Housing Strategy Action Plan 2007-2010
Strategic Housing Service
The introduction to the current Housing Strategy – Housing in Sheffield 2007-
10 - outlined some of the most testing challenges that the city was facing in
2007: building more homes; improving the range of homes; driving up the
quality of our housing and neighbourhoods; and tackling the affordability
problem. In the Strategy’s accompanying Action Plan key targets were
outlined for tackling these and other priorities over the Strategy’s three-year
lifespan. However, during this time the country has experienced a credit
crunch and economic downturn, which has had serious implications for
housing markets nationwide including Sheffield’s. It has also had a significant
impact on a number of the key targets contained within Sheffield’ Housing
Strategy Action Plan.
This report provides an overview of what has been achieved in meeting the
targets set out in the Action Plan, now that the current Strategy approaches
the end of its lifespan, and also some of the lessons that can be learnt as we
prepare to start work on a new Housing Strategy for Sheffield. More detailed
information on the progress made for each of the targets in the Action Plan is
contained within the Housing Strategy Action Plan 2007 – 2010 Progress
Update document, which will be made available on the Council’s website.
2) The Action Plan
The Action Plan reflects the structure of the Housing Strategy, which is based
around the following three themes: Successful Housing Markets, Successful
Neighbourhoods, and Independence and Inclusion. Therefore each of the
thirty-two key targets contained within the original Action Plan is related to one
of these three themes. The targets encompass both outputs (such as building
specific numbers of affordable homes) and outcomes (such as driving up the
housing management standards across the social rented sector).
3) Completed and on Track Targets
Despite the unfavourable market conditions the following targets have been
completed in full or are on target to meet their objectives within their original
Set up first Multi Area Agreement in the Region: The MAA was set up and
is now in operation.
Maintaining an up to date understanding of the city’s housing market and
monitoring trends over time: Our Housing Market Assessment was
refreshed in 2009/10 and has allowed us to gain a better understanding of
the effects the credit crunch and economic downturn have had on the
city’s housing market. Processes are also in place to monitor the level of
vacant properties in the city centre. Research into rural housing was also
completed in autumn 2009 and has informed our draft Rural Communities
Strategy, which is due to be submitted for cabinet approval in 2010.
Improving our understanding of the private rented sector and the impact of
migrant workers on the housing market: A sub-region private sector
research project was completed and Transform South Yorkshire is in the
process of drawing up an action plan (due for completion in June 2010)
which will then be implemented.
Securing ever better performance from Housing Associations on
nominations through our new joint protocol with the Housing Corporation:
Performance on nominations is now routinely monitored at the Strategic
Housing Forum and the agreed target for 50% of Housing Association
properties to be let to people nominated by the Council is being met.
Develop improved service provision for chronically excluded adults groups:
The Commissioning Plan was agreed by Cabinet in 2009 and supported
accommodation for this group is now included in the investment and
resource plan which sets out future housing capital investment needs.
Complete a Health Impact Assessment of the Housing Strategy: A Health
Impact Assessment has been completed and work is now underway to
look at the impacts of housing investment on health budgets and better
ways for co-ordinating investment that will bring about better health for
Agree a sub regional Gypsy and Traveller Housing Strategy, based on the
recently completed Accommodation Assessment: A work plan and bidding
priorities have been developed and agreed by the sub-regional Council
leaders. Sheffield has also made two successful bids for funding to
improve the quality of our sites.
On Track Targets:
6,800 more homes made decent by transfer landlords: The Housing
Associations report that all the transferred properties will have achieved
decency by 2010/11.
Expanding our portfolio of energy schemes targeted at private sector
housing: Approximately 10,500 households will have been signed up by
the end of March 2010 for advice on Affordable Warmth and energy
conservation. By early March 2010 1,679 cavities and 4,999 lofts will have
either been insulated or are in the process of being insulated. The
Affordable Warmth team are still confident of meeting the original targets
even though the programme has been condensed into two years rather
than three as originally envisaged.
Supporting Sheffield Homes to expand the range of services it delivers to
tenants and residents: We agree a new Delivery Action Plan with Sheffield
Homes annually, which is monitored quarterly. An example of service
expansion in 2009-10 is the ‘Your Community Your Choice’ initiative,
where Sheffield Homes have assisted local people to allocate £600,000 to
fund over 50 local projects to address community needs.
