Agenda item

Housing Strategy Refresh (Key Decision)

Report of the Deputy Leader of the Council which requests approval of the Council’s refreshed Housing Strategy 2017-2021

Decision:

Decision:

 

1.    Cabinet approves the Housing Strategy refresh.

2.    Delegation be given to the Cabinet Member for Housing to make minor changes to the final document.

 

Reasons for decision:

 

1.    The report of the Deputy Leader of the Council on the Council’s Housing Strategy refresh.

2.    The draft Housing Strategy refresh allows the Council to make best use of Council stock; improve tenant involvement and enhance existing housing services.

3.    A midterm review of the strategy was undertaken which identified some areas which need to be enhanced and as a result this document was produced.

4.    Comments of the Rural and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee

 

Other options considered and rejected:

 

The consequence of the Cabinet not approving the strategy impacts on the Council’s ability to effectively support its tenants.

 

Minutes:

The Deputy Leader of the Council presented a report on a refresh of the Housing Strategy. The 2017-2021 strategy had been adopted by Cabinet on 12 April 2018 and a mid-term review of the strategy had identified some areas which needed to be refreshed.  The review was undertaken to ensure main themes and direction reflected current priorities.  The strategy now included some priority areas to add focus.  The refreshed strategy had been considered by the Rural and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the majority of the Committee’s comments related to clarification.  A delegation to the Cabinet Member for Housing was requested along with approval of the refreshed strategy, to allow for appropriate amendments to be made. 

 

He further explained connections had been made between this and other relevant strategies including the housing allocations policy, tenancy policy, homelessness strategy, the HRA Business Plan, corporate strategy and the Medium Term Financial Strategy.  The new strategy would encourage modular housing and more affordable private homes.

 

The Leader praised the document and the work of the overview and scrutiny committee in considering the detail of the document.  He referred to a mistype on page 38 under the heading of ‘Lobbying’ and explained that the Council was not looking to abolish the right to buy as the Council did sell homes and received the full rate to invest back into building more social and private housing across the district.  He welcomed comments on the garden village and wanted this to be exemplary across the country and a place others came to visit and take inspiration from.

 

A Cabinet Member referred to page 139, and that he understood the Chairman of Planning wished to work towards developing an approach for ensuring there was an adequate supply of housing.

 

A non-Cabinet Member supported lobbying the government to get funds back and that affordability targets for new build were met.  She explained that income against purchase of new build was a bigger gap which left people not able to afford housing in the new green village.  She questioned whether there was commitment from government for additional funding. 

 

The Leader advised that the government was currently working through budgets and the LGA was heavily lobbying for fairer funding for the shire counties and business rates retention and the Council was awaiting the outcome.  With regard to growing the economy, affordable housing, viability, cost of land and sale of properties was subject to regional variances of the property market. 

 

The Chair of the Rural and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee advised that challenging questions were asked at their meeting and congratulated the Director for Growth and the Cabinet Member for Communities and HR in responding well and helping to ensure a positive debate at the meeting.

 

A non-Cabinet Member mentioned that she had visited residents where families were underhoused living in 2 bed properties, where the second bedroom was a box room.  She questioned whether there was scope for expanding existing stock by building into larger gardens to make bigger properties.  The Deputy Leader responded that supporting housing independence was an ongoing issue and the Council was looking to remodel and convert houses moving forward. 

 

The Leader explained that when a property became empty a full review was made on what could be achieved to improve the property and meet the needs of future tenants.  He said that the Council wanted good quality housing for all its residents.

 

The recommendations in the report together with and an additional recommendation to delegate amendments to the Cabinet Member for Housing were proposed, seconded and AGREED:

 

1.    Cabinet approved the Housing Strategy refresh.

 

2.    Delegation be given to the Cabinet Member for Housing to make minor changes to the final document.

Supporting documents: