Housing Core Strategy Review Issues and Options

Housing Issues and Options

3 Need for a review

National and Regional Policies 

3.1         The Borough’s adopted Core Strategy (December 2010) represents an up to date plan in terms of planning policy.  However, since adoption the Government has published the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in March 2012 with its emphasis on encouraging economic growth. The NPPF requires that Local Plan[3] policies are compliant with the London Plan. Annex 1 of the NPPF (para 218) states that “Where it would be appropriate and assist the process of preparing or amending Local Plans, regional strategy  policies can be reflected in Local Plans by undertaking a partial review focusing on the specific issues involved.”  

3.2         The NPPF requires planning authorities to plan for a mix of housing based on current and future demographic trends and the needs of different groups in the community (such as, but not limited to, families with children, older people, people with disabilities, service families and people wishing to build their own homes). It also requires that affordable housing should be met on site, unless off-site provision or a financial contribution of broadly equivalent value can be robustly justified (for example to improve or make more effective use of the existing housing stock) and the agreed approach contributes to the objective of creating mixed and balanced communities. Such policies also need to be sufficiently flexible to take account of changing market conditions over time.   

3.3         The London Plan was published in July 2011 and sets a higher housing target for the Borough both for market and affordable housing. However, there is no longer a stipulation that 50% of floorspace on each site should be for affordable housing purposes. 

Affordable Rent Tenure 

3.4         Affordable housing policy has also changed at the national level with the introduction of the ‘Affordable Rent’ tenure. The Localism Bill has introduced Flexible Tenancies as a new tenure within the affordable sector.  Flexible Tenancies are significantly different to the currently used social rented tenure.  Flexible tenancies do not give the tenant security of tenure for life and will allow ‘Affordable Rent’ to be charged. Their introduction is likely to have an effect on the wider housing market and a significant impact on the affordable sector.

3.5         Terms of the Affordable Rent tenancies are set for at least two years and charge up to a maximum of 80% ‘of local market rents’ for an equivalent property for that size and location (up to the Local Housing Allowance Level).  The income generated from Affordable Rent tenancies will be used to finance new developments.  The implications of these changes for our local policy need to be examined.

[3] The NPPF defines Local Plan as “the plan for the future development of the local area, drawn up by the local planning authority in consultation with the community. In law this is described as the development plan documents adopted under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. Current core strategies or other planning policies, which under the regulations would be considered to be development plan documents, form part of the Local Plan. The term includes old policies which have been saved under the 2004 Act.”