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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 18/04/2006
Housing Needs - Policy Context



Current national policy on affordable housing (PPG3)
Current national planning policy on affordable housing is contained in PPG3 (2000) and Circular 6/98. PPG3 acknowledges that the need for affordable housing is a material planning consideration. It states that where there is a demonstrable lack of affordable housing to meet local housing needs then local plans should include a policy for seeking affordable housing in suitable housing developments. Circular 6/98 provides more detail on the national policy for affordable housing. In particular, it sets out the site/size thresholds that the Government considers should apply in determining whether provision should be made for affordable housing. For settlements above 3,000 population, the Circular states that it would not be appropriate for local authorities to adopt thresholds below 15 dwellings or 0.5ha site area.

Update to PPG3 (Planning for Sustainable Communities in Rural Areas) January 2005
In January 2005, the Government published an update to PPG3 relating specifically to the issue of rural exception sites. It states that it is important that there is adequate housing provision in rural areas to meet the needs of local people and to contribute to delivering sustainable communities. It also states that local planning authorities should make sufficient land available either within or adjoining existing rural communities to enable these local requirements to be met. It goes on to state that all local planning authorities that include rural areas should include a rural exception site policy in the relevant DPD. It states that rural exception sites should be small, solely for affordable housing and on land within or adjoining rural communities, which would not otherwise be released for general market housing.

Draft Planning Policy Statement (PPS) 3 - Housing
The draft PPS3, which was published for consultation in December 2005, indicates that targets should be set for the provision of affordable housing. It adds that the target should take account of the anticipated levels of finance available for affordable housing, including public subsidy and the level of developer contributions that can reasonably be sought on relevant sites. It also states that separate targets should be set for social-rented and Intermediate housing where appropriate.

It also states that local authorities should set minimum site/size thresholds, expressed as numbers of homes or area, above which affordable housing will be sought. It states that the indicative national minimum threshold is 15 dwellings, but local authorities may set a different threshold or series of thresholds where this can be justified. It states that in determining minimum site/size thresholds, local planning authorities will need to take into account the level of affordable housing to be sought, site viability, the impact on the delivery of housing provision, and the objective of creating sustainable communities. It is proposed that the supporting Companion Guide to PPS3 (which is being prepared) will provide further information on this issue.

The draft PPS3 also has a section on rural housing. It also states that all planning authorities that have small rural communities should include a rural exception sites policy in relevant development plan documents. It goes on to state that, in applying such a policy, planning authorities should consider the need to meet the needs of the rural economy, and in particular the needs of households who are either current residents or have an existing family or employment connection, in order that rural communities remain sustainable, mixed, inclusive and cohesive.

Regional Planning Guidance for the South East (RPG9)
RPG9 states that the provision of affordable housing in the South East is an important component in the development of mixed and balanced communities, to help meet the housing needs of the whole population. Policy H4 deals with housing needs generally. It states that affordable housing should be provided to meet locally assessed need. The supporting text adds that development plans should include policies for securing affordable housing based on local housing strategies, which, in turn, should be based on robust and regular local assessments of need.

Draft South East Plan (SEP)
The lack of affordable housing is not just a problem in Waverley. At the regional level, the draft SEP recognises the need for affordable housing. It refers to the need for “….a significant step-change in delivery….” (see paragraph 1.6.3 of the draft SE Plan). Policy H4 of the draft SEP relates to affordable housing. It states that local development documents will set targets for the provision of affordable housing, having regard to the overall regional target that 25% of all new housing should be social rented accommodation and 10% other forms of affordable housing. In addition, one of the priorities of the Regional Economic Strategy (RES) (and the RES Review) is to secure quality affordable housing.

The Surrey Structure Plan (SSP) 2004
Similarly, the need for affordable housing is an issue in the SSP 2004. It refers to the problems that both private and public sector organisations have in recruiting and retaining key staff because of the high cost of housing. Policy DN11 of the SSP 2004 states that Local Development Frameworks will include a target for affordable housing, having regard to the objective that at least 40% of new housing provision in the County should be affordable, including housing for key workers.

The Existing affordable housing policies in the Waverley Borough Local Plan (WBLP) 2002
Policy H5 of the Local Plan requires a proportion of affordable housing to be provided on new development sites. This policy only applies above certain thresholds. In the case of settlements with a population above 3,000, the current threshold for requiring affordable housing is developments involving 15 or more net new dwellings or sites of 0.5ha or larger. In settlements with a population of 3,000 or fewer, these thresholds are reduced to 5 or more net new dwellings or sites of 0.2ha or more. Where the policy applies, the requirement is that at least 30% of the number of net new dwellings is in the form of subsidised affordable housing. If the overall density of development is 40 dwellings per hectare or more, then the minimum proportion can be 25%.

Policy H6 of the Local Plan allows for the development of small-scale affordable housing schemes in, adjacent to, or very closely related to rural settlements, provided there is a genuine local need, which cannot be met in some other way. This policy applies to the majority of rural settlements in Waverley.


National policy on housing mix (as set out in PPG3)
One of the Government’s key aims is to secure mixed communities. In relation to this, PPG3 has a section relating to the type and size of housing. It refers to the fact that the majority of the projected growth in households will be made up of one-person households and states that local authorities should adopt policies that take full account of changes in their area.

