Affordable housing development
There is a high need for new affordable homes in Huntingdonshire and the council is therefore keen to work in partnership with developers, housing associations and others to bring forward new development opportunities.
The majority of new affordable housing is provided on section 106 sites (see below), but the council also works proactively with land owners, parish councils, housing associations and others to develop new affordable housing on rural exception sites and other development opportunities. Rural exception sites are sites (usually in villages) on land that might not otherwise be granted planning consent, but can be considered if they provide housing for people with a local connection.
If you have a potential site or a query about new affordable homes please contact our Enabling team on 01480 388208.
What is the need for affordable housing?
Our housing policies are based on the evidence of housing need provided in the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA).
The SHMA gives us an overview of the housing market across the Cambridge sub-region and examines issues such as house prices, income and affordability, homelessness, the private rented sector, affordable housing need and supply and housing for specialist groups such as older people.
It also considers the existing and newly arising housing need in the district and takes account of the need that is met by existing affordable homes to calculate the number of new affordable homes needed each year. It is regularly reviewed and updated and conforms to the government’s good practice guidance.
We also analyse information available from the housing register and, for low cost home ownership, the information held by the help to buy agent.
Planning policy and S106 agreements
Planning policy requires a percentage of all new homes built on eligible sites in Huntingdonshire to be affordable homes.
Most developers meet the obligation by transferring land to a housing association and then contracting for that association to build the affordable homes on the land.
As well as adopting relevant planning policies, the council has set out the requirements in more detail in its Developer Contribution Supplementary Planning Document (see page 18).
The requirement to provide affordable homes is secured through a ‘planning obligation’. This is a legally binding agreement between the council and the land owner. The agreement is made under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and is therefore often referred to as a Section 106 (or S106) agreement. It must be signed before planning permission can be given or building work is started.
The S106 agreement is a covenant to the land. This means that all the obligations that apply to the existing owner will equally apply to any new owner (such as a developer) who buys the land.
Our officers make an up-to-date assessment of housing need and work with developers and land owners to ensure that the development can provide affordable homes of the right size and type to meet the identified need. They will often also refer to the needs that can be identified by analysing the Housing Register and by information held by the Help to Buy Agent. The homes provided are usually a mix of housing for rent at below market levels or shared ownership.
The S106 agreement requires the owner to submit an ‘Affordable Housing Scheme’ which clearly sets out what affordable housing will be delivered on the site. This has to be approved by the council before development starts.
Renting or buying affordable housing
The housing will be owned by the housing association and they will let or sell the homes to eligible people by working with the council. If you are interested in renting a home you will need to be on the council’s Housing Register. If you are interested in shared ownership you will need to be on the Help to Buy Agent’s register. The process for applying is detailed on the following pages: