Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Memoranda

Memorandum by Mid Bedfordshire District Council (AFH 08)

  Thank you for giving Mid Bedfordshire District Council the opportunity to comment on Affordable Housing and particularly in the context of the plans for the Elstow New Settlement.

  As the issue of Affordable Housing at Elstow is largely unresolved I do not feel it appropriate to comment on it at this stage. In addition, the proposal for the new settlement is split across two authorities, the other authority being Bedford Borough Council and therefore any submission made regarding Elstow would have to be produced jointly between the two authorities.

  However, an Affordable Housing Development Brief (AHDB) is being prepared by the local authorities, which provides further guidance on issues such as:

    (i)  the distribution of affordable housing throughout the settlement;

    (ii)  affordable housing types and dwelling mix;

    (iii)  design and layout of the affordable housing areas within the scheme;

    (iv)  timing of affordable housing provision;

    (v)  selection of Registered Social Landlords (RSL's);

    (vi)  future management of the affordable homes.

  There have been a number of discussions with the Joint Venture Partners—JJ Gallagher and Innogy [formerly National Power], the promoters of the site, on affordable housing in general and the specific issue of the selection of RSLs. It has been agreed that the LAs and JV will work together to agree a process by which the RSLs who will develop affordable housing at Elstow will be selected.

  The JV have agreed to provide 25 per cent Affordable Housing. This level of provision accords with the Elstow New Settlement Planning and Development Brief, adopted September 1999, a copy of which is enclosed for your information. The JV, however, are critical of the local authorities approach to affordable housing and expressed a difference of view in relation to the detail of affordable housing provision. The areas still open for resolution relate to:

    (i)  the percentage of social rented properties: the local authorities have identified a need for 20 per cent social rent and the JV have offered 12.5 per cent of dwellings on site for social rented occupation;

    (ii)  the JV has offered a financial contribution payable to the Local Authorities equivalent to the cost of the provision of 2.5 per cent of social rented housing to assist in the provision of dwellings in areas off site. The local authorities do not want any off-site provision, but recognise that this position may be reviewed over the life of the development in order to see the establishment of a balanced community;

    (iii)  the JV have offered 10 per cent dwellings on site under a range of mechanisms (known as "intermediate tenures") to include shared ownership housing, specifically aimed at households on moderate incomes (intermediate tenure dwellings will be provided at a discount of 20 per cent from open market value), whereas the local authorities only currently see a need for 5 per cent "other tenures";

    (iv)  the JV have indicated that in their view affordable for rent housing should be funded at 87 per cent of the relevant TCI (2002-03 base table) by dwelling size and type to be set out in the AHDB. For the sake of clarity this is the amount that the developer would receive for building and providing the dwellings in accord with the Housing Corporation Scheme Development Standards. Subsequent calculations of TCI shall refer to the appropriate annual TCI tables or such reasonable alternative replacements thereof.

  Issues relating to the split and mix of affordable housing, design and distribution, phasing, the number and selection process for RSL's, and the funding for provision and management of affordable housing, rent levels, property management will be addressed in the AHDB.

  It is agreed that affordable housing will be integrated throughout the development. Generally this will be within smaller clusters not exceeding the numbers set out in the AHDB. For each development phase the specific proportions and locations of sites, and a mix of dwelling types to provide for a full range of affordable housing will be determined in accordance with the AHDB.

  The AHDB will be subject to its own process of consultation and following consultation with the JV, the AHDB will be reported back to Committee for approval to advertise at a subsequent meeting. At which stage a copy of this will be sent to your for your information.

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