Local Plan Review Issues and Options Regulation 18

10 Housing

Current Approach

10.1 The NPPF expects LPAs to plan for a mix of housing based upon current and future demographic trends and the needs of different groups within the community [1]. The Strategy section of the Local Plan addresses the overall housing need and settlement strategy. The housing section has policies addressing a range of housing topics including: strategic housing sites; previously developed land; provision of affordable housing; mix of market housing; care homes and specialist housing accommodation; Gypsies, Travellers, and Travelling Showpeople; replacement dwellings in the countryside; and agricultural workers dwellings.

10.2 The Government’s White Paper, ‘Fixing our broken housing market, February 2017 [2]’, sets out a programme of reform designed to address housing delivery nationally. The document builds on earlier consultations, Written Ministerial Statements and planned amendments to the NPPF and concludes with a consultation on the proposals.

10.3 Amongst others, issues addressed in the White Paper include support for small scale developers, custom and self-builders, starter homes and affordable housing.

10.4 The Government has also stated its intention to review the Nationally Described Space Standard to ensure greater local housing choice.

1. NPPF, 2012. Paragraph 50 [back]
2. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/590464/Fixing_our_broken_housing_market_-_print_ready_version.pdf [back]

Strategic Housing Sites

10.5 Local Plan Policy HG1 (Strategic Housing) safeguards the key site proposal at Crewkerne. Whilst there is now planning permission on the site [3] at this time it is considered prudent to retain the allocation as work has not yet commenced and there remain concerns around viability due to the provision of the link road. For more detail please see the Crewkerne section of this document.

3. Planning applications 05/0061/OUT -525 dwellings, employment land , school and community infrastructure, 13/02201/REM – 203 dwellings and first phase of link road, 14/02141/OUT – 110 dwellings, 60 bed nursing home and 2 ha of employment land. [back]

Previously Developed Land Target

10.6 Policy HG2 (The Use of Previously Developed Land for New Housing Development) is discussed along with Policy SS7 (Phasing of Previously Developed Land) in Section 5 of this document.

Affordable Housing

10.7 The definition of affordable housing is currently set out in the NPPF and includes social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing. [4]

10.8 The Housing White Paper [5] consults on a revised definition of affordable housing. The proposed revised definition is much broader and incorporates a number of different types of affordable housing; it includes and defines: affordable housing, social rented and affordable rented housing, starter homes, discounted market sales housing, affordable private rent housing and intermediate housing.

10.9 In effect, intermediate affordable housing generally comprises all those housing products that are at a cost above social rent but below market levels.

10.10 The Government also proposes to make it clear in national policy that local authorities should seek to ensure that housing sites deliver a minimum of 10% affordable home ownership units.

10.11 Starter Homes are now included in the definition of affordable housing. However, the SHMA shows that, at a 20% discount (or 80% of the cost of market housing), starter homes also serve a cohort of people who can afford private rented accommodation, which means it does not really contribute toward meeting the truly affordable housing need [6].

10.12 The target and threshold for the provision of affordable housing is addressed in Local Plan Policy HG3 (Provision of Affordable Housing). At the time the Local Plan was being adopted the Government’s approach to contributions for affordable housing was subject to legal challenge. The legal position has now been established by the Court of Appeal and the Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) states that “contributions should not be sought from developments of 10-units or less, and which have a maximum combined gross floorspace of no more than 1,000 square metres (gross internal area)” [7].

10.13 The PPG does allow for a commuted sum to be sought on developments of between 6 and 10 units in ‘rural areas’ [8]. However, South Somerset has no ‘rural areas’ defined under section 157 (1) of the Housing Act 1985 therefore this provision does not apply.

10.14 The changes to the PPG mean that in South Somerset the national threshold applies i.e. affordable housing contributions are being sought from developments of over 10 dwellings (11 or more) or over 1,000m2 (internal floor area). The Council has been applying this threshold since May 2016. Consequently, the LPR provides the opportunity to amend the threshold in Policy HG3.

10.15 The current target for affordable housing is 35% of the total number of dwellings on qualifying sites. This means that no affordable housing contribution is sought for the remaining 65% of dwellings. The SHMA [9] indicates that there is a net annual requirement for 206 affordable dwellings in South Somerset; this equates to 33.9% (rounded to 34%) [10] of the annual need.

