Skip to main content
Guildford Borough Council

Submission Local Plan: Strategy and Sites - Main Modifications

Submission Local Plan: Strategy and Sites - Main Modifications - Part 1: Policies

Housing H2 Affordable homes

Introduction

4.2.30 Guildford borough is generally a prosperous area of the country, offering a good quality of environment in its towns and rural areas, in close proximity to a wealth of employment and leisure opportunities. This does come at a price. High demand to live here and limited supply of existing and new housing are amongst the factors that have contributed to the borough being one of the least affordable areas of the country, outside of London, to live in.

4.2.31 The West Surrey Strategic Market Assessment 2015 and Addendum 2017 indicate that over half of all Guildford households over the plan period will not be able to afford to buy or rent a home that meets their needs on the open market without subsidy. The reason for a high level of affordable housing need in the borough is the high cost of buying or renting homes on the open market in relation to local incomes. The relationship between the cost of homes and wages is termed affordability.

4.2.32 Affordability is of greatest concern to those on the lowest earnings, including first time buyers. For this reason we measure affordability using the ratio of the lowest 25 per cent of earnings to the lowest 25 per cent of house prices, which gives an affordability ratio. The higher the ratio, the less affordable housing is (it is in effect how many multiples of a person's salary would be needed to buy a home). Government figures show that the borough's affordability ratio was 10.92 in 2013, rising to 11.5 in 2015 (the most recent data published). This is much greater than England's ratio of 7.0[15].

4.2.33 Sufficient housing to meet the needs of the borough's population will ensure that the borough thrives, with mixed, balanced communities. As well as the benefits it can provide to people's lives, families and communities, suitably sized, priced and located housing can also help to support the economy by ensuring people with a wide variety of occupations can live in the borough and by potentially reducing travel to work journeys.

POLICY H2: Affordable homes

(1) As well as providing and managing affordable homes ourselves, the Council will work with registered providers, developers and landowners to increase the number of affordable homes in the borough to contribute to meeting identified needs. These will be provided on developments providing solely affordable housing either on public sector-owned land or developments by registered providers.

(2) The CouncilWe will also seek affordable homes on sites providing five10 or more homes (gross), or sites of 0.17 ha or more regardless of the number of homesor where dwellings would have a combined gross internal floorspace of more than 1,000 square metres. WeThe Council will seek at least 40% per cent of the homes on these sites as affordable homes.

(2a) In Designated Rural Areas, the threshold where we will seek an affordable housing contribution of at least 40% of the homes on these sites will be on sites providing more than 5 dwellings. For developments of between 6 and 10 dwellings inclusive (gross), or where dwellings have a combined gross internal floorspace of more than 1,000 square metres, a financial contribution in lieu of on-site provision of affordable housing will be sought which is of broadly equivalent value relative to on-site provision.

(3) The tenure and number of bedrooms of the affordable homes provided on each qualifying site must contribute, to the Council's satisfaction, towards meeting the mix of affordable housing needs identified in the Strategic Housing Market Assessment 2015, or subsequent affordable housing needs evidence. This currently includes a tenure split of at least 70% Affordable Rent, with the remainder being other forms of affordable housing. A minimum of 10% of the affordable homes provided on each site under this policy must be available for affordable home ownership, except where an exemption applies in the NPPF. Affordable Rent must be no more than the maximum level set out in our most recent housing guidance or strategy.

(4) Affordable housing contributions may be provided off-site, or by payment in lieu where the Council agrees that on site provision and management would be impractical due to size and / or location of the development. Off-site provision or payment in lieu is expected to enable the same amount of additional affordable housing as would have been delivered on site. The agreed off-site provision must be completed before 50% of the market homes are occupied unless otherwise agreed by the Council. On developments in designated rural areas of between 6 and 10 dwellings inclusive (gross), or where dwellings have a combined gross internal floorspace of more than 1,000 square metres, the commuted payment in lieu of on-site affordable housing provision will be payable after completion of the units within the development.

(4a) If developers satisfactorily demonstrate that providing the amount of affordable housing required by this policy would not be economically viable, the Council will consider the following to assist with delivering a scheme:

(a) varying the tenure mix of the affordable housing (for example, more intermediate housing and less rented housing), size, and/or type of homes to be provided; and/or

(b) reducing the overall number of affordable homes.

(5) Planning permission will not be granted for development that would result in the net loss of any affordable homes that have been built, that were secured by planning obligation or condition.

 

Definitions

4.2.33a 'Designated Rural Areas' are rural areas described under section 157(1) of the Housing Act 1985, which includes National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and other areas designated by order of the Secretary of State as a rural area. These are areas designated as rural by the Housing (Right to Acquire or Enfranchise) (Designated Rural Areas in the South East) Order 1997 or as Designated Protected Areas by the by the Housing (Right to Enfranchise) (Designated Protected Areas) (England) Order 2009 (Statutory Instrument 2009 No. 2098). Within Guildford borough, they include the following parishes: Albury, East Clandon, Effingham, Normandy, Ockham, Pirbright, Puttenham, Ripley, Seale and Sands, Shackleford, Shalford, Shere, Wanborough, West Clandon, West Horsley (as defined on map available from the Homes and Communities Agency - see https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/designated-protected-areas) and Wisley.

