West of England Joint Spatial Plan: Towards the Emerging Spatial Strategy

Towards the Emerging Spatial Strategy Document

Affordable homes

The identified need for an additional 32,200 affordable homes takes into account a boost to the overall housing need to respond to the market signals in the West of England. Delivery against this need equates to 1,610 affordable homes each year, which is 30% of all homes planned over the 20 year plan period. This is in contrast to actual housing delivery, over the period 2006/07 to 2014/15 of:

  • 36,279 new homes (market and affordable)
  • 8,086 affordable homes (an annual average of 898 per year)
  • This represents an affordable housing delivery rate of 22.5% of all homes.

Meeting the affordable housing need is recognised as a significant challenge and the Unitary Authorities have to consider whether the affordable housing need can be delivered.

The option of further increasing the overall market housing figure (above the boost already made) to bring forward more sites which in turn may deliver more affordable homes has been explored. However, not only is this very unlikely to lead to the delivery of affordable housing to meet the need identified, an oversupply of market homes will create an imbalance in jobs and homes by drawing in additional workers resulting in increased levels of households in need. This would further inflate the number of homes needed and provide additional growth pressures on the transport network. Hence this approach is contrary to providing a sustainable balanced strategy for growth and is likely to have a detrimental impact on wider principles of the Plan as well as destabilising the plans of adjoining Local Planning Authorities who are also promoting a plan led approach to planning for sustainable economic growth.

Challenges in delivering affordable housing to meet identified need are not unique to the West of England; the nature and scale of issues and policy landscape is national. There is a significant implementation gap between levels of need and planned numbers of affordable homes that can be realistically delivered by the development industry. It is recognised that the local authorities will need to work with partners and use other mechanisms as well as the planning system to maximise delivery of affordable homes needed.

On balance therefore it is clear that it is unrealistic and unsustainable for the Plan alone to meet the full amount of affordable housing identified. This is a judgement that has involved a careful balancing exercise that has taken into account all of the factors set out above.

It is recognised that other areas in the country have experienced the same issues and have instead set out what can be achieved through their respective Spatial Strategies.

It should be noted that if there is a review of the affordable housing definition in national planning policy to include Starter Homes, then the 32,200 affordable housing need would need reviewing. This is because many of the households who aspire to home ownership but cannot afford to buy market housing in the Plan area (those who may be eligible for Starter Homes) can afford to rent market housing. Therefore they are not counted within the affordable housing need of 32,200 dwellings (which is based on those who cannot afford to buy or rent at market rates in the market area).

In the absence of regulations explaining the introduction of Starter Homes in more detail the Authorities’ technical assessment has assumed that 20% starter homes will apply on all the new strategic development locations as they come forward.

This means that traditional affordable homes (as currently defined in national and local policy) will make up the balance of the policy requirement. In practice, the percentage of traditional affordable housing should be higher if equivalent viability is maintained. However it is not possible to confirm this at this time. It is also unknown whether existing Core Strategy commitments could be impacted by the introduction of Starter Homes. Therefore current projections, taking into account current understanding on the impact of starter homes on new strategic development locations, are that through the planning system 17,100 traditional affordable homes can be delivered against the housing need of 32,200 (53%).

The assumption of 20% Starter Homes on new strategic development locations equates to the delivery of 7,740 homes, contributing towards the overall housing target.

As part of this consultation, we are seeking views on how we can increase the delivery of homes, in particular much needed affordable homes in the West of England.

Homes table

Consultation Question 2

How can we increase the delivery of homes, in particular much needed affordable homes in the West of England?

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