4) Targets Impacted by the Credit Crunch & Economic Downturn
Since 2007 the United Kingdom has experienced a ‘credit crunch’ which has
made borrowing money much more difficult and costly. This has contributed to
a downturn in the housing market, which has been compounded by a global
economic recession. House building both nationally and locally has dropped
considerably, driven by the difficulties that households have in accessing
mortgages and a fall in house prices that has made new build developments
less viable for builders. Delivery on all of the following targets has been
directly affected by these factors:
Increasing the provision of affordable homes by a minimum of 50%: Due
to the downturn the Government Office for Yorkshire and the Humber has
recommended to Ministers a revised Local Area Agreement target for
Sheffield that is 60.5% of the original target for affordable homes built over
2008/11. Nevertheless, 511 new affordable homes have been delivered
2008/10 (against the original target of 665 for this period).
Narrowing the property value gap between our Housing Market Renewal
Areas and the city average by a further 10%: We were comfortably on
course to meet this target until the downturn, which has affected the
weakest housing markets most of all. Consequently house prices in the
HMR areas began falling at a greater rate than in other parts of the city
and we are now currently slightly off track to achieve this target by the
original deadline of the end of 2010/11.
Approaching completion of Phase 1 of the Park Hill redevelopment: The
economic downturn delayed the start of this project, causing it to be
behind the original schedule but it is now underway with phase one of the
external works due to be completed by April 2011.
Delivering new homes at high standards, including Building for Life, Eco
Homes, Lifetime Homes and Secured by Design at all developments in
the HMR areas: Due to the economic downturn the target of 1378 higher
standard homes delivered by 2010/11 has had to be revised down to 447.
Nevertheless 171 higher quality homes were delivered in HMR areas in
2008/9 and 116 in 2009/10 with another 160 planned for 2010/11.
Enabling 4,450 low-income homeowners to improve their homes: A
reduction in Housing Market Renewal funding and Regional Housing
Board allocations contributed to the target not being achieved in full, but
we have still been able to help 3,623 homeowners with loans.
5) Adjusted Targets Due to Changing Requirements
Almost inevitably over the three years some of the targets in the Action Plan
have had to be adjusted to reflect changes in requirements and in response to
newly arising issues. The following targets are examples of these:
Expand provision of extra care housing by 4 schemes: This target has
had to be partly adjusted due to the downturn but also because of a
revaluation of how to best deliver older persons housing in one of the four
areas. Two of the schemes have now been completed, whilst the third is
under review due to the condition of the housing market. In the fourth
case, it has been decided to develop the older persons housing as part of
a wider piece of work taking place in that area (Stocksbridge).
Guiding the future developments of the city centre housing market, using
findings from the DTZ Pieda City Centre Housing Market report: The
decision was taken not to develop a separate City Centre Housing Market
Strategy in line with comments of auditors and inspectors about the high
number of separate strategies the Service has. It was therefore agreed by
the Service’s Senior Management Team that the strategy for the city
centre should be included within the new overarching Housing Strategy
for Sheffield, due to be completed this year.
39,000 Council homes made decent: The Decent Homes programme has
been extended to include 5-7,000 extra properties which need
improvement but which for there is no extra Government funding. By the
end of 2010 the Council expects 35,500 properties to have been made
decent, achieving a decency rate of 92%. By the new end date of the
programme in 2013/14 in excess of 39,000 council homes will have been
Improve 29 sheltered housing schemes to the decency standard: The
original target didn’t sufficiently take account of the need to programme
this work around the needs of vulnerable older people. As with the wider
Decency programme, the timeline for this target has therefore also been
extended to 2013/14.
Develop and implement an enhanced programme of work aimed at
tackling worklessness in social housing areas: The development of a joint
action plan for the largest RSLs to tackle worklessness was affected by
the refusal of a joint bid for monies to fund Link Workers. This refusal also
had an impact on the delivery of another of the targets – Driving up the
housing management standards across the social rented sector.
However, each of the RSLs has an individual plan in place for tackling
worklessness and the Council chairs the Strategic Employment Group,
which brings together social landlords and employment specialists to
improve tenants’ access to employability services.
Establish a 5-year plan for the provision of new build supported housing:
The decision to develop a Joint Prevention Strategy made the review of
the Older Peoples Housing Strategy (one of the sub actions for this target)
Provide 4 high quality replacement schemes for people with learning
disabilities: One of the schemes is no longer required as accommodation
will be provided for residents through existing properties. The other
schemes were affected at various times by funding refusals, planning
permission refusal (causing one of the schemes to be re-sited) and
alternative accommodation having to be sought for people living in the
schemes that were being demolished. These three remaining schemes
are progressing and due to be completed in March 2011 (against an
original target date of 2010).
