Adur District Council Housing and Central Services Committee 22 March 2007 Agenda Item 9

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1 Adur District Council Housing and Central Services Committee 22 March 2007 Agenda Item 9 Report by the Head of Housing Need and Environmental Health Consultation Draft Regional Housing Strategy Review 1.0 Summary 1.1 The report outlines the main points of the review of the Regional Housing Strategy and seeks the Committee s approval for the contents of a response to the consultation. 2.0 Recommendation 2.1 The Committee is recommended: i) To note the main points of the draft Regional Housing Strategy Review document; ii) To approve the points in Annex 1 as the Council s comments to the draft review; iii) To instruct the officers to add any comments the Committee considers appropriate. 3.0 Background 3.1 The current version of the Regional Housing Strategy was published in July The Strategy is prepared by the Regional Housing Board and it forms the basis with which ministers are informed of investment priorities within the region. 3.2 The Regional Housing Board (RHB) comprises representatives from the Government Office of the South East (GOSE), the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), the South East England Regional Assembly (SEERA), English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation. There are also nonexecutive members consisting of elected councillors from across the region. 3.3 The Strategy is now being reviewed and a draft is open for consultation until 27 April A hard copy has been made available in the members room. 3.3 The Strategy review will advise on the allocation of the housing element of the regional funding allocation in the summer of The recommendations will cover the three year period As in previous years the Strategy will address the allocation of funds between different areas of housing investment and its distribution across the region. 3.5 The consultation process requires the completion of a form, which summarises the issues the Board is seeking LAs views on. Annex 1 (attached) is the final draft which officers propose to send subject to the Committee s approval.

2 3.6 Members are reminded that the Regional Housing Strategy priorities will have an influence on the content of Adur s Housing Strategy which will also be reviewed later this year. 4.0 Main points from the existing Regional Housing Strategy The priorities of the current Regional Housing Strategy are to: Build more affordable homes Bring decent housing within reach of people on lower incomes Improve the quality of new housing and of existing stock 4.2 The Strategy identified that 20% of the regional programme will be allocated to the region s Growth areas of Thames gateway, Ashford and Milton Keynes, 50% to the areas which they assess as being the highest level of need and 30% to the remaining areas. Adur DC was assessed as being one of the areas of lowest need and thus received a smaller share of investment. 4.3 The Regional Housing Board s expenditure allocation recommendations for : 91% for the provision of additional affordable housing 5% for the renewal of private sector housing 3% for renovating/improving council housing 1% for the provision / refurbishment pf sites for gypsies and travellers 4.4 As demonstrated above Affordable Housing was seen by the Board s as the main priority and as such received the majority of the funds available. The split in the affordable housing programme is 74% social rented and 26% low cost home ownership. 5.0 Main points of the Regional Housing Strategy review draft for consultation 5.1 The Regional Housing Board s proposed priorities for funding in the period are as follows: Maintain a strong focus on the delivery of affordable housing. The Housing Need Survey consistently demonstrates a shortfall in the supply of affordable housing, the 2005 update indicated an annual shortfall of 396, so we welcome the focus on affordable housing. The split in funding of 74% social rented and 26% low cost home ownership closely mirrors Adur DC s policy in the Adur Development Plan for a two thirds social rented to one third low cost home ownership split Maintain a commitment to provide funding for improvements to ensure decent homes. It is proposed that funds are focused through a criteria based programme that will tackle poor condition and, in particular, energy efficiency. The Board states that more funding is needed in order to meet the target that 70% of vulnerable households in the private sector should be in decent homes by It proposes that this can be achieved through the promotion of loans/equity release schemes rather than grants so that the funding can be recycled and through closer cooperation between authorities and also other agencies. As a significantly lower percentage of the private sector stock in ADC fails the decent homes standard than in the region overall, it may benefit ADC to develop partnerships at a sub-regional

