Appendix 1 – Local Plan Policy
Below is Policy 45: Affordable housing and dwelling mix from the Cambridge Local Plan 2014 proposed submission. The policy contains proposed amendments which will be submitted to the Secretary of State for examination and have been tabled and agreed at the following committee meetings:
- Development Plan Scrutiny Sub Committee on 17 December 2013;
- Environment Scrutiny Committee on 14 January 2014;
- Full Council on 13 February 2014.
The adopted version of this SPD will contain the final version of Policy 45 following any amendments and the adoption of the Cambridge Local Plan 2014.
Policy 45: Affordable housing and dwelling mix
Planning permission will only be granted for residential development on sites where the minimum percentage of affordable housing has been secured on site in line with the thresholds and percentages set out in the table below:
|No. of dwellings||Minimum percentage of affordable housing required|
|2 -9 units||10%|
|15 or more units||40%|
On sites capable of delivering between 2 and 9 dwellings, financial contributions towards the provision of affordable housing off-site are considered acceptable. This does not prohibit on-site provision of affordable housing on sites of this scale, but recognises that circumstances may often not allow for delivery on-site.
Where it appears that a larger site has been subdivided into smaller development parcels in order to circumvent the requirements of this policy or for any other reason, the threshold and the pro-rata percentage of affordable housing sought will apply to the requirement from the larger area as a whole. The required density on a given site will need to have regard to its wider context and other policies of this plan.
The occupation of affordable housing will be limited to people in housing need and shall be available in perpetuity. Affordable housing shall be provided on development sites with the capacity of 10 dwellings or more in accordance with the percentages and thresholds set out above unless exceptional circumstances are demonstrated. Where affordable housing is provided, it shall be of tenure blind design indiscernible from and well integrated with the general market housing.
Developments should include a balanced mix of dwelling sizes*, types and tenures to meet projected future household needs within Cambridge. The mix of dwellings and tenure types shall have regard to the differing needs for different unit sizes of affordable housing and market housing.
All sites including employment related housing will be required to make affordable housing provision in line with the thresholds and percentages set out above.
Further details on the practical implementation of this policy will be set out in an up to date Affordable Housing Supplementary Planning Document.
*Measured by the number of bedrooms to be provided in each dwelling.
Policy 45: Supporting text
6.3 With a strong economy, Cambridge is at the centre of an area of significant housing growth planned for the coming years. With high housing costs but only limited land available for housing, the city also has a strong housing need. The council recognises that meeting housing need is a key priority. However, following assessment of development viability across the city, the affordable housing requirement is not applied to planning applications for student accommodation.
6.4 The council has adopted this approach to overcome concerns about the number of planning applications coming forward in the city below the previously adopted affordable housing threshold of 15 dwellings. However, it is noted that the introduction of single percentage for affordable housing at a lower threshold than 15 dwellings could make schemes less viable or unviable and could reduce the amount of housing delivered. A graduated approach towards affordable housing requirements, starting at lower site size thresholds and percentages, is considered more appropriate. Where applications are made for outline planning permission, a planning obligation will be required to secure affordable housing in accordance with the thresholds and percentages in the policy.
6.5 The council has adopted this approach to overcome concerns about the number of planning applications coming forward in the city below the previously adopted affordable housing threshold of 15 dwellings. However, it is noted that the introduction of single percentage for affordable housing at a lower threshold than 15 dwellings could make schemes less viable or unviable and could reduce the amount of housing delivered. A graduated approach towards affordable housing requirements, starting at lower site size thresholds and percentages, is considered more appropriate.
6.6 On smaller sites delivering under 10 units, financial contributions will be the standard approach in supporting the delivery of affordable housing. On larger sites delivering 10 units or more, developers will be expected to deliver whole units on site with financial contributions sought for fractions of units.
Table 6.1: Affordable Housing Definition
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.
Social rented housing is owned by local authorities and private registered providers (as defined in section 80 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008), for which guideline target rents are determined through the national rent regime. It may also be owned by other persons and provided under equivalent rental arrangements to the above, as agreed with the local authority or with the Homes and Communities Agency.
Affordable rented housing is let by local authorities or private registered providers of social housing to households who are eligible for social rented housing. Affordable Rent is subject to rent controls that require a rent of no more than 80 per cent of the local market rent (including service charges, where applicable).
Intermediate housing is homes for sale and rent provided at a cost above social rent, but below market levels subject to the criteria in the affordable housing definition above. These can include shared equity (shared ownership and equity loans), other low cost homes for sale and intermediate rent, but not affordable rented housing.
Homes that do not meet the above definition of affordable housing, such as “low cost market” housing, may not be considered as affordable housing for planning purposes.
Employment Related Housing
6.7 The existing pressures on the housing market in Cambridge can lead to employers facing difficulties with the recruitment and retention of staff. Due to Cambridge’s high house prices and levels of housing need, it is important to allow the possibility of employers providing housing specifically for their employees, as part of schemes for employment development.
6.8 It is anticipated that this policy will facilitate small numbers of employment related dwellings coming forward. Affordable housing requirements will apply to schemes in line with the thresholds set out in policy 45 above. The provision of dwellings related to specific employers will need to be justified and managed by reference to the employer carrying out detailed survey work to ascertain the level of demonstrable need for such housing. This can be established by identifying the level of recruitment and retention problems experienced. Survey work would need to establish:
- The level of staff turnover for a five year period;
- Any likelihood of the need for future expansion of the business in question;
- Housing circumstances of employees; and
- Income of employees.
Occupation of employment related housing will be secured through a Section 106 obligation.
Mix of Dwelling Types, Sizes and Tenures
6.9 In order to provide affordable homes to those who need them, the council will require a high proportion of affordable housing to be provided on site. It is also vital to provide an appropriate mix of housing types and sizes to meet the needs of different households within the wider community. This allows residents to remain in the locality as their housing needs change, and helps build balanced and mixed communities.
6.10 In addressing development proposals coming forward, the council needs to have an up-to-date understanding of the local housing market, and how it interacts with other housing markets, and the level of local need for housing. Our Strategic Housing Market Assessment for the Cambridge housing market area draws on a number of data sources and has been developed with a range of partners. This will inform the development of a new Affordable Housing Supplementary Planning Document, which will address both tenure and dwelling mix. Applicants need to demonstrate that the proposed mix of units will deliver a balanced mix of dwelling sizes, types and tenures to meet projected future household need within Cambridge in line with the approach towards tenure and dwelling mix set out in the council’s Affordable Housing Supplementary Planning Document.