Housing and Strategic Planning Cabinet Member – minutes – 27 October 2008

21 (6) STRATEGIC REGENERATION, HOUSING AND DEVELOPMENT SERVICE PLAN 2008-11 – The Head of Strategic Regeneration, Housing and Development submitted a report seeking approval for the draft service plan for Strategic Regeneration, Housing and Development (SRHD).

The SRHD service plan formed a key part of the council’s overall strategic plan ‘Going Forward Together’ by contributing towards the overall vision that the council had for the North Lincolnshire Area. It set out how the SRHD service would deliver the council’s major strategic priorities.

The service plan was an essential tool for setting the SRHD division’s service developments and priorities for the next three years, clearly linking them in with financial planning and performance management.

Resolved – That the attached draft service plan for Strategic Regeneration, Housing and Development be approved.

22 (7) REGIONAL LOANS SCHEME – The Service Director Neighbourhood and Environment submitted a report seeking approval for the council to join a regional scheme to offer home improvement loans.

The government gave councils the power to offer assistance to homeowners in any form in order to improve housing standards under the Housing Regulatory Reform Order 2002. At present the council’s home improvement policy offered a variety of loans and grants to homeowners.

The government was keen to see public funds recycled as loans rather than paid as one off grants. To this end Government Office for Yorkshire and Humber was promoting a regional loans service to help homeowners to carry out repairs and improvements. The Regional Housing Board had provided a £5m budget for the scheme.

Called Home Appreciation Loans, the loans were secured loans that allowed homeowners to release equity from their homes to carry out repairs and improvements. The loans were not repayable until the house was sold or ownership transferred.

Councils in the Humber sub-region could join the scheme at no cost and the other three councils had in the region had indicated their intention to do so. To access the scheme the council would be required to delegate the making of payments of loans under the scheme as part of the North Lincolnshire Home Improvement Policy to Sheffield City Council.

Resolved – (a) That the proposal for the council to join the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Loans Scheme be approved, and (b) that Sheffield City Council, as the responsible body for the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Loans Service, be authorised to provide home loans in North Lincolnshire.

23 (8) UPDATED MODEL STANDARDS FOR CARAVAN SITES – The Service Director Neighbourhood and Environment submitted a report seeking approval to adopt revised model standards for caravan sites in England published in 2008 for existing and new park home sites within North Lincolnshire.

The Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 gave councils a duty to licence caravan sites where planning permission had been granted. The council could choose to attach conditions to the licence. Under section 5(6) of Act the Secretary of State could specify model standards with respect to the layout and provision of facilities, services and equipment for particular types of caravan sites.

The government had chosen to issue updated standards to replace those issued in 1998, the updated standards only applied to those sites where there were permanent residential caravans.

The report gave details of the options that required consideration by the council in light of the updated model standards.

Resolved – (a) That the Model Standards for caravan sites for all new sites and those substantially redeveloped be adopted, and (b) that a consultation exercise with residents and site owners take place in relation to existing sites.

24 (9) AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCIAL VIABILITY ASSESSMENT – The Head of Strategic Regeneration, Housing and Development submitted a report seeking to inform the Cabinet Member of the company that had been commissioned to undertake an affordable housing financial viability assessment.

Councils were responsible for enabling the provision of affordable housing to meet identified local needs. The financial viability of providing affordable housing on private housing sites had recently become a more prominent issue in the housing market and therefore developers were less willing to provide the maximum level of affordable housing. PPS3 ‘Housing’ required local planning authorities to undertake an informed assessment of the economic viability of any thresholds and proportions of affordable housing proposed, including their likely impact upon overall levels of housing delivery and creating mixed communities.

The assessment would provide a key Evidence Base document to support the affordable housing policies set out in the Core Strategy as a part of the Local Development Framework. This would provide the evidence to back up the policies for the provision of affordable housing on private development sites in North Lincolnshire.

Six tenders were received for the project, Adams Integra provided the best proposal against the assessment criteria, and they had therefore been appointed as the chosen consultants to carry out the assessment.

Resolved – (a) That the appointment of Adams Integra be noted, and (b) that the findings of the assessment be submitted in a further report when the assessment had been completed.

25 (10) CHOICE BASED LETTINGS UPDATE – The Head of Strategic Regeneration, Housing and Development and the Service Director Neighbourhood and Environment submitted a report updating on progress made towards implementing Choice Based Lettings (CBL) for North Lincolnshire, and seeking approval for the decision making arrangements for the project.

Choice based lettings were a new way to allocate social housing; private rented and shared ownership homes. Properties were advertised and eligible applicants from the council’s housing register expressed an interest (bid) for the home they wanted. The person with the highest need for the property was then allocated it by the relevant landlord.

The government expected all councils and housing associations to have implemented CBL by 2010, approximately 50 percent of them had already done so. The government made available set up funding for schemes that would operate on a sub regional basis.

North and North East Lincolnshire Councils together with Shoreline Housing Partnership, Havelok Homes and North Lincolnshire Homes had successfully bid for this funding.

The report gave details the decision making process, scheme model, IT procurement, Common Allocations Policy and scheme identity and branding.

Resolved – (a) That the decision making arrangements proposed at paragraph 4.1 in the report be approved, (b) that the principle that one organisation managed the scheme on behalf of the partnership be supported, (c) that the use of the Northern Housing Consortium framework agreement for CBL IT, subject to the system meeting the partnership’s specification, be approved, (d) that consultation on a common allocation policy, and that a draft document be prepared for formal consultation be approved, and (e) that a single branding for the project, as set out in paragraph 4.5 be approved.