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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 18/04/2006
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL - LOCAL DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORK
HOUSING DEVELOPMENT PLAN DOCUMENT (DPD) - DRAFT ISSUES AND OPTIONS PAPER



Annexe 1
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL
LOCAL DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORK
HOUSING DEVELOPMENT PLAN DOCUMENT (DPD)
DRAFT ISSUES AND OPTIONS PAPER

INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

The Planning & Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 established a new system of local development planning. At the regional level, the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) will set the policy framework. The South East Regional Assembly (SEERA) has produced the draft South East Plan (SEP), which will be the RSS for this area.

Local authorities like Waverley are required to produce a Local Development Framework (LDF) for their area. This will contain a suite of documents setting out the Council’s spatial strategy for the area and how it will shape and control the development and use of land. Over time, the LDF will replace the existing Waverley Borough Local Plan 2002.

This paper relates to the Housing Development Plan Document (DPD), which is one of the documents that will form part of the Council’s LDF. The work on the Housing DPD has reached the stage of identifying the issues and the potential options to address these issues.

Local Authorities are required to produce a Local Development Scheme (LDS). This sets out the ongoing programme for producing documents that will be included as part of the Council’s Local Development Framework (LDF). The first major document produced as part of the LDF is the draft Core Strategy. It sets out the overall spatial vision for the Borough for the period up to 2018 and is consistent with the current Surrey Structure Plan and the emerging South East Plan. It contains a number of core policies relating to a range of matters such as the location of development, the design of development and the protection of specially designated areas such as the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

THE CORE STRATEGY

The Core Strategy does not deal with individual sites. Instead, it sets out the broad spatial strategy for the Borough, with other documents, such as the Housing DPD, providing more detailed policy and guidance, including dealing with site specific issues where necessary. Many of the proposed core policies will be of general relevance to housing, such as the policies relating to the location of development or the provision of services and infrastructure

During the evolution of the draft Core Strategy, there was consultation on the options regarding the broad location of development. The ‘Preferred Option’ that emerged from this consultation states:-

“…development will primarily be located on previously developed land in sustainable locations in Farnham, Godalming, Haslemere and Cranleigh. Development appropriate to the needs of rural communities will be permitted in rural settlements and, very exceptionally, limited development may be permitted to meet the essential and proven housing and community needs of the main settlements and rural communities adjacent to those settlements.”

A key task of the Housing DPD is to set out the strategy for delivering housing, including any site-specific allocations. The approach that is taken must accord with the strategic approach to the location of development set out in the Core Strategy.

The draft Core Strategy also contains three core polices on housing. These deal with:-

1. Housing need (Policy CP14);
2. Housing provision (Policy CP15); and
3. Subsidised affordable and social housing (Policy CP16)

One of the tasks of the Housing DPD is to develop and expand on these core policies, including, where necessary, the application of policies to specific sites.

THE SCOPE OF THE HOUSING DEVELOPMENT PLAN DOCUMENT (DPD)

The Housing DPD will focus on two key areas:-

1. housing needs, particularly the need for subsidised affordable housing.
2. the supply of housing;

The current timetable for the Housing DPD is for the main consultation on the ‘Issues and Options’ to take place in April/May 2006. Following this, the Council will develop the ‘Preferred Options’, with a view to further public consultation, on the preferred options, later in the year or early 2007. The Housing DPD will cover the period up to 2018, which is the same end date as the Core Strategy.

Housing Needs

The main focus will be on the provision of subsidised affordable housing. This will involve reviewing the existing policies on the provision of subsidised affordable housing, both in terms of affordable housing provided as proportion of housing on a development site; and in terms of the provision of affordable housing to meet local needs through a rural exception sites policy. In addition, the Council will explore the extent to which the Housing DPD can support other initiatives to increase the supply of affordable housing.

The Housing DPD will also consider other housing needs. At this stage, two particular topics have been identified for consideration:-

Housing mix – this is currently controlled through Local Plan Policy H4 which requires a minimum proportion of units with a maximum of two and tree bedrooms;
Other housing needs, including the accommodation needs of gypsies, travellers and travelling showpeople;
The draft Core Strategy refers to the need to consider the needs of a wide range of groups. However, in considering any housing needs issue, a key factor is the evidence. At this stage, the principal source of evidence is the updated Housing Needs Survey (the latest update was in 2005). In the emerging Government policy, such as the draft Planning Policy Statement (PPS) 3 – “Housing”, there is a greater emphasis on understanding the local housing market and responding to it. The Government is promoting the carrying out of Housing Market Assessments (HMAs) and has produced draft guidance on these. The broad identification of Housing Market Areas is set out in both the draft South East Plan (SEP) and the Regional Housing Strategy.

