To consider funding to increase the delivery of affordable housing in the District.
Councillor Helen Chaffey, Housing Portfolio Holder, presented the report.
The South Lakeland District Council Housing Strategy 2016 to 2025 contained an action to consider alternative methods of delivery of affordable housing to meet the Council’s affordable housing targets for affordable rent and affordable sale homes. Action A3 of the Strategy Action Plan was “to consider options to establish a mechanism to help with land identification, acquisition and assembly; coupled with on-lending for new affordable housing delivery”. Attention was drawn to a decision made by Cabinet 28 November 2018 to approve the commencement of an affordable housing loan facility for the sum of up to £6m previously agreed by Cabinet in December 2017. This had been to allow South Lakes Housing and other Registered Providers to draw down monies supporting the development of new affordable homes. Subsequent to this and despite extensive work being carried out to agree terms, there had been a number of issues that rendered the proposed loans scheme unworkable.
An alternative approach was now required to ensure funds in the Right to Buy Replacement Fund were applied to the delivery of affordable housing. While there were strict guidelines in respect of councils using Right to Buy receipts on replacement stock or pooling the receipts to Government, these guidelines did not apply to preserved Right to Buy receipts following transfer of properties to a Registered Provider.
Cabinet had given in principle approval subject to Council approval at its meeting on 10 November 2021 to use the Right to Buy replacement receipts for the provision of grants to Registered Providers and land acquisition subject to further investigations. Further investigations had been undertaken following the receipt of legal advice to ensure that proposals met the new criteria that had been introduced in July 2021. Further clarification had, therefore, been sought from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) to determine the potential uses of these funds. This followed major changes to the Right to Buy pooling system that had taken effect from 1 April 2021 and further investigation was needed to determine whether the new requirements applied to receipts received prior to 1 April 2021 or to receipts from preserved Right to Buy. Cabinet had agreed for a further report to be presented to the December Cabinet outlining the outcomes of these further investigations and impact on the following proposals for use of this funding.
The report provided details on the outcome of investigation into use of Right to Buy replacement receipts. The report further provided details on Affordable Housing Grants to Registered Providers and on Purchase of Land. The report had been considered by Cabinet on 7 December 2021.
Councillor Chaffey having moved the recommendations contained within the report was seconded by Councillor Dyan Jones, Climate Action and Biodiversity Portfolio Holder who stressed the need for the encouragement of energy efficiency.
Councillor John Holmes recognised the financial receipts the Council had from the Transfer Agreement and asked what would happen to the Transfer Agreement through Local Government Reorganisation. Councillor Holmes further asked, if the Council purchased land for affordable housing and yet did not make an agreement with a Registered Provider for its development prior to Local Government Reorganisation, what safeguards could be placed to protect the land from use or sale for commercial purposes by the future unitary council. The Director of Strategy, Innovation and Resources undertook, on behalf of the Housing Portfolio Holder, to ensure that a written response was provided. Councillor Kevin Lancaster asked that the response to these questions also included information on the Social Housing arrangements in the councils forming the new authority. Councillor Mark Wilson asked about the issue of Council Tax/National Non-Domestic Rates in respect of second or holiday homes and whether Local Government Reorganisation might have an effect on the position. The Director of Strategy, Innovation and Resources again undertook to ensure that a written response was provided.
It was unanimously
RESOLVED – That the following be approved:-
(1) the change of policy (Appendix 1 to the report) from the provision of loans to the provision of affordable housing grants for Registered Providers, for a Right to Buy Replacement scheme;
(2) the change of use from the provision of loans to include the acquisition of land for the delivery of affordable housing;
(3) the amendment to the Capital Programme to change the use from loans to affordable housing grants for Registered Providers including the budget allocated for the acquisition of land; and
(4) the consequential amendments to the Constitution arising from the above.