Monday 22 August 2022

Brent Council insists change from London Afforable Rent to Shared Ownership at Watling Gardens is still affordable despite latter needing an annual income of £60,000

 Comment from Philip Grant in a personal capacityL

Brent's Head of Planning has issued a letter on 18 August 2022 granting consent to the change from London Affordable Rent to Shared Ownership for 24 homes in the new Watling Gardens scheme.

I've included an extract from the Final Delegated Report on which the decision was based, but basically Brent's planners are saying that both LAR and Shared Ownership are "Affordable Housing".

They also say that as there is (or was, in 2018) an identified need for Shared Ownership homes in the borough, it doesn't matter that the Council wants to replace homes which would be "genuinely affordable" with homes which require the shared-ownership lessee to have an annual income of up to £60k!

This argument ignores the fact that there are thousands of people on Brent's housing / homeless list who need genuinely affordable housing, and that Brent's planners have approved hundreds of other shared ownership flats as part of the "affordable housing" requirement on applications by private developers or housing associations in recent years'


'Regarding comments on the affordability of intermediate units for Brent residents, the definition of 'Affordable' comes from the Brent Local Plan, London Plan and NPPF. Intermediate (Shared Ownership) is treated as an Affordable Housing product in Brent, but the significant need for those on lower incomes is recognised by the 70 % target for Social / LAR homes. 

However the Brent Strategic Housing Market Assessment (2018), which forms part of the evidence base shaping the housing policies contained in the Local Plan, outlines that there is a proportion of residents within the Borough who require homes which would be classified at an Intermediate level. Therefore, introducing an element of shared ownership units into the proposal ensures this need is met.

For these reasons, it is considered that the proposal is consistent with the non-material amendment procedure as there would be no material change to the type or quantum of development approved under the original permission, nor the overall amount of affordable housing which will remain at 100%.'


Anonymous said...

Brent Council, Wealdstone Brook, Water Companies, English Coastline, what do they all have in common? Yup s...

Philip Grant said...

I've done a bit of extra research on the Brent Planning "Final Delegated Report" used to justify consent to the change from LAR to Shared Ownership, and have tracked down (with some difficulty) the Brent Strategic Housing Market Assessment document on the Council's website:

The assessment, by a private company, uses London-wide base figures from 2016, and then applies these to a "model" to produce its conclusions.

The Planning Officer's Report refers to 'a proportion of residents within the Borough' (without stating what proportion) for whom "Intermediate level" affordable housing, such as Shared Ownership, is required.

These are two key paragraphs (4.102 and 4.103) from the Assessment's conclusions on size and tenure mix of affordable housing:

'The overall results clearly indicate that the vast majority of households who require affordable housing would need housing benefit support to afford housing at London Living Rents or Affordable Rent levels. Therefore, even though London Living Rents are below Affordable Rents, the vast majority of households who require affordable housing will still not be able to afford to meet the costs of London Living Rents, but a lower rent will reduce the housing benefit payments necessary to these households.

A second category of need that can be identified is a group of nearly 15% of households who require affordable housing and have sufficient income to afford to meet the costs of Affordable Rents. This group therefore can be considered as intermediate housing need and some of these households could meet their needs via Low Cost Home Ownership products such as shared ownership.'

The Planning Officer's Report uses this Assessment to justify a split of "affordable housing" of 70% LAR or Social Rent / 30% Intermediate.

The Assessment itself suggests that only 'nearly 15%' should be Intermediate, and the rest at more "genuinely affordable" rent levels.

Enough said!

Philip Grant said...

Just for clarity, where the Brent Strategic Housing Market Assessment quoted above refers to 'Affordable Rent' level, this is actually the "80% of Market Rent" definition which was brought in by the previous Mayor of London (Boris Johnson).

It may be Affordable to BJ, but not to most Brent residents in housing need!