Castle Point Council supply of Affordable Housing severely Unviable? Canvey Island in the Spotlight Again?

The “Viability” reasoning used by developers to justify their low levels of Affordable Housing supply, serves them well in Castle Point.

Canvey_060309_1

Canvey Island, densely urbanised yet always room for more!

Going back to the Glebelands proposal, the Inspector considered that “the scheme would provide 35% affordable housing which would equate to about 58 dwellings” and that “I am satisfied that Castle Point has an acute shortage of affordable housing, and that this must have serious adverse consequences for persons in housing need. There is therefore an urgent need for additional affordable housing in the Borough.”

Given this it is surprising that such easy capitulation from cpbc, allowed the Kiln road scheme to argue viability reasoning to support a reduction in the supply of Affordable Housing units.

The Castle Point draft Local plan 2016 version stated “In Castle Point there is a need for at least 73% of new homes to be affordable, assuming delivery at 200 homes per annum.”

Records indicate that 16 affordable housing units were delivered in Castle Point during 2016/17.

Generally smaller schemes in the Borough appear to result in no affordable units being developed on site, but a financial contribution to cpbc being made.

It would be interesting to learn the route these funds take once they enter cpbc accounts, how soon they are released and where the affordable housing is actually located. we are aware of the Flatted development at Long Road Canvey for instance. Of course Affordable Housing is usually only affordable once!

It might be easily argued that with the lower land values at Canvey Island affordable housing could more easily be developed there, however given that the same cpbc 2016 draft Local plan indicated that-

“Compared with other parts of the borough Canvey Island is relatively more deprived, with pockets of income and employment deprivation, and wider issues associated with the education and skills of residents.”

However, more new affordable housing, especially in the form of social housing for instance, would further add to deprivation levels on the Island, especially as needy residents from across the Borough may be eligible to relocate to Canvey!

A report published by the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) has found that 63 per cent of UK councils rate their affordable housing need as severe.
Of the 141 councils that responded to a survey question about characterising their affordable housing need, a further 35 per cent said it was moderate.
Written and researched by the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA), the report – Delivering Affordable Homes in a Changing World – says that a lack of investment in “genuine affordable housing” alongside “deregulation of planning” is reducing the ability of local authorities to deliver the homes the nation needs.
It says over two-thirds of councils in England state that statutory homelessness levels have increased in their local area in the past 12 months and 57 per cent state that rough sleeping has also increased during this period.
It notes that in an attempt to deliver more housing, the government has introduced permitted development rights, which requires a prior approval process but not a full planning application to the local authority. As a result, more homes have been created, but it has not enabled councils to secure much-needed affordable housing or help them to deal with rising homelessness.
Delivering Affordable Homes in a Changing World makes a number of recommendations, including:
· The social housing green paper should not just be “tinkering”. It should represent a step change in the role of central government as a powerful enabler of social housing, leaving delivery in the hands of local authorities and their delivery partners.
· The government should make clear that right to buy rules do not apply to local authority housing companies. However, if the right to buy rules are going to apply to homes built by local authority housing companies they must be able to replace them on a 1:1 basis to ensure that the long-term investment programme is not undermined.
· The government should reverse the central imposition of permitted development and give powers back to local authorities to reflect local circumstances.
· The government should not extend permitted development rights to allow commercial buildings to be demolished and replaced with homes.
Paul O’Brien, chief executive at APSE, said: “Decent housing in a well-planned environment provides a foundation for helping people to maximise their contribution to society, and to create areas that are economically prosperous. What our report highlights is the extent to which insecure tenancy arrangements in the private rented sector are directly contributing to the rise in homelessness. We need local councils to act as ‘market disruptors’; bringing stability and capacity to the social rented sector which in turn will help to stem these almost unprecedented rises in both statutory homelessness and rough sleeping.”
Investment in high-quality social housing can also save public funds, O’Brien continued. It can reduce poor physical and mental health outcomes “currently experienced by those living in an unstable private rented sector or those in temporary accommodation”.
He said the government must be “bold and ambitious” in addressing the housing issues for those most in need. Part of the solution is to help councils return to providing homes.
Kate Henderson, chief executive at the TCPA, said the ability of councils to address the lack of affordable housing is being “undermined by planning deregulation”.
Henderson explained that if applicants aren’t obliged to obrain full planning permission, councils are unable to secure a contribution to affordable housing from the developer, while “little or no thought is given to the most basic issues, such as where children can play or whether there are enough doctors’ surgeries in the area”.
“We are calling on the government to reverse the central imposition of permitted development and give powers back to local authorities to reflect local circumstances.”

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One response to “Castle Point Council supply of Affordable Housing severely Unviable? Canvey Island in the Spotlight Again?

  1. Steve Sawkins

    Editor
    Whilst it would seem logical that the priority for the growth of the Borough is directed via a Commercial route, given that commercial rates are retained by the council, it is not clear however how this strategy will provide for the Boroughs affordable housing needs.

    The Council Constitution makes it vitally important that “Public Perception” does not become misguided, which is why the submission of information by all councillors, primarily for their own protection, under the process of a “Declaration of Interest” is fully compliant.

    What should be clear is that should such information identify with relevant significant facts that allows for public misperception, or should that perception conclude that such interest are likely to prejudice an individual’s judgement (particularly when undertaking their specified responsibilities) the guidance provided by the constitution should be strictly followed.

    Such a situation needs to be seen as being fully scrutinised by the Councils Governance.

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