far as practicable. Strategic Objective 3.6: Support initiatives to increase the supply and improve the management of student accommodation. We annually monitor the number of students studying at Canterbury campuses and assess the tenure of their accommodation. A student Scrutiny Review was completed and the amount of purpose-built student accommodation increased with the involvement of private developers and educational institutions. Strategic Objective 3.7: Increase the supply of homes to meet the needs of vulnerable, minority and disadvantaged groups in the community. 4 supported housing schemes have been completed through this strategy. Key priority 4: To improve access to housing and extend choice for communities Strategic objective 4.1: Encourage diversity of tenure, type, size and location of new homes to enable greater choice. 276 new intermediate tenure homes were built between 2005 and During the Strategy the majority of homes built were one- and two-bedroom flats to meet the needs of the large numbers of small households. Strategic objective 4.2: Improve choice for people seeking social housing. The council was a founder member of Kent Home Choice, the countywide choice-based lettings scheme. Strategic objective 4.3: Provide assistance for people to access private rented accommodation. At least 20 households per year were assisted by the rent deposit scheme. A tenancy deposit scheme was introduced in April 2007, in which landlords are required to secure deposits in an accredited scheme. The council continued to provide annual funding for CHAC and CAB advice services. 4

5 Strategic objective 4.4: Ensure that the needs of minority groups are reflected in the provision of housing and services. An updated Equalities Impact Assessment regime was implemented in 2008 as part of the council s service planning process. The Tenant Consultative Group is very active and represents the interests of the council s tenants. The East Kent Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment was completed in Strategic objective 4.5: Support initiatives that help people to access owner-occupation or shared ownership. The cash incentive and key worker schemes were discontinued during the lifetime of the Strategy. Until the credit crunch of 2008, there was easy access through the market to 95% mortgages. Strategic objective 4.6: To improve the quality and range of information and advice services available. We produced a new range of homelessness leaflets in partnership with Dover and Thanet councils. A Scrutiny Review of debt counselling services was completed. Strategic objective 4.7: Assist people to meet their housing and support needs in their own homes where possible. The council has maintained levels of funding and resources for Disabled Facilities Grant. Homestay provides advice and assistance to about 900 households per annum. At least 20% of new Affordable Homes met the Lifetime Homes Standard. We have developed a Sanctuary Scheme to support people experiencing domestic violence to remain in their home safely. 5

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