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Affordable Housing Development - Dacorum Borough Council

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                            AGENDA ITEM: 8
                                SUMMARY


Report for:           Cabinet

Date of meeting:      30 May 2009

PART:                 1

If Part II, reason:


Title of report:      Affordable Housing Development
                      Land to the Rear of Ninian Road and Argyll Road
                      Councillor Margaret Griffiths, Portfolio Holder for Housing
Contact:
                      Councillor Nicholas Tiley, Portfolio Holder for Finance and
                      Resources

                      Kate Bowles, Housing Enabling Manager x2526
Purpose of report:    To consider the transfer of land to the rear of Ninian Road and
                      Argyll Road.

Recommendations       (1)    That the site at the rear of Ninian Road and Argyll Road
                             be transferred to Hightown Praetorian and Churches
                             Housing Association at nil cost to enable the provision of
                             11 new affordable homes for social rent, subject to
                             planning consent being granted.

                      (2)    The capital accounting entries relating to a “non-money
                             receipt” be made to reflect the disposal of the site at nil
                             value for affordable housing purposes.

Corporate             This scheme supports the Council’s vision of “Providing
objectives:           Affordable Housing while Protecting Green Space”.
Implications:         Financial

                      The site could be sold on the open market and provide the
                      Council with a Capital Receipt of £16,787 based on a valuation
                      by Brasier Freeth, Chartered Surveyors, on the assumption
                      that the freehold site would receive full conditional planning
                      permission to construct 11 affordable homes. This has been
                      rejected for the following reasons:


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                       The Council needs to make the most of the current land
                        resource and continue to pursue opportunities on its own
                        land in order to help meet housing need.

                       The site has been specifically allocated in the Local Plan
                        for affordable housing only.

                       One of the Council’s key visions is the delivery of
‘Value For Money        affordable housing while protecting green space; the
Implications’           redevelopment of this site would support this vision.

                    Value for Money

                    This report seeks approval for the disposal of Council owned
                    land at nil cost. Generally, a local authority may not dispose of
                    land other than for the best consideration which can be
                    reasonably obtained unless it has first obtained the consent of
                    the Secretary of State. However, for the purposes of this
                    disposal, the Council can rely on the provisions of the ‘General
                    Consent Order’ given by the Secretary of State under Section
                    25 of the Local Government Act 1988 for the disposal of land
                    to Registered Social Landlords 2005’. Paragraphs 1.5 and 1.6
                    of the Background of the report explain the nomination rights
                    which will be secured by the Council if the proposed disposal
                    receives approval. Nomination rights are valuable to the
                    Council in that they are a means of discharging its
                    responsibilities as a housing authority.

Risk Implications   Failure to achieve planning permission could delay the delivery
                    of the project and put additional pressure on staff resources.
Equalities          Equality Impact Assessment carried out for the Service. The
Implications        Council has ensured its strategic approach to affordable
                    housing provision fully meets the needs of a diverse
                    community.
Health And Safety
                    None.
Implications
                    Monitoring Officer:
Monitoring
Officer/S.151
                    No comments to add to this report.
Officer Comments
                    S.151 Officer

                    The value for money implications section above identifies that
                    disposal may be made to a Registered Social Landlord under
                    S25 of the Local Government Act 1988 at less than best
                    consideration.

                    The attached map at Annex 3, shows the site of disposal. I
                    understand the site is made up of predominantly General Fund
                    land which was acquired under Physical Training and
                    Recreational Act powers but also includes elements of HRA
                    land. A valuation has been received from Brasier Freeth,


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                       Chartered Surveyors based on the free hold sale of the site for
                       affordable housing.

                       Should the site have been sold for housing development the
                       HRA elements of land would have been subject to ‘pooling
                       rights’ under the Local Authorities (Capital Financing and
                       Accounting) (England) Regulations 2003 (S 3146). Whereas if
                       the site is provided for affordable housing the non-money
                       receipt is effectively the Council’s contribution to affordable
                       housing and not subject to pooling as it would be treated as a
                       capital allowance. Therefore, the disposal of the asset at nil
                       value for affordable housing purposes will need to be treated
                       as a “non money receipt” for capital accounting purposes and
                       should be noted in the capital programme.
 Consultees:          Director of Communities, Customers and Housing

                      Head of Housing and Community Services

                      Head of Planning and Regeneration

                      Corporate Assets Group

                      Affordable Housing Working Group

                      Hightown Praetorian and Churches Housing Association

                      Ward Councillors

                      Residents of Argyll Road and Ninian Road

 Background
 papers:

BACKGROUND

1. Introduction

1.1 The Public Inquiry held in 2000 into the draft Dacorum Borough Local Plan
    considered the proposal to remove the Metropolitan Green Belt designation from
    part of the site to the rear of Ninian Road and Argyll Road and identify it for
    affordable housing development.

   The Local Plan Inspector recommended that the site be allocated for 11 units of
   affordable housing and that development take place in the Part II phase of the
   plan in the period from 2006 onwards. As a result, none of the site is now in the
   Green Belt, and it is a designated site for affordable housing development.

