Tag Archives: viability

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.

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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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Since when did Canvey Island become the New Klondike?

Canvey Island, the only town with a Housing Crisis?

Well it certainly appears to be the ONLY town in the Borough of Castle Point to be!

Attracted by the apparent “open spaces”, according to the Echo, Canvey is now expected to be the answer to London’s Housing Crisis, as well as providing Housing for its own “Distinct Community”!

The latest Carrot dangled before local politicians is the £2,000,000,000 extra government funding to assist the country’s “Broken Housing Market”.

Whilst Thorney Bay has been the answer to many local authorities own housing problems, the regeneration of the site into Sandy Bay, now appears to mean these housing problems are now, solely Canvey Island’s problem!

The lack of Affordable Homes has been created by weak local authorities, as is castle point council, that have accepted “viability” as an excuse by developers to negate their conditional agreements to supply affordable dwellings. In Castle Point this was demonstrated when the Kiln road developer was excused affordable housing provision by development committee consent, even though houses were being sold for £600,000 each!

The impression given now by cpbc spokesperson is that the rehoming of Thorney Bay residents will be Canvey Island’s responsibility. Fair enough except that the current London influx means the crisis may not be Housing but Services and Transport.

The Borough have accepted Taxes from Thorney Bay, quite obviously re-housing IS a Borough responsibility! Why are Benfleet, Hadleigh and Thundersley areas allowed to cower down behind Canvey Island? Why isn’t the stagnant population growth and ageing population a problem in other parts of Castle Point?

How far we are expected to believe the enormous figure of £2,000,000,000 towards affordable housing will stretch?

There are 326 in England alone, with Castle point being one of the smallest. Supposing the money was distributed evenly, which is unlikely, cpbc may receive £6 million.

If a Flat could be supplied at £150,000, this would attract a subsidy out of the £6 million of approximately £41 per dwelling !

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Cpbc are energetic in attempting to receive their fair share of government grants, but their record in actually receiving the requested funds and infrastructure, such as the second access route for Canvey and the £24,500,000 on drainage improvements, appears less successful.

Until the Constraints, identified within the NPPF, are addressed fairly and evenly across the Borough, within the draft New Local Plan vers.III, then these appeals for Government Cash are quite correctly going elsewhere to more deserving causes. 

Perhaps cpbc members have cried Wolf, once too often!

Photo: Favim.com