South Lakeland Local Plan Review - Issues and Options Consultation 2021

Closes 29 Oct 2021

Theme 5: Meeting Housing Needs (Questions 113 to 121)

Please read our chapter on meeting housing needs in the Issues and Options report below.

It sets out a range of issues for us to address and presents some policy options and possible approaches.

Once you've read the chapter please answer the questions below.

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113. Which of these policy options for setting a new housing requirement in the Local Plan do you think is appropriate and why?

Policy Options 5.1: Providing the right number of new homes

Read the policy options here

PO5.1/i: A housing requirement based on a local assessment of housing need, currently understood to be up to 290 homes per year based on the 2017 SHMA.

This option would follow the recommendations of our 2017 SHMA and set a housing requirement figure of 290 homes per year. This is based on our own local assessment of housing need taking into account population changes, affordable housing need, economic forecasts and housing market signals. This option would be in line with current government planning policy and guidance at the time of preparing this Issues and Options report. We propose to update our local assessment of housing need and if the updated assessment produces a different figure we will use that to inform our housing requirement target.

PO5.1/ii: A housing requirement based on the government’s ‘standard method’ calculation, currently understood to be around 166 homes per year for the Local Plan area.

This option would seek to apply the government’s current standard method for calculating housing need and then adjust the district wide figure to take account of the need in the national park areas. The current standard method results in a figure of 198 homes per year for the whole district. Our 2017 SHMA calculated an annual housing need of 32 homes per year in the national park areas, so one option for adjusting the standard method to fit our Local Plan area would be to deduct 32 homes from the district wide figure. This would result in a figure of around 166 homes per year. This figure would still be within the range of 115 to 290 homes per year calculated in the SHMA. The SHMA recommended that any housing need figure from the range would be reasonable and justified, but lower figures may not reflect economic forecasts. It should be noted that economic forecasts informing the SHMA were ‘pre-Covid’ and ‘pre-Brexit’ forecasts.

114. Which of these policy options for requiring affordable housing do you think is appropriate and why?

Policy Options 5.2:  Providing the right number of new affordable homes

Read the policy options here

PO5.2/i: Maintain the current policy approach of 35% affordable housing on sites over specified size thresholds.

This option would retain the overarching principles of the current policy position of requiring 35% of homes on development sites to be affordable, which is supported by the findings of the 2017 SHMA. Under this option the site size thresholds at which affordable housing can be sought would be refreshed and clarified in policy in line with government guidance in place at the time, as there have been numerous changes to national policy and guidance in recent years which have created uncertainty in this respect.

PO5.2/ii: Increase the affordable housing requirement above 35%.

This option would seek to increase the affordable housing required from new development by increasing the percentage requirement. It would have to be recognised that increasing the requirements would have negative impacts on development viability and other areas of policy and standards may have to be weakened to achieve an increase in affordable housing delivery. Competing priorities such as affordable housing, providing green spaces and nature improvements, contributing to local infrastructure improvements, securing high quality design and quality construction and increased energy efficiency would all have to be carefully balanced and tested through a viability assessment.

PO5.2/iii: Reduce the affordable housing requirement below 35%.

This option would reduce the amount of affordable housing required on sites. This approach would need to be underpinned by a full assessment of development viability to understand whether reducing the affordable requirement would enable other policy areas to be strengthened for example sustainable construction standards or contributions to other infrastructure. We would need to carefully understand the reasons for some recent developments not delivering the 35% affordable requirement before considering lowering the requirements, to understand whether these sites had individual circumstances or whether they represent the wider development market as a whole. This would include looking carefully at issues such as abnormal development costs on sites which make them more expensive to develop, and also the price being paid for land, to ensure that land is not being sold at too higher price if it is subject to difficult constraints which should reduce its value in line with national planning policy. This option would not support the Council’s key priority of increasing affordable housing provision and it would need to be robustly demonstrated that development is not capable of delivering 35% affordable housing before considering reducing the requirement.

PO5.2/iv: A more flexible and tailored approach to recognise the different characteristics of certain types of sites and areas.

This option would look at introducing different requirements on different types of sites or areas. This could perhaps include setting different affordable requirements in different areas depending on development viability (e.g. some areas of South Lakeland attract higher sales prices so may be able to provide more affordable housing). Or it could involve reducing requirements for example on previously developed (brownfield) sites where development costs are often higher and it is more difficult to provide affordable housing. This could help deliver more development on brownfield sites before greenfield sites. This option could also potentially look at setting site specific affordable housing requirements on larger site allocations, by undertaking site specific appraisals during the Local Plan process and working with developers and landowners to agree what level of affordable housing sites could reasonably deliver. This would require more detailed assessment work at the plan making stage but should help reduce the need for site specific viability assessments at the planning application stage.

