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					         Harlow’s Housing
          Strategy (DRAFT)
           2008 – 2013




November 2008
 This Consultation Draft Housing Strategy will be
  finalised as the Housing Strategy 2008-2013,
incorporating agreed comments received through
             the consultation exercise




                                               2
Contents
Contents ..............................................................................................................3
Foreword from Chair of Housing.......................................................................5
Chapter 1 – Introduction ....................................................................................8
   1.1      Introduction....................................................................................................... 8
   1.2      Scene Setting Harlow ........................................................................................ 8
   1.3      The Economic Climate ...................................................................................... 9
   1.4      The London Commuter Belt Sub-Region ........................................................ 10
   1.5      Consultation and Partnerships ........................................................................ 11
     1.5.1 Consultation .................................................................................................... 11
     1.5.2       Partnerships ............................................................................................ 12
       i)     The Local Strategic Partnership .................................................................. 12
       ii)    Harlow Renaissance Limited ....................................................................... 13
       v)     Harlow Homeless Prevention Partnership................................................... 14
       vi) Private Sector Landlords Forum.................................................................. 14
       vii)      Service Improvement Teams................................................................... 14
     1.5.3 Summary of some of our positive outcomes from partnership working .......... 14
Chapter 2 - Strategic Aims and Policy Context ..............................................16
   2.1       National Policy................................................................................................. 16
   2.2       Regional Context ............................................................................................. 18
   2.3       Sub-Regional Context ..................................................................................... 19
   2.4       Essex County Council and the Context of Local Area Agreements (LAAs) .... 19
   2.5       Multiple Area Agreements ............................................................................... 19
   2.6       Harlow Council’s Corporate Context ............................................................... 20
         a) Corporate Priorities .......................................................................................... 20
         b) Harlow Council’s Comprehensive Performance Assessment............................. 21
         c) Strategic Housing Services Inspection............................................................. 22
         d) Harlow’s Regeneration Strategy and Growth................................................... 22
         e) Local Strategic Partnership – Sustainable Communities Strategy ................... 22
         f) Strategic Approach to Housing ......................................................................... 24
         g) Planning ........................................................................................................... 25
3.0      Harlow – Profile and Affordable Housing Demand ..............................26
   3.1.1       A Profile of the District ................................................................................. 26
        i) Population ......................................................................................................... 26
        Older Persons Housing ........................................................................................ 26
        Population – Outlook, projections and services ................................................... 26
        ii) Employment and Salary ................................................................................... 27
        iii) The Housing market ........................................................................................ 27
        iv) Affordability...................................................................................................... 27
        v) Impact of the current economic climate in Harlow............................................ 29
        vi) The condition of the housing stock .................................................................. 30
   3.1.2       Housing Need and Demand ........................................................................ 32
   iv)       Homelessness ................................................................................................. 33
        3.1.3 Infrastructure ............................................................................................... 43
4.0 Strategic Objectives ...................................................................................45
   4.1 Strategic Objective One......................................................................................... 45
   “Maximise the delivery of a range of new affordable homes and make best use of
   existing housing resources to help those in housing need”......................................... 45
   4.1.2     Strategic outcomes for the future for tacking affordability and meeting
   housing need: -............................................................................................................ 48
   4.2 Strategic Objective Two - ...................................................................................... 49
   “Improve the condition of Harlow’s housing stock across all sectors” ......................... 49
   4.2.2 Strategic outcomes for the future - increasing decent homes: - ...................... 53
   4.3 Strategic Objective Three -.................................................................................... 55

                                                                                                                                 3
  “Help develop sustainable and safe communities” ...................................................... 55
  Priority Estates – Housing Regeneration Initiatives..................................................... 55
  4.3.2 Strategic outcomes for the future - sustainable communities............................. 59
  4.4 Strategic Objective Four -...................................................................................... 60
  “To provide an efficient and effective housing service that provides value for money”60
  4.4.1 Strategic Outcomes for the future – Ensuring Housing Services Offer Value for
  Money:-........................................................................................................................ 60
5.0 Resources....................................................................................................61
  Council and other funding opportunities ...................................................................... 61
  Capital Funds .............................................................................................................. 61
  Revenue Spending ...................................................................................................... 61
  (a)     The General Fund ........................................................................................... 61
  (b)     Housing Revenue Account .............................................................................. 62
6.0 Monitoring the Strategy and Performance Review ..................................63
7.0 Appendices..............................................................................................64
Action Plan ........................................................................................................65
Glossary of Terms ............................................................................................71
Web Links to relevant papers associated with this document .....................74
Previous Performance......................................................................................75
Equality & Diversity ..........................................................................................79




                                                                                                                                  4
Foreword from Chair of Housing
I am pleased to introduce Harlow's new Housing Strategy, which provides a plan of
action for the next five years. It sets out how we will work towards improving existing
housing and build additional homes. The Council recognises that decent housing is at
the heart of sustainable communities.

It is an inescapable fact that the demand for "affordable" social housing in our area far
exceeds the availability. This strategy sets out how we will respond to the challenges we
face in meeting housing need over the period. We must work in partnership with other
agencies to make it happen.

This document has been produced in conformity with our sub-regional partners and the
Action Plan is built on a standard template. We have also included a section on Value
For Money in the Council's housing service where we will highlight our commitment to
providing high-quality services by the most cost-effective approach.

Every plan must be seen as a base for change and adaptation and in the present global
and national economic climate we must be prepared to adapt promptly to changing
circumstances which are not of our making. The "credit crunch" and loss of confidence
by the banks has led to a pronounced stagnation in the housing market and to a virtual
stoppage of new house-building projects. The construction industry is going through very
hard times.

We must for the present sit tight, make the best possible use of our existing housing
stock through regeneration schemes where necessary and actively maintain contact with
our RSL partners. We in Harlow are proud of the fact that the Audit Commission rated
our Strategic Housing Services as "Good with promising prospects for improvement" and
I have confidence that when the situation improves, we will be ready to grasp whatever
opportunities present themselves.




Cllr Joshua Jolles
Chairman, Harlow Council Housing Committee




                                                                                       5
Executive Summary
Harlow Council’s Housing Strategy provides the overall framework for housing activity
and investment by the Council and its partner organisations. It sets out the long-term
vision for housing in Harlow up to 2013 and beyond. It is concerned with housing in all
tenures and is the overarching strategy for a number of plans, strategies and polices
developed by the Council including empty homes, affordable warmth and affordable
homes. The Strategy also develops links from national, regional, sub-regional priorities
to local priorities for Harlow.

This strategy is in four parts: -
        (a)     Chapter one gives an introduction to the strategy and sets the scene.

       (b)      Chapter two sets out the strategic priorities for housing at a National,
                Regional, Sub-Regional and Local level. It includes the strategic context
                within which Harlow addresses local housing needs and shows how
                housing links to many other wider agendas.

       (c)      The third chapter sets out a summary of data and information we and our
                partners hold on housing need, demand and stock condition. It identifies
                the interrelated factors that affect the availability and affordability of
                housing and the quality of life for all the residents living in Harlow.

       (d)      The fourth and most important part details what we have done and what
                we intend to do, working with a range of partner agencies to meet local
                housing issues and the resources available to carry them out. These
                activities are grouped under four, strategic objectives the first three of
                which have been developed with our London Commuter Belt Sub-
                Regional Partners and will be embedded in the Sub-Regional Housing
                Strategy which is currently under review. The key priorities from this
                section are to:

             1. Maximise the delivery of a range of new affordable homes and make best
                use of existing housing resources to help those in housing need.

             2. Improve the condition of the housing stock both public and private.

             3. Build sustainable and thriving neighbourhoods and communities and
                ensure that vulnerable people are supported in the community.

We also have a further priority regarding value for money from the Council’s Housing
Services. This is published in line with the Council’s corporate vision and highlights our
commitment to delivering a first class service that meets local need and the priority from
this section is

   •   To provide an efficient and effective housing service

Chapters 5 and 6 discuss the resource and funding opportunities for implementation and
delivery of the action plan and how we will monitor the strategy.

The Housing Strategy is inevitably broad in its scope and its implementation will depend
on strong partnership working with a wide range of organisations. The strategic
outcomes are highlighted in the body of the document and the action plan. The action
plan shows clearly the outputs and targets to enable us to achieve them (Appendix 1).




                                                                                             6
The Regional Spatial Strategy sets targets for the development of new housing in the
eastern region and contains targets till March 2021. The District wide figure for Harlow is
16,000 new homes over the period of the plan 2001-2021.              This includes urban
extensions in Epping Forest and East Hertfordshire Districts, the split between the
districts to be determined through development plan documents.

The current national and international economic backdrop is having a significant effect
on the delivery of national housing objectives, and there is the expectation that it may
also have an effect on our local housing objectives. In a buoyant housing market it might
have been expected that private sector investment would drive forward the rate of house
building and thus the supply of affordable housing through planning gain. However, in
the short to medium term there may be a slowdown in local housing building which could
reduce the amount of developer contributions to the supply of affordable housing

The pace of change in national, regional and local policy frameworks means that specific
content in the Strategy could be updated periodically and at this stage we have set a 2
year review period into this document.




                                                                                         7
Chapter 1 – Introduction
1.1     Introduction

This Housing Strategy is a plan for housing for everyone in Harlow. It assesses the
Town’s current and future housing needs, and sets out the Council’s approach to
meeting those needs. It takes account of national, regional and sub-regional priorities
and the links between other Council and non-Council strategies that both influence, and
are influenced by, the Housing Strategy. These objectives are translated into a series of
strategic objectives and actions.

Harlow Council owns and manages 9,956 homes. In addition the Council has the
responsibility to be the strategic leader of housing in the Town. As a strategic housing
authority our role is to:
        a)      Understand housing markets and aspirations.
        b)      Identify potential failures in the market and unmet need.
        c)      Take a lead in identifying appropriate solutions.
        d)      Assist in the putting together of resources to deliver those solutions.

The Strategy sets out the vision for housing in the Town, the key housing objectives and
the aims and objectives relating to individual issues.
The Council fully recognises that it cannot deliver the Housing Strategy alone and that
working in partnership with other organisations and across traditional local authority
boundaries are essential to its effective delivery. The Strategy identifies, and has been
produced in collaboration with, those key partners.

As part of the move towards increased collaboration at the sub regional level, the
Strategy both contributes towards, and is influenced by, the Sub-Regional Housing
Strategy, and ensures that these are aligned with national housing policy issues to make
the most effective use of local and national resources and will establish key areas where
joint working across local authority areas can deliver economic, effective solutions to
common issues.

The format of this Housing Strategy follows an agreed format followed by all of the 15
Councils in the London Commuter Belt Sub Region. This will allow the main issues from
individual Councils to inform and produce the Sub Regional Housing Strategy.
Every attempt has been made to ensure that the Housing Strategy is not a “technical
document”, and that it meets the needs of the widest possible audience, including
tenants and private occupiers, residents associations, housing organisations,
Councillors, the Government Office and other interested parties. A Glossary has been
included as an appendix to explain technical terms.

The Housing Strategy will be continually developed and reviewed, with performance on
the delivery of plans monitored.

1.2    Scene Setting Harlow

Harlow is a former new town, situated in the west of Essex and within a short rail, bus or
car journey of London. Bordered by both East Hertfordshire and Epping Forest, Harlow
is a key link geographically within the London Commuter Belt Housing Sub-Region.
Harlow is a relatively small town, but is one of the most densely populated areas in the
East of England. The town is located in the East of England Region, which is one of the
fastest growing regions in population terms because of its relative prosperity and the
ease of commuting to London and Europe.

