What will this policy do?
This policy will set out when and how proposals for Build to Rent homes would be supported.
Proposed policy direction
The policy will require that proposals for Build to Rent developments, or the amount of Build to Rent within a mixed tenure development, do not create an over-concentration of this tenure in a local area, are distributed across the development (if part of a wider mixed use or mixed tenure development), and meet specific criteria in terms of ownership and management, covenants, and tenancies. Reflecting the Housing Strategy, planning applications would need to evidence how the scheme would support the creation of successful places and promote mixed and balanced communities. As we prepare the draft local plan, we will explore whether it is appropriate for more specific policy requirements to be included that address the level of provision of Build to Rent dwellings, which could include the amount of build to rent as a proportion of all dwellings and the scale of development to which it would apply. Policies for new communities will include guidance regarding individual sites in the context of issues such as housing need, potential community impacts, and to ensure an appropriate balance with other tenures within an overall development and the surrounding area.
Build to Rent developments should meet the requirements as set out in the Greater Cambridge Housing Strategy Annexe 9: Build to Rent (Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council, June 2021) or a successor document.
The policy will require at least 20% of homes on a Build to Rent development of 10 or more homes to be affordable private rented, and make clear that these homes will contribute towards the overall 40% affordable homes to be provided on a mixed tenure development. Affordable private rented homes must be designed to be indiscernible from market homes and that the affordable homes should be distributed throughout the site in small groups or clusters.
As new homes, all Build to Rent developments must meet the nationally described residential space standards and accessible homes standards, as set out in H/SS. Build to Rent is also addressed under Policy H/AH: Affordable housing.
Why is this policy needed?
National planning policy requires the size, type and tenure of homes needed for different groups in the community, including those who rent their homes, to be assessed and that the results of that assessment be reflected in planning policies.
Build to Rent homes can respond to a need, by proving quality homes for those who wish to rent, which adds to the flexibility of the local housing market to respond to demand. There is evidence of local need for this type of housing, and therefore the needs to be clear how any proposals for these types of development will be considered.
National planning policy guidance states that 20% is generally a suitable benchmark for the level of Affordable Private Rent homes to be provided in any Build to Rent scheme. It therefore follows that Build to Rent developments are unlikely to achieve the 40% affordable homes as required on other major residential developments. Given this and that Build to Rent developments will only provide one tenure of affordable housing, the proposed policy direction does not change the overall requirement for 40% affordable housing on major multi-tenure development sites, as set out in proposed Policy H/AH: Affordable housing. It may also be appropriate to limit the proportion of Build to Rent homes within specific new developments in order to secure the provision of affordable housing to meet our identified need and provide mixed and balanced communities. Any such limits would still need to enable the resulting number of Build to Rent homes to be sufficient to be delivered and managed viably. Appropriate policies will be considered when preparing the draft Local Plan, including considering site-specific approaches reflecting the Housing Strategy. The draft already takes this approach by proposing that no more than 10% of the total housing across the Area Action Plan should be Build to Rent.
Based on evidence of high levels of affordable housing need, the Councils will aim wherever possible to secure more than 20% of the homes on any Build to Rent scheme to be provided as Affordable Private Rent homes, looking in particular for a balance between the percentage of Affordable Private Rent homes which can be achieved and the potential rental affordability of those homes.
What consultation have we done on this issue?
Responses received to the First Conversation highlighted the need to create balanced and integrated communities by providing a mix of housing types, sizes, tenures, ownership and management that reflect the findings of the Councils evidence of housing needs of specific groups. This included support for private rented / Build to Rent accommodation, as part of making housing more widely accessible. Respondents also commented that specific allocations should be made for Build to Rent developments.
What alternatives did we consider?
1. No policy - Not considered a reasonable alternative as national planning policy requires the housing needs of different groups, including those to rent their homes, to be reflected in planning policies. There is evidence of local need for this type of housing, and therefore the needs to be clear how any proposals for these types of development will be considered.
2. To include a policy with a presumption against Build to Rent developments - This is not the preferred approach as national planning policy requires the housing needs of different groups, including those who rent their homes, to be reflected in planning policies. There is evidence of local need for this type of housing, and therefore the Local Plan needs to be clear how any proposals for these types of development will be considered.
Supporting evidence studies and topic papers
- : Topic paper 7: Homes
- Greater Cambridge Housing Strategy 2019-2023: Homes for Our Future and Annexes 1-8 (Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council, April 2019)
- Greater Cambridge Housing Strategy Annexe 9: Build to Rent (Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council, June 2021)
- Cambridgeshire and West Suffolk Housing Needs of Specific Groups Study (2021)
- Housing Needs of Specific Groups Study – Addendum for Greater Cambridge (2021)
- Build to Rent Market in Greater Cambridge and West Suffolk (Savills, June 2020)
- Build to Rent Market Strategic Overview and Summary of Site-Specific Appraisals (Arc4, March 2021)
- North East Cambridge Market Demand Appraisal Build to Rent (Arc4, March 2021)
- Northstowe Market Demand Appraisal Build to Rent (Arc4, March 2021)
- Waterbeach New Town Market Demand Appraisal Build to Rent (Arc4, March 2021)
- Bourn Airfield New Village Market Demand Appraisal Build to Rent (Arc4, March 2021)
Existing policies in adopted 2018 Local Plans
South Cambridgeshire 2018
- Paragraph 7.36 of Policy H/9: Housing Mix supports the provision of build to rent housing.
Cambridge Local Plan 2018 - None
Tell us what you think
Our consultation for this phase is now closed.