Achieve target of reducing use of temporary accommodation by 50%: The
lack of progress initially made in achieving this target has required
significant action to be taken. Changes were made to the Housing
Solutions service and a Temporary Accommodation Action Plan has been
put in place. In addition, a new Homeless Strategy, which also aims to
reduce the use of temporary accommodation, is due to be considered by
Cabinet. Good progress on this target is now being made but the original
timeline will need to be extended to achieve this target in full.
6) Targets Linked to Major Capital & Neighbourhood Projects
Some of the key targets in the Action Plan relate to large-scale projects,
including the regeneration of Housing Market Renewal areas. These are
frequently complex with numerous sub targets and slippage in some areas is
almost inevitable. Nevertheless, there has been considerable progress made
in achieving the main objectives for most of these large projects:
Mainstreaming our Liveability pilot to drive up environmental maintenance
A four-month pilot project based on the liveability model of bringing
services together to work as one team is underway and customer
satisfaction will be analysed to see if this approach should be adopted by
the Council for maintaining open spaces in the future. Other capital works
have also been successfully completed but the third phase, dependent on
the sale of an adjacent site, has been delayed due to the market downturn
although other elements continue to be progressed.
Completing the regeneration of 5 local neighbourhood centres in the
Housing Market Renewal Areas
Elements of this project such as the completion of Longley Four Green
Centre and Herries Road Centre were achieved on time and others are in
progress and on schedule. However, other elements have been delayed
due to a variety of reasons: delays in financial approval; SCC being unable
to acquire an adjacent site; alternative engagement approaches having to
be devised; and dependency on further progress being made with the Park
7) Lessons Learnt
As the current Housing Strategy Action Plan approaches the end of its
lifespan there are a number of lessons that can be drawn from its
implementation and which should be used to inform future action plans:
i) With outcome-based targets it is often more difficult to measure their
progress and determine whether they have fully met their objectives or not.
Consequently, more effort needs to be made with these type of targets to
describe what success will ‘look like’ and how it will be measured. The use
of sub targets that are largely output-based could be one way to help make
this type of target more ‘robust’.
ii) The credit crunch and economic downturn illustrated the fact that flexibility
needs to be exercised towards future targets over the lifespan of an action
plan. Fairly rapid changes in the housing market and wider social, political
and economic environment can necessitate the adjustment of targets or in
extreme cases their replacement altogether. Therefore individual targets
should be reviewed to ensure that they are still relevant, desirable and
achievable during the action plan’s regular monitoring and review process.
iii) Success in bidding for external funds and grants cannot always be relied on
for delivering projects. Potential ways to minimise the impact of
unsuccessful funding bids include:
Avoiding reliance on single funding streams and grants where possible
Maximising opportunities to work with partners to pool funding and gain
access to additional grants and funding streams
Outlining alternative funding streams and strategies in the funding plans
Depending on the result of the upcoming General Election, it is possible that
the Third Sector will be given greater responsibility (and funding) to deliver
some public services in the future. This will accentuate the need for us to work
more closely with our partners in this sector to deliver our objectives for the
city’s housing offer.
iv) It is almost inevitable that some elements of large complex projects
(particularly new build capital projects) are likely to slip against original
timescales. However, the various issues that have affected the delivery of
some elements of our larger projects serves to underline the importance of
routinely using best practice risk analysis and management tools in the
management of all of our projects.
8) The New Housing Strategy & Action Plan
We have made considerable progress in achieving many of the aims and
objectives of the current Housing Strategy. However, due to a variety of
factors, outlined in this report, it will be necessary to carry over a number of
the current targets into the new Strategy and Action Plan. Current housing
market conditions also dictate that important choices will need to be made on
priorities, as it is unlikely that developers and other partners will be able to
help us to fully deliver the ambitious targets that we have previously set
ourselves in some key areas. Outlined below are some of the issues that the
new Strategy and Action Plan will need to take account of:
i) Affordable Housing / Higher Standard Homes
We still need to deliver much more affordable housing and homes built to
higher environmental and sustainable standards, in order to meet the needs
of an increasingly diverse and ageing population. However, this will be difficult
to achieve within the current housing market. This has been illustrated over
the past year, with developers being much more cautious about the economic
viability of delivering higher standard housing, including higher environmental
sustainability standards and properties for affordable rent or sale in the face of
current land values and market conditions. The new Housing Strategy and
Action Plan will need to take account of this challenge. Our targets for new
affordable housing and higher standard homes will therefore need to reflect
this. Difficult decisions will need to be made on priorities and how these are
to be delivered on each development site.
ii) Decent Homes Programme
The need to extend the city’s Decent Homes programme until 2014 means
that the new Strategy and Action Plan will need to outline how we intend to
conclude the programme (taking account of the fact that no additional
Government funding is available for the additional properties), including the
improvement of the remaining sheltered housing schemes not yet brought up
to the Sheffield Decent Homes Standard. The Strategy will also need to
consider how we intend to maintain the quality of council housing and
services in future years within the context of emerging proposals for a self-
financing Housing Revenue Account.
iii) Older Peoples’ Accommodation
The city has an increasingly ageing population and this long-term trend will
need to be reflected in future housing strategies and action plans. A review of
our Older Peoples Housing Strategy did not take place during the lifespan of
the current Strategy because of the decision to develop a Joint Prevention
Strategy, which is due to be delivered in March 2012. It will therefore be
necessary to look at the implications of this Strategy for the new Housing
Strategy and identify how we can meet the housing needs of older people in
the new Strategy and Action Plan. The Action Plan will also need to include
our targets for housing and services for older people in Stockbridge and
Deepcar, based on the current consultations taking place.
iv) City Centre Strategy
The decision not to develop a separate city centre housing strategy (in line
with recommendations from inspectors to try and reduce the number of
individual strategies we have in place) means that the new Housing Strategy
and Action Plan will need to set out our ambitions for city centre
neighbourhoods. We will need to build on recent and current research into the
city’s housing market, levels of under occupancy and the condition of private
stock to develop a clear vision for the city centre.
v) Local Centres
We are in the early stages of developing our Thriving Districts and Local
Centres programme, and local residents are now being consulted on what
their priorities are for developing inclusive and integrated local centres. The
new Strategy and Action Plan will need to incorporate the aims and objectives
of this project once they are clarified through further consultation and analysis.
vi) Local Housing Company
The Local Housing Company is due to be established in December 2010 and
will begin delivering new homes by March 2011. The new Strategy and Action
Plan will need to outline our vision for the company and what its key aims and
objectives are for the next few years.
vii) Temporary Accommodation & Homelessness
The new Housing Strategy and Action Plan will need to outline our targets for
reducing households in temporary accommodation and levels of
homelessness. The latter should including targets for our new service for
supporting access for non priority homeless people into the private sector.
viii) Making the Best Use of Existing Stock
The new Housing Strategy and Action Plan will need to outline how we intend
to make the best use of the city’s existing stock, including our targets for
addressing overcrowding and under occupancy, the private rented sector and
the performance of social landlords.
ix) Enabling Home Owners to Improve Their Homes
The new Housing Strategy and Action Plan will need to outline how we intend
to continue enabling home owners to improve their homes, including help to
improve energy efficiency, reduce carbon footprints, and provide loans to low-
x) Environmental Standards
Preparation for the new Strategy and Action Plan should consider the lessons
that have been learnt from our current schemes and pilot projects for raising
environmental maintenance standards. We will then need to identify what new
targets we need to set ourselves for improving environmental standards in our
xi) Supporting Vulnerable People
The new Housing Strategy and Action Plan will need to outline how we will
continue to support our most vulnerable residents, including our targets for
supported housing and the completion of the remaining replacement schemes
for people with learning disabilities.
xii) Healthy Housing
We are currently working with Health partners on the relative costs and
benefits of investing in Sheffield’s housing stock to mitigate common hazards
to the health of residents. Dependent on the outcomes of this work, new
projects and targets for inclusion in the new Housing Strategy and Action may
need to be considered.
The credit crunch and economic downturn have had a serious impact on a
large number of the targets within the Action Plan. Other circumstances and
changing requirements have also affected the delivery of a number of other
targets. However, in nearly all cases considerable progress has been made,
despite the challenging conditions. There is therefore a strong foundation on
which the new Housing Strategy and Action Plan can be built. Lessons can
also learnt from the implementation and monitoring of the current Action Plan.
However, one of the key challenges we now face is to create an action plan
for the new Housing Strategy that contains realistic and achievable targets
within a challenging and uncertain environment but which will also help us to
meet our long-term objectives for Sheffield’s housing offer. This will require a
clear vision and some hard decisions on our future priorities.