To receive an update on development (report now available).
The Housing Strategy and Operations Manager and the Housing Strategy Manager provided a summary of the report relating to the proposed development of various sites across the District that had been identified as having potential for the development of council owned homes, as part of the Council’s on-going development. They detailed the breakdown of the 200 properties, making up the Development Programme and provided further information in respect of the six sites listed in the report that had been identified as development opportunities on council owned land. They said that sites needed to be identified for a further 70 properties and that they were working with Planning officers to draw up a shortlist of sites. The Housing Strategy and Operations Manager stated that this was all dependent on Government funding arrangements in respect of borrowing rules, RTB income, the borrowing capacity within the HRA and that Homes England grant funding was a possibility for social rents.
The Chair stated that the best way to look at this was that sites for 130 properties had already been identified and the commitment was to provide 200 new homes. Members expressed full support for the works undertaken to date by the Housing Team.
Some Members requested that the statistics also show the net increases in the number of properties as some properties would be demolished to make way for new properties. It was recognised that the properties to be demolished were no longer fit for purpose and would be replaced with houses that people wanted to live in. The Housing Strategy and Operations Manager agreed to include this data in future.
Councillor Coote commented on the well managed housing position in Saffron Walden and asked about how requirements for different clientele were considered when building new homes throughout the District. The Housing Strategy and Operations Manager explained that they looked at what type of property best fitted each location and the specific need for 1 and 2 bedroom properties was recognised.
Councillor Khan asked whether the pledge for 163 social housing properties was achievable. The Housing Strategy and Operations Manager stated that prior to the HRA reforms the Council had been unable to build, the RTB receipts had provided limited funding and that there would need to be discussions with finance professionals and Members about social housing moving forward.
In response to a question from a Member, the Housing Strategy and Operations Manager confirmed that whilst all properties would be for rent this would not prevent RTB from being available in all cases.
The Senior Accountant detailed the on-going financial monitoring arrangements that were in place particularly for HRA income for rents.
The Chair of Tenant Forum expressed support for all the initiatives currently being explored.
Councillor Dean said he was encouraged by the Board’s determination to move forward and suggested further discussions when the ARK Consultancy report became available. The Chair stated that the ARK Consultancy report would be taken at Local Plan level rather than HRA level and would move to the Strategic Infrastructure Delivery Group.
RESOLVED: That the Housing Board recommends to Cabinet that these identified sites are progressed through the planning application stage, and subject to borrowing capacity within the Housing revenue Account, put into construction.