10.16 Since the beginning of the Plan period, monitoring shows that 38% of completions in the District have been on sites of 10 dwellings or less. In the current policy context no affordable housing contributions through planning obligations would be sought on such sites. However, a small number of sites can be entirely affordable housing with the help of grant funding. The ‘open book’ approach to viability gives applicants the opportunity to present the case for a reduced contribution. This means that opportunities to deliver affordable housing in South Somerset are reduced by these factors. In addition, affordable housing is exempt from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) which means much of the viability arguments on larger sites focus around affordable housing.

10.17 Monitoring shows that 1,639 net affordable dwellings have been built or are programmed to be built over the first 13 years of the plan period [11]. This equates to 126 net dwellings per annum. The data includes instances where the Homes and Communities Agency forward funded the delivery of affordable dwellings on sites such a Wyndham Park in Yeovil and New Barns Farm in Wincanton. Also included would be 100% affordable housing schemes.

10.18 The LPR will be subject to a plan wide viability assessment and this will include an assessment of the proposed affordable housing target as part of the overall plan. The need for affordable housing will be balanced against the ability to deliver development.

10.19 Policy HG4 (Provision of Affordable Housing – sites of 1-5 Dwellings) seeks a commuted sum towards affordable housing provision on small sites. In response to the change in national guidance on planning obligations the Council has not been enforcing Policy HG4.

Question 10.1

Which of the following options regarding affordable housing should be taken forward in the LPR?

Option 10.1

10.1(a) Policy HG3 Provision of Affordable Housing - retain the existing affordable housing target of 35% subject to viability.

10.1(b) Policy HG3 Provision of Affordable Housing - amend the affordable housing target to 34% subject to viability.

10.1(c) Policy HG3 Provision of Affordable Housing - another option.

Question 10.2

Do you agree that Policy HG4 should be deleted?

10.20 With regards to the mix of affordable housing tenure, the Local Plan currently seeks 67% social rented affordable housing and 33% intermediate products. The latest SHMA suggests that a reasonable tenure mix across the County would be as follows:

Figure 10.1: Suggested Affordable Housing Tenure Mix

Type of affordable housing

Percentage

Social rented

70-80%

Intermediate

10-15%

Affordable rented

10-15%

Source: SHMA, 2016

10.21 Given the proposed new definition of affordable housing, the above would translate to 70-80% social rented affordable housing and 20-30% intermediate products.

10.22 The SHMA suggests that the indicative targets for the mix of affordable housing type and size would be as follows:

Figure 10.2: Indicative targets for affordable housing by type and size

Size

Rented

Intermediate/Starter Homes

1 bedroom

35-40%

15-20%

2 bedrooms

35-40%

50-55%

3 bedrooms

20%

25-30%

4+ bedrooms

5%

0-5%

Source: SHMA, 2016

4. NPPF, 2012. Annex 2: Glossary [back]
5. Fixing our broken housing market, 2017 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/590464/Fixing_our_broken_housing_market_-_print_ready_version.pdf [back]
6. Mendip, Sedgemoor, South Somerset and Taunton Deane Strategic Housing Market Assessment, October 2016, https://www.southsomerset.gov.uk/media/862544/somerset_final_shma_oct2016_revised.pdf [back]
7. Paragraph: 031 Reference ID: 23b-031-20161116 [back]
8. Rural Areas: this applies to rural areas described under section 157(1) of the Housing Act 1985, which includes National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. [back]
9. Mendip, Sedgemoor, South Somerset and Taunton Deane Strategic Housing Market Assessment, Final Report October 2016: https://www.southsomerset.gov.uk/media/862544/somerset_final_shma_oct2016_revised.pdf [back]
10. 206 dwellings = 33.9% of 607 dwellings. [back]
11. South Somerset Authority Monitoring Report, 2017 [back]

Space Standards

10.23 As already noted the Government has stated its intention to review the Nationally Described Space Standard [12]. Currently the Council has not adopted the space standard. At this time it does not have the evidence to justify the inclusion of the standard in policy.

