Waveney Local Plan

Affordable Housing and Starter Homes

8.11 House prices in Waveney continue to grow and remain high compared to average household incomes. This means housing is unaffordable to many people in the District.

8.12 Affordable housing is defined by the National Planning Policy Framework as social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing, provided to eligible households whose needs are not met by the market. Starter homes are a type of affordable housing made exclusively available at 80% of market value to first time buyers under the age of 40, who often have difficulty in buying their own home.

8.13 The National Planning Policy Framework requires Local Planning Authorities to plan to meet the full objectively assessed need for affordable housing. The Strategic Housing Market Assessment (2017) calculates the affordable housing need in Waveney to be 208 dwellings per year. This amounts to 55% of the annual target for housing delivery. Experience of delivering affordable housing in Waveney strongly indicates that a requirement as high as 55% of new housing to be affordable units would not be viable. A target which is harmful to viability is likely to create a barrier to development and impede delivery of any type of housing. The Council has over allocated sites for housing in this Local Plan to help address this need. Furthermore, Policy WLP8.6 also allows affordable housing schemes in the Countryside where residential development would not normally be permitted.

8.14 A viability assessment of the First Draft Local Plan has not yet been undertaken. However, it is likely that the existing requirement of 35% remains viable as indicated by recent planning applications for housing in the District.

8.15 The National Planning Practice Guidance states that affordable housing should only be provided on site on schemes above 10 units.

8.16 Policy WLP8.2 below sets out the Council's approach to affordable housing delivery and requires 35% of units on sites above 10 units to be affordable.

8.17 The Strategic Housing Market Assessment provides further guidance on the type of affordable housing needed. The study indicates that 50% of affordable housing should be affordable rented, 30% should be shared ownership and 20% should be Starter Homes. Policy WLP8.2 below applies this breakdown.

8.18 Affordable housing should be preferably be provided on site in order to create mixed communities. However, exceptionally on smaller sites it may be preferable for a commuted sum to be paid for provision elsewhere in the locality.

8.19 The Strategic Housing Market Assessment identifies a significant need for new sheltered accommodation and extra-care housing. Policy WLP8.2 therefore states these types of affordable housing should be provided as part of the affordable housing provision on site where practicable.

8.20 Some sites may have unforeseen or abnormal costs which means they cannot viably deliver affordable housing to levels required by Policy WLP8.2 below. Additionally the housing market and build costs could change meaning development in general can no longer viably support the same level of affordable housing. Policy 8.2 therefore allows for a reduction or variation in affordable housing requirements to ensure development remains viable. Before reducing the overall provision of affordable housing, the tenure and type of affordable housing should be first adjusted to secure viability. Detailed guidance on the assessment of viability will be prepared.

8.21 Reductions in affordable housing provision on sites which are not allocated in this Local Plan or a Neighbourhood Plan and which do not make up part of the five year supply of housing, will not be permitted unless there are wider sustainability benefits of the scheme. These schemes, may be able to viably provide affordable housing if brought forward at a later date and if there is no need for development at the time of application (due to the provision of a five year supply of housing) there would often be little benefit of the development coming forward early without affordable housing.

8.22 Neighbourhood Plans may identify specific localised needs for affordable housing. Where local evidence has been prepared of affordable housing need and viability, Neighbourhood Plans can require a higher proportion of affordable housing to be provided to that set out in Policy WLP8.2 below. 

Policy WLP8.2 - Affordable Housing

All new housing developments on sites with a capacity of 11 dwellings or more must make provision for 35% of all dwellings as affordable housing. Of these affordable dwellings, 50% should be for affordable rent; 30% should be shared ownership; and 20% should be starter homes. Sheltered and extra-care housing should be included as affordable units where practicable.

Affordable housing should be preferably delivered on site as part of a mixed tenure scheme. Exceptionally, on smaller sites, it may be agreed between the local planning authority and the developer for a commuted sum to be paid towards the provision of affordable housing elsewhere.

Affordable housing should be indistinguishable from market housing in terms of the location, external appearance, design, standards and build quality and should meet all requirements of the design policies.

The level and tenure of affordable housing may be varied where it can be satisfactorily demonstrated that a different tenure mix or lower percentages of affordable housing are required to ensure the site remains financially viable. Affordable housing provision will only be reduced on sites which are necessary to the overall supply of housing in the District unless the scheme has wider sustainability benefits.

Neighbourhood Plans can set out higher requirements for affordable housing provision where local evidence of need and viability support this.