CS12 Affordable Housing
Woking is a relatively affluent Borough and is placed within the top 20% of wealthiest local authorities nationally. However, affordability - or the ability for people to get on the property ladder - is a key issue. High average incomes and high employment rates conceal inequalities in the distribution of wealth within the Borough. There are small pockets of relative deprivation with Maybury and Sheerwater being the most deprived ward in Surrey and Goldsworth East recorded as the fifth most deprived area in Surrey.
Affordability is a measure of whether housing can be afforded by certain groups of households and is defined by the relationship between local incomes and the local general housing market. Therefore, the ability of a household to satisfy its own housing requirement is fundamentally a factor of the relationship between local house prices and household income. The high cost of home ownership in Woking has always presented an issue of affordability for many of the Borough's residents and leaves many people unable to afford market housing. In addition the high cost of renting on the open market leaves many local people unable to afford this tenure without dependency on benefits. This increases the demand for the provision of affordable housing. Indeed, the current SHMA shows that there is a need for an additional 499 new affordable homes in the Borough every year and in April 2011 there were 2,140 households with active applications on the Council's housing register.
CS12: Affordable housing
Between 2010 and 2027 the overall target for affordable housing is 35% of all new homes, equivalent to 1,737 new affordable homes.
All new residential development on previously developed (brownfield) land will be expected to contribute towards the provision of affordable housing in accordance with the following criteria.
On sites providing 15 or more dwellings, or on sites of over 0.5ha (irrespective of the number of dwellings proposed), the Council will require 40% of dwellings to be affordable.
On sites providing between 10 and 14 new dwellings, the Council will require 30% of dwellings to be affordable.
On sites providing between five and nine new dwellings, the Council will require 20% of dwellings to be affordable or a financial contribution equivalent to the cost to the developer of providing 10% of the number of dwellings to be affordable on site.
On sites providing fewer than five new dwellings, the Council will require a financial contribution equivalent to the cost to the developer of providing 10% of the number of the dwellings to be affordable on site.
The mechanisms for calculating financial contributions in lieu of on site provision will be set out in the Affordable Housing Delivery SPD.
The affordable housing threshold and targets will apply to all new homes that are being proposed.
All new residential development on greenfield land will be required to provide 50% of dwellings to be affordable, irrespective of the site size or number of dwellings proposed.
All new residential development on land in public ownership will be required to provide 50% of dwellings to be affordable, irrespective of the site size or number of dwellings proposed, subject to an assessment of the financial viability of the development of the site. Generally, the Council's preference will be to provide all the 50% affordable housing in-situ as part of the development. However, one of its over-riding objectives is to ensure an effective distribution of affordable housing across the Borough. In this regard, it is prepared to negotiate for a percentage of the 50% target to be provided off-site if that will ensure a more effective distribution of affordable housing across the Borough. The actual level of off-site provision will be determined on the merits of individual schemes that will come forward. As a guide, the Council will seek to ensure that 40% of the provision is secured in-situ.
Non residential developments which generate a need for housing will be required to provide a financial contribution towards the provision of new affordable housing which will be appropriate to the scale and kind of the development and subject to an assessment of financial viability. This is further explained in the reasoned justification - Contributions from non-residential developments.
The proportion of affordable housing to be provided by a particular site will take into account the following factors.
The need to provide an appropriate tenure mix that meets the needs of local residents, as evidenced by the latest SHMA, and that is considered affordable based on local income levels.
The requirement for significant provision of new affordable family homes.
Constraints on the development of the site imposed by other planning objectives.
The need to achieve a successful housing development in terms of the location and mix of affordable homes.
The costs relating to the development; in particular the financial viability of developing the site (using an approved viability model).
The delivery of affordable housing will be provided in accordance with the following order of priority.
On-site as part of the development and distributed across the development as much as is reasonable and practical to create a sustainable, balanced community.
On an alternative site, only if provision would result in a more effective use of available resources or would meet an identified housing need, such as providing a better social mix and wider housing choice.
A financial payment to be utilised in providing affordable housing on an alternative site.
If a site allocated or identified for housing is sub-divided so as to create two or more separate development schemes one or more of which falls below the relevant threshold, the Council will seek an appropriate level of affordable housing to reflect the provision that would have been achieved on the site as a whole had it come forward as a single scheme for the allocated or identified site.
Planning conditions and/or obligations will be used to ensure that the affordable housing will remain at an affordable price for future eligible households, or for the subsidy to be recycled to alternative affordable housing provision.
Full details of how this policy will be implemented will be set out in an Affordable Housing Delivery SPD.
The Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) has found that 58% of households are likely to require market housing and 42% are likely to require affordable housing over the Plan period. Table 3 below shows the likely profile of households requiring market and affordable housing over the Plan period.
Table 3: Likely profile of households requiring market and affordable housing
|Market housing||Affordable housing|
Multi-person households (including families
The Council will seek to make provision for a target of 1,737 new affordable units secured on the back of new developments (equivalent to a headline target of 35%). The Council recognises that the level of provision set out above is insufficient in the context of local need which is estimated at around 499 new affordable homes a year, however, this is what can realistically be achieved without constraining the overall delivery of housing in the Borough.
