Affordable Housing Supplementary Planning Document (SPD)

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4. Evidence Base

4.1 In 2015 the Braintree, Chelmsford, Colchester and Tendring Housing Market Area updated the report for both the Objectively Assessed Housing Needs Study (OAN) (Peter Brett Associates, July 2015) and Strategic Housing Market Assessment Update (SHMA) (HDH Planning and Development Ltd., December 2015). The OAN Study was further updated in November 2016 (Peter Brett Associates) to review the findings of the original report in light of new evidence and produce a revised housing needs assessment for the same period 2013-2037. This ensures compliance with paragraph 47 and 50 of the NPPF 2012. It should be noted that as the Local Plan was submitted before 24th January 2019, the standard methodology was not used within these reports.

4.2 The SHMA forms the main Evidence Base for the Council's assessment of affordable housing provision. The SHMA identified an overall level of need of 278 affordable dwellings (266 rent and 12 shared ownership) per year between 2013 and 2037 (based on an OAN housing need figure of 920 dwellings per annum). See Figure 1 below. The SHMA also outlines that an additional 94 sheltered and extra care housing units should be provided annually within the identified OAN. However, the total is dependent on future patterns of demand amongst potential residents of this accommodation increasing notably beyond current levels.

Figure 1: Annual requirement for all new housing in Colchester (SHMA Update, 2015).

graph showing the number of dwellings required compared to: a) the market (28 1 bedroom, 166 2 bedroom, 294 3 bedroom, 154 4+ bedroom), b) Shared ownership (9 1 bedroom, 3 2 bedroom, 0 3 & 4+ bedroom) and c) Affordable Rent/social rent (81 1 bedroom, 86 2 bedroom, 62 3 bedroom, 37 4+ bedroom)

4.3 The SHMA concludes that a figure of 30-35% affordable housing provision would be appropriate.

4.4 To support the Local Plan, a Viability Assessment by Hyas (April 2017) and Economic Viability Study for Colchester by The Three Dragons and Troy Planning + Design (June 2017) were prepared. Both reports demonstrate that the Local Plan Policies in relation to affordable housing provision requiring 30% for new dwellings of more than 10 units and the Garden Communities are financially viable and achievable.

4.5 The Economic Viability Study for Colchester also found that a requirement of 30% affordable housing for sites of 6 to 10 units in designated rural areas is achievable.

4.6 The study modelled affordable housing at 30% and 35% in line with the recommendations from the SHMA. A value lower than this was not assessed due to initial findings demonstrating this was not necessary. The affordable units were split 80/20 between rented and shared ownership tenure as this best reflects the requirements of the registered providers to develop affordable housing schemes that meet their financial criteria whilst addressing the high need for affordable rented tenure identified in the SHMA.

4.7 The Housing White Paper (February 2017) suggested that all sites over 10 dwellings may have to meet a requirement for 10% of units to be affordable home ownership. This requirement was included in the 2019 NPPF, as paragraph 64 states that where major development includes the provision of housing, at least 10% of the homes should be available for affordable home ownership (as part of the overall affordable housing contribution from the site). At the time of the Economic Viability Study, this was not reflected in national policy, however the requirement was considered in the assessment as a result of the Housing White Paper. Viability of the schemes assessed in the study would not be affected for sites over 10 dwellings providing 10% affordable home ownership. For smaller sites the proportion of intermediate units may need to be increased, but this will not have an adverse impact.

4.8 The SHMA indicated a shortfall for all accommodation sizes with the greatest net need varying upon tenure type. For market housing, the greatest need is for three-bedroom properties, for affordable rent/social rent the greatest need is for two-bedroom properties and for shared ownership its one-bedroom properties. The Council consider this overall need is best met if the affordable housing provision is informed by the latest assessment of local market conditions, the overall housing mix of the scheme, housing need and shortages relative to supply in determining the optimum affordable housing mix.

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