3 level, as suggested, in order to maximise the opportunity for securing a slice of the funding Maintain focus on investment in urban areas Increase emphasis on providing the right size and type of housing. The RHB states that there is growing evidence that insufficient attention is being paid to ensuring an adequate supply of family sized homes in the social rented sector. It proposes to monitor the numbers of people housed rather than focussing solely on the number of homes provided. An emphasis on providing a greater number of family homes will impact on the overall number of affordable units provided, but this emphasis is in line with the findings of the ADC Housing Needs Survey update 2005, which found a need to supply for a broader range of house types, to include 3/4 bed units to meet the needs of families Maintain support for programmes that assist key workers. The Board states that it is likely that the Government will continue to identify a target for the key worker living programme to benefit people employed in the public sector. We reemphasise the feedback received by the Board from authorities previously that there is a need to widen the criteria for key workers to allow for flexibility within each LA or sub-region to determine what type of worker should be deemed essential for the benefit of the local economy Invest in pump priming, innovative delivery mechanisms, such as Brownfield Land Assembly Trust (BLAT) and the Regional Infrastructure Fund (RIF) that will unlock housing potential. The BLAT proposal is already contained within the Strategy and identified as an example of an innovative approach to delivery. It is envisaged that the BLAT model will evolve into a separate delivery vehicle that will attract investment from other streams. RIF will pump prime or forward fund infrastructure improvements in situations where the anticipated funding for the scheme will not be immediately available. The RIF funding would subsequently be recovered when funding does become available. Both initiatives would further expand the options for the delivery of affordable housing with minimal funding and are thus welcomed by ADC, although whether or not this will result in investment in infrastructure not in Adur, using money that might possibly have come to Adur, is a potential issue Maintain a commitment to invest in accommodation for Gypsies and Travellers. The evidence base on the potential need for additional pitches within the region is currently being developed so it is proposed that the current level of funding is maintained until a clearer picture emerges. 6.0 The effect on Adur 6.1 The review of the Strategy retains its focus on the delivery of affordable housing across the region and there is a welcome focus on the need to provide the right size and type of accommodation to address the needs of the region. There remains some concern that an unequal proportion of overall funding is being allocated to the growth areas and areas of greatest need, and that areas of serious but not quite as critical need, such as Adur, may be disadvantaged.

4 6.2 As stated previously ADC did not fall into one of the areas of highest need when funding was originally allocated and it is highly unlikely that this will change. We should therefore not expect the level of funding received by ADC to alter significantly. 7.0 Annex A 7.1 Attached as Annex A is the consultation form that we have been asked to complete. Local Government Act 1972 Background Papers: Consultation Paper: Regional Housing Strategy Review Draft for Consultation Contact Officer: Paul Spedding Head of Housing Strategy and Environmental Health. Tel:

5 Appendix 1.0 Council Priority 1.1 Revitalise Adur 2.0 Specific Targets 2.1 Housing Strategy Key priority 1: balancing the local housing market; exploit development opportunities in the district and help meet government targets Key priority 2: meeting affordable housing need; maximise affordable housing across a range of tenures 3.0 Sustainability Issues 3.1 The provision of adequate affordable housing of good quality is a cornerstone of a sustainable community. 4.0 Equality Issues 4.1 Matter considered and no issues identified. 5.0 Community Safety issues (Section 17) 5.1 Matter considered and no issues identified. 6.0 Human Rights Issues 6.1 Matter considered and no issues identified. 7.0 Financial Implications 7.1 There are no direct financial implications for the authority although the amount of Housing Corporation grant funding which can be attracted may be affected by the strategy. 8.0 Legal Implications 8.1 Matter considered and no issues identified. 9.0 Consultations 9.1 Matter considered and no issues identified Risk assessment 10.1 Matter considered and no issues identified Health & Safety Issues 11.1 Matter considered and no issues identified.

6 12.0 Procurement Strategy 12.1 Matter considered and no issues identified Partnership working 13.1 Matter considered and no issues identified.

7 Annex A Regional Housing Strategy Review Consultation February - April 2007 The Regional Housing Board is reviewing the Regional Housing Strategy and has produced a draft review for consultation. The consultation period runs from 5 February to 27 April We would very much like to hear your views on the issues which will influence how regional funding will be used during Please answer the questions below. If you wish to make specific comments on the questions, we have provided boxes for this. Figures in brackets denote paragraphs in the consultation document. There is also a further section for additional general comments. = required Section 1 - About You In what capacity are you responding to this questionnaire? Local Planning Authority (District / Borough) If other, please specify: Please provide your name and address. We cannot accept anonymous or confidential consultation responses or submissions. Name: Organisation: Address: Arjan de Jong Adur District Council Rm 14 Civic Centre, Ham Road, Shoreham Postcode: address: BN43 6PR

8 Section 2 - Overall allocation of funds Question 1: In selecting areas for investment in affordable housing, should the Regional Housing Board (para 5.3)? Measure homelessness, overcrowding and affordability, as it does now? Focus on areas that deliver sustainable development by supporting the regional priorities in the South East Plan (see map)? The RHB should measure homelessness, overcrowding and affordability as the most effective method of the two options to address Housing Need across the region. Focusing funding on areas that support priorities in the South East Plan will take much needed funds away from areas where affordable housing need also exists. Funds should be allocated by providing a level of baseline funding to all local authorities, or at the very least sub-regional groupings of local authorities working together. However, we stress that for a realistic picture of need to emerge that these indicators be treated on a proportional basis rather than crude numbers. Otherwise need in smaller administrative areas is treated as less important. Question 2: Should the Regional Housing Board allocate funds based on (para 5.3): A percentage of the total funding available? The number of homes to be delivered? The RHB should allocate funds based on a percentage of the total funding available as this will ensure that the overall funding is spread fairly evenly across the region. It is right that the areas of greatest need / those which are delivering the greater number of homes should receive an above average level of funding, but a balance must be reached across the region to prevent future imbalance. Section 3: Funding for different types of project

