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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 21/05/2002
Land Disposals Programme for Affordable Housing Development



This report proposes that the Council should actively identify parcels of Council-owned land that could potentially be released for disposal on which affordable homes could be built. It is proposed that the Council, or its partner Registered Social Landlords, develop schemes and seek planning permission. The sites could then be released on a programmed basis to ensure that the amount of Housing Corporation or Local Authority Social Housing Grant is being maximised for the Borough.

There are two potential resource implications arising from this report viz:

1. generating capital receipts from the disposal of the sites identified; and
2. costs associated with developing schemes and seeking planning permission – though this could be borne by RSLs.

Clearly there are potential environmental, asset management and ‘Opportunities for All’ implications that will relate to the sites and these matters will be addressed on a site-by-site basis when proposed schemes are considered by Committee in detail.
APPENDIX K
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

COMMUNITY OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – 21st MAY 2002

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Title:
LAND DISPOSALS PROGRAMME FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING DEVELOPMENT

[Wards Affected: All]
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Note pursuant to Section 100B(5) of the Local Government Act 1972

The (Exempt) Annexe 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, namely:

Any terms proposed or to be proposed by or to the authority in the course if negotiations for a contract for the acquisition or disposal of property or the supply of goods and services.
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Summary and Purpose

This report proposes that the Council should actively identify parcels of Council-owned land that could potentially be released for disposal on which affordable homes could be built. It is proposed that the Council, or its partner Registered Social Landlords, develop schemes and seek planning permission. The sites could then be released on a programmed basis to ensure that the amount of Housing Corporation or Local Authority Social Housing Grant is being maximised for the Borough.

There are two potential resource implications arising from this report viz:

1. generating capital receipts from the disposal of the sites identified; and
2. costs associated with developing schemes and seeking planning permission – though this could be borne by RSLs.

Clearly there are potential environmental, asset management and ‘Opportunities for All’ implications that will relate to the sites and these matters will be addressed on a site-by-site basis when proposed schemes are considered by Committee in detail.
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Introduction

1. This report is placed before the Committee in its overview role.

2. Over the past years, the Council has experienced some challenges in achieving its Local Authority Social Housing Grant programme because most of the sites have been in private ownership. It is not possible to predict when sites will be made available, when planning permission will be secured, and whether land-owners might have other more pressing interests which will lead them to deal with the development at a later date.


3. Members will be aware that for a number of reasons, specific sites have been included in the LA SHG capital programme in anticipation of a development happening, only for the scheme to have to be removed from the programme for a range of reasons e.g.:

the site was subsequently purchased by an organisation and not the housing association, as had been anticipated;

owners have decided to retain the land for disposal at a later date;

planning permission had not been achieved or was not achieved in line with the Housing Corporation’s funding timescale; or

the site was retained or sold for non-housing purposes.

Government Office of the South East and the Corporate Performance Assessment

4. The Council is assessed by the Government Office of the South East (GOSE) on its ability to produce affordable housing within the resources it has at its command. The GOSE considers that whilst Waverley does well, it could do better still in terms of setting targets and meeting them in respect of developments of affordable housing. However, against a background of uncertainty and competing in the market place for land, your officers and RSLs have difficulty in setting and meeting realistic targets.

5. One of the factors taken into the Corporate Performance Assessment will be the Council’s ability to deliver its stated objectives.

Housing Corporation

6. More importantly, however, as from 2003, the Housing Corporation intends to allocate most of its Annual Development Programme Social Housing Grant (SHG) to sites that have already been granted planning permission. The Housing Corporation, particularly in the south-east, is increasingly concerned that it is making representations to central Government for additional funding for affordable homes, and yet has a history of housing associations being unable to take up allocations of funding. This is true in the Waverley area where, for example, there have been set-backs to schemes for reasons set out above.

7. If the Waverley area is going to maximise the amount of Housing Corporation funding, the Council will have to work with its RSL partners to ensure there are sites with planning permission on which bids to the Corporation can be made in full confidence that, if funded, a start on site can be achieved within the financial year, as anticipated.

Housing Need

8. However, more importantly than simply performing against targets is the significant need for affordable housing in the Borough. The Council clearly needs to have a better forward planning mechanism to enable affordable housing to meet the requirements of those households on the Housing Needs Register, the Transfer List, those who are homeless and living in temporary accommodation, and for Key Workers who need housing locally.



A Way Forward

9. The Council owns a small number of parcels of land, held in the Housing Revenue Account and in the General Fund, which could potentially be developed for affordable housing. Examples of similar sites which have been transferred are those at Dunsfold, Ewhurst, Tilford and at Crondall Lane, Farnham all of which have been or are currently being developed by RSL partners.

Council-owned Land

10. It is suggested that officers should undertake a ‘trawl’ of Council owned land and that sites should be ‘earmarked’ for development with a selected partner RSL. The RSL should be invited to work up proposals for the development of the site and seek planning permission. RSL partners would have to understand that, in the first instance, there would be no particular timescale for implementing the development. However, should no new opportunities arise from the private sector, the RSL could make a bid to the Housing Corporation for capital funding. Alternatively, the RSL could apply to the Council for LA SHG.

11. The idea is that there should be a number of sites, on which planning permission has been secured, that could be ‘kept on the shelf’ until such time as there is a need to fill a gap in the LA SHG programme, or against which bids can be made to the Housing Corporation in confidence.

12. The aim would be to use land coming through the private sector and Section 106 Agreements for affordable housing. The land owned by the Council, and on which planning permission has been secured, should be used as a ‘strategic reserve’ and brought forward as a ‘fail safe’ to meet targets and assist with the supply process.

13. The intention behind this proposal is that the Council should be prepared in order to take swift advantage of funding opportunities that arise. Your officers would like to work on the maxim that ‘Opportunity favours the prepared’.

14. Your officers have already identified a number of sites which have development potential and these are detailed in (Exempt) Annexe 1. As yet, these sites have not been appraised by the Planning and Development Department in respect of their development potential.

Resource and Other Implications

15. There are two potential resource implications arising from this report viz:

i) generating capital receipts from the disposal of the sites identified; and
ii) costs associated with working-up schemes and seeking planning permission – though it is intended that these should be borne by RSLs.

16. Clearly there are potential environmental, asset management and ‘Opportunities for All’ implications that will relate to the sites and these matters will be addressed on a site-by-site basis when proposed schemes are considered by Committee in detail.

Recommendation

It is recommended that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee:

1. commends to the Executive the proposal to identify, more pro-actively, Council-owned land for possible social housing development, invite partner RSLs to work-up development proposals, seek planning permission and then hold these sites as a ‘strategic reserve’; and

2. notes the current list of potential development sites, mindful that the list of sites at (Exempt) Annexe 1 will be refined as time goes on.

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Background Papers (DoH)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.
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CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Mr J Swanton Telephone: 01483 - 523375
Email: jswanton@waverley.gov.uk
COMMS/O&S/11
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