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Paper 5 - 26 March 2004 Meeting

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES

26 March 2004

REGIONAL HOUSING STRATEGY

Report by the Head of Housing Services, East Hampshire District Council

________________________________________________________________________

RECOMMENDATION

It is recommended that the officers prepare a joint response to the consultation draft of the housing green paper that will form the basis of the South East Regional Housing Strategy 2006-2009. The response should cover mutual areas of concern surrounding key workers, funding and affordability and housing supply.

________________________________________________________________________

SUMMARY

The consultation draft of the housing green paper is being launched at the Chartered Institute of Housing Conference held on 18 March 2004. The green paper will form the basis of the Regional Housing Strategy 2006-2009. The consultation period will run until middle of June 2004. It is important that HIOW responds to the consultation as the final document will direct how funding for housing is targeted in the future. As such it will impact on Councils’ ability to deliver affordable housing and meet their statutory duty to meet housing needs, and in particular those of homeless households. Members are asked to consider the green paper and ask the officers to draft a joint response.

1. The new regional housing arrangements for funding affordable housing were set up as a result of the Communities Plan which was launched in February 2003. This tied in with the ending of Local Authority Social Housing Grant which was in effect abolished from April 2003. From April, all funding decisions were taken on a regional basis by the Regional Housing Board (RHB).

2. The five groups represented on the Regional Housing Board are the Regional Assembly, Government Office for the South East (GOSE), Housing Corporation, English Partnerships and the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA). The South East RHB is the only Board that has chosen to involve elected members.

3. The RHB has specific responsibility for producing the Regional Housing Strategy and making recommendations to ministers on funding. An interim strategy was produced in 2003 that covers the period 2004/5 and 2005/6. The regional priorities identified were as follows:

ˇ Affordable Housing
ˇ
Growth
ˇ
Regeneration
ˇ
Rural housing
ˇ
Key workers

4. The strategy was approved by Ministers in October 2003 and £724m was allocated for housing in the South East for the period 2004/6. The Housing Corporation has submitted a programme which is based on funding housing schemes in the area that meet regional and national priorities.

5. The RHB are already looking at preparing a new Regional Housing Strategy to run from 2006. This paper advises of the proposals and the importance of local organisations to comment and be involved in the process.

6. The RHB are required to submit a Regional Housing Strategy to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister by April/May 2005. The new Strategy will cover the financial years 2006/7, 2007/8 and 2008/9. Work has already started on getting a new strategy in place and a housing green paper will be launched at the Charted Institute of Housing South East Conference in Brighton on 18 March 2004. This will be available on the GOSE website on 18 March, marking the start of a consultation process that will last until mid June.

7. As previously noted the RHB is responsible for producing the new Regional Housing Strategy. The membership of the RHB is given in the Annex. However, there are a number of groups that feed into this process, this includes the Regional Housing Forum (RHF) which is chaired by Mark Bilsborough of GOSE who is also a member of the RHB. The RHF is made up of housing representatives from across the region from Local Authorities, Housing Associations, Housing Builders Federation, National Housing Federation and others. HIOW representatives are Barbara Compton (Southampton) and Julia Potter, (East Hampshire) from the Strategic Housing Officers’ Group.

8. Below the Regional Housing Forum there are 3 Sub Groups as listed below. The 15 topics covered by the 3 groups has informed the housing green paper. They are therefore key in determining the basis for the new strategy.

ˇ Affordability & Supply (Chair Mike Gwilliam)
Rep Barbara Compton

ˇ Affordability
ˇ
Key Workers
ˇ
Sub-regions, Housing Markets and Growth Areas
ˇ
Housing Supply
ˇ
Rural Affordable Housing

ˇ Social Sustainability (Paul Abey, Housing Corporation)

ˇ Homelessness
ˇ
Supported Housing (Lois Brewster, Portsmouth CC)
ˇ
Neighbourhood Management (Ralph Facey, Gosport BC)
ˇ
Crime
ˇ
Equality and Diversity (Nick Murphy, Southampton CC)

ˇ Quality and Decency (Pat Tempany, SEEDA)

ˇ Private Sector Renewal
ˇ
Decent Homes
ˇ
Quality Design and Sustainable Construction
ˇ
Sustainable Construction and the Environment
ˇ
Skills and Training

9. The membership of the groups appears to be static and historic, which is contrary to the original GOSE view that they should be flexible to enable greater input from a wider representation. There is currently no mechanism in place for a feed back to other Local Authorities. This lack of communication and consultation needs to be addressed.