                                                                                        8
Harlow’s population is currently estimated to be 78,300, residing in approximately 35,400
households (2.21 persons per household) 1 . The population of Harlow is forecasted to
grow to 108,010 by 2021 2 . In 2008, Harlow was ranked 121st of 354 authorities in the
Country (with 1 being most deprived). As was the case in 2004, Harlow remains the 3rd
most deprived district in Essex (with Tendring and Southend being more deprived), and
the 9th most deprived District in the East of England. This Government defined
deprivation ranking (IMD 3 ) highlights the challenge facing the town as a whole.

Harlow has a very mixed economy with the town being home to large, multi -national
companies and major public sector employers. However, the town has lower than
average incomes.
Housing is a key issue in Harlow; its proximity to London and location within a
‘pressured’ area, have led to house prices rising and buying a home is now beyond the
reach of many people. A growth in house price of over 26% within Harlow is one
keynote of significance.

Harlow’s Private Sector Stock Condition survey has found that in Harlow the private
rented sector is relatively small and expensive compared to other tenures.
Consequently, many people turn to the Council to seek access to social housing either
from the Council or Housing Association accommodation. As a result, the demand for
affordable housing in Harlow has grown significantly over the last decade.

1.3    The Economic Climate

The Council is aware that this Strategy has been written during an unpredictable time in
the housing market. Figures from the Nationwide Building Society 4 show that house
prices fell by 0.4% during November 2008, Prices have fallen 13.9 % over the last 12
months ( Dec 07 till Nov 08), the biggest annual fall in house prices since December
1992.      The decline in prices is caused by the difficulties created for potential house
purchasers by the reduction in credit availability.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders 5 in their Housing and Mortgage Market forecasts: May
2008 bulletin, forecast a rise in the number of loans in arrears of more than three months
from 129,800 at the end of 2007 to 170,000 at the end of this year and the number of
possessions taken by first-charge mortgage lenders to rise from 27,100 last year (2007)
to 45,000 this year (2008).

Statistics from NHBC 6 reveal that the number of applications from builders to start new
homes fell as the effect of the credit crunch forces more builders to slow down activity on
site.

NHBC statistics show that there were 23,185 applications to start new homes in the UK
in the three months to the end of September 2008 - a 54 percent decrease on the same
three month period a year ago (55,250). Of that total, 13,358 related to private sector
activity (i.e. excluding housing associations), showing a 67 per cent decrease on the
same three month period in 2007 (40,876).

Housing association figures for the three months to the end of September 2008 revealed
a slight increase in applications to start social housing properties, with starts totaling
9,827 – an increase of 5% on the same period a year ago ( 9,374).

1
  2006 mid year population estimate , ONS
2
  Framework for Urban Collaboration in the East of England, SQW, May 2007, p44
3
  Index of Multiple Deprivation
4
  Nationwide Building Society House price press release May 2008
5
  Council of Mortgage lenders, Housing and mortgage forecasts 2008
6
  National House Building Council news release 6 June 2008

                                                                                         9
This could all have a significant impact on the amount of social housing built in Harlow
from private developments through planning obligations (Section 106). The current
national and international economic backdrop is having a significant effect on the
delivery of national housing objectives, and there is the expectation that it may also have
an effect on our local housing objectives. In a buoyant housing market it might have
been expected that private sector investment would drive forward the rate of house
building and thus the supply of affordable housing through planning gain. However, in
the short to medium term there may be a slowdown in local housing building which could
reduce the amount of developer contributions to the supply of affordable housing.

On 16 July 2008 the Government announced a package of reforms designed to alleviate
the challenges in the housing market and support the delivery of more homes. The
package is entitled Facing the housing challenge- action today, innovation for tomorrow
and is an update on the Housing Green Paper. The package contains the following
measures:-
a)     A new scheme to support first time buyers into affordable home ownership by
       renting first and buying later.
b)     Allocating the first tranche of a £510 million funding pot to reward councils who
       are working to bring forward land for development.
c)     Confirming that more funding, beyond the £200 million already allocated to buy
       unsold stock from house builders for affordable homes, could be made available.
d)     New plans to work with local authorities and housing associations to examine
       proposals for mortgage rescue schemes and the wider role which they could play
       in supporting home owners.

The Council will work with its partners to participate in proposed Government initiatives,
and also monitor any rise in housing need due to mortgage repossession and work with
our partners to introduce any suitable initiatives which will tackle this.

1.4    The London Commuter Belt Sub-Region

The sub-region comprises fifteen district Councils, all ten district Council areas of
Hertfordshire (Broxbourne, Dacorum, East Herts., Hertsmere, North Herts, St. Albans,
Stevenage, Three Rivers, Watford and Welwyn and Hatfield) and five district Councils in
Essex (Brentwood, Chelmsford, Epping Forest, Harlow and Uttlesford), two county
Councils, and approximately twenty social housing providers. The overall population for
these fifteen districts is just over one and a half million based upon the most recent
census information.

Across such a large sub-region there is clearly a range of diverse settlements varying
from small rural villages to urban towns. London has an impact upon the housing
requirements for the districts within the sub-region but there are also other areas to the
north, east and west of the sub-region’s boundaries that also create a source of both
inward and outward migration. The large geographical scope of the London Commuter
Belt brings with it a greater potential for joint working, for example between those
districts that are based around the M25 arc, such as Brentwood, Broxbourne, Epping
Forest and Three Rivers, or between the urban and new town settlements of Harlow,
Stevenage, Welwyn and Hatfield and Watford or the rural districts of Epping, Uttlesford
and East Herts.

This variety is reflected in the sub-region’s housing markets. The average cost of a one-
bedroom flat in the sub-region is about £130,000 but prices vary from one district to
another, the lowest being below £110,000 the highest nearly £150,000 (source
Hometrack). Levels of homelessness as recorded by each Council also vary
significantly, between approximately 70 to over 700 cases of people seeking advice and
assistance and from 50 to over 200 cases of families being statutorily homeless
(2006/07 figures).

                                                                                        10
Since the last sub-regional housing strategy the extent of joint working between the local
authorities across the sub-region has increased significantly. A sub-regional approach
has been adopted in tackling homelessness, bringing empty homes back into use,
developing more affordable homes, identifying and promoting good practice and
achieving savings by way of joint procurement where the opportunities arise. All of the
districts are now involved in identifying and understanding local housing markets with the
knowledge that as issues vary across the sub-region so too will the levels and type of
responses required from each district and its partners.

1.5    Consultation and Partnerships

1.5.1 Consultation

In preparing this Strategy we have worked with partner organisations, Councillors and
Council Officers and residents. The Council produced this Consultation Draft Housing
Strategy for 2008-2013, before finalising its Housing Strategy. Partners and other
organisations, with different interests in Harlow (as listed below), are being consulted on
the Consultation Draft:
    • Registered social landlords (RSL’s) with housing stock in the District
    • Harlow’s Tenants and Leaseholders Forum’s
    • Recognised tenants and leaseholders associations
    • Developers operating within Harlow
    • Local estate agents and private landlords
    • West Essex Primary Care Trust
    • North Essex Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust
    • Essex County Council Social Care (Adult Services)
    • Essex County Council Social Care (Children’s Services)
    • Essex County Council Supporting People Team
    • Citizens Advice Bureaux operating within the District
    • Voluntary Groups

The responses received will be considered and taken into account when producing the
final version. A copy of the Consultation Draft is also being published on the Council’s
website, which users will be able to download in PDF format.

We do not want consultation to end with the publication of this strategy, but would like it
to be part of an ongoing process, involving local people and other stakeholders
throughout the life of this strategy to help us monitor its implementation and review our
services.

The Council held initial consultation workshops with its partners on the Housing Strategy.
These were based on the following themes:
   • Meeting housing need and demand
   • Decent homes
   • Sustainable communities




                                                                                        11
 Details of the feedback received from all partners have been incorporated within this
document and the key points from the consultation exercises are shown below.

Theme                         Option                        Covered in this document
                                                            under section titled
Meeting Housing Need and Work with Estate agents to         Strategic Housing Market
Demand                   provide details of housing         Assessment
                         demand
                         Shared ownership issues in         Homebuy
                         relation to 25%-50% stake
                         for lenders
                         Signposting for services           Partnerships
                         available
                         Sanctuary Scheme                   Homelessness
                         BME Sheltered Scheme               BME
                         Under occupation by older          Under Occupation
                         people (both owner
                         occupiers and social
                         tenants)
                         Move on accommodation              Vulnerable households
                         from supported housing
                         Private Sheltered                  Programme                 of
                         Accommodation for older            Development 3
                         people
                         Deliver wheelchair                 Lifetime homes
                         accessible properties
Decent Homes             Council should become              Private Sector
                         more active in leading the
                         private rented sector to
                         higher standards e.g.
                         accreditation of landlords
                         and tackling homes that are
                         in poor condition
Sustainable communities  Bring private sector empty         Private Sector
                         homes back in to use
                         Develop engagement                 Supporting people
                         opportunities with existing
                         Supporting People
                         providers
                         Resident Association               Regeneration
                         involvement with
                         community matters

1.5.2 Partnerships
The Council is committed to partnership working, recognising that this is often the most
effective way to deliver strategic outcomes, especially for housing issues. By working
with partners we can ensure we contribute to and develop district and sub regional
priorities with the main aim of developing quicker, more efficient ways of delivering
affordable, decent housing and other housing services.

i)     The Local Strategic Partnership
Under the Local Government Act 2000, local authorities have been given an over-
arching role of community leadership and are required to prepare Sustainable
Community Strategies, in consultation with the local community and stakeholders.
Harlow 2020 Local Strategic Partnership (LSP) has been formed, comprising of the main
stakeholders within Harlow from the public, private and voluntary sector.


                                                                                     12
The Harlow 2020 partnership is an opportunity for housing services to demonstrate that
quality housing and sustainable neighbourhoods can help achieve local area agreement
targets and will also give an opportunity to work in a joined up manner.
The Harlow 2020 LSP has identified the delivery of affordable housing as a key issue.
To meet this priority the Council’s Harlow Housing Services will work with its partners in
a strategic and dynamic manner that will reinforce the message that the LSP is a shared
partnership for agencies to work together to meet community aspirations and need.
A new Community Strategy is being developed for Harlow and will be published in 2009.
Further information on the Harlow 2020 is available online 7 .

ii)    Harlow Renaissance Limited
Harlow Renaissance Ltd is a partnership committed to the present and the future of
Harlow. Their role is to engage, inform and inspire people with the delivery of a range of
renewal programmes in the immediate term, whilst paving the way for longer-term
growth opportunities and a more prosperous town.
“Harlow Renaissance will work with stakeholders, residents, businesses, employees,
developers, investors and visitors to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard”.

iii)    Harlow Social Housing Partnership
In delivering affordable housing, the Council has selected a number of Registered Social
Landlords (RSLs) as its preferred partners, and is recognised as a way of creating better
opportunities for joint working. This also allows the Council to monitor and support the
development of affordable housing with a selected group of RSLs who can then play an
active role is helping to deliver the wider strategic aims of the community
This partnership aims to:-
        a)      Promote continuing competition between RSLs to achieve Best Value and
                a flexible innovative approach to local needs.
        b)      To recognise the individual strengths and specialist abilities of the
                partnering RSLs and encourage these through the appropriate selection
                in future developments.
        c)      Co-ordination with other strategies, for example economic and community
                regeneration, crime prevention, health and supported housing needs,
                environmental improvement and the delivery and development of the
                Local Strategic Plan – Harlow 2020 Vision.
        d)      Better co-ordination and most effective use of Harlow Council’s and the
                Housing Corporation’s invest programmes for affordable housing.
        e)      To maximise the opportunities for other sources of funding from both the
                public and the private sector.
        f)      To promote good practice for all parties of the agreement, for example
                tenant participation, tackling anti-social behaviour and working with BME
                communities.
        g)      Agree and maintain local standards for rent levels, development
                standards and other areas of performance management.
        h)      Contribute towards developing medium term plans to meet local key
                housing needs in line with the Council’s Housing Strategy.

iv)    Stansted Area Housing Partnership
Stansted Area Housing Partnership (SAHP) was developed as a partnership between
Harlow, Uttlesford, Braintree and East Herts. Councils following the granting of planning
permission by Uttlesford to British Airports Authority (BAA) to increase passenger
through put to 25 million. BAA Stansted contributed £2.2 million towards the funding of
affordable housing within a ten mile radius of the airport. A key feature of SAHP is the
development of a cross boundary nomination agreement, giving the opportunity for
residents of the four councils to move across local authority boundaries.