10.24 The SHMA concludes that in the market sector, the analysis did not find any strong evidence for adopting the national space standard; this is due to the way households occupy homes (e.g. using a small third bedroom for an office). It does however point out that there is a lack of transparency in some developer sales literature regarding whether bedrooms are designed for one or two-person occupancy.

10.25 For affordable housing, the SHMA concludes that there is a case for adopting the standard; however the Registered Providers with whom the issue was discussed said that they would build to the former housing quality standards anyway. There is a stronger case for adopting the standards for new social or affordable rented homes provided by house builders, but this would need to be balanced against overall viability and the ability to meet housing targets.

Question 10.3

Do you consider that the Council should gather further evidence to support the introduction of the Nationally Described Space Standard?

 

12. Technical housing standards – nationally described space standard, March 2015 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/524531/160519_Nationally_Described_Space_Standard____Final_Web_version.pdf [back]

Achieving a Mix of Market Housing

10.26 Local Plan Policy HG5 (Achieving a Mix of Market Housing) seeks to achieve a range house types and sizes across the District particularly on large sites – 10 or more dwellings. On small sites the type and size of homes should be taken in the context of the surroundings and contribute towards sustainable development. The mix of housing type and size is informed by the prevailing SHMA.

10.27 The SHMA stakeholder work typically identified a demand for bungalows. Where developments including bungalows are found it is clear that these are very popular to older people downsizing. It is acknowledged that providing significant numbers of bungalows involves cost implications for the developer given the typical plot size compared to floor space; however providing an element of bungalows should be given strong consideration on appropriate sites, allowing older households to downsize while freeing up family accommodation for younger households.

10.28 The 2016 SHMA provides new evidence to inform the mix and type of housing required and indicates the following:

Figure 10.3: Indicative targets for market housing by type and size

Size

Market

1 bedroom

5-10%

2 bedrooms

30-35%

3 bedrooms

40-45%

4+ bedrooms

15-20%

Source: SHMA, 2016

 

Question 10.4

Do you consider that the current approach of using the SHMA to inform the mix of market and affordable housing is still appropriate?

 

Self-build and Custom Housebuilding

10.29 The Government is keen to promote self-build and custom house building; this includes ensuring its exemption from the Community Infrastructure Levy and the recent introduction of new legislation.

10.30 As required by the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 the Council has a register of individuals or associations of individuals seeking to acquire serviced plots of land on which to build and occupy homes. The Council is required to provide the requisite number of plots to meet the need on the Register.

10.31 The SHMA [13] considers the role of self-build and custom housebuilding and concludes that there are those aspirational self-build and custom builders who have registered with the Council and are mostly seeking detached dwellings across villages where they have strong local connections. Additionally a review of planning applications suggests that many more people are ‘getting on with it’ as they already owned land or had in some way secured a site.

10.32 At a Government led conference in January 2017, it was confirmed that single plot dwelling completions and commitments can be counted towards meeting the need for plots on the Register. As at 30 April 2017 there were 50 individuals registered in South Somerset. The Council’s own monitoring as at 31 March 2017 shows that 830 dwellings have been completed and 328 dwellings are committed on single plot sites. This suggests that South Somerset is more than meeting the need for self-build and custom housebuilding.

10.33 The approach to self-build and custom housebuilding varies across the country; Teignbridge District Council has introduced a Local Plan Policy to support prospective custom builders by requiring 5% of dwelling plots on sites of more than 20 dwellings to be for sale to custom builders. If the plots are not sold within 12 months there is the option of keeping them on the market as custom build or offering them to the Council or a Registered Provider before they are built out by the developer. A supporting Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) has been produced [14]. As at January 2017, no custom build plots approved under this Policy had been completed.

Question 10.5

How do you think South Somerset District Council should address the need for self-build and custom housebuilding?

Option 10.5

10.5(a)   Allocate sites for self-build and custom housebuilding.

10.5(b)   Introduce a policy requiring developments above a certain threshold to achieve a specific percentage of self-build and custom housebuilding plots.

10.5(c)   Give general support for self-build and custom housebuilding as part of the overall housing mix.

10.5(d)   Another option (please specify).