10. Local Authorities will be making their own responses. However, it is appropriate that HIOW makes a joint response on matters of mutual concern. In view of the fact that HIOW Members will not meet again until 16 July, after the initial consultation period ends, it is proposed that the Strategic Housing Officers’ Group draws up a joint response for agreement with the Chief Executives’ Group, Chair and Vice-Chair of HIOW.

11. The areas that authorities are likely to want to express a joint view can be summarised as follows:

ˇ key workers
ˇ
Funding and Affordability
ˇ
Housing Supply

12. An increasing proportion of funding is being directed at key workers. It is envisaged that 35% of RHB funding for 2004 to 2006 will be directed at this group which was less than originally anticipated. Increasing the amount of funding targeted at this group results in less funding for traditional rented units which in turn, may impact on the ability to assist other priority groups such as homeless households. The key questions in the paper are as follows:

ˇ What is a key worker and should the definition be broader?

ˇ Will there still be a demand for key worker housing after 2006 and should there be less funding in 2006-2009 with more funding directed at other priority need groups?

ˇ There is a suggestion in the green paper that S106/PPG3 sites should focus on key workers.

13. HIOW may wish to suggest that more research is required in terms number of key workers and the impact of the Government’s Starter Home Initiative. Unfortunately it will be impossible to measure the impact of directing more funding to key workers and away from other priority need groups in 2004 to 2006 for a number of years.

14. There are some key questions concerning affordability within the paper including the definition of affordability and whether subsidy should continue to be source of developing new affordable housing or developing without grant. A number of options are put forward that HIOW may wish to support as follows:

ˇ that a greater proportion of funding is not targeted at the growth areas (in 2004/6 there was a target of 20% funding for the growth areas – in the end 12% was allocated) but that funding is more closely targeted to areas of greatest housing need

ˇ that a level of baseline funding is provided to all local authorities (as a replacement for LASHG) to enable local needs to be addressed more flexibly

ˇ that the definition of affordable housing is widened to include not just affordable housing for rent but also intermediate rent and low cost home ownership schemes

15. An area of concern is that the Housing Corporation has indicated a presumption against funding S106/PPG3 sites unless that it is clear that the development economics of the scheme require it. This is basically because there is not enough funding available.- of the S106/PPG3 which bid for funds in 2004/2006 only 21% will receive funding in the South East Region. For this reason one of the options the green paper is considering is that only intermediate and key worker housing be provided on these sites with no grant. Grant would then be targeted on social rented provision on non PPG3 sites – where would the sites come from? If available they would be very expensive. In addition on PPG3 sites if there is no social rented provision how can it meet the Government’s requirement of providing a range of tenures and achieve mixed and balanced communities?

16. There has been much debate recently about the need to increase the supply of housing in the South East. The Green paper asks a number of questions that HIOW may wish to respond to as follows:

ˇ Will the housing sector (defined in a broad sense) be able to deliver more housing in the South East? If not, what more needs to be done to ensure that planned provision translates into homes?

ˇ What role (if any) should the RHB itself play in helping to increase the overall supply of housing? If the Board was to take one key initiative what should it be?

ˇ Are there further actions that could be taken by those organisations that make up the RHB?

This part of the response will be co-ordinated with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Planning Officers’ Group.

JULIA POTTER
Head of Housing Services, East Hampshire District Council

Date: 11 March 2004
Annex: 1
Contact: Julia Potter tel: 01730 234376 email: julia_potter@easthants.gov.uk

ANNEX

South East Regional Housing Board Members

Paul Martin

GOSE (Chair)

Mark Bilsborough

GOSE

Paul Hudson

SEEDA

Mike Gwilliam

Regional Assembly

Trevor Beattie

English Partnerships

Colin Byrne

GOSE

Clive Turner

Housing Corporation

Keith House

SEEDA/Eastleigh BC

Keith Mitchell

Assembly/Oxfordshire CC

Don Turner

Assembly/Brighton & Hove

Sharon Hedges

Assembly/National Housing Fed

Douglas Horner

Assembly/CBI

Paul Bizzell

Assembly/White Horse DC

Sheila Drew Smith

Housing Corporation

Bernice O’Reilly

GOSE

Pat Tempany

SEEDA

Steve Manning

GOSE

Graeme Hough

Housing Corporation

Last update: 16/03/2004
Author: Nick Goulder, Director

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