7
    http://www.harlow2020.org.uk/


                                                                                       13
v)      Harlow Homeless Prevention Partnership
The multi-agency Harlow Homelessness Prevention Partnership was created as a result
of the response to the requirement of the Homelessness Act 2002 to carry forward the
Council’s Homelessness Strategy. The partnership is very broad ranging in its
membership and has developed a robust action plan with specific milestones for the
partnership to achieve. A copy of this is available online 8 .

vi)    Private Sector Landlords Forum
Locally and nationally some of the worst housing is in the private rented sector, and the
Council has recognised the need to work proactively with landlords and letting agents to
achieve improvements. The Council organises quarterly private sector landlord forums
Topics have included the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, licensing of Houses
in Multiple Occupation, tenancy deposit protection schemes, the Local Housing
Allowance and fire safety.

vii)   Service Improvement Teams
The Council has established Service Improvement Teams which look at driving forward
service improvements in the four key housing service areas of:
       a)     Repairs and Maintenance
       b)     Housing Management
       c)      Home Ownership


They are made up of Councillors, Officers and Customers and establish links between
our customers and ourselves. They will enable you, our customer to have a direct input
into driving standards and service upwards.

viii)    The London Commuter Belt
The fifteen local authorities ( named at section 1.4) and twenty plus RSLs in the London
Commuter Belt partnership have worked together in various task and finish groups on
initiatives such as benchmarking schemes, Choice based lettings, and the Section 106
Good Practice Guide. Further information can be found online. 9

1.5.3 Summary of some of our positive outcomes from partnership working
Activity                    Partnership     Outcome
Strategic Housing Market    LCB             Comprehensive housing market
Assessment                                  assessment of the LCB East/M11 sub
                                            market to inform housing and planning
                                            matters
Joint work between the      Harlow Social   Private Sector Leasing scheme
council and its partners    Housing         Delivery of more affordable housing
RSLs on strategic housing   Partnership
issues
Joint referral panel        Harlow Council  Vulnerable adults in need of support housed
                            and its         into the most appropriate type of
                            supported       accommodation
                            housing
                            providers
Increase of land supply for Stansted Area   Delivery of more affordable housing
delivery of affordable      Housing
housing                     Partnership



8
    http://www.harlow.gov.uk
9
    http://www.lcbhousing.org.uk/


                                                                                      14
PLACE project                 LCB           Return of long term empty properties back
                                            into use
Improve conditions for        Shelter       Good practice guidance for all local
those living in the Private                 authorities work within the private rented
sector (Special year long                   sector
project)
Rent deposit guarantee        Council and   More options available for those in housing
scheme                        Private       need.
                              landlords
Production of a Section 106   LCB           A nationally recognised manual on good
Good Practice Guide                         practice with regards to s 106 agreements
Nurse led clinics in          Council and
sheltered schemes             PCT




                                                                                 15
Chapter 2 - Strategic Aims and Policy
Context
The Strategy identifies linkages to national, regional, sub-regional and local
priorities. Whilst Harlow is part of the London Commuter Belt Sub-Region, the
influence of other sub-regions and the Eastern Region as a whole is recognised,
as is the influence of the London – Stansted –Cambridge - Peterborough growth
corridor.

2.1       National Policy

It is recognised at a national level that everyone should have the opportunity to live in a
decent home at a price they can afford and in a community where they feel safe and
want to live and work. Policy guidance and legislative changes developed at a national
level have set the framework for action at a local level.
This Housing Strategy reflects the key national housing priorities of providing additional
affordable housing to meet local need and to deliver on growth points; to prevent
homelessness; to improve housing conditions across all tenures; to tackle the issue of
affordability; to meet the needs of vulnerable people and to make efficient use of existing
housing resources.

Summary of key policies
In December 2000 the Government published its first housing green paper -Quality and
Choice: A decent home for all- which set out a wide range of policy proposals. This was
followed up in 2003 with the publication of -Sustainable Communities: building for the
future (commonly referred to as the ‘Communities Plan’), which put forward proposals for
tackling the fundamental problems of affordable housing supply, homelessness, housing
conditions and for creating sustainable communities. It was followed in 2005 by the
publication of two related documents–Sustainable Communities: Homes for all and
Sustainable Communities: People places and prosperity. The former placed an
emphasis on increasing social rented supply and expanding choice based lettings,
improving the quality of private rented accommodation and of housing for vulnerable
people generally in the private sector, and further assisting people to own their own
home.

In June 2004 the Government passed the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004.
New elements introduced included:-
    • Each region will have a regional spatial strategy (RSS).
    • Housing allocations will be settled at this strategic level (as well as in sub-
       regional plans where these are felt to be appropriate).
    • Local Planning Authorities (LPA) will prepare Local Development Documents
       (LDDs 10 ). These will effectively replace local plans, unitary development plans
       and structure plans.
    • Each Local Planning Authority (Harlow Council) must prepare and maintain a
       local development scheme. County Councils where there is a district council (as
       opposed to a unitary authority) will have to prepare and maintain a Minerals and
       Waste Development Scheme.
    • These schemes set out what LDDs the Council will prepare, along with their
       timetable and whether they are to be prepared jointly with one or more other
       authorities



10
     Local Development Documents are now referred to as Local Development Framework

                                                                                        16
Under policy SS5: Priority Areas for Regeneration, Harlow is specifically targeted within
the East of England Plan as an area for regeneration. Policy SS5 identifies only the
most significant areas as priorities. They are concentrated in some of the larger urban
areas and the more peripheral north and east.

In 2006 the Communities and Local Government department published Delivering
Affordable Housing, setting out proposals for providing high quality homes for those in
need within mixed sustainable communities, further widening home ownership
opportunities and offering greater choice and flexibility for those who rent. That year also
saw the publication of Planning Policy Statement 3 (Housing) aimed at improving the
supply of housing including affordable housing through the planning system and
reinforcing the drive to create sustainable and prosperous communities.

In October 2006 the Local Government White Paper, Strong and Prosperous
Communities was published, setting out the Government’s aim of giving local
communities more power and influence. It further reinforced the Council’s role as
strategic leader and ‘place shaper’, operating through Local Area Agreements

The White Paper was followed by the publication in January 2007, of the Hills Report
into the future role of social housing in England. The report generally endorsed the
current approach to social housing provision but flagged up a number of issues that
needed to be addressed - notably low resident satisfaction, poor estate environments,
lack of tenant mobility, high levels of worklessness within the sector and increasing
social polarisation.

June 2007 saw the publication of the outcome of the review, carried out by Professor
Martin Cave, of the regulation of the social housing sector –Every Tenant Matters. In
addition to establishing a new regulatory body for registered social landlords, its
proposals include new responsibilities for local housing authorities as place shapers,
working with other social housing providers to better meet the needs and aspirations of
tenants.

In July 2007 the Government published its Housing Green Paper -Homes for the future:
more affordable, more sustainable- in which it set out proposals for tackling housing
supply. The paper proposed a significant increase in new homes, with an additional
three million units by 2020 (240,000 p.a.), and 70,000 more affordable homes p.a. up to
2010/11 of which 45,000 will be social rented units. The Green Paper also introduced a
new housing and planning delivery grant to encourage Councils to identify land for
housing development and increase supply in their areas, and set a requirement for all
new homes to be carbon neutral by 2016. This publication also set out proposals for
Local Housing Companies.

In November 2007 the Government published the Housing and Regeneration Bill. The
Bill contains provisions to merge the housing investment and regeneration functions of
the Housing Corporation and English Partnerships into the new Homes and
Communities Agency. The Agency will, by bringing together land and housing, and
shifting from grant funding social housing to investing in infrastructure, support the
regeneration and delivery of new social and affordable housing, both social and private,
and deliver a strategic approach to regeneration. The new Homes and Community
Agency will also be enabled to make better use of surplus public sector land and
maximise the potential for brownfield development. The Bill also creates a new regulator
of social housing, the Tenants Services Authority.
Some key areas highlighted in this bill: -
     • Make it easier for some Councils to build homes. Councils will be able to keep
        the full rents from new Council houses and use any surpluses to help pay for new
        social homes.



                                                                                         17
      • Allow some Councils to opt out of the Housing Revenue Account subsidy system,
        keep future rents and reinvest them in local housing.
   • Free the best Housing Associations from red tape and allow them to concentrate
        on new house building.
   • Supports the delivery of three million new homes by 2020 to meet growing
        demand and rising aspirations.
   • Changes the ‘Right to Buy’ legislation.
   • Implements a European Court of Human Rights ruling on Gypsy and Traveller
        sites.
The full bill is available to view online 11 .

In November 2007 the Housing Minister announced the 14 pilot authorities who would
be piloting the proposed Local Housing Companies aforementioned in the Green Paper
published in July 2007. One of these pilots is Harlow Council, and a project is currently
taking place to consider whether a Local Housing Company approach might be suitable
for Harlow.

In February 2008, the government published Lifetime Homes, Lifetime Neighbourhoods
–A National Strategy for Housing in an Ageing Society, with an aspiration for all new
housing to be built to Lifetime Homes Standards by 2013.

The main priorities, from these documents, which are relevant to Harlow and need to be
understood and actioned locally, are:
   • Providing greater choice and opportunity for people wanting to enter the housing
       market or move to a home that meets their changing needs through the
       introduction of new home ownership schemes such as intermediate rent.
   • Ensuring that social housing meets the decent home standard by 2010, and
       contributing to the national target to increase the proportion of private housing in
       decent condition occupied by vulnerable groups to at least 70%.
   • Preventing homelessness and reducing the number of homeless households in
       temporary accommodation.
   • Building new homes to balance housing supply and demand.
   • Helping vulnerable people to improve their quality of life through the supporting
       people and adaptations programmes.
   • Improving energy efficiency and reducing fuel poverty.

2.2       Regional Context

The Communities Plan introduced Regional Housing Boards in 2003 and the first East of
England Regional Strategy 2003-2006 was published in June 2003.          The second
Regional Housing Strategy for the East of England 2005-2010 sets out the strategic
direction for the delivery of housing in the East of England. It aims to meet the
challenges of growth and regeneration in the Region, and inform the recommendations
for public investment in affordable housing in the region.

The Regional Housing Strategy 2005-2010 is based on a vision of the region where
“everyone can live in a decent home which meets their needs, at a price they can afford
and in locations that are sustainable”.