This policy applies to all sites where new residential development is proposed, including mixed use schemes and proposals for sheltered and extra care accommodation where there is a net increase in the number of units on the site.
Hierarchy of provision - alternative sites
The Council will expect new affordable housing to be provided on site in the first instance. If, in accordance with the policy, a case is advanced justifying provision on an alternative site, it will be the responsibility of the applicant to identify a suitable alternative site. To ensure no overall loss of affordable units, the alternative site will be expected to deliver those units foregone on the original site plus any affordable units that would be required should the alternative site in itself also trigger the requirement to provide affordable housing. In such circumstances the Council will require an amount of affordable housing commensurate with that which could have been secured had the site come forward in its own right in addition to the quantum of affordable housing to be provided to secure compliance with obligations for the original site.
Contributions from non-residential developments
Commercial development can put added pressure on the housing market as new employees move to the Borough for work who may otherwise not have done so. Many commercial developments employ a wide range of employees and inevitably some of these will be on low incomes and in housing need. The Council will require proposals for non-residential development which generates needs for additional housing to make an appropriate contribution to affordable provision, where market pressures are especially strong and the need for affordable housing is acute. Over the Plan period, there will be significant new commercial development in the Borough, particularly in the town centre, which will put added pressure on the local housing market and the need for affordable housing. Where a need for affordable housing is directly related to a commercial development, the Council will seek a financial or other contribution appropriate to the scale and kind of the development. Full details will be set out in the Affordable Housing Delivery SPD.
The SHMA identifies that there is a need for 70% of new affordable dwellings to be in social rented tenure and 30% at intermediate level (including shared ownership). The Council will therefore expect that new affordable dwellings should be delivered in accordance with this tenure split.
Affordable housing mix
Policy CS11: Housing mix seeks to secure a sustainable range of dwellings in order to create balanced communities in the Borough. The dwelling mix required by the policy is based on the evidence provided by the current SHMA for all new housing. The SHMA also identifies, however, that there is a significant need for new affordable family (2+ bedroom) homes (92% of need is for 2+ bedroom social rented units and 54% of need is for 2+ bedroom intermediate units). The Council will therefore require that a higher proportion of new affordable homes should be family homes.
In exceptional circumstances, where the provision of affordable housing in accordance with this policy is not economically viable, the Council will expect the submission of financial appraisal information alongside the planning application. Applicants will be expected to pay for an independent review of the information submitted. If the Council is satisfied that affordable housing cannot be provided in accordance with this policy, it will seek to negotiate alternative provision. Further details on this matter will be set out in the Affordable Housing Delivery SPD.
On the basis of the results of the SHMA and the SHLAA, it is clear that the Council will not be able to deliver sufficient affordable housing to meet the level of identified need. The Council will therefore explore opportunities to deliver affordable housing from other sources of sites. On a limited number of occasions, the Council has approved applications for residential development which are exceptions to the adopted policies. On any future exception sites the Council will expect a substantially higher percentage of affordable housing as the primary benefit to balance the policy objection. The details will be determined on a site-by-site basis through negotiation. The proportion of affordable housing should not prejudice the provision of other planning elements necessary and reasonably related to the scheme. This will not override the objective of achieving sustainable development in the Borough.
This policy will be delivered through working in partnership with developers, landowners, Registered Social Landlords and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to bring sites forward to ensure maximum affordable housing provision.
Through the Annual Monitoring Report the Council will keep under review the affordable housing trajectory, and monitor delivery against target provision. Monitoring provision in this way will enable the Council to react at an early stage to any problems with delivery and the consideration of actions which may include the allocation of additional land to meet affordable housing needs or the use of Compulsory Purchase Order powers, in accordance with the Implementation and Delivery Plan.
Financial contributions collected by the Council in lieu of on site provision will be used to fund new affordable homes through the following mechanisms.
- Woking Borough Homes.
- The provision of grant funding to Registered Social Landlords.
- The provision of grant funding directly to a developer.
The Council will prepare and keep under review an Affordable Housing Delivery SPD which will provide detailed information regarding the implementation and delivery of this policy. Specifically, the SPD will include:
- a formula for calculating financial contributions in lieu of on site provision
- details of the size and type of units that the Council will expect to be delivered on site
- details of the distribution of affordable housing across developments (e.g. approach to `pepper potting' and `clustering')
- the Council's approach to rounding
- details of any exceptional circumstances
- advice on the open book approach to viability assessments
- details on the requirement for affordable units to be secured in affordable tenure in perpetuity through the use of section 106 agreements
- details of the Council's preferred RSL partners
- details of design standards for new affordable homes.
The Council will keep under review the SHMA to ensure that provision meets local needs. Should local evidence of need and demand through the SHMA change, the Council will consider the review of this policy and/ or the Affordable Housing Delivery SPD as appropriate.
Monitoring and review
The policy will be measured against the following indicators and targets annually through the AMR to enable the Council to effectively manage affordable housing delivery.
- Number of net additional affordable dwellings provided.
- Size, type and tenure of net additional affordable dwellings provided.
- Level of commuted payments collected by the Council.
Key evidence base
Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), 2009 produced by Fordhams Research.
Economic Viability Assessment 2010, produced by Adams Integra.