13. Section 12 [back]
14. Custom & Self Build Housing Supplementary Planning Document, July 2016 https://www.teignbridge.gov.uk/media/1780/custom-and-self-build-housing-spd.pdf [back]

Care Homes and Specialist Accommodation

10.34 The Housing White Paper [15] is keen to support the provision of housing for older people and those with disabilities. Local Plan Policy HG6 (Care Homes and Specialist Accommodation) allows for the provision of care homes or similar specialist accommodation such as Continuing Care Retirement Communities and Extra Care housing. The SHMA highlights the need for specialist care home bedspaces in the District. It is therefore considered to be appropriate to retain Policy HG6. However, it should be noted that provision is constrained by affordability, especially the ability of the County Council to fund placements.

15. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/590464/Fixing_our_broken_housing_market_-_print_ready_version.pdf [back]

Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople

10.35 Local Plan Policy HG7 (Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople) states that site allocations will be made to accommodate the identified need for residential pitches (23), transit pitches (10) and Travelling Showpeople plots (6). The policy also sets out the criteria to be used to guide the location of sites.

10.36 Planning Policy for Traveller sites [16] expects LPAs to identify and update annually a supply of specific deliverable sites to provide five years’ worth of sites against their locally set targets. They should also be able to identify specific sites for years 6-10 and where possible for years 11-15.

10.37 The AMR shows that the Council has consistently managed to deliver residential pitches (i.e. where people can permanently stay), but has been less able to facilitate transit sites and sites specifically for travelling showpeople.

10.38 In simple terms the Council is currently exceeding the residential pitches target having realised 38 pitches since 2006 [17]. However, looking ahead, the Gypsy and Traveller Needs Assessment [18] shows that over the period 2016 to 2032 the Council will need to deliver a further 30 residential pitches, and therefore will still be required to take a proactive stance to continuing to meet needs.

10.39 The HELAA ‘call for sites’ process failed to identify any sites for Gypsies, Travellers or Travelling Showpeople. The Council is exploring opportunities to use public sector land to make transit site provision but if this is not successful they may have to consider allocating land for such a use.

Question 10.6

Is the current approach to the provision of sites for Gypsy, Travellers or Travelling Showpeople use acceptable?

Question 10.7

Are you aware of any suitable and available sites with the potential for use as a Gypsy, Traveller or Travelling Showpeople people site, transit or permanent?

16. Planning policy for traveller sites, DCLG,August 2015 [back]
17. South Somerset Authority Monitoring Report, September 2017 [back]
18. Gypsy and Travellers Needs Assessment Update, Somerset Local Planning Authorities, Dr Jo Richardson in partnership with John Bloxsom, September 2-13 https://www.southsomerset.gov.uk/media/856723/final_copy_12_september_2013.pdf [back]

Replacement Dwellings and Extensions in the Countryside

10.40 National policy seeks to deliver a wide choice of homes and widen opportunities for ownership to create sustainable, inclusive and mixed communities [19].The replacement of small dwellings in the countryside with much larger properties can radically change the character of a site and reduce the supply of smaller dwellings, particularly in rural areas.

10.41 Local Plan Policy HG8 (Replacement Dwellings in the Countryside) aims to give protection to traditional smaller properties in the countryside which in turn meets the objective of providing housing to meet the needs of the community. It is therefore considered that Policy HG8 should be retained a part of the LPR.

19. NPPF, 2012. Paragraph 50 [back]

Agricultural, forestry and other occupational dwellings in the countryside

10.42 There are occasions where the nature of agricultural and other rural businesses make it essential for a worker to live on or in close proximity to the business. National guidance allows for this [20].

10.43 Policy HG9 (Housing for Agricultural and Related Workers) sets out the criteria by which planning applications for such dwellings will be assessed and should be retained through the LPR.

10.44 In order to retain a property approved under Policy HG9, a restrictive condition will be included limiting its occupation by a person solely, mainly or last working in agriculture, forestry or rural enterprise. It is accepted that there will be circumstances where these dwellings are no longer required for the purpose they were originally intended. Policy HG10 (Removal of Agricultural and other Occupancy Conditions) ensures that any planning permission to remove a restrictive occupancy condition for any dwelling in the countryside is adequately justified.

10.45 No issues have been identified with Policies HG9 and HG10.

Question 10.8

Are there any issues that have been missed from Section 10: Housing?

20. NPPF, 2012. Paragraph 55 [back]