The Government is expecting the local authorities will work collaboratively to carry out HMAs within their respective areas. To this end, Rushmoor Borough Council has taken the lead in commissioning an HMA to cover the Blackwater Valley area. Council officers have also been in discussion with officers at Guildford Borough Council about the possibility of commissioning a joint Housing Needs Survey and Housing Market Assessment for both Boroughs. However, based on the current timetable for the Housing DPD, it is not anticipated that this jointly commissioned work will be completed in time to be considered in this document.

Housing Supply

The Surrey Structure Plan (SSP) 2004 sets out the housing requirement for each Surrey district up to 2016. In Waverley’s case, the requirement is to make provision for 2,810 net additional dwellings between April 2001 and March 2016. Given that the proposed end date for the Core Strategy and the Housing DPD is 2018, the annual Structure Plan requirement will be rolled forward two years in order to have the same end date. A key part of the Housing DPD will be an explanation of how that requirement will be met, including, if necessary the allocation of specific sites for new housing.

Until such time as the SEP is adopted, the housing requirement that Waverley must meet is that set out in the SSP 2004. Therefore, the focus of this Housing DPD, in terms of housing supply, will be to ensure that the Council can continue to meet the SSP 2004 housing requirement.

Issues that the Housing DPD will not deal with

The Housing DPD will touch on issues of design and sustainable construction, energy efficiency etc. These matters also apply to non-residential development. Therefore, it is intended that detailed design guidance and policy on these matters will be covered in separate Development Plan Documents (DPDs) or Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs).

OBJECTIVES OF THE HOUSING DPD

The objectives of the Housing DPD are as follows:-

To meet the strategic housing requirements for the Borough.

To ensure a consistent supply of housing over the plan period. To ensure that land that is identified and released for housing is the most suitable, taking account of sustainability principles and social, environmental and economic considerations, with priority given to the re-use of previously developed land and buildings within the principal settlements in the Borough.

To promote higher density housing in sustainable locations within town centres and other sustainably accessible locations.

To ensure that every possible opportunity is taken, including maximising the use of appropriate “exception” sites, to secure affordable housing as a proportion of new housing that is built.

To ensure that new housing, including affordable housing, contains a mix of sizes, types and tenures of housing appropriate to meet the needs of the community.

To address any identified appropriate accommodation needs for specific groups such as gypsies and travellers, key-workers and older people within the Borough.

To support and facilitate the work of this Council and other agencies in addressing particular housing issues, such as vulnerable people living under poor housing conditions.

To work towards meeting the requirements of people who have housing and support needs

SUPPORTING INFORMATION

The strategy and policies in the Housing DPD must be based on robust evidence and must take account of other relevant plans and strategies. Attached as Appendix 1 is list of the key evidence documents, together with a list of the main plans and strategies that are relevant to the Housing DPD.

It should be pointed that both national and regional planning policy on housing is going through a period of change. As explained above, SEERA has produced the draft South East Plan (SEP). Under the new planning legislation the SEP will become the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) for the South East region. However, this document has not been through full examination and is not expected to be finalised until early 2008. Therefore, the weight that can be afforded to the SEP at this stage is still limited.

Similarly, the current national planning policy on housing is Planning Policy Guidance Note (PPG) 3, which was published in 2000. However, on 5th December 2005, the Government published a consultation draft of Planning Policy Statement (PPS) 3, which is intended to replace PPG3 and the affordable housing circular (Circular 6/98). The draft PPS3 indicates the direction in which the Government would like to take national planning policy on housing. It is anticipated that the final version of PPS3 will be published later this year.

THE KEY ISSUES FOR THE HOUSING DPD

The issues and associated options have been developed around three broad themes:-

Theme 1: housing needs;
Theme 2: managing housing supply; and
Theme 3: the location and density of new housing.

Theme 1: Housing Needs

Under the heading “Housing Needs”, the following main issues have been identified:-

Issue 1: The provision of subsidised affordable and social housing;
Issue 2: Subsidised affordable housing and exception sites;
Issue 3: Planning and market housing; and
Issue 4: Other housing needs.

Housing Needs – The Context

Attached as Appendix 2 is a summary of the current planning policy/guidance relating to housing needs issues.

SUBSIDISED AFFORDABLE HOUSING
The draft South East Plan defines “affordable housing” as:-

“…that provided with a subsidy to enable the asking price or rent to be substantially lower than the prevailing market prices or rents in the locality and where mechanisms exist to ensure that the housing remains affordable for those who cannot afford market housing.”

There is overwhelming evidence of the need for subsidised affordable housing within Waverley. This need is highlighted in the latest update to the Council’s Housing Needs Survey, which was carried out in 2005 by David Couttie Associates (DCA). The 2005 update identifies an unmet annual need for over 600 affordable dwellings. A high demand for housing generally across the south east, with house prices increasing at a much faster rate than income levels, has resulted in the gap between earnings and house prices increasing. This makes it more difficult for local households to get onto the home ownership ladder, even with assistance through some home ownership schemes.

