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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 11/07/2006
Dorlcote, Witley



APPENDIX Z.1
Waverley Borough Council
EXECUTIVE – 11th JULY 2006
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Title:
DORLCOTE, WITLEY
[Wards Affected : Witley]

Note pursuant to Section 100B(5) of the Local Government Act 1972

The (Exempt) Annexe 2 to this report contains exempt information by virtue of which the public is likely to be excluded during the item to which the report relates, as specified in Paragraph 9 of Part I of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972, viz:-

Paragraph 3: Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).
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Summary and purpose:

This report advises of an opportunity to redevelop the site of the former sheltered housing scheme at Dorlcote in Witley. The proposal could result in 20 affordable homes provided by Thames Valley Housing Association, and also a capital receipt for the Council, which would be invested in the Housing Revenue Account’s Decent Homes Standard programme.

Having considered alternative options, the report proposes the disposal of the Dorlcote site, Witley, to Thames Valley Housing Association, in order to enable 20 affordable homes and also generate a capital receipt for the Council.
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Environmental implications:

As with any housing development there are important environmental issues arising to do with the physical resources used to build properties. This site was previously occupied by a sheltered housing scheme, which was demolished last year. It is the intention that the proposed development will achieve the ‘excellent’ eco-homes rating.

Social / community implications:

There is a considerable need for affordable housing in Waverley, with over 2,250 households registered on the Council’s Housing Needs Register. It is well recognised that a decent home supports educational attainment, promotes good health, and encourages longevity. The development proposals also give rise to a requirement for the developer – Thames Valley Housing Association – to provide a commuted sum to support play facilities in the vicinity.

E-Government implications:

There are none arising from this report.

Resource and legal implications:

The resource and legal implications relate to the disposal of the site for affordable housing that will give rise to a capital receipt for the Council, which will be invested in the Council’s Housing Revenue Account housing stock to enable the HRA to work towards the Decent Homes Standard. The proposal will attract a significant capital investment in the Borough via Thames Valley Housing Association through both a capita grant from the Housing Corporation and the use of private finance.

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Introduction

1. The Council owned a sheltered housing scheme at Dorlcote in Witley, which was decommissioned and demolished in 2005. The site now offers potential for redevelopment. A location plan is attached as Annexe 1.

2. Thames Valley Housing Association was successful in securing funding from the Housing Corporation for a development of 20 homes in the Waverley area and is seeking a site for development. The Dorlcote site has capacity for a similar number of dwellings. As there is a demonstrable housing need for affordable from within the Parish of Witley, it is therefore suggested that this site should be used to take advantage of this opportunity, and by doing so meeting some of that need.

3. The site has been valued on the basis of an open market disposal and this valuation figure is detailed in the (Exempt( Annexe 2 attached. This Annexe also details the figure that Thames Valley Housing Association would be able to pay to the Council in order for an affordable housing scheme to be undertaken.

4. The Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee considered this matter at its meeting in May. It concluded that the site should be developed for affordable housing.

Options

5. In order for the Executive to make a fully informed decision, it is important to consider alternative options and their implications, which are:

1. retain the site as an open space;
2. dispose of the site on the open market; or
3. develop as affordable housing.

Option 1 – Retain as Open Space

6. An option would be for the site to be retained as open space. Once the Dorlcote sheltered housing scheme had been vacated, the property was demolished to ensure that the property did not become an eyesore or subject to vandalism. As a result, a pleasant green area has now been created.

7. The site is within the developed area and has previously been developed. It is clearly a site that has development potential and therefore a value as developable land, rather than as open space.

8. The land is held by the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) for housing purposes. The Council has two potential options as a landlord – one is to maximise the land value and reinvest the capital receipt in its existing housing stock to help meet the Decent Homes Standard; or the other, to use the land to meet its wider objective of addressing local housing need.

9. The Council, as a landlord, also needs to demonstrate that it is achieving ‘Best Value’ for its asset.

10. In order for the site to be used as an open space, the Council’s General Fund would need to appropriate the land at a value that compensates the HRA for the loss of a valuable parcel of land. Given the pressures on the General Fund capital programme, this would be difficult to achieve.

11. Witley Parish Council have offered this Council an alternative parcel of land in exchange for the Dorlcote site. The land being offered is on the outskirts of Milford, outside the developed area and with a planning presumption against development. This land is therefore worth considerably less than the Dorlcote site. Were the Council to pursue this course of action, the Parish Council would have to make up the shortfall between the value of the Dorlcote site and its site with a cash sum. The Parish Council’s published annual accounts suggest that it would not have the magnitude of resources necessary to fund the purchase of the Dorlcote site.

12. It is the view of officers that retaining the land as open space is not an option that the Council can afford at this time.

Option 2 – Disposal of the Site on the Open Market

13. An option would be for the Council to dispose of the site on the open market.

14. The advantages of this option are that:

15. The disadvantages are:

Option 3 – Develop the Dorlcote Site as Affordable Housing

16. The third option would be to develop the site for affordable housing for local people.

17. The Council has two housing roles – of strategic housing authority/enabler and also that of landlord. These two roles have to be held in balance. The Government Office of the South East have made it clear that whilst it recognises that the Council cannot meet the Decent Homes Standard and Waverley must strive to do so, the Council must not forget its wider responsibilities for contributing to meet local affordable housing need.

18. There is a housing need across the Parish of Witley (which comprises Brook, Milford, Sandhills, Witley, and Wormley).