115. Which of these policy options for affordable housing types do you think is appropriate and why?

Policy Options 5.3: Providing the right types of affordable housing

Read the policy options here

PO5.3/i: Maintain the equal split between affordable rental and affordable home ownership on development sites.

This option would continue to require an equal split between affordable rent and affordable home ownership where affordable homes are being provided on-site by developers of larger schemes. This option would be supported by the 2017 SHMA which concluded overall that a 60%:40% split between rented and low cost home ownership is appropriate, and that in recognition that a number of 100% affordable rental schemes are brought forward independently by Registered Providers, that on development sites where developers are providing a proportion of affordable housing that a 50:50 split is appropriate.

This option would allow recent and proposed government changes that require a proportion of affordable home ownership properties to be provided on sites to be incorporated, but would require us to consider whether First Homes would be an acceptable substitution for the existing local discounted sale homes in South Lakeland, or whether they should be provided alongside our local discounted sale product and be provided instead of shared ownership products. Within this option we could consider whether to set out in Local Plan policy the relative proportions of different home ownership products that will be required, or we could continue to do this in our annual affordable housing website guidance which can be updated more easily than Local Plan policy.

PO5.3/ii: Increase the proportion of affordable home ownership properties required within the affordable provision on development sites.

This option would recognise the government’s strong push to increase levels of home ownership but would not support the Council’s strong local priority to increase affordable rent provision. Depending on the proportions it would perhaps enable the government’s First Homes to be bought into the affordable housing mix locally without displacing other forms of home ownership such as South Lakeland’s existing discounted sale properties or shared ownership.

PO5.3/iii: Increase the proportion of affordable rent properties required within the affordable provision on development sites.

This option would increase the proportion of affordable homes that would be required to be for affordable rent above the current 50%, and resultantly reduce the proportion of homes on sites that are made available for affordable home ownership. The government is proposing that at least 25% of affordable homes on development sites will need to be First Homes so the proportion of affordable home ownership properties could not be set below this. Reducing the proportion of affordable home ownership properties whilst incorporating First Homes requirements would be at the expense of the other existing home ownership properties currently being delivered in South Lakeland – discounted sale and shared ownership.

This option would perhaps better respond to the economic conditions resulting from the covid-19 pandemic including rising unemployment, predicted falls in incomes and stricter mortgage lending. South Lakeland has been particularly affected due to the significance of tourism and hospitality in providing local employment. This may suggest an increased need for affordable rent as opposed to affordable home ownership homes for at least the short term future, but to a large extent will depend on the speed and scale of economic recovery.

116. Which of these policy options for housing mix and types do you think is appropriate and why?

Policy Options 5.4: Providing the right types and mix of new homes

Read the policy options here

PO5.4/i: Maintain the current flexibility on the different house types/sizes that should be provided by developers, and encourage the mix to reflect local needs.

This option would maintain the current policy position (Core Strategy CS6.2) of stating that new development should provide a mix of housing to meet needs, but not being prescriptive about the proportions of different types and sizes of housing that need to be provided. This would continue to enable a large degree of flexibility on a site by site basis. But the reality is that it would be a position whereby the market will continue to determine the open market mix of housing on sites with the result that we will continue to see high proportions of 4+bedroom houses that are unaffordable to a significant proportion of the local population, and use up more land and resources to both construct and live in.

PO5.4/ii: Set specific requirements in policy on the types and mix of homes that should be provided on development sites, to ensure that provision more closely matches evidence of need.

This option would involve providing more specific policy wording to set out the proportions of different types of housing that should be provided, to make sure that it more closely aligns with our evidence of need in the SHMA. This policy approach would likely seek to require a minimum proportion of 2 and 3 bedroom open market homes on large development sites. This would help ensure that the open market homes being provided are more affordable and more aligned with demographic evidence on household size. This policy approach could also seek to require the provision of certain types of housing on development sites such as bungalows. The implications of this policy approach on development viability would need to be carefully assessed in a viability study.

117. Which of these policy options for supporting self-build do you support and why?

Policy Options 5.5: Supporting delivery of self-build homes

Read the policy options here

PO5.5/i: Maintain current policy approach (Policy DM12) which sets out in broad terms where self-build homes will be supported.