According to Land Registry figures (collected between June and September 2005) the average cost of a terraced house in the South East is 178,136. By comparison, the average cost of a terraced house in Waverley is 237,611. Since 2000, house prices have risen across all property types in Waverley by 33%. The income required to purchase an averagely priced flat in Waverley is 37,000pa. According to the 2005 Housing Needs Survey update, more than 75% of existing households have an income below this level. As a result, the need to provide more affordable housing in Waverley is designated as one of the highest priorities in the Council’s Corporate Plan; in the Council’s 2005-2010 Housing Strategy and in the Community Strategy.

The predominant need from households on the Council’s Housing Need Register is for rented accommodation. DCA have recommended that the proportion of affordable housing on qualifying sites should be increased to 40%. DCA also recommend that 75% of the affordable housing should be in the form of rented accommodation with the remaining 25% as intermediate housing, which encompasses homes for shared ownership, shared equity and sub-market rented homes.

With the current site/size thresholds (see Local Plan Policy H5) a considerable number of private developments in Waverley make no contribution towards the provision of affordable housing.

There is currently uncertainty about the provision of grant to assist in the delivery of affordable housing. The local authority no longer has housing capital receipts and regional funds are targeted elsewhere. Consequently, the Council will need to look creatively, with its partners, at alternative sources of funding. The funding issue will affect the choices about delivering affordable housing through the planning system.

OTHER HOUSING NEEDS
Until a comprehensive study has been carried out, there is limited scope for this DPD to address wider housing needs in addition to the identified need for affordable housing. However, there are two particular issues that can be considered:-

the issue of the mix of market housing, given that there is an existing planning policy in the Local Plan (Policy H4), which controls the mix of new housing; the housing and accommodation needs of specific groups, including gypsies, travellers and travelling showmen.

In Waverley some 68% of existing housing comprises detached or semi-detached houses. This compares with the national average of 54%. In contrast, terraced housing and flats/maisonettes comprise 30% of the stock in Waverley compared with 46% nationally, (Source “Housing Tool, 2001 via the Audit Commission Area Profile). The average household size in Waverley is 2.36 persons, which is the same as the national average. 67% of households in Waverley contain one or two persons.

The housing and accommodation needs of specific groups, including gypsies, travellers and travelling showpeople
The existing Local Plan includes a policy (H7) relating to special housing needs. An issue to consider is whether that policy should be retained and/or developed further.

Waverley is home to approximately one third of Surrey’s Gypsies, who are the Borough’s largest minority ethnic group. Over the last twenty years or so the Council has worked with the Gypsy and Traveller communities in Waverley to establish sufficient sites for their needs. There are nine authorised Gypsy sites in the Borough, (eight of which have permission and one is a long established “tolerated” site), providing 90 pitches, to accommodate a total of 161 caravans. Of these, eight are privately owned, including Waverley’s only transit site. There are also two unauthorised sites occupied by Gypsies, which are currently at Appeal under the Development Control process.

In addition to the Gypsy sites there are two authorised Travelling Showpeople sites providing 4 pitches to accommodate 11 caravans. These are not safeguarded, nor are they shown on the Proposals Map. There are no sites for other travellers within the Borough, and there has been no indication of need.

A recent survey of Gypsies and Travelling Showpeople, conducted by Waverley Officers, has revealed that there are currently no available pitches within the Borough.

The attached Appendix 3 comprises a table setting out the issues relating to “Housing Needs”, together with possible options.

Theme 2: Managing Housing Supply

Under the heading “Managing Housing Supply” the following issues have been identified:-

Issue 1: Phasing housing supply;
Issue 2: The role of windfall sites;
Issue 3: Infrastructure and services.

Managing Housing Supply – the Context

Attached as Appendix 4 is a summary of the current planning policy/guidance relating to housing supply issues.

Current housing requirements
The current requirement, as set out in Policy LO6 of the Surrey Structure Plan (SSP) 2004, is to provide a minimum of 2,810 dwellings between April 2001 and March 2016. This equates to an average of 187 dwellings per annum over this 15-year period. Between April 2001 and March 2005 some 864 net new dwellings had been completed in the Borough, at an average of 216 dwellings per annum, leaving a minimum of 1,946 net new dwellings to be provided by March 2016.

As the Housing DPD will run to 2018 the SSP requirement is rolled forward to 2018. The annual SSP requirement is 187 dwellings, giving an ‘additional’ requirement of 375 dwellings for the period 2016 to 2018. Thus the total outstanding requirement for the period 2005 – 2018 is 2,321 net new dwellings (an average of 179 dwellings per annum).

