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Housing Green Paper

June 2004

Association's response to the Housing Green Paper

It was agreed at Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Authorities (HIOWLA) meeting  on 26 March 2004 that the Hampshire Strategic Housing Officers group respond, on areas of common interest, to the Housing Green Paper issued by the South East Regional Housing Board. There will be other separate response from individual local authorities and other groups to the Green Paper.  However, the areas of common interest to Hampshire Authorities related to the following topics: 

      ·          key workers
·         
funding and affordability
·         
housing supply

 Key Workers

 Local authorities should be given more flexibility in terms of meeting the demands for key worker housing locally.  The Government definition is too restrictive and does not take account of local retention and recruitment problems that impact of key service provision, for example this could include transportation and care services.

 There are some concerns about the level of demand for key worker housing since this has not been researched or measured regionally or locally.  35% of RHB funding was allocated to key workers in 2004-2006 and the general consensus is that future funding levels for key workers should not exceed this level.  Indeed the level of funding for key workers should be re-appraised until the need has been identified and justified through robust evidence.  It is also necessary to research the effectiveness/success of the current programme in terms of take up amongst key worker of the different options available to them (shared ownership/key worker living/ intermediate rent)  Some of the housing allocated for key workers on PPG3 sites may not be popular due to its location and the prescriptiveness of the Government’s definition and these properties could be left vacant.  If that is the case then there needs to be an exit strategy to make sure the units remain as affordable housing without compromising Section 106 Agreements.

Research is also required in terms of the decision to provide more funding for key workers and low cost home ownership schemes  and less funding for affordable homes for rent which traditionally have been allocated to other client groups such as homeless households. 

The affordable housing element negotiated on larger development sites through PPG3 should not focus solely on key workers.  If key worker housing is provided on PPG3 sites for low cost home ownership then it should require very little, if any subsidy.  Subsidy is required on PPG3 sites for home for rent and it is important that a continued supply of rented homes is available if local authorities are to continue to  meet their targets of nil homeless families in bed and breakfast.

 If affordable housing on PPG3 sites were aimed solely at key workers it would not provide the mixed and balanced communities the Government seeks and a  range of tenures and choice should be offered to those in housing need. 

Funding and Affordability

 Funding should not be targeted solely at the growth areas.  It should focus on other major development areas within the region.  In particular within Hampshire there are major developments in Andover, Basingstoke, Aldershot and west of Waterlooville which will produce a significant number of new homes.  Market towns can also make a contribution in providing sustainable housing and meeting housing needs.  Funding needs to be allocated to meet a range of housing needs across the region not targeted solely at areas where there will be major development. 

A level of baseline funding to all local authorities (as a replacement for LASHG) would be supported.  LASHG gave local authorities the discretion and flexibility to respond quickly to fund schemes that met local housing needs.   

The RHB should evaluate the value for money of a scheme on the basis of the whole life cost rather than the initial subsidy required.  Some schemes may be more expensive in terms of grant but may be more environmentally friendly and have lower running costs for residents.  Rural housing and brownfield sites are likely to be more expensive and difficult to develop when compared with Greenfield sites (because of  size, economies of scale or contamination) but they still make a valuable contribution to the long term sustainability of a community and the overall supply of housing within the region. 

A range of housing is required to meet a variety of different housing needs.  This appears to be an issue in that bids for supported housing schemes are not being made due to concerns about attracting revenue support via supporting people. 

The cost of housing provision within the proposed National Parks in new Forest and the South Downs is likely to be higher due to design standards and restricted land supply and this will need to be recognized by funding levels.  The same applies to the additional costs of developing urban brownfield sites where dealing with possible contamination of applying higher design standards will impact on the funding levels required. 

Housing Supply 

The Government needs to fund infrastructure to support development.  Not just in growth areas but other areas where there are pressure points and where major development is proposed.  In particular South Hampshire Light Rapid Transport.

The implications of Hampshire’s two designated National Parks (South Downs and New Forest) needs to be taken into account in terms of local authorities ability to continue to supply housing of all tenures.  Policies within the Parks could have a major impact on the demand and supply of housing both within the Parks and the areas surrounding the Parks. 

The role of English Partnerships may help facilitate bringing forward larger sites.  In particular English Partnerships has recently purchased several Department of Health sites in Hampshire and it is hoped that this will ensure early delivery of these sites for housing (where it has been determined these sites are suitable for housing). The RHB in conjunction with English Partnerships may have a role to play in securing the release of land from other “public” ownerships such as the MoD.  In particular there needs to be a recognition that best consideration for site disposal does not necessarily mean the highest price for the land but also looks at wider community benefits. 

Whilst the growth areas will undoubtedly help with the delivery in terms of meeting housing targets, growth should be targeted at meeting housing needs across the region  not growth for growth’s sake. 

The RHB could have a role in terms of working with developers and local authorities to ensure that sites come forward for development and in addition those with  planning permission are delivered quickly.  In addition if there is a lack of funding for affordable housing on larger sites then this could also slow up the development process.  

I hope that you find these comments helpful.

Cllr Elizabeth Cartwright

Vice-Chairman of HIOW

 

 

 

 

 

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Last update:  04/08/2008
Author:          Nick Goulder, Director

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