The Regional Housing Strategy recommends investment themes for public money
allocated from the Single Regional Housing Pot to the region and how the money should
be distributed across the themes and also to the sub-regions. The themes are;



11
     http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2007-08/housingandregeneration.html


                                                                                        18
      •   Growth:
      •   Local Needs/homelessness:
      •   Regeneration:
      •   Rural:
      •   Key workers:
      •   Supported Housing:
      •   Existing stock:
      •   Black and Minority Ethnic.

These themes are key to the delivery of both the sub regional and local housing
strategies.

2.3       Sub-Regional Context

Harlow sits within the London Commuter Belt sub-region and the 2005-2008 Strategy
identifies five priorities:
    • Maximising the delivery of affordable housing
    • Developing the intermediate market
    • Improving stock condition
    • Meeting the needs of vulnerable groups
    • Achieving social inclusion

All the sub-regional partners are currently in the process of developing a Sub-Regional
Housing Strategy for 2009 and onwards, and the key themes have been agreed and are
reflected within this document. These priorities are:
     • Maximise the delivery of a range of new affordable homes and make best use of
        existing housing resources to help those in housing need
     • Improve the condition of the housing stock both public and private
     • Build sustainable and thriving neighbourhoods and communities and ensure that
        vulnerable people are supported in the community

The Government is encouraging local authorities to undertake joint working on Local
Development Frameworks (LDFs). Harlow Council is currently working jointly with five
other authorities in the M11/East LCB sub-region to undertake a Strategic Housing
Market Assessment (SHMA) technical study to inform housing policies in the partners’
LDFs. In line with Government guidance, the SHMA will look at both housing need and
demand across the study area.

2.4    Essex County Council and the Context of Local Area Agreements (LAAs)
Local Area Agreements (LAA) are three year agreements between central government,
local authorities, local strategic partnerships and other key partners.     They set out
targets to deliver national outcomes in a way that reflects local priorities. The local
government white paper, Strong and Prosperous Communities, established the principle
that LAAs should effectively be the delivery plan for local authorities’ Sustainable
Community Strategies. They require that County and District or Borough Councils and
local partners prepare a LAA and deliver against the priorities it contains. The LAA
contains both mandatory outcomes and indicators set by central government and local
outcomes and indicators agreed by local partners. A copy of the current Essex LAA is
available online 12 .

2.5       Multiple Area Agreements

Multi-Area Agreements (MAAs) are voluntary agreements between two or more top tier
or unitary local authorities, their partners (including, in two-tier areas, shire districts) and

12
     http://www.essexpartnership.org/vip8/com/Community/dis/content.jsp.

                                                                                             19
Government to achieve collective outcome-based targets to improve economic
prosperity.

Central Government’s steer on developing MAAs is that partners should consider the
potential efficiencies that can be achieved by greater cross-boundary co-operation. One
example given is that local authorities working together on common objectives such as
housing should provide opportunity to achieve efficiencies through shared services.
There could be potential gains through better alignment of service delivery or through
achieving more efficient procurement and commissioning arrangements.
Key focus points of an MAA should include –
       • MAAs will be consistent with the regional strategies (and in due course the
       single regional strategy), and local Sustainable Community Strategies, and
       complement the LAAs of the participating authorities; and
       • MAAs will build on existing sub-regional partnerships.

Further details of MAA’s can be found online 13 .

2.6        Harlow Council’s Corporate Context

a) Corporate Priorities
National and regional priorities are much broader than the local strategic priorities and in
order to work effectively, the Council must ensure that priorities are responded to in a
manner that is consistent with both meeting local needs whilst also responding to these
broader targets.

The Council has its corporate strategic priorities, which were reviewed in November
2008. The following identifies these priorities, in order–

1.         Regenerating the town
              •   Produce a sound Local Development Framework to facilitate growth,
                  recognising Harlow as a sub regional centre.
              •   Work in partnership to secure the infrastructure necessary for growth,
                  including an additional junction for the M11 and a by pass north of Harlow.
              •   Transform the whole town centre into a vibrant thriving destination with a
                  wide range of shopping and leisure activities.
              •   Growth in the context of one Harlow community.
              •   Regenerating neighbourhoods and shopping areas.
      2. Promoting a clean, green, healthy and safe environment,

              •   Improve the recycling service and increase recycling rates.
              •   Clamp down on 'Enviro-crimes'.
              •   Promote and protect our Green Spaces.
              •   Implement the Sustainability Strategy.
              •   Develop a youth and play strategy.
              •   Supporting people in healthy living.
      3.    Tackling housing need
              •   Ensure all residents are provided with the full range of    options,
                  choices, and opportunities available for their housing needs.
              •   Increase the total supply and variety of decent affordable housing.

13
     http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/localgovernment/laaoperationalguidance


                                                                                           20
              •   Tackle homelessness by prevention and improving the quality and supply
                  of temporary accommodation.
              •   Promote investment in housing.
              •   Promote high standards of housing in the public and private sector.
              •   Ensure neighbourhoods are clean, well maintained, and in a good state of
                  repair.
              •   Continue to drive up standards and performance in housing
                  management
      4. Developing good citizenship
              •   By being intolerant of anti social behaviour.
              •   Promote involvement in the voluntary sector.
              •   Supporting the vulnerable to achieve and maintain independence.
              •   Review democratic and governance arrangements to encourage greater
                  citizen participation and engagement.
              •   Working with the Safer Harlow Partnership to combat anti-social
                  behaviour in neighbourhoods.

      5. Improving Harlow for Business

              •   Promote and support entrepreneurship.
              •   Work to improve Harlow’s image and its attractiveness as a place to
                  invest.
              •   Improve business infrastructure; particularly transport links across the
                  town.
              •   Make it easier for small businesses to work with the Council.
              •   Encourage co-operatives and social enterprises

      .6. Providing value for money

              •   Ensuring ‘value for money’ is at the heart of every decision

              •   Ensure that resources are allocated to support priority activities
              •   Manage the council’s land and building assets to support the achievement
                  of key priorities.
              •   Keeping Council Tax as low as possible.
              •   Devolve more spending and decision-making powers to Community
                  Partnerships



b) Harlow Council’s Comprehensive Performance Assessment
 In 2007 the council was re-assessed and its overall performance is now ‘good’. The
Council has radically improved its culture, notably the relationship between Officers and
Councillors. The Council corporately has not rested on this award and has an ongoing
improvement plan to deliver on a corporate level. Further details can be accessed on
our website 14 .

14
     http://www.harlow.gov.uk

                                                                                             21
c) Strategic Housing Services Inspection
The Audit Commission Housing Inspectorate undertook an inspection of the Council’s
strategic housing functions in July 2006. The Audit Commission formally published its
report on the Council’s strategic housing services and scored the services the Council
provides under these areas as being fair (one star) with excellent prospects for
improvement. From receipt of this the Council has developed an improvement plan,
details of which are available on our website 15 .

d) Harlow’s Regeneration Strategy and Growth
The Council published its Regeneration Strategy in 2007, and it is being reviewed during
2008/2009. This 2007-09 strategy commits the Council to seeking to address the town’s
current needs as well as meeting the challenge of future growth. The document
concentrates on the role of Harlow Council in taking forward the regeneration of the
town, recognising that the overall responsibility for the setting of policy to guide the
town’s regeneration rests with it. In doing so, it looks at the activities and roles that other
organisations play – for without them, regeneration would be a difficult if not impossible
task. Reference to the Area Investment Renewal Framework is made within this
document, which has been a key driver in taking forward the Priority Estates project in
Harlow.
The Regional Spatial Strategy sets targets for the development of new housing in the
eastern region and contains targets till March 2021. The District wide figure for Harlow is
16,000 new homes over the period of the plan 2001-2021.                  This includes urban
extensions in Epping Forest and East Hertfordshire Districts, the split between the
districts to be determined through development plan documents. The Council welcomes
the recognition of Harlow as a place for investment by the Government and feel it is a
positive step in delivering much needed home, regenerating Harlow and providing
infrastructure improvements needed to accompany growth.
In supporting growth, the Council will look to work with our neighbours and partners to
ensure: -
         • Growth is located to take best advantage of the infrastructure currently
             available and proposed for the future.
         • The development principles on which Harlow was built will continue to be
             acknowledged with protection of the green wedges
         • The number of additional houses to be provided within Harlow as part of the
             growth agenda is reflected the current transport infrastructure deficit within
             the town and the existing provisions within the Local Plan.
         • The regeneration needs within Harlow are fully recognised are fully
             recognised and addressed through the growth agenda proposed for Harlow
             and the surrounding area.
         • The provision of additional employment opportunities is accompanied with the
             investment necessary to enable local people to gain access to the economic
             benefits of those opportunities.
         • That local Councillors’ will play a full role in any proposals for growth affecting
             the town.

e) Local Strategic Partnership – Sustainable Communities Strategy
Publication of a new Sustainable Communities Strategy for Harlow should commence in
early 2009. This Community Strategy will be produced by Harlow’s Local Strategic
Partnership (LSP), Harlow 2020. This will replace and update the existing community
strategy that Harlow has.
The following chart shows the links between points 2.2 to 2.6.




15
     http://www.harlow.gov.uk

                                                                                            22
    f) Strategic Approach to Housing
    The hierarchy of the Council’s strategic approach to housing can be summarised in the
    following chart




                                               Sustainable
                                            Community Strategy
 Regional Housing
     Strategy


                                             Harlow Council
                                           Corporate Plan and
   Sub Regional                           Medium Term Financial
  Housing Strategy                          Strategy 2008/12




                                                                                          Countywide
         Local Plan /                                                                  Supporting People
                                           HOUSING STRATEGY
         Affordable                                                                        Strategy
          Housing



                                                 Housing
                                                  Service
                                             Strategies/Plans

                                                                                                    Enabling
  Landlord         Homelessness/          Private          Allocations         RSL & other         Affordable
  Services         Housing Advice          Sector           including          Partnerships         Housing
  including                              including            under                               Development
Older Persons                         Private Sector       occupation
   services                           Empty Homes              and
                                                          overcrowding


    Annual Service Plans set out the key actions needed to deliver the Council’s corporate
    priorities and key objectives. These actions are linked to key performance indicators, so
    achievement can be measured and tracked. The Corporate plan and Service plans also
    feed into a three year budget planning model 16 , which the Council uses to plan its
    expenditure and make sure that financial resources are available to fund actions in
    priority areas.




    16
       Harlow Council’s Corporate Plan and Medium Term Financial Strategy 2007/8 to 2011/12 can
    be found at -
    http://www.harlow.gov.uk/pdf/draft%20performance%20plan%200708%20v4%20to%20cttee%20
    very%20final%20(3-AChange).pdf
g) Planning
In 2004 the Government introduced a new planning system in England. It replaced the
old Structure Plans and Local Plans system with new style Regional Spatial Strategies
(RSS) such as the East of England Plan and Local Development Frameworks.

The RSS for the East of England, published by the Government in May 2008, sets out a
strategy to guide planning and development in the East of England to the year 2021. It
covers economic development, housing, the environment, transport, waste
management, culture, sport and recreation, mineral extraction and implementation. It
seeks to address issues such as social exclusion, the need for regeneration and the
impact of climate change. Importantly the Regional Spatial Strategy sets out how many
houses must be built in Greater Harlow over the period of the plan. The District wide
figure for Harlow is 16,000 new homes over the period of the plan 2001-2021. This
includes urban extensions in Epping Forest and East Hertfordshire Districts, the split
between the districts to be determined through development plan documents. In
accordance with Regional Policy H2: Affordable Housing, local authorities should set
appropriate targets for affordable housing in their planning policies.

