Sarah Cartwright, Group Leader Housing Growth was welcomed to the meeting to provide an update on affordable housing provision in the area.
Members were reminded of the definition used for affordable housing, which includes Social Rented housing; Affordable Rented housing let by councils or registered providers at 80% or less than the market rate; and Intermediate Housing which includes shared ownership or rent below market level but above social rent. It was noted that the definition did not include help to buy properties, or other low cost housing.
Those present heard how that the Strategic Housing Market Assessment had been updated in 2017, but had not changed substantially, and the shortfall of all property sizes was noted. Members noted the target for affordable housing provision in the borough of 295 units per year, with a preference of approximately 80% rented and 20% intermediate tenure.
The existing policy relating to affordable housing requested 25% of all developments of 15 units or more to be affordable in the Penistone area; however Members noted that within policy H8 of the draft local plan this rose to 30%. It was acknowledged that these levels could be impacted upon by the viability of the site and each proposal would be considered independently.
Members were reminded of the different ways of making provision for affordable housing, with the preference being provided on-site, however the significant number of other options were noted.
The attention of Members was drawn to figures relating to housing provision since 2000. It was noted that the majority of sites within the borough were below the 15 unit threshold and therefore there was no provision required. Members were also reminded that planning permission was approved for a number of sites in the area prior to the adoption of the affordable housing policy, and therefore contained no affordable provision.
Members acknowledged the evidence for the Local Plan, which highlighted that for areas where 25% of units developed were requested to be developed 19.5% had been delivered on site. Annual targets of providing 150 units were met in 2016/17 (160), and were on track in 2017/18 (98 by Q2). It was noted that these figures had been met through a variety of means which included new build, but also the refurbishment of void properties and purchasing long term empty homes.
The Area Council was made aware of the current situation with regards to Affordable Housing section 106 finance and the current priorities. Moving forward Members noted future priorities included the acquisition of land to develop Council houses with 106 funding, and the opportunities for affordable housing provision associated with strategic site within the Local Plan.
Members discussed the numbers of empty homes. It was noted that in the previous year 37 homes had been put back into use, but that this could be time consuming as owners may not be willing.
The issue of viability assessments were discussed and assurances were given to Members that developers were robustly challenged on quality of developments and the provision of affordable housing, with the district valuer engaged where necessary.
The quality of new build properties was considered, and it was noted that properties purchased by the authority using section 106 finance were inspected and any issues rectified before taking ownership. It was also acknowledged that a number of builders now engage third party building control services for inspection as opposed to the service provided by the local authority.
A suggestion was made that Members may wish to receive a further presentation on the use of Section 106 finance in due course.
(i) That the Group Leader Housing Growth be thanked for their attendance;
(ii) That a future meeting of the Area Council receives a presentation on the use of Section 106 Finance in the area;
(iii) That the information provided be noted.