Housing supply comes from three sources:-
1. Sites that already have planning permission or where a development is already underway;
2. Sites that are specifically allocated for housing or mixed use including housing (for example the key sites in Godalming and Haslemere and any additional site allocations);
3. An allowance for the supply of “windfall” sites based mainly on past trends.

It is estimated that if all the potential sources of supply come forward then between 2005 and 2018 about 3,088 dwellings could be delivered. This could result in an “oversupply” relative to the Structure Plan requirement in the order of up to 767 dwellings. This assumes that all existing allocated sites are developed together with the additional sites put forward for allocation in the Urban Housing Potential Study (UHPS). It also assumes that windfall sites continue to come forward at the same rate throughout this period.

Even if this figure for dwellings coming forward is an optimistic one, there would still be the potential for quite a significant “oversupply”. Therefore, based on current policy and current housing allocations, the issue in relation to managing supply maybe one of managing the release of sites and the delivery of housing in the context of an “oversupply”, rather than needing to increase the supply of housing to meet a shortfall. However, in developing the Housing DPD it will also be necessary to have regard to any specific factors that could limit future supply of housing.

Possible constraints on housing supply
One constraint that could have a significant effect on housing supply in certain parts of the Borough is the impact of the Special Protection Areas (SPAs). For example, much of Farnham lies within the 5 km zone of the Thames Basin Heaths SPA. Milford, Witley and parts of Elstead and other villages are affected by the Wealden heaths Phase 1 SPA and Hindhead and Haslemere are affected by the Wealden Heaths Phase 2 SPA. Potentially these could affect a number of specific sites and also the supply of housing from unidentified windfall sites.

It will be for the Core Strategy, in accordance with the Habitat Regulations 1994, to assess the potential impact of the SPAs on Farnham and other parts of the Borough. To this end, work is already underway on what is known as an “Appropriate Assessment”. This is intended to assess the potential impact of the SPA, including measures that may be required to mitigate this impact. The outcome of the “Appropriate Assessment” will be used to inform the options for meeting housing supply requirements.

The contribution of allocated sites and windfall sites
Traditionally much of the new housing that is built in Waverley comes forward on what are known as “windfall” sites. These are sites that the Council has not previously allocated or identified as being suitable for housing. Part of the scope of the Housing DPD will be to consider the extent to which the Council can or should continue to rely on windfall sites. Based on current policy, the Council does make a significant allowance for the supply of windfall sites to meet housing requirements. However, there is some doubt as to whether future national policy in the forthcoming PPS3 will allow Waverley to rely as heavily on the supply of windfalls.

In addition, the Urban Housing Potential Study (UHPS) has identified a number of sites that are considered to have potential for housing. Some of these, such as the Godalming and Haslemere key sites, are already identified in the current Local Plan. However, there are other sites to consider and it is very likely that the public consultation will result in further sites being put forward for consideration by landowners and developers.

The attached Appendix 5 comprises a table setting out the issues relating to “Managing Housing Supply”, together with possible options.


Theme 3: The Location and Density of Housing

Under the heading “The Location and Density of Housing” the following issues have been identified:-

Issue 1: Sustainability and the location of development;
Issue 2: The density of new housing; and
Issue 3: Housing design and the issue of character.
Attached as Appendix 6 is a summary of the current planning policy/guidance relating to the location and density of housing.

The draft Core Strategy refers to development mainly taking place in sustainable locations within the main settlements. It will be necessary to consider how this strategic requirement can be translated into the more detailed housing strategy in the Housing DPD.

Government policy in PPG3 requires Councils to avoid housing densities of below 30 dwellings per hectare (dph) and to promote densities of 30 – 50 dph, with higher densities in accessible locations. The emerging policy in draft PPS3 goes one step further by indicating that local authorities should set density ranges across their whole plan area. In addition to considering issues like design, character and amenity, choices about the location and density of development should also take into account the sustainability and accessibility of areas.

Concern has been raised in Waverley about the impact that higher density housing has on the character of existing residential areas. This has led to calls to give greater protection to existing garden land, and to specific locations through the designation of more “low density” areas. It will be necessary to balance the concern about the intensification of development in residential areas against the Government’s requirements to make best use of previously developed land and avoid densities below 30 dph.

The Council may also have to consider the role of specially designated “character areas”, which may involve reviewing existing designations and/or considering whether there is a case for identifying additional areas. The Council will also have to review existing non-residential designations and consider whether they should be retained or whether the land could be developed wholly or in part for housing. To this end, officers are in the process of compiling an Employment Land Study.

The attached Appendix 7 comprises a table setting out the issues relating to “The Location and Density of Housing”, together with possible options.




Comms/O&S3/05-06/088