The Local Development Framework will shape the future of Harlow to 2021 and will
eventually replace the existing Local Plan. It will be the basis for making important
decisions about the direction of growth and development in Harlow. It looks at issues
such as the provision of new housing, jobs and community facilities. The framework will
also ensure that due regard is made to the protection of the environment in decision
making.

To ensure that the planning policies of the LDF are based upon comprehensive and
robust evidence, the Council is currently working jointly with other districts in the sub-
region in carrying out a Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA). SHMAs provide
local authorities with robust evidence to develop a strategic approach to housing through
consideration of housing need and demand in all housing sectors – owner occupied,
private rented and affordable – and assessment of the key drivers and relationships
within the housing market.




                                                                                       25
3.0 Harlow – Profile and Affordable Housing
    Demand

3.1.1   A Profile of the District

i) Population
Harlow’s population is currently estimated to be 78,300, residing in approximately 35,400
households (2.21 persons per household) 17 . The population of Harlow is forecasted to
grow to 108,010 by 2021 18 . The number of residents over the age of 75 on the 2001
census was 5,100 and is forecasted to increase to 6,500 by 2011 19 . This is an increase
of 21%. Given the resource demands often associated with very elderly people these
are significant figures. In addition the latter group are likely to have care and support
needs, which will need to be met by new and existing housing provision.

Harlow is a multi-cultural community with black and ethnic minorities estimated to
account for 12% of the population as of June 2006. 2,000 persons in Harlow are
classified as White: Other White, which includes European and East European ethnic
groups, and over 1,100 persons are classified as White Irish. Non-white ethnic groups
make up around 8% of the Harlow population, with the largest non-white ethic minority
groups being Asian, or Asian British Indian, and Black or Black British African.

Older Persons Housing

Population – Outlook, projections and services
The national picture of older people indicates that life expectancy has grown over the
last 20 years. People are now predicted to live longer and within Harlow the situation is
no different. Current statistics indicate that just under 20% of the population of Harlow is
aged 60+. Projections for people living longer means that those currently aged 45-60
will account for an additional 17% of Harlow’s older persons population. This will mean
that the older person’s population of Harlow will be approximately 37% of the overall
population of Harlow over the next 15 years. The Joint Strategic Needs Assessment
for Essex states

“As residents grow older, levels of impairment and disability will rise. Although the
majority receives some form of support from local authorities and voluntary
organisations, about a third does not receive any support at all.”
Also included within the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment are further details on
accident rates for those aged 65+

“Of those that attend an A&E department for a fall, it is likely that a third of them will be
admitted as an inpatient. Current estimates for admission after a fall among the 65+ are
6,300 rising to 9,500 admissions by 2025. Again this is a greater increase for Essex than
for England. 51% compared to 44%.”
On a policy level at both national and regional level the Joint Strategic Needs
Assessment for Essex states
“Essex’s ageing population presents one of our most significant challenges and will
require radically different models of service delivery. The shift in national and local policy
towards independence, choice and control means we must make better use of
technology to support people and provide a wide range of supported housing options.
We know also that as we get older, the likelihood of developing long-term conditions

17
   2006 mid year population estimate , ONS
18
   Framework for Urban Collaboration in the East of England, SQW, May 2007, p44
19
   Revised 2004 based Subnational population projections ONS

                                                                                           26
increases and that people with these conditions already account for around 80% of GP
consultations. In the future, we will see dramatic increases in the numbers of older
residents with, for example, mobility problems, suffering from depression or dementia”.

ii) Employment and Salary
The average full-time wage for people in employment who live in the Town is £23,109
per annum. The average full-time wage for people who work in the Town (and may not
necessarily live in the area) is far higher at £30,903 per annum. 20 Harlow has a
comparatively high rate of economically active employed persons at 80.7% vs. 74.4%
nationally. The Town also has a relatively high unemployment rate for the region at 4.9%
vs. 4.3% regionally%. 21

iii) The Housing market
The Council’s Council Tax Service has a total of 35,026 dwellings registered in Harlow at
1 April 2007. The Office for National Statistics records 60% of these properties as being
owner occupied or privately rented compared to 81% for England.        The social rented
sector accounts for 35% of the housing stock compared to 18.4% for England.
Harlow has two major areas of new housing development – The Gateway, which has
been under construction since 2003 22 and is due to add 750 new owner occupied and
rented homes 23 and New Hall, which began construction in 2001 and once complete will
add a further 2,800 owner occupied and rented homes to the town’s housing stock.


iv) Affordability

To introduce the concept of affordability it is important to understand the three key
elements relating to Home Ownership in Harlow, these being property prices, local
income and local rental levels. The following information shows Harlow’s current (April
08) datasets.

The average house prices in Harlow, inline with other areas, have increased dramatically
in recent years, as the tables below show. However, compared to our neighbouring
districts prices are considerably lower.

The rising cost of buying a home in Harlow
Type of Home         Average        Price Average     Price Cash Increase             Approx % price
                     April ‘08            Jan-Mar ‘03                                 Increase
Detached             £338,300             £269,914          £68,386                   20.21
Semi-detached        £235,600             £179,789          £55,811                   23.69
Terraced             £184,400             £135,360          £49,040                   26.59
Flat/Maisonette      £135,200             £95,560           £39,640                   29.32
Overall Average      £193,500             £142,089          £51,411                   26.57

Property Price comparison’s with Other London Commuter Belt Local Authorities




20
   Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, 2007 ONS
21
   Claimant Count rate, September 2007, NOMIS. This is the proportion of the working age
population claiming job seekers allowance.
http://www.harlow.gov.uk/pdf/Key%20Statistics%20Bulletin%20-%20Issue%206.pdf
22
   http://www.englishpartnerships.co.uk/harlowgateway.htm)
23

http://www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/partners/the_harlow_gateway_project/housing.aspx)

                                                                                           27
       The following table is a comparison of Land Registry Property Prices for January to
       March 2007

       LA              Detached       Semi Detached Terraced        Flat/maisonette             Overall
                       Average April Average     April Average      Average     April          Average
                       2008           2008             April 2008   2008                       April 2008
       Harlow          £338,300       £235,600         £184,400     £135,200                   £193,500
       Brentwood       £552,653       £293,036         £220,411     £191,898                   £329,075
       Epping Forest   £717,900       £346,200         £267,900     £195,100                   £389,000
       Uttlesford      £496,700       £289,000         £248,500     £155,600                   £350,800
       Broxbourne      £494,800       £280,700         £232,800     £156,100                   £256,600
       East Herts      £555,600       £312,500         £252,200     £188,100                   £325,500
       Data Provided by LCB - Source: Hometrack 2007 & HM Land Registry May 2003

       The question of affordability is dependant on a number of factors that include –
          • Lending
          • Loans
          • Mortgage approval rates
          • Interest rates
          • Local economy
          • Income
          • Employment
          • Local individuals’ incomes

Type             Average   Deposit       Mortgage     Monthly         Monthly      Monthly     %      of
                 Price   -               Amount       repayments      Gross        Estimated   income
                 June                                                 Pay      -   Net Pay -   used for
                 2008                                                 FTE only     FTE only    mortgage
1 bed Prices
(Flat)           £127,128     £5,000     £122,128     £1,121.21       £1,925.73    £1,589.03   54.96%
2 bed Prices
(Flat)           £145,765     £5,000     £140,765     £1,292.31       £1,925.73    £1,589.03   63.35%
2 bed Prices
(House)          £178,215     £5,000     £173,215     £1,590.23       £1,925.73    £1,589.03   77.95%
3 bed Prices
(House)          £209,913     £5,000     £204,913     £1,881.23       £1,925.73    £1,589.03   92.21%
4 bed Prices
(House)          £298,066     £5,000     £293,066     £2,690.54       £1,925.73    £1,589.03   131.88%
       PLEASE NOTE ALL FIGURES ABOVE ARE ESTIMATIONS

       Notes -
          1. Repayment Mortgage Interest calculated @ 7% interest – figure given is an
               approximation and would be subject to change from an individual’s own building
               society, bank or other appointed financial services.
          2. Mortgage period – 25 years
          3. Mortgage calculator used:-
               http://www.bbc.co.uk/homes/property/mortgagecalculator.shtml
            4. Gross Pay calculated as - £444.40 (wk) x 52 (wk’s in year) / 12 (months) Based
               on table 8 a_1 2007 ASHE survey (place of residence)
            5. Net Pay calculated as - £444.40 (wk) - 17.5% (Tax, NI) = £366.70 x 52 (wk’s in
               year) / 12 (months) Based on table 8 a_1 2007 ASHE survey (place of residence)
            6. % of income calculated as - Estimated Net Pay / Monthly repayments as a %

       Full details linked to the above will be available in our Strategic Housing Market
       Assessment which is due for publication in early 2009. For the purpose of this document
       the key headlines linked to affordability in Harlow can be summarised as-


                                                                                               28
      •    Income data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) states that the average
           gross weekly pay for Harlow stands at £383.40.
      •    Income data for Full Time Employees who live in Harlow states that the median
           weekly pay is £444.40.
      •    Lending, Loans, and Mortgage approval rates are available nationally from the
           Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).
      •    Employment data including numbers in employment and employment type for
           Harlow is available online 24

Further supporting evidence can be found in Harlow’s Regeneration Strategy 25 .

v) Impact of the current economic climate in Harlow

The significant changes which have occurred within the past 12 months are well
documented and revolve around a credit crisis within the banking industry, originating
from sub-prime mortgage lending within the USA, and inflation levels, which have seen
significant year on year increases, in particular within the fuel, energy and food sectors
leading to average inflation rates above the target rate of 2% set for the Bank of England
to maintain its monetary policies. It is also now widely acknowledged that the UK
economy is in recession.

Registered Social Landlords are now reporting that low cost home ownership products
are not selling due to the decline in the availability of mortgage finance.


As the impact of the economic situation on residents of Harlow increases, this is likely to
result in increased demand on services provided by, in particular:

      •    Older Persons Services – fuel poverty and general inflation impacts upon the
           health and welfare of older people disproportionately, as they spend a greater
           proportion of their income on good and fuel than other sections of society and are
           more limited in ability to increase income.
      •    Home Energy Advice – an increase in demand is likely to be seen.
      •    Homelessness – Nationally repossessions rose by 55% ( year on year) during
           the 3rd quarter of 2008 , and although, st the time of writing., Harlow is likely t o
           experience increases in the levels of homelessness and the demand for
           temporary accommodation and other housing solutions.

Rented Housing
As with most areas, there are three main types of landlord in Harlow – The Council,
Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) and Private Landlords (PLs). The Government’s
subsidy system for building and maintaining Council and RSL homes means they can
charge a lower rent than most private landlords. The average weekly rent in Harlow and
for our surrounding districts is:

                         Council       Rent RSL               Rent PLs              Rent
                         (Weekly)           (Weekly)               (Weekly)
          Harlow         £63.32             £77.66                 £128.82
          Epping         £67.82             £89.41                 £161.97
          Uttlesford     £69.51             £80.69                 £137.16
          East Herts     N/A                £77.10                 £139.64
          Broxbourne     N/A                £79.57                 £153.74
          Brentwood      £71.27             £87.41                 £155.06
Source – www.dataspring.org.uk (2006/07 data)

24
     http://www.harlow.gov.uk
25
     http://www.harlow.gov.uk

                                                                                             29
Government policy will lead to Council’s and RSL changing to reach similar levels for
similar properties over the next couple of years. Neither the Government nor the Council
control private rent levels 26 .

