Affordable Housing in Shepway

So much of the housing that is built is way beyond the reach of local first-time buyers. Why is this and what needs to be done about it?


The NPPF (the National Planning Policy Framework, aka central government’s planning “bible”) defines affordable housing as: “Social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing, provided to eligible households whose needs are not met by the market. Eligibility is determined with regard to local incomes and local house prices. Affordable housing should include provisions to remain at an affordable price for future eligible households or for the subsidy to be recycled for alternative affordable housing provision.”

Policy CSD1 in Folkestone & Hythe District Council’s Core Strategy sets out the affordable housing requirement for developments. For developments of 15 or more new homes, 30% of those homes should be affordable. Provision should be made on site.

So why aren’t more affordable houses being built in the district?

One of the main reasons is that the affordable housing requirement is “subject to viability”. Developers are expert at producing financial viability calculations which seem to prove that it just isn’t possible for them to provide the required housing.

Policy CSD1 has a get out clause for the provision needed to be on site too allowing off-site provision through a financial contribution of broadly equivalent value where it can be “robustly justified.”

According to this report for 2017/8 612 new homes were built in the district of which only 22 were affordable.

We believe that the district council needs to be more robust in challenging financial viability calculations and enforcing the affordable housing requirement.

How many of the new homes being built in the district will be second homes? This report shows that as at October 2017 there were 1072 second homes in Shepway representing 2.12% of the total housing stock. Up from 1.86% in 2010.

So what is the Green Party’s position? Here is our summary of the main/most relevant policies:

HO200 To ensure everyone is provided with housing appropriate to their needs that is affordable, secure and comfortable.

HO201 To minimise the impact of housing on other species and the natural environment.

HO202 To give local communities a stronger voice in local housing policy.

HO401 …to improve affordability by stabilising house prices and rents so that there is no further real terms growth in housing costs. A managed real time decline in housing prices until average prices are below four times average incomes by reducing excessive demand by means of a range of policies incl taxation, money supply, regional economic development and housing provision.

Gradually introduce a Land Value Tax to reduce profits from speculation and in the short term increase the amount of land held by Community Land Trusts.

Introduce rent controls and more secure tenancy agreements.

Ban the purchase of residential property by people who are neither British Citizens nor resident in the country.

Require council tax premiums on second homes and long term empty homes. Introduce a new planning class for second homes so they can be controlled.

Introduce a duty for the Bank of England to constrain house price growth.

Abolish Help to Buy.

Stimulate economic development in other parts of the country to take pressure of the South East.

HO405…priority will be given to the maintenance and improvement of existing properties. Remove VAT from repair and refurbishment.

HO407 … Local authorities should aim for no more than 0.5% of homes empty for more than 6 months. More proactive use of Empty Dwelling Management Orders.

HO408 …. Scrap the bedroom tax.

HO410 … Introduce new building regulations to require ….energy efficiency…..water sensitive design…consideration for other species… provision of facilities to make sustainable lifestyle choices easier eg cycling, recycling.

HO413 Raising all existing homes to adequate standards of water and energy efficiency is a priority.

HO500 … Council housing and the secure tenure it affords is an essential form of social housing provision….

HO501 Local authorities should be able to borrow at prudential limits without interference from central government.

HO502 Local authorities should be encouraged to buy or build homes where there is a need for social housing.

HO503 … Local authorities will retain receipts from the sale of housing and will be encouraged to reinvest the money in the improvement of local housing provision…..Right to Buy will be abolished.

HO511 Co operative forms of home and land ownership and management would be supported….

HO514 Where public land is used for the provision of housing it should either remain in public ownership or be transferred to Community Land Trust …..

HO518 The private rented sector has a role in meeting housing need.... but the sector is failing to provide secure, affordable and high standard homes.

HO519 Assured Shorthold Tenancies should be phased out… new Stable Rental Tenancy to be introduced to include Security of tenure – tenant can end tenancy in 2 months but landlord can only end in order to sell the property, move in or if there has been serious breach of contract….abolish s21 no fault evictions….rent control so rents no more than 35% of local median take home pay.

HO530 Introduce a Right to rent Scheme for home owners facing eviction.

HO602 more social housing so not so much housing benefit goes to private landlords.

HO603 create new council tax bands above H.

HO700 … Nobody should sleep rough on the streets.

HO702 … Local Authority to have same duty to house single people and childless couples as families. Abolish priority need criteria.