Reasoned justification

4.2.34 'Affordable Housing' and 'Affordability' are defined in the Glossary at Appendix A. Affordable housing must include provisions to remain at an affordable price for future households or for the subsidy to be recycled for alternative affordable housing. Affordable housing includes social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing provided to eligible households whose needs are not met by the market. We will require the provider of social and affordable rented housing to have a local presence in management of affordable homes.

4.2.35 This policy applies to all new homes within the C3 Use Class. This generally includes retirement homes, as well as self-contained studio flats for a single household, whether specifically aimed at students or not. It does not apply to residential institutions such as care homes and nursing homes. Assisted living, extra care and other C2 residential developments may be required to make provision; these will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Off-site provision and payments in lieu of on-site provision

4.2.36 Other than where specified in Policy H2, affordable housing should be provided on the development site in order to contribute towards mixed communities. Affordable housing contributions may be provided off-site, or by payment in lieu where the Council agrees that on site provision and management would be impractical due to size and / or location of the development. Exceptionally, in negotiating planning applications, the Council may accept off-site provision of payment in lieu. In both cases, the Council must be satisfied that:

(a) the contribution is sufficient to provide for the construction of at least the same number, type and size of dwellings on a suitable different site (including the value of the land) and the financial contribution does not result in less affordable housing being provided overall

(b) appropriate arrangements are in place identifying the alternative site on which the affordable housing is to be provided

(c) any off-site provision or payment is of broadly equivalent value relative to on-site provision.

4.2.37 The Planning Contributions Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) 2017 includes a formula for calculating affordable housing payments in lieu of on-site provision.

Viability

4.2.38 Land values and property prices are generally high across the borough, although with considerable variation. Our viability evidence shows that the vast majority of housing developments in most locations in the borough are viable providing an affordable housing contribution of 40 per cent. Bearing in mind that viability assessment was undertaken in preparation of the Local Plan, the impact of policies on development viability have been considered and are regarded as realistic. The need for a viability assessment at planning application stage will thus need clear justification by the applicant in line with paragraph 57 of the NPPF. Should this need be accepted, the Council will need to weigh the outcomes and implications of the viability assessment against all circumstances relating to the case as part of considering the acceptability of the proposal.

4.2.39 We will expect developments to provide the required amount of affordable housing in accordance with this policy and Guildford Planning Contributions SPD. In considering viability, developers will be expected to have taken into account the costs of meeting policy requirements, including the provision of affordable housing and infrastructure requirements, in the price paid for a site. Where we consider that these requirements have not been satisfactorily taken into account in the purchase of land or of an option, we will not accept a lower rate of provision. Where developers raise viability concerns with providing the required proportion of affordable housing, they will be expected to meet the costs of the Council's financial appraisals as well as their own.

4.2.40 There may be some circumstances where abnormal costs would make the scheme unviable to deliver. Where developers demonstrate to our satisfaction that providing the amount of affordable housing required by this policy would not be economically viable, we may consider the following to assist with delivering a scheme:

(a) vary the tenure mix of the affordable housing (for example, more intermediate housing and less rented housing), size, and/or type of homes to be provided

(b) reduce the overall number of affordable homes

4.2.41 Developments that seek to avoid the requirements of this policy by failing to make most efficient use of land or by artificially subdividing land into smaller sites will not be permitted. The full requirement for the cumulative requirement of all the sites must be made.

4.2.42    In calculating the number of affordable homes to be provided on a site, fractions of homes will sometimes be required. In order to avoid requirements for fractions of homes we will therefore round up any part requirement of an affordable housing dwelling in line with common convention at 0.5 of a home, and down at 0.4 or less. A replacement home, would not therefore make any contributionas part of a development scheme, would count when determining whether the scheme meets the minimum threshold for which an affordable housing contribution is required, although would not count when calculating the number of affordable units needed.

4.2.43 If a developer demonstrates that rounding up from half a dwelling or more would result in the development being unviable, we will negotiate a variation in tenure of some affordable homes, or a lesser number of affordable homes.

4.2.44 We will ring-fence financial contributions in lieu of on-site provision to help provide more affordable homes elsewhere in the borough, for example by assisting delivery of conversions of buildings or building new affordable homes on Council-owned land.

Key Evidence

  • Tenancy Strategy (Guildford Borough Council, 2013)
  • Guildford Housing Strategy 2015 - 2020 (Guildford Borough Council, 2015)
  • West Surrey Strategic Housing Market Assessment (Guildford Borough Council, 2015) and Guildford Addendum Report 2017
  • Local Plan and CIL Viability Study (Guildford Borough Council, 2016)
  • Local Plan Viability Update (Guildford Borough Council, 2017)
  • Traveller Accommodation Assessment (Guildford Borough Council, 2017)

 

Monitoring Indicators

Indicator

Target

Data source

Number of new-build affordable homes approved, and as a % of all homes approved

40%

Planning applications and appeals

Number of affordable homes approved as a percentage of policy requirement

(i.e. on sites above the qualifying site size threshold)

100%  Planning applications and appeals

Percentage of all new build affordable homes that are for rent

 70%  Planning applications and appeals

 

 

--------------------

[15] CLG housing statistics 2015