The Private Landlords
Approximately 60% of Harlow’s properties are either owned outright or with a mortgage.
An additional 4% of housing in Harlow is within the private rented sector. This sector,
although relatively inexpensive compared to our surrounding districts, provides an
excellent opportunity to meet housing need for the Council. Further details on how the
Council could use this resource are detailed in this Strategy.

Leaseholders
There are currently 2,363 leaseholders (to end of August 08) in Harlow. The Council
promotes leaseholders being involved and having a say in how the Leaseholder Service
is run. Leaseholders can be involved by joining the Home Ownership Service
Improvement Team (SIT), attending the leasehold forums or by joining the sounding
board. The Home Ownership Service Improvement Team (SIT) is made up of Council
Officers, Council Members and Leaseholders. Leaseholders can nominate themselves
onto the (SIT) at the Leasehold Forum that is held each April. A qualifying (SIT) member
can nominate themselves to sit on Housing Committees throughout the year and they
will also attend the Councils’ Housing Standards and Policy Forum, to represent
Leaseholders views.

The Leasehold Forum was set up in 2000. It ensures that leaseholders have a chance to
get involved and takes account of their interests as part of our strategy for increasing the
involvement of tenants and leaseholders in the decision-making process. The purpose of
the forum is to provide regular consultation between the Council and leaseholders on all
relevant matters. The forum meets twice a year and provides new opportunities to
express views on the services which affect them. The forum is also a valuable help in
developing services and reviewing policies, as it will increase our understanding of how
services affect leaseholders.

The Council’s Leaseholder Services also ensure that relevant information that affects
their property is provided with information through the Harlow Home section of the
Harlow Times paper that is sent to all residents in Harlow.

vi) The condition of the housing stock
The condition of a home can have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of the
people living in them, and by improving the quality of homes in both the public and
private sector the Council is helping to reduce ill health and of reducing the risk of
homelessness. The Council is committed to helping people live in energy efficient
homes which in turn will help reduce fuel bills and lower the impact of home energy use
on the climate.

Harlow Council’s Stock
The Council is by far the largest single owner of homes in Harlow, making up over 30%
of the homes.

The Council’s stock condition survey originally found that 2,574 of the Council’s
properties failed to meet one or more of the criteria that make up the Decent Homes
Standard (DHS). At 1 April 2008 the number of non-decent homes had reduced to 806.




26
  Further legislative details on rent restructuring can be found on
http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/pdf/138961

                                                                                         30
The condition of the Council’s housing stock does not stand still. Homes which originally
met the DHS, may fail to do so over time and homes that originally failed to meet the
standard may now do so as a result of works carried out to them. In order to address
this, the Council assesses the works its homes will require over a thirty-year period. This
includes works required to ensure the Government target of all homes meeting the
standard by 2010 is met and works to ensure that all homes continue to meet the
standard.

The DHS only measures a limited amount of repairs and improvements to homes and is,
in the Council’s view, a basic standard for modern homes to meet. It does not take into
account the broader wishes of Council tenants for improvements to homes and housing
areas. Consequently, the Council has taken the view that its programme of works will not
just be limited to those necessary to meet the DHS target. The programmes include
works designed to meet tenant’s wishes for improvements and to help build the overall
sustainability of Council owned homes and housing areas.

The Private Sector
The Council has recently undertaken a Private Sector Stock Condition Survey. The
headline findings of this report indicate.

       a)      That the number of non-decent homes was 5,800 dwellings (24.9% of
               stock) which is lower than the national statistics (27.1%)

In order of highest reason:
    • Thermal comfort failure – 3,300 dwellings (14.3% of stock) – which is lower
       than the 19.8% national average – the total estimated cost to repair is £3.3
       million (£1,145 per dwelling).
    • Cat 1 Hazards – 1,200 dwellings (5.3% of stock) – the national average is not
       available – the total estimated cost to repair is £1 million (£1,474 per dwelling).
    • Lacking modern facilities – 400 dwellings (1.9% of stock) – which is slightly
       higher than the national average of 1.3% - the total estimated cost to repair is
       £2.4 million (£7,678 per dwelling).
    • In need of repair – 2,100 dwellings (9.3% of stock) – which is slightly higher than
       national average of 8.1% - the total estimated cost to repair £3.6 million (£1,661
       per dwelling).

Dwellings can fail to be decent for more than 1 reason. The number of failures per
dwelling can be an indicator of the severity of the problem.

   •   1 failure – 82%
   •   2 failures – 13.6%
   •   3 failures – 3.4%
   •   4 failures – 1.0%

The fact that the highest proportions of failures are in respect of one criteria, reinforces
the point that the highest proportion of failures of decent homes are due solely to thermal
comfort.


Non decent dwellings by type – highest two:
   •   High Rise purpose built flats – 79.9% (these only count for 0.4% of the Public
       Sector stock)
   •   Converted flats – 66.8% (these only count for 1.3% of the Public Sector stock)




                                                                                         31
Non decent dwellings by date of construction:
      •   1919 – 1944 – 31.3%
      •   1945 – 1964 – 28.0%
      •   1965 – 1980 – 27.1%
      •   Post 1980 – 15.6%
      •   Pre 1919 – 8.6%

Further information from our stock condition survey can be found on our website 27 .

3.1.2 Housing Need and Demand
Housing need and demand can be measured and assessed from a variety of sources
including formal studies and from our knowledge of groups that live within the Town.

i)      Housing requirements study
In 2004 the Council commissioned research into housing need. This study was
conducted by Opinion Research Services (ORS) and provides us with detailed housing
requirements. Our needs survey established that as at the time of the survey there was
a total of 1,329 households with existing housing need. The table below shows how this
figure has been calculated.

Factor                                                                  Number                   of
                                                                        Households
Households currently living in unsuitable housing that need to move and 1255
cannot afford to rent or buy market housing
Households temporarily housed in Bed & Breakfast or hostel 72
accommodation
Households housed in PSL housing leased from the private sector         0
Single people currently sleeping rough                                  2
                                                                        1329
Source                            –                           Pg                           10,
http://www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/housing/housing_strategies_-
statistics/harlow_housing_market.aspx
Following publication of Planning Policy Statement 3, Strategic Housing Market
Assessments will replace Housing Needs Surveys in forming part of the evidence base
to underpin the Council’s Housing Strategy and Planning policies. SHMA have a wider
remit than Housing Needs Surveys in that they look at how housing markets operate in
terms of both housing need and demand. The Council is currently working jointly with
five other authorities (Brentwood, Broxbourne, East Herts, Epping Forest and Uttlesford)
on the M11/East LCB sub region to undertake a sub regional SHMA. The results should
be known in early 2009.

ii)     Housing Register
As well as the requirements survey the Council also has further evidence of the demand
for affordable homes within the town through its housing register. Although not all
applicants on the housing register are categorised as in legislative priority need or in
housing need as defined in the Housing Needs survey, the number of households on
the housing register for affordable homes in Harlow is 7005 as at summer 2008. This
figure has increased dramatically over the last three years as the following data shows.

                Year                       2005      2006      2007         2008
                Total No.                  3303      4008      6234         7005
                Increase Actual                      705       2226         771
                Percentage Increase                  21.34%    55.54%       11%
Source – Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix 05-08 28 .

27
     http://www.harlow.gov.uk

                                                                                           32
iii)   Housing size requirements
With such high numbers on the housing register, forecasting and delivering suitable
affordable housing for those in need is a challenge to Harlow. Through the delivery of
our Strategic Housing Market Assessment our housing size requirements for Harlow will
be updated and reflected within the Local Development Framework.

Delivery of affordable units in Harlow can be shown through performance of the local
indicator as shown below –

Local Government Performance Indicator        2004/05 2005/06 2006/07 2007/08
HDCPI 13 - The number of new affordable or
supported housing units provided through 0            67      100     87
partnership working during the financial year

This information will now be reported through the new National Indicator set, the LSP
and the LAA.

Planning
The Replacement Harlow Local Plan was adopted in 2006. This sets a target of 5450
dwellings over the plan period (2011) which equates to an annual average of 1090
dwellings; this is both market and affordable combined. This is now updated by the 5
year land supply provided by the Government Office for the East of England which
indicates 473 units per annum.
The Affordable Housing Supplementary Planning Document requires a minimum of 33%
of dwellings to be affordable of sites with fifteen or more dwellings

iv)      Homelessness
The main consequence of the supply and affordability crisis is homelessness, and the
Council works with its partners to try and prevent homelessness and make the best use
of resources in Harlow. The Councils plans for helping homeless people are covered in
detail in our Homelessness Strategy 29 , which was updated in 2006. Below are listed the
main ways the Council and its partners help homeless people.

Homelessness figures in Harlow are comparatively high and the following data shows
the statistical number of applicants approaching and being accepted by the
homelessness team.

                                     Total         Eligible,
                                     households    homeless
                                     accepted as   and in          Eligible,
                   Total             homeless      priority        homeless
                   number of         and in        need, but       but not in   Eligible ,
                   applications      priority      intentionally   priority     but not
                                     need          so              need         homeless      Ineligible
2007/2008          265               169           22              27           44            4
2006/2007          252               189           3               25           34            1
2005/2006          376               207           29              85           52            3
2004/2005          407               243           37              81           40            6
Source:- http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/xls/141476.xls

28
     http://www.communities,gov.uk
29
   Harlow’s Homelessness strategy can be found on
(http://www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/housing/housing_strategies_-
statistics/harlow_homelessness_strategy_a.aspx).


                                                                                             33
The below chart shows the proportion of acceptances by priority need category as
detailed in the above table.



   Proportion of households accepted by priority need category 2004 - 08




 2006-07

 2005-06
 2004-05

                                               0%                                                      20%                          40%                                                                 60%                                                                     80%                                                          100%

       Children/                                                                                                                                                                16 or 17 years
       Pregnancy                                                                                                                                                                old
       18-20 Care                                                                                                                                                               Physical
       leaver                                                                                                                                                                   disability
       Mental                                                                                                                                                                   Drug
       illness                                                                                                                                                                  dependency
       Alcohol dependency                                                                                                                                                       Domestic
                                                                                                                                                                                violence
       Other vulnerable                                                                                                                                                         Emergency (fire, flood, storms, disaster, etc)




A further indication of becoming homeless in Harlow is the reason for the loss of
applicants last settled home which is demonstrated below.


                                                                                                                         Reason for loss of last home

 120

 100

  80

  60

  40

  20

   0
        Parents no longer willing or able to




                                                Other relatives or friends no longer




                                                                                       Non-violent breakdown of



                                                                                                                    Violence




                                                                                                                                     Harrassment, threats or intimidation




                                                                                                                                                                                  Mortgage Arrears




                                                                                                                                                                                                          Rent arrears on all sectors (LA,



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             accommodation due to Termination




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      residential home, prison, on remand


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 abroad, sleeping rough or in hostel)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Other (e.g. homeless in emergency,
                                                                                       relationship with partner:




                                                                                                                                                                                                          RSL, Private sector dwellings)




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Required to leave National Asylum
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Support Service accommodation
                                                 willing or able to accommodate




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In institution or care (e.g. hospital,


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ex-HM Forces, returned from
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Loss of rented or tied
                 accommodate




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    or Other reason




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        etc.)