It goes on to state that local authorities should take account of assessments of housing need in determining the type and size of additional housing for which local authorities should plan. Local authorities should assess the composition of current and future households in their area, and of the existing housing stock in the formulation of plans.

Draft Planning Policy Statement (PPS) 3 and housing mix
The recent Government consultations on changes to PPG3 dealt with both housing needs issues and the supply of new housing. A common theme was the emphasis on the housing market. In essence, the approach being promoted is that decisions on the amount and location of housing and the type of housing should be informed by a better understanding of the local housing market. The recently published consultation paper on the proposed PPS3 continues the theme of understanding and responding to the local housing market both in terms of the supply of housing and in relation to housing needs. In order to underpin this work, the draft PPS3 promotes Housing Market Assessments (HMAs), based on defined housing market areas. It states that the regional planning bodies (in this case SEERA) should co-ordinate a programme of sub-regional HMAs and Housing Land Availability Assessments. It is for the regional planning body to identify the sub-regional housing market areas and to identify which local authorities these include.

The draft PPS3 goes on to state that in future housing allocations by the regional planning body would be based on the identified sub-regional housing market areas. In terms of household type, the draft PPS3 states that planning authorities should have regard to the relevant sub-regional HMA when determining the overall balance between different household types to be provided for across the plan area and to ensure, for example, that housing provision is made, for example, for family, single person and multi-person households.

Regional Planning Guidance for the South East (RPG9)
In relation to general housing needs, RPG9 refers to projections indicating an increase in one and two person households. It states that these households are likely to have different needs from larger households in terms of the size, type and location of home required. It also refers to the projected increase in the proportion of households with older people and the need to be flexible in catering for various needs, such as the needs of people with disabilities. Policy H4 states that a range of dwelling types and sizes should be provided for.

The Draft South East Plan (SEP) and housing mix
The draft SEP includes a policy (PolicyH6), which relates to ‘Type and Size of New Housing’. In the accompanying text, it states that it is essential that the housing that is provided is appropriate to the needs of the community, which means that a range of types, sizes and tenures of housing will be required over the coming years, to reflect the differing requirements and circumstances of different types of household. It acknowledges the trend towards smaller households but adds that it is not the case that only one and two bedroom units will be needed in the future. It goes on to state that in order to help match provision with need, local authorities will prepare comprehensive assessments of the kind of new housing that is needed in their areas.

Both the draft SEP and the Regional Housing Strategy include maps indicating what are considered to be the local housing markets operating across the region. In Waverley’s case, the principal housing market area is considered to be the Guildford/Woking housing market. This follows the corridor of the A3 and London – Portsmouth railway line, running from Woking to Petersfield and beyond. This market area covers a substantial part of Waverley. In addition, to the west, Farnham is influenced by the Blackwater Valley housing market area. These are the two principal markets affecting Waverley. However, the map also indicates that part of the south-eastern corner of Waverley is influenced by the Crawley/Gatwick housing market area. It is recommended that where housing market areas cross administrative boundaries, the housing market assessments would be best conducted jointly between local authorities.

Housing mix and Local Plan Policy H4
Local Plan Policy H4 affects the mix of market housing in new developments. It requires that on developments comprising three or more units, at least 50% should have a maximum of two bedrooms and at least 80% should have a maximum of three bedrooms. The Council also published Supplementary Planning Guidance in relation to Policy H4 in October 2003. Local Plan Policy H7 encourages proposals for the provision of supported housing for those with special needs.

Circular 01/2006 ‘Planning for Gypsy and Traveller Caravan Sites’
Circular 01/2006 defines “gypsies and travellers” as:-

“Persons of nomadic habit of life whatever their race or origin, including such persons who on grounds only of their own or their family’s or dependants’ educational or health needs or old age have ceased to travel temporarily or permanently, but excluding members of an organised group of travelling show people or circus people travelling together as such.”

The Circular indicates that it is necessary to conduct an assessment of gypsy and traveller accommodation needs, to inform Development Plan Documents. In terms of site provision, it states that before Green Belt locations are identified, other alternative sites should be explored.

Circular 22/91 ‘Travelling Showpeople’
Circular 22/91 states that Showpeople are self-employed business people who travel the country holding fairs, chiefly during the summer months. The Circular states that the local planning authority should consider the needs of travelling showpeople when preparing development plans and should identify existing sites with planning permission.

Draft South East Plan (SEP) Policy H6
The draft SEP Part 1: Core Regional Policies (July 2005) states in Policy H6 – ‘Type and Size of New Housing’, “that gypsies and travellers and others with specialist requirements, as relevant”, should be included in Housing Needs/ Market Assessments.

Local Plan Policy H11
The eight authorised sites are shown on the Waverley Borough Local Plan 2002 Proposals Map, and are safeguarded for Gypsies under Policy H11 – ‘Gypsy Sites’. Policy H11 specifically aims to ensure that provision is made within the Borough for the accommodation of Gypsies consistent with their needs and lifestyle having regard to the policies of the Surrey Structure Plan, other Local Plan policies, relevant legislation and Government advice.

Draft Core Strategy Policy14
The draft Core Strategy (December 2005) identifies gypsies, travellers and travelling showpeople as a specific group where accommodation issues will be addressed. This is incorporated within policy CP14 – ‘Housing Need’.