Saturday 12 October 2019

Affordable Housing Task Group Report's recommendations to be considered by Brent Cabinet on Monday

A report to Monday's Cabinet will be of much interest to local people on the housing waiting list as well as those struggling with expensive but poor private rented housing. Cabinet will, rather belatedly  consider the report from the Affordable Housing Scrutiny Task Group that went to the Resources and Public Realm Scrutiny Committee in January.

Cabinet is asked to:

a.Note the Resources & Public Realm Scrutiny Committee’s endorsement of the report, and its recommendations

b.Note and consider the committee’s additional proposal: that plans for new housing developments take into account the known needs of people with disabilities awaiting housing provision.

 Recommendations (Link to report)
Affordable housing targets and viability 

1.     In the new Local Plan for Brent the strategic target of 50 per cent for affordable housing in new developments should be retained, with an expected tenure split of 70 per cent social rent / London Affordable Rent to 30 per cent intermediate affordable housing. 

2.    Brent Council should adopt the Mayor of London’s 35 per cent “fast-track” threshold approach to viability (with 50 per cent on publicly owned land and for industrial sites). Through this the council would forgo the requirement for a financial viability assessment and/or a late stage viability review in the event that a developer guarantees delivery of the requisite percentage of affordable housing across the entire development (with the 70 per cent social rent / London Affordable Rent to 30 per cent intermediate tenure split applicable). The policy should be subject to review. 

3.    To help meet the need for larger affordable homes in the borough, Brent should continue to require a minimum of 25 per cent of new affordable rented homes to be three bedrooms or larger, accommodating at least a household of six (2 people per bedroom). However, this approach must be combined with a clear and effective under- occupation strategy, enabling and incentivising down-sizing in order to release more existing larger homes for re-let. 

4.    The council should continue to use the “Existing Use Value Plus” (EUV+) method for determining benchmark land values. Any other uplift in value should be captured for the public. 

Corporate approach to affordable housing delivery 

5.    Future council policy with regard to the setting of rents for affordable housing should continue to be based on the traditional social rented model (like the mayor’s London Affordable Rent model) and should not be linked to volatile and irrational market rents rather than incomes. 

6.    Brent Council should create a cross-departmental Board of officers, reporting directly into the Corporate Management Team (CMT), to ensure a ‘one council’, joined-up, sustainable approach to the delivery of Affordable Housing. The board should have high level responsibility for programme management and monitoring of an Affordable Housing Action Plan and associated suite of Key Performance Indicators. The Board should include senior officers from Brent’s Planning, Housing, Regeneration, Property, Finance and Legal teams. 

7.     Brent should consider adopting a land assembly, master planner approach, working with key partners and designating Land Assembly Zones in its Local Plan. Where attempts to encourage and incentivise voluntary land assembly do not succeed, Brent should commit to extend its use of compulsory purchase powers in these zones, where the law allows. 

8.    Brent Council should maximise resources available through the mayor’s fund, RTB receipts and borrowing to support direct delivery within its own capital development programme with a primary focus on rented homes at social rent levels and on larger homes (3 bedrooms or larger). 

9.    Brent must adopt a clear policy on access to shared ownership in the borough, making the product accessible to people on incomes that are as low as possible and ensuring the policy is designed to enable keyworkers to take advantage of it. 

10. All new homes in Brent should be marketed locally first, as per the Mayor of London’s planned “first dibs” policy. Brent should investigate how such a requirement could be implemented. 

11.  Brent Council should explore all the options highlighted in this report for innovative partnering arrangements and delivery models with Registered Providers. 

Estate regeneration
12.Future estate regeneration projects in Brent should use the South Kilburn Regeneration Programme as a model of good practice and make a clear commitment to ensuring there is no loss (in quantum terms) of social rented affordable housing and to resident ballots. 
Land owned by public authorities  
 13. Brent should actively promote partnership working on publicly owned land with other public bodies, as promoted by the Naylor Review (One Public Estate), e.g. Network Rail/TfL sites such as potential over station and over rail land developments, as part of the Local Plan. 
Industrial/employment sites
14. Brent must adopt a proactive approach to identifying opportunities where surplus commercial space, underused retail sites and car parks may have significant potential for housing development, both strategic industrial land sites and smaller commercial land sites, and in particular where sites have potential for mixed-use developments.
Small sites
15. The council and its agents should proactively explore partnerships with developers and RPs on small sites to maximise the amount of affordable housing across the borough. Brent should identify potential opportunities and funding mechanisms for increasing development of small sites, including any further opportunities for infill development. It should be prepared to invest the necessary resources. 

16. Developers of small sites with capacity for 10 or fewer units should be expected to pay a commuted sum, wherever possible, based on a consistent tariff, to Brent as a contribution to the fund for affordable housing to be built elsewhere in the borough. All affordable housing in small developments should be included in Brent’s periodic performance stats. 
Community led housing
17.Brent should investigate and promote opportunities for community led housing projects, such as “Community Land Trusts” and “Self-Build” projects, which will protect homes and assets at affordable levels in line with local incomes for future generations. 

18. Brent should explore setting up of a CLT model on publicly owned land and encourage developers to do the same.
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