                                                                                                                               2004-05                                      2005-06                  2006-07                            2007-08




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 34
Numbers of Households in Temporary Accommodation (TA)

Local authorities’ action under the homelessness Total Households accommodated
provisions of the Housing Act: Total Households in financial year
accommodated in Temporary Accommodation by
Harlow Council
2007/2008                                                 247
2006/2007                                                 250
2005/2006                                                 313
2004/2005                                                 667
2003/2004                                                 699
Source:- http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/xls/141476.xls

PLEASE NOTE – The above covers all types of accommodation recorded by CLG
including B&B, Hostel Accommodation, LA/HA, PSL and Other stock.

The above shows how the Council has reduced its use of temporary accommodation.
However the volume of households within this sector is still relatively high due to the lack
of affordable housing, both in the public and private sectors. The Council is committed to
increasing the availability of affordable housing. This will involve continuing and
improving our partnership work with housing developers, RSLs, and the private sector.

There has been a reduction in the use of temporary accommodation. At the end of
2003/04 the total number of households in TA was 699 (and peaked at 733 at the end of
the 3rd quarter of 2004/05); by the end of 2007/08 this had fallen to 247.
The significant reduction in use of TA during the 2 years 2005-2007 coincided with the
Council’s introduction of an ‘Options’ service, and the adoption of a CBL scheme; Harlow
Home Finder (HHF).

Over the last two years, a significant number of people approaching the Council for
advice and assistance have been dealt with by the options team, and have not
proceeded to making a homelessness application. As a consequence, a higher
percentage of those who have made a homelessness pt VII application have been
accepted.

Harlow’s main ‘cause of homelessness’ is parental eviction. Options advisers have
successfully negotiated with families to continue to accommodate their children while
they bid for a home through Harlow Home Finder , explaining how to place effective bids
and the advantages of remaining in the family home while doing so. Use has been
made of mediation services and, although this has enabled some young people to regain
the support of family members, it has not proved value-for-money in terms of preventing
homelessness.

A recent addition to the Council’s ‘prevention’ portfolio has been a Rent Deposit
Guarantee Scheme. This has proven more successful than originally anticipated and
funds have been expanded to enable this option. The Scheme was responsible for a
significant part of the increase in the number of preventions achieved in the first quarter
of 2008/09: up to 29 from 11 in the last quarter of 2007/08 (actual cases, not per 1,000).

Harlow Homeless Prevention Partnership
The Harlow Homelessness Prevention Partnership (HHPP) is a forum with a
membership made up of many of the agencies in the town with an interest in tackling
homelessness. This partnership is not Council led but is supported and attended by the
Council.




                                                                                         35
Single Homeless People/Rough Sleepers
One of the relatively recent key achievements for the HHPP was an official Government
rough sleeper’s count on 2007. The total number of people found rough sleeping within
Harlow was 2 (measured in accordance with the Governments criteria).

Streets 2 Homes
Streets2Homes is a charity based service in Harlow that manages a centre which seeks
to reach out to and help homeless people. They provide an environment, which can
assist people who are street homeless in a number of ways, including finding a place to
stay. The demand for housing in this area always outstrips availability so it can take time
to find suitable accommodation.

The service also provides a drop in centre that provides social contact and access
to housing and employment advice, health services, food, clothing, and general
guidance.

Through partnership arrangements with Harlow Council and wide range of agencies and
organisations, Streets2Homes signpost applicants to the appropriate type of assistance
that meet their circumstances.

Prevention
The Council has strengthened its approach to preventing homelessness through the
development of a Housing Options Service, which enables potentially homeless
households to receive advice and assistance in dealing with their housing problems.
Officers offer advice and support in maximising benefits, negotiating with landlords and
identifying alternative housing solutions.

                                             2004/05              2005/06     2006/07    2007/08
Homeless Acceptances                         243                  207         189        169
Actual acceptances year on year increase /
decrease                                     -68                  -36         -18        -20
% change (compared to previous years figure) -21.86%              -14.81%     -8.70%     -8.94%
Source – www.communities.gov.uk -P1E returns

Evidence shows that social housing stock numbers are not going to meet the current
high demand. By developing partnerships with outside agencies and internal services,
the Council is now developing its engagement with the private sector. There is now a
successful Private Sector Leasing Scheme in place and a Rent Deposit Scheme has
recently been introduced. The Council is widening its options to assist in meeting
housing need through all avenues rather than just that associated with housing within its
own limited stock. Further details of these schemes are available online 30 and the
Council will continue to develop these options further.

v)      Key workers and Intermediate Income Households
The Council recognises the need to provide housing for people earning moderate or
intermediate income in the private and public sectors, and who cannot afford to access
private sector housing.

Through the ‘Sustainable Communities Plan’ and the Governments drive for people to
become ‘home owners’ the Homebuy product was introduced, offering those in housing
need an opportunity to purchase a share of their own home. There are currently several
products available through the Homebuy agent for Harlow. Details are can be found on
their website 31 . Homebuy properties are advertised in Harlow Homefinder magazine
and are available via Choice Based Lettings to people on Harlow’s housing register.

30
     http://www.harlow.gov.uk
31
     http://www.homebuy.co.uk/

                                                                                        36
The Council will continue with our RSL partners to ensure that Homebuy products are
meeting local people’s needs at a price that they can afford and will monitor the number
of local households purchasing a Homebuy property ensuring all available products are
advertised clearly to local people

vi)     Social Homebuy
The Council ran the Social Homebuy Scheme pilot from June 2007 until the end of
March 2008, but it was not a success in Harlow. This was due to the level of Right to
Buy discount that is offered. The Council wanted to be involved in the pilot to be able to
help shape the overarching policy and have since lobbied for the discount to be applied
for Right to Buy and not Right to Acquire as it would open it up to more authorities.

The Council’s Right to Buy numbers have, over recent times, dramatically reduced. The
Council is currently exploring revised Government proposals including the Rent to
Purchase Scheme. Further details on this are available directly from the Government 32 .

vii)    Vulnerable Households and Households requiring Housing with Support.
Supported Housing provides a range of services to people who cannot, either in the
short-term or long-term, sustain entirely independent living. Support can be provided to
people in specifically designated or purpose–designed accommodation or in general
housing. However, many people who require support will have complex needs which
cross the boundaries between client groups. The Council aims to support vulnerable
people through working in partnership with other statutory and voluntary agencies.

The provision of housing related support services is, for the most part, determined by the
availability of Supporting People funding. The primary purpose of the Supporting People
programme implemented from April 2003 as defined by central government is to ‘offer
vulnerable people the opportunity to improve their quality of life by providing a stable
environment which enables greater independence’.

Housing related support, works with a wide range of vulnerable groups to help them live
independently. There are 21 different Supporting People client groups ranging from the
young single homeless to older people. Some individuals have complex needs and
therefore meet the criteria for more than one client group. For example, a homeless
person may also have literacy problems and health issues.

In addition to the number of different client groups Supporting People generally works
with three different types of need:-

          a)      People in receipt of care with support.
          b)      People living independently with support only.
          c)      People experiencing, or at risk of, social exclusion.

These are not discrete or exclusive categories. Some people could be included in more
than one, and others will move between them.

Delivery of the Supporting People program for Harlow is administered directly by the
Essex County Council Supporting People Team. Further details can be found on their
website 33 .

Not all vulnerable people require supported schemes and the Council has worked with
other organisations, Councils and the Supporting People Team to develop “floating
support” services.


32
     http://www.communities.gov.uk
33
     http://supportingpeople.essexcc.gov.uk

                                                                                       37
Harlow now has a holistic service that is accessible to people living in all tenure types
within the town. Introduced in April 07 initial uptake is detailed in the below table: –

                                                   April 07 – November 07
Number of approaches and enquiries for floating 156
support
Total number of approaches accepted               86
Total number of approaches accepted and finalised 66

a) Young People
Preventing homelessness can have a huge influence on a young person’s life chances.
Good housing and support means that they are more likely to enter training, get a job,
have a better standard of health and be able to take advantage of opportunities that they
are offered.

The Homeless Act 2002 extended the statutory duty for priority need to include some
young people. All 16-and17 year olds and care leavers aged between 18 and 20 have
a priority need for housing if they become homeless through no fault of their own.

In partnership with East Thames Housing Association Harlow has access to Occasio
House. This is a purpose built supported housing scheme in the town aimed at young
people requiring support to sustain tenancies at a young age. Offered as short-term
leases this accommodation aims to provide ‘Life skills’ training and support is offered to
individuals to help them move on into a variety of tenures.

There is currently a joint Harlow Council/ Essex County Council purpose built scheme to
provide specific accommodation for young people leaving care. It was completed in
2008 and provides specific units for this group.

b) People with Drug and/or Alcohol Problems
There is currently no specific socially provided project for this group in Harlow. There is
however, a scheme that will be privately run by Vale House Stabilisation Services
(VHSS). This charitable organisation will work in partnership with the local Primary Care
Trust (PCT) team and Essex County Council’s Drug and Alcohol Team (CDAT) to
provide residential units for people with addiction problems in the West Essex area
including Harlow.

c) People at Risk of Offending/ Ex-Offenders - Single Homeless People
There is currently no emergency direct access supported housing for single homeless
people and people at risk of offending in Harlow. There is a need to establish the actual
demand and type of service that is required; this is something that will be undertaken
over the next year.

d) People with Learning Difficulties
Harlow has a high provision of supported housing for people with learning difficulties (a
total of 19 units). The delivery of a people with autistic behaviour (PAB) scheme is
currently being developed in Harlow and will provide 12 units.

e) People with Mental Health Problems
The Essex Joint Strategic Needs assessment states 34

“In relation to mental health in Essex, dementia is expected to increase to just under
30,000 by 2025. This is a much greater rate of increase (67%) than in England (55%).


34
   The Essex Joint Strategic Needs Assessment can be found at-
http://www.essexpartnership.org/vip8/com/Community/dis/content.jsp?channelOid=18658


                                                                                        38
Depression is the most common mental illness in older people and the second
commonest single underlying cause for all GP consultations. There are currently just
under 40,000 (highest prevalence estimate) people aged 65+ in Essex who are suffering
from depression. By 2025, it is predicted that there will be 51,000 sufferers aged over 65
years.

Harlow has a number of supported housing schemes for people with mental health
problems. However, these tend to provide short-term solutions and consequently longer
term supported housing is required.

f) Women Escaping Domestic Violence
 Harlow has a high number of supported housing schemes for women escaping
domestic violence provided through Harlow and Broxbourne Women’s Aid.

g) Physical Disability
Corporate Context
Through its corporate approach to physical disability the Council is committed to meeting
the needs of its disabled residents.

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 placed a challenge on all public bodies to make
reasonable adjustments to their services and operations to end the discrimination that
many disabled people face.

The 1995 Disability Discrimination Act was amended in 2005. This introduced a new
duty on public authorities, requiring them, when exercising their functions, to have due
regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, and harassment and to promote
equality of opportunity between disabled persons and other persons. Tackling
institutional disability discrimination in this piece of legislation runs parallel to that of
racial inequality through the Race Relations Act 1976 and Amendment Act of 2001

Further details on the Council’s Corporate Disability Equality Scheme can be found on
our website. 35 .

Access to Housing
The Council is committed to meeting the needs of its disabled residents. Working in
partnership with Social Care, the Council aims to find the best solution for people’s
situations. These can range from adapting a present home through to re-housing in a
more suitable property via the Choice Based Lettings Scheme.

Housing Allocation of specific adapted properties
The allocation policy for housing for those with a specific disability can be found in
section 3.3 of the Council’s Allocation’s policy 36 .

