Do Developers ‘affordable’ homes match local needs? 

Croydon Council says that the ‘affordable’ housing units being offered by developers take into account the needs of those on the housing and transfer waiting list.

I have received an explanation from Cllr Alison Butler, the Cabinet Member for Homes & Regeneration, whose answer to my question at the 6 October Council meeting was inadequate, resulting through my supplementary verbal question in a promise to give me a fuller answer.

6 October Council Meeting Members of the Public Question PQ066-14 

In view of the equalities statement in the affordable housing report (15 September Cabinet) are the Officers analysing bedroom size needs of those on Council transfer/waiting lists and in temporary homelessness accommodation, and how the affordable homes being built by developers match these in terms of unit size and location?

Reply 

The council records and reports on the size of accommodation required by applicant households on the housing register (the “housing waiting list”). This includes households that have been accepted as homeless and are waiting for permanent rehousing. The information is published as part of the “Local Authority Housing Statistics Data Returns” on the http://www.gov.uk website. Returns for 2013/14 have not been published yet. In 2012/13 Croydon Council reported 8848 applicants on the housing register, of which 4427 required 1 bedroom accommodation, 2271 required 2 bedroom accommodation, 1458 required 3 bedroom accommodation and 692 required accommodation with more than 3 bedrooms. The borough’s housing requirement and is based on Croydon’s Strategic Housing Market Assessment which analyses the housing stock, housing market trends, drivers of housing demand and provides estimates of future households requiring market and affordable housing. This assessment informed Croydon’s Local Plan: Strategic Policies. Policy SP2: Homes includes detail on the quantities and location of new housing, the proportion of affordable homes required on housing developments, the mix of homes required by size, quality and standards.’

Fuller reply (17 November)

‘Further to your question at Full Council and a request for a fuller response, I can advise –

In response to the first part of the question “are the Officers analysing bedroom size needs of those on Council transfer/waiting lists and in temporary homelessness accommodation” – the answer is yes.  The council does analyse bedroom size needs of housing applicants and households placed on the housing register that are accepted as homeless.

This information is reported to government as part of the “Local Authority Housing Statistics Data Returns” and is published on the www.gov.uk website. Returns for 2013/14 have not been published yet and should be available in December 2014 (figures for Croydon, however, are provided below).

For example, on 1 April 2013 Croydon Council reported there were 8848 applicants on the housing register, of which 4427 (50%) required 1 bedroom accommodation, 2271 (25%) required 2 bedroom accommodation, 1458 (16%) required 3 bedroom accommodation and 692 ( required accommodation with more than 3 bedrooms.

On 1 April 2014, after the amendments to the housing allocations scheme approved by Cabinet in November 2012 had been fully implemented, Croydon Council reported there were 5102 applicants on the housing register, of which 1447 (28%) required 1 bedroom accommodation, 2376 (47%) required 2 bedroom accommodation, 856 (17%) required 3 bedroom accommodation and 423 (8%) required accommodation with more than 3 bedrooms.

In terms of the location of accommodation the housing register provides applicants with a choice over their future landlord (council or housing association) and to choose a number of locations in which they would prefer an offer to be made; however, the level of choice is limited where the applicants need to move is particularly urgent or the type of housing required is in particularly short supply.

In response to the second part of the question “and how the affordable homes being built by developers match these in terms of unit size and location” – the answer is also yes, because the borough’s affordable housing requirement does take into account households on the housing register and homeless households in temporary accommodation, however, it also takes into account other measures of housing need as well (for example, overcrowding, properties too difficult to maintain, households with specific housing needs (physical disability), housing condition and lack of facilities and social needs such as harassment).

The borough’s housing requirement and is based on Croydon’s Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) and an update to the SHMA modelling outputs (both carried out by ORS) which analyses the housing stock, housing market trends, drivers of housing demand and provides estimates of future households requiring market and affordable housing.  It is based on guidance published by the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) in August 2007. ORS provide a breakdown of affordable housing need by bed size to 2021 on pages 4 and 5 of the updated modelling report and from page 95 of the SHMA document.  This assessment informed Croydon’s Local Plan: Strategic Policies.  Policy SP2: Homes includes detail on the quantities and location of new housing, the proportion of affordable homes required on housing developments, the mix of homes required by size, quality and standards and provision for Gypsies and Travellers. The council monitors its performance against these planning targets and publishes report setting out the results on the council’s web site – the latest report is Homes.

A breakdown of the affordable housing being developed and funded in the borough through the GLA’s 2011/15 Affordable Housing Programme is provided below. This shows a total 1,292 affordable homes under development or recently constructed, of which almost 1,000 are available for rent to households eligible for social housing.

Studios* 1 bed 2 bed 3 bed 4+ bed Total
Affordable Rent 80 260 448 161 50 999
Shared ownership 0 82 179 26 5 292
All 80

(6%)

342

(26%)

627 (49%) 168

(14%)

54

(4%)

121

*These are all bedsits in a new YMCA foyer for young people

The proportion of 2 bedroom affordable homes provided is slightly higher than the proportion of 2 bed need on the Council’s housing register as at 1 April 2014; the provision of studio and 1 bedroom affordable homes is slightly higher than the proportion on the housing register, and the provision of 3 bedroom homes and larger is slightly lower than the proportion on the housing register.

The supply of new affordable homes is currently weighted towards two bed properties to align with the size requirements of applicants on the housing register and enable existing tenants to downsize from 3 and 4 bedroom homes into smaller 1 and 2 bedroom homes.’

This response only goes part of the way in answering the original question. The statistics do need to be analysed, and should include a listing which shows each development and its ‘affordable’ housing element.

Note: The link Homes is to a Powerpoint presentation, which some readers computers may not be able to open.

Comment: A lot more analysis is needed. I hope some readers will want to get involved in this. sean.creighton1947@btinternet.com

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About seancreighton1947

Since moving to Norbury in July 2011 I have been active on local economy issues with Croydon TUC and Croydon Assembly, and am a member of the latter's Environment Forum. I am a member of the 5 Norbury Residents Associations Joint Planning Committee, and a Governor of Norbury Manor Primary School. I write for Croydon Citizen at http://thecroydoncitizen.com. I co-ordinate the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and advise the North East People's History Project.. I give history talks and lead history walks. I retired in 2012 having worked in the community/voluntary sector and on heritage projects. My history interests include labour movement, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and the social and political use of music and song. I have a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. I have a publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications.
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