9 Question 3: How much affordable housing funding should the Regional Housing Board invest in large strategic sites (para 2.8.1, 5.7)? 5% (around 22m a year)? 10% (around 44m a year)? Other (please state): 3% Question 4: The Regional Housing Board plans to spend 1% of its budget (around 5m a year) on providing and refurbishing Gypsy and Traveller sites (para ). Is this: Too low? About right? Too high? Question 5: How much should the Regional Housing Board invest in improving the condition of private sector housing (para )? 3% (around 12m a year, below the current level)? 5% (around 20m a year, the current level)? 7% (around 30m a year)? 9% (around 40m a year)? Other (please state): Question 6: What should be the criteria for funding to improve public sector homes (para )? The current fitness standard criteria for funding to improve private sector homes is the most accurate data we have to determine need as it is too early to establish how accurate the new Housing Health and Safety Rating System will be. We support the using of funds for loans or equity release schemes as a way to improve the condition of private sector housing though we question how successful they will be especially for smaller schemes given lenders apparent unwillingness to be involved in relatively small loans. Question 7: Do you support the Regional Housing Board using funds

10 for loans or equity release schemes as a way to improve the condition of private sector housing (para 12.5)? Yes No Question 8: What should be the Regional Housing Board's minimum target for rural affordable housing in small settlements (para 4.10 and 15)? 360 per year the current level 360 homes per year (the current level)? 500 homes per year? Other (please state): Question 9: The evidence base for the draft South East Plan suggests that 70% of new affordable housing should be social rented. A proportion of this is likely to be achieved without public subsidy. How many of the Regional Housing Board s affordable homes should be social rented accommodation (para 3.2, 16)? 70% 60% 50% Other (please state): Question 10: To emphasise the need for large, family-sized affordable housing, should the Regional Housing Board adopt (para ): A single regional target applied to the total of all affordable housing? Separate regional targets for social rented and shared ownership housing? Other suggestion (please state and add reasons below) The shortage of affordable family sized accommodation is acute across both tenures, although many developers are only prepared to look at providing smaller units as an affordable proportion on new developments, especially where section 106 agreements are used.

11 Question 11: Should the Regional Housing Board fund low cost home ownership for 'essential' local workers (para 17)? Yes No Question 12: If the Regional Housing Board decided to fund shared ownership homes for essential workers, what type of workers at what income levels should be eligible (para 17)? We are pleased to see that the term essential local workers has replaced key workers as this will give each LA or sub-region greater flexibility in addressing the needs of essential workers within their area. Although it is important to continue to provide some funding for shared ownership options for essential workers we feel that the proportion of funding currently allocated to key worker and other low cost housing options should be reduced from its current level. A greater element of funding should be focused on affordable rented accommodation as low cost home ownership is not always affordable or aspired to. With regard to the criteria for essential workers, there should be flexibility within each LA or sub-region to determine what type of worker and income level based on available data in order to cater most effectively for local need. Section 4: Infrastructure and land Question 13: How important is infrastructure to support new affordable homes para 14)? Very important? Important? Not at all important? Question 14: Do you support the Regional Housing Board's intention to use a proportion of its funds (approximately 2%), on a recyclable basis, towards creating a Regional Infrastructure Fund that will ensure

12 infrastructure is delivered alongside development (para 14)? Yes No Question 15: Do you support the Regional Housing Board's aim to buy surplus public sector brownfield land for affordable housing developments (para 13)? Yes No Section 5: Additional general comments We are pleased to see that the term essential local workers has replaced key workers as this will give each LA or sub-region greater flexibility in addressing the needs of essential workers within their area. Although it is important to continue to provide some funding for shared ownership options for essential workers we feel that the proportion of funding currently allocated to key worker and other low cost housing options should be reduced from its current level. A greater element of funding should be focused on affordable rented accommodation as low cost home ownership is not always affordable or aspired to. With regard to the criteria for essential workers, there should be flexibility within each LA or sub-region to determine what type of worker and income level based on available data in order to cater most effectively for local need. Submit Response

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