HOUSING NEED AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING SUPPLY

19. The Council’s Housing Needs Register shows (as it does for the whole of Waverley) that the largest number of people require 1-bedroom accommodation. However, this disguises the fact that a large proportion of such households will shortly require 2-bedroom accommodation – couples are registered as needing 1-bed; and couples with a child of under 6 months are registered as needing 1-bedroom accommodation – experience suggests that couples tend to need larger than 1-bedroom accommodation in the medium term.

20. The suggested affordable housing development is primarily 2- and 3-bedroom houses, which recognises that there is a large number of 1-bedroom affordable homes in the area adjacent to the Dorlcote site.

21. It is worth noting that there has not been any affordable housing development in the village of Witley for many years (at least fifteen). However, across the Parish of Witley there has been affordable housing provided at:

Canada Close, Milford (2004) – 15 homes on an exception to planning policy site. All these homes were allocated to local Milford people;

The Lofts, Wormley (2004) – 5 homes on an exception to planning policy site. All these homes were allocated to local people with a connection to the village of Wormley or adjacent settlements;

Reris Grange, Milford (2006) – a private sector housing development where 8 affordable homes are being provided as part of the development; and

Bridewell Park, Wormley (2006) - a private sector housing development where 21 homes are being provided as affordable housing.

22. A review of the Council’s Housing Needs Register shows that there are over 2,200 households registered who are looking for an affordable home in Waverley.

23. Of those 2,200 households some 154 currently live in the Parish of Witley and who would like to remain in the area, of which: 87 are seeking 1-bedroom accommodation;
45 households are seeking 2-bedroom accommodation;
20 households are seeking 3-bedroom accommodation; and
2 households are seeking 4-bedroom accommodation.

24. The current proposals propose only a small number of 1-bedroom flats to be sold on shared-ownership terms, as there is already a relatively large number of 1-bedroom flats for rent in the surrounding area.

25. Concern is often expressed about the pressure that new developments will put on local services – such as schools, GP practices and the infrastructure because of new people moving into the area. Experience from other affordable housing developments – at Cranleigh, Dunsfold, Milford, Tilford, Wormley etc – is that where the development is meeting a local housing need households are already living in the area using these facilities in any event. So by providing more suitable and appropriate accommodation, this is not adding pressure to local services. A review of applicants wanting 2- and 3-bedroom accommodation reveals that a number of these households already have children at the local school nearby – Chandler School. A number have children who are not yet of school age and would expect to use the local schools in any event. It is interesting to note that a number of these households also have employment in the Parish.

26. Although there is a perceived need for sheltered housing, the Housing Needs Register provides no evidence of demand for sheltered housing in Witley. However, there are two Witley households who require 2-bedroom bungalow accommodation – and the current proposals show the provision of 2 x 2-bedroom bungalows.

27. Thames Valley Housing Association has approached the Council looking for a site on which 20 affordable homes could be developed. The Association was successful in securing a grant from the Housing Corporation, but the site to which this grant was to be applied is no longer available. The Association, which has worked in this Borough for a long period, wondered whether the Council might have a site available in which to invest the grant to provide affordable homes. As it so happened, the Dorlcote site was vacant pending a decision about its future. The approach was therefore timely and gives the Council an option of delivering affordable homes with grant aid and secure a capital sum (though more modest than a sale on the open market). Members will be aware that the Council has, from time to time, transferred land at nil value to housing associations in order to secure affordable housing where grant from the Housing Corporation has not been available.

28. The proposal made is that the site should be developed to provide the following mix of homes:

14 homes for rent viz: 10 x 2-bed houses; 2 x 2-bed bungalows; 2 x 3-bed houses; and
6 homes for sale on shared ownership terms viz: 2 x 1-bed flats and 4 x 2-bed flats.


29. This mix reflects local housing need and also the fact that there are already a number of 1-bedroom flats adjacent to the site.

30. The advantages of this Option are that:

a. the proposed development of affordable housing meets a local housing need;

b. the Council would receive nomination rights to these homes;

e. the Council would be fulfilling two of its key Corporate Objectives.

31. The disadvantages are:

Resource and Legal Implications

32. Thames Valley Housing Association has secured funding from the Housing Corporation, which can fund the proposed development. In these circumstances the Council can dispose of the site and generate a value from the site – whereas on other occasions the Council assists housing association partners by providing a subsidy either through a payment of capital grant or by transferring land at nil value.

33. The financial implications are that the Council would receive a capital receipt, which it could reinvest in its retained housing to contribute towards meeting the Decent Homes Standard. As members will recall, in order for the Council to retain all of the capital receipt, the Council has to formally resolve to reinvest the receipt in meeting the Decent Homes Standard or in a specific regeneration initiative.

34. It should be noted that a disposal on the open market would generate a larger capital sum than sale for an affordable housing development. However, balanced against this are the wider objectives of the Council to help meet local housing need.

Recommendation

It is recommended that the Committee recommends to the Executive:

1. that the site at Dorlcote, Witley, be disposed of to Thames Valley Housing Association for an affordable housing development of 20 dwellings on terms to be negotiated by the Council’s Property and Development Manager; and

2. that the capital receipt from the sale of the Dorlcote site, Witley is applied to contribute toward achieving the Decent Homes Standard in the remaining Council housing stock.

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Background Papers (DoH)

Correspondence from Thames Valley Housing Association
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CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: John Swanton Telephone: 01483 - 523375

E-mail: jswanton@waverley.gov.uk


executive\2006-07\088.doc