1.2 The Council has been working in conjunction with Hightown Praetorian and
    Churches Housing Association (HPCHA) to prepare proposals for the site taking
    into account the development plan, the issues raised at the Local Plan Inquiry
    and the Inspector’s Conclusions (refer to Annex 1).

1.3 HPCHA has prepared proposals for a scheme of 5 x two bedroom houses and 6
    x three bedroom houses for social rent. The majority of schemes currently under

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   development in Hemel Hempstead are providing one and two bedroom
   apartments, and whilst this reflects demand, 11 no. two and three bedroom
   houses complements our current affordable housing programme by providing
   family accommodation rather than flats and puts the site to good use.

1.4 In order to help in the delivery of affordable housing it is proposed that the site be
    transferred to HPCHA at nil cost. Brasier Freeth Chartered Surveyors assess the
    current market value of the freehold interest in the site, on the special assumption
    that full conditional planning permission would be forthcoming to construct eleven
    new affordable homes, to be £16,787. The valuation was prepared in March 2009
    in accordance with the Practice Statements contained in the Royal Institution of
    Chartered Surveyors, Appraisal and Valuation Standards (known as ‘The Red
    Book’).

1.5 Dacorum Borough Council would forego a capital receipt for the land but in return
    will facilitate the construction of 11 affordable homes and secure nomination
    rights to the properties thus relieving pressure on the housing waiting list and
    contributing to the Council’s annual target for new affordable homes.

1.6 The Council will receive 100% nomination rights to the dwellings when initially let,
    and 75% of any subsequent vacancies that arise.

1.7 The transfer of the site is dependent upon HPCHA securing planning permission.

2. Consultation

2.1 Residents and Ward Councillors were first consulted in June 2008. The purpose
    of the consultation was to give residents the opportunity to comment on the draft
    proposals and ensure that HPCHA put forward a satisfactory form of
    development for the site. The intention was not to reconsider the merits of the
    housing designation itself.

2.2 Letters were sent to over 220 households adjoining and close to the site. These
    letters outlined the background and key policy requirements for the site and
    explained the consultation process. Copies of the proposals were also provided.

2.3 A public exhibition was also held at the Grovehill Community Centre on 19 June
    and a news article was published in The Gazette on 18 June regarding the site.

2.4 Responses were received in letter and email format, and using the comment
    forms provided to householders. A total of 53 responses were received. There
    was also one petition with 273 signatures objecting to the development of the site
    for 11 affordable properties and a new road to the rear of Ninian Road and Argyll
    Road.

2.5 At the request of the Ward Councillors, a second public meeting was held on 30
    July 2008 to inform residents of the background of this site and the Local Plan
    Inquiry held in 2000. Following this meeting residents were given a further two
    weeks to provide any additional comments on the proposals.

2.6 A further three responses were received following the second public meeting.
    Letters from eighteen children attending the Grovehill After School Club were
    also received, all regarding the loss of green space used for play.



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2.7 The written comments received are summarised in Annex 2. The majority of
    objections received related to matters of principle that had already been
    established through the planning requirements for the site. The site has been
    allocated as a proposal site in the Local Plan, and was specifically recommended
    for inclusion by the Local Plan Inquiry Inspector who considered all the evidence
    and issues presented to him. There has been no change in circumstances since
    to warrant a change of view.

   It is also important to emphasise that the housing sites should be progressed in
   accordance with the Council’s adopted Supplementary Planning Document on
   the release of Part II housing sites. It is vital that a steady supply of land is
   brought forward over the Plan period to meet the housing needs of the Borough,
   and that progress is maintained on these sites. The need for affordable housing
   in Dacorum is unquestionable and most pressing. The Council needs to make the
   most of the current land resource and must continually seek to secure
   opportunities for the development of new affordable housing.

2.8 Some residents have suggested that other sites should be used for this purpose.
    Members will be aware that the Council is currently undertaking extensive
    research and preparation work for a supply of further housing sites to meet
    growth levels identified in the East of England Plan, through our new Local
    Development Framework. Confirmation of new sites, to add to the existing supply
    as shown in the current Local Plan, is some way off, with the Council having to
    progress the LDF through its various statutory stages. Such confirmation is not
    likely until 2012 at the earliest. Barncroft School has been suggested as an
    alternative, although no firm decisions have been taken as to its future use, only
    that local primary schooling has been reorganised because of falling school rolls
    and that the school has closed. The County Council took this decision in the full
    knowledge of an expected increase in local housing numbers.

2.9 Members will be aware that growth pressures on the Borough, and Hemel
    Hempstead in particular are very high. It will be very important to make the best
    use of further urban/previously developed sites in order to keep any further Green
    Belt losses to a minimum.

2.10 The proposed access arrangements also represented a significant concern of
   objectors, together with the related issues of traffic and parking. The concerns
   chiefly revolved around the effects of the proposal to link Argyll Road and Ninian
   Road. Following the Consultation, HPCHA has prepared proposals for an
   alternative scheme with two extended cul-de-sacs, which will be considered prior
   to a planning application being submitted.

2.11 HPCHA is required to take into account planning guidance when submitting
   proposals for new developments and will address detailed design matters at the
   planning application stage.

   Residents have been advised that once the formal planning application has been
   submitted, the planning department will follow the normal consultation process as
   set out in the adopted Statement of Community Involvement.




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