This option would mean retaining our current policy approach as set out in Policy DM12 which provides encouragement for self-build and sets out where it will be supported in principle.

PO5.5/ii: Offer further support for self-build for example by allocating sites specifically for self-build housing or requiring a proportion of plots on large sites to be available for self-builders.

This option would seek to offer more support for self-builders by trying to ensure more land and plots are available to self-builders.

One option would be to identify sites in the Local Plan solely for self-build housing to help prospective self-builders identify suitable land. This could potentially be an option for groups of individuals looking to self-build as the Local Plan will only allocate sites capable of delivering a number of homes. This would require community groups to help identify potential sites of interest and for landowners to be willing to make sites available for self-builders, potentially at a lower cost than they would achieve on the open market.

Some Councils require developers to provide a proportion of plots on their development sites as serviced plots and to make them available to self-builders. This could involve specifying a site size threshold at which developers would be expected to make serviced self-build plots available and would likely require the production of further planning guidance to explain how the policy might work in practice.

118. Which of these policy options for local occupancy housing do you support and why?

Policy Options 5.6: Providing homes for local people

Read the policy options here

PO5.6/i: Maintain current policy approach and only apply local connection and main residence restrictions on new affordable housing.

This option would continue the current policy approach, whereby only affordable homes will continue to be restricted to people with a local connection who will live in them as their main homes. As is the case now, local communities can still consider introducing policies for their local area through Neighbourhood Plans, which can be used to develop very localised planning policies to address issues at a local level, such as in St Ives in Cornwall where a neighbourhood plan has been adopted which prevents new homes from being second homes.

PO5.6/ii: Seek to ensure that a small proportion of new private market homes are required to be used as main homes and are available only for people with a local connection.

This option would need to be clearly justified and underpinned by evidence. Any form of widespread restriction on the occupancy of general market housing would be highly unlikely to pass the examination given previous experience. However there may be scope to explore whether a smaller scale targeted approach might be appropriate. For example our neighbouring planning area Eden District Council has a Local Plan Policy (HS2) that restricts new greenfield market housing in smaller villages and hamlets to people with a local connection. This is intended to help promote self-build opportunities for local people. We could consider a similar approach, by revising our current Policy DM13 and requiring new homes permitted under this policy to be for people with a local connection who will use them as their main homes.

119. Which of these policy options for neighbourhood plan housing requirements do you support and why?

Policy Options 5.7: Setting Neighbourhood Plan Area Housing Requirements

Read the policy options here

PO5.7/i: Set housing requirements based on the various factors outlined in planning guidance and in consultation with neighbourhood planning bodies.

This option would include an assessment of the factors outlined in planning guidance, and look at the current and emerging Local Plan spatial strategy options and what they might mean for each neighbourhood plan area, available housing land in each area, the population and characteristics of each area, any constraints that may restrict the scope for future development, and the aspirations of local communities for future development in their area.

PO5.7/ii: Set housing requirements based purely on a population size basis.

This option would set a requirement based on the size of the population of the neighbourhood plan area as a proportion of the Local Plan area. For example, if a neighbourhood plan area has 5% of the population of the Local Plan area, then the housing requirement would be 5% of the overall housing requirement for the Local Plan area.

Based on 2019 Mid-Year Population estimates, this would result in the neighbourhood plan areas having the following proportions of the overall Local Plan housing requirement as their neighbourhood requirement:

  • Grange-over-Sands: 5.5%
  • Allithwaite and Cartmel: 2.4%
  • Heversham and Hincaster: 1.2%
  • Burneside: 1.9%
120. Which of these policy approaches to older people’s housing do you support and why?

Policy Approaches 5.8: Older People’s Housing

Read the policy approaches here

PA5.8/a: Continue to require all new build homes to meet the optional building regulations on accessibility and adaptability (as set out in current Policy DM11) to ensure all new homes are more accessible and are more easily adaptable as people’s needs change throughout their lifetimes.

PA5.8/b: Consider whether to allocate sites specifically for specialist housing for older people, or whether to require them as part of the housing mix on large sites.

121. Do you support the proposed policy approach to planning for the housing needs of gypsies, travellers and travelling showpeople?

Policy Approach 5.9: Gypsy and Traveller Housing Needs

Read the policy approach here

PA5.9/a: Review the findings of the forthcoming Cumbria Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment, and then review Local Plan Policy DM26, and if necessary set a new pitch requirement and identify sites to meet need identified in the study.