Harlow Council as a Social Landlord
The Council provides minor adaptations for its tenants free of charge. If a major
adaptation is required, applicants will be asked to apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant to
fund the works.

Private sector applicants
For residents within the private sector please refer to the section on the Home
Improvement Agency and the Disabled Facilities Grant (Page 52)




35
     http://www.harlow.gov.uk/docs/-DDA%20Scheme%20and%20Action%20Plan.doc
36
     http://www.harlow.gov.uk/pdf/ALLOCATIONS%20POLICY%20from%2014-9-07.pdf.


                                                                                          39
h) Older People
The population of Harlow is ageing with the numbers of people aged 65+ set to rise by
21 %. by 2015 Demographic trends suggest that in future older people will be living
alone and that less support will be available from family carers. These factors alongside
increasing numbers of older people and increasing life expectancy will raise the demand
on existing services.

The Council recognises that housing has a key role to play in maintaining independent
living for older people for as long as is feasible and in helping to prevent unnecessary
admission to residential care or hospital.       The Council can assist with a range of
measures from low level interventions such the provision of a community alarm, or fall
detectors, through to Disabled Facilities Grant, or assistance with minor or major repairs,
to high level interventions such as a transfer to more suitable independent housing or
assistance in a sheltered or frail elderly scheme.

A review of the Council’s Sheltered Housing Services is currently underway and is due to
be completed in early 2009. This review of the Sheltered Housing and Care Line
Service is being undertaken to ensure that services provided are of the highest possible
standard, represent value for money and will be responsive to the changing needs and
aspirations of current and future customers.

Additionally, Essex County Council is now undertaking a review of the support that is
funded by Supporting People which will be completed towards the end of 2008 or early
2009.

Essex County Council is also currently reviewing the targets for Local Area Agreements
through which funding may be directed to particular groups, including meeting the needs
of older people. It is, therefore, an appropriate time to ensure that any necessary
improvements to existing services can be linked to these strategic developments in order
to make best use of existing and future resources.

vii)    Gypsies and Travellers
Planning Circular 01/2006 Planning for Gypsy and Traveller Caravan Sites sets out
guidance for Councils to identify appropriate land for Gypsy and Traveller sites through
the planning system to deal with the growing shortage of sites and prevent unauthorised
sites in problem locations. The Gypsy and Traveller Sites Grant has made up to £56
million available nationally over the years 2006/7 and 2007/8 to fund new provision and
refurbish existing sites. The grant is distributed through the Regional Housing Boards.

The following information is the formal numbers of travellers recorded in Harlow over the
last 3 years.


            Authorised      sites Unauthorised Sites Without Planning Permission              Total all
            (with       planning                                                              Caravans
            permission)
            Socially Private      No. of Caravans on No. of Caravans on Sites
            Rented                Sites on Gypsies own on land not owned by
                                  land                     Gypsies
                                  Tolerated   Not          Tolerated Not
                                              Tolerated                Tolerated
Jan 08      52        0           0           0            0           0                      52
Jul 07      51        0           0           0            0           0                      51
Jan 07      51        0           0           0            0           0                      51
Jul 06      50        0           0           0            0           0                      50
Jan 06      50        0           0           0            0           0                      50
Jul 05      65        0           0           0            0           0                      65
Jan 05      34        0           0           0            0           2                      36
                                                                                        40
Source - http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/xls/table1counts.xls

The following information highlights the available site provision in Harlow:-

Total No of Pitches               Capacity                           Date of CLG count
36                                72                                 21/01/08


Source - http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/xls/table2.xls
Further publications are due from East England Regional Assembly (EERA) and Essex
County Council in the near future where a possible increase in official authorised sites
may be required

Viii) Black & Minority Ethnic Groups
 Harlow is a multi-cultural community with black and ethnic minorities estimated to
account for 12% of the population as of June 2006. 2,000 persons in Harlow are
classified as White: Other White, which includes European and East European ethnic
groups, and over 1,100 persons are classified as White Irish. Non-white ethnic groups
make up around 8% of the Harlow population, with the largest non-white ethic minority
groups being Asian, or Asian British Indian, and Black or Black British African.




                   Broad Ethnic Groups                     Percentage
                   White                                   91.9%
                   Asian or Asian British                  2.7%
                   Black or Black British                  2.1%
                   Chinese or other Ethnic Group           1.7%
                   Mixed                                   1.7%
                   Total                                   100%



The below table shows that during 2001, 73,909 persons were born in the United
Kingdom. 2001 Census data also shows that 2,600 of those persons born in the UK
were from Black and Ethnic Minority groups (all groups other than White GB).

Place of Birth                                                       Number of People    Percentage
Born in United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Northern                  73,909              93.83%
Ireland, Wales)
Born in Western Europe (Exc. UK)                                     1,765               2.2%
Born in Asia (Middle East, Far East, South Asia)                     1,522               1.9%
Born in Africa                                                       750                 1.0%
Born in North America (Canada, USA, Caribbean)                       326                 0.4%
Born in Eastern Europe                                               255                 0.3%
Born in Oceania (Australia, New Zealand, & Other)                    157                 0.2%
Born in South America                                                45                  0.1%
Born Elsewhere                                                       38                  0.05%




                                                                                          41
Born in Europe: United Kingdom                               Number of People        Percentage
Born in England                                              71,867                  97.2%
Born in Scotland                                             1,104                   1.5%
Born in Northern Ireland                                     228                     0.3%
Born in Wales                                                705                     1.0%
Born in Part not specified                                   5                       0.01%

The Council’s Race Equality Scheme 2005-2008 highlights the Council’s commitment to
support and work within the obligations of the Race Relations Amendment Act 2000 as
well as the Council’s Corporate Plan. The Corporate Plan sets out the Council’s vision,
values, priorities and objectives, which is detailed in chapter 2. Within this document the
Council highlights the importance of the impact assessment process on functions and
any policies in place within the Council by carrying out a screening process. The
screening process will allow staff to look at how much impact whether negative or
positive the function/policy has to promoting race equality.

The Race Equality Scheme does not require the Council to put all adverse policies right
immediately but requires the Council to prioritise the functions and policies that have the
most adverse impact on service delivery. The Council’s Housing Services has assessed
the Council’s current allocation criteria (Choice Based Lettings policy) and any revisions
to this will also be subject to an impact assessment.         Further work is required on
improving the satisfaction levels of black and ethnic minority Council tenants which
should be at a comparable level to the percentage representation in Harlow.
Harlow currently has a Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Housing Strategy 37 that is linked
closely to this strategy.

Harlow also played a key part in the delivery of the “facing the facts” research 38 . This
research was independently delivered through the Essex Housing Officers Group and
from this Harlow now has an independent LCB BME Citizens panel. This panel is
representative of the minority groups within the Harlow District and can be consulted and
met with on an ad-hoc basis.

National Insurance Number Registrations in respect of non-UK Nationals in
2005/06 by Local Authority and country of origin
During 2005/07, the largest number of National Insurance Registrations in Harlow in
respect of non-UK Nationals came from persons from Poland, India, the Slovak
Republic, Bangladesh, Ghana and South Africa respectively. Of note, the number of
National Insurance registrations from persons from Bangladesh and Ghana are
significantly higher in Harlow when compared to other areas in the County. From
2005/07 Harlow had a total of 1,650 National Insurance registrations from non-UK
nationals. When calculated as a rate per 1,000 persons of the working age population
this equates to the highest rate in the County at 33.4 registrations per 1,000 working age
population.


                                       Data for Harlow
Poland                       410                          Australia                   30
India                        170                          Germany                     30
Slovak Rep                   160                          Czech                       30
Ghana                        70                           Rep China                   20
Bangladesh                   60                           Portugal                    20
South Africa                 50                           Spain                       20

37
   http://www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/housing/housing_strategies_-
statistics/black_minority_ethnic_housing.aspx).
38
   http://www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/housing/housing_strategies_-
statistics/black_minority_ethnic_housing.aspx

                                                                                              42
Rep of Lithuania             40                        Philippines                20
Pakistan                     40                        Canada                     20
France                       40                        Italy                      10
Rep of Latvia                40                        USA                        10
People Rep Nigeria           40                        Brazil                     10
Rep of Ireland               40                        New Zealand                -
Hungary                      40                        All registrations          1,650
Netherlands                  40                        Working age pop            49,400
Zimbabwe                     40                        Rate per 1,000 working     33.4
                                                       age pop



3.1.3 Infrastructure

The East of England Plan (EEP) has identified Harlow as a Key Centre for Development
and Change and a Priority Area for Regeneration. The EEP has determined large scale
housing growth for Harlow and its environs to the extent of 16,000 extra homes by 2021
with possibly another 10,000 by 2031, effectively almost doubling the size of the existing
town.

Investment in Infrastructure is therefore essential for Harlow to deliver growth. It must
enable the integration of any new development with the existing town and key to this will
be an improved transportation network to enable an enlarged Harlow to function well.
Without this, and other necessary improvements, existing infrastructure pressures will
simply be exacerbated and hamper Harlow’s success economically and inevitably as a
community. Harlow Council has therefore only ever accepted growth on the basis that
the necessary infrastructure investment will be provided. Harlow Council and its
partners are therefore working hard to identify and achieve the necessary infrastructure
investments.

As part of the preparation of the Local Development Framework, studies have been
commissioned to ascertain both Infrastructure and Employment Land needs. Both of
these studies have yet to complete but will do so within the next three-to-four months
which will enable a more extensive assessment of major infrastructure
requirements/projects to be arrived at. However, there are a number of key strategic
infrastructure requirements already identified.

The most immediate barrier to delivering growth in and around Harlow is the lack of
capacity in existing strategic infrastructure, most notably:

•   Sewerage infrastructure, particularly treatment works
•   Electricity distribution network
•   Transport infrastructure (public transport and road as set out in the Transportation
    Board action plan – most notably the need for a new M11 junction and A414 link
    road)


The Programme of Development (POD) Partnership established to bid for, and spend,
Growth Area Funds (GAF) includes seven local authorities: Harlow, Epping Forest,
Uttlesford, East Herts and Broxbourne Districts; and Essex and Hertfordshire County
Councils; as well as a range of other partners including Harlow Renaissance and a
variety of ‘green’ partners.


                                                                                       43
Projects included in POD are: transportation study, water cycle study and electricity sub-
station development.

Harlow is well connected by road and rail to London, Stansted Airport and Cambridge.
The M11 and M25 run close to the town, and Harlow’s two rail stations are served by the
West Anglia Mainline, with fast connections to London and Stansted Airport from Harlow
Town.

Despite this excellent location, Harlow suffers from significant congestion due to:
  • Only one motorway junction serves the town
  • The A414 runs through the centre of the Town
  • Employment areas are located in the Town Centre and to the North and West,
     whereas the motorway junction is to the south east

Other transport issues include, the distance between Harlow’s train stations and the
town centre and many residential areas; and behavioural and cultural issues including a
tendency to use the car rather than the bus or walking, and a need to increase physical
activity rates.

The Harlow Stansted Gateway Transportation Board is a partnership between key
councils, national agencies and the private sector, aimed at addressing transport
challenges facing the Harlow-Stansted area. The Board is recognised in the East of
England Plan as the key vehicle for developing and testing transport options for the sub-
region. Essex County, Herts County, Epping Forest, East Herts. and Harlow Councils
attend.

The Board is developing an Action Plan that will investigate, identify and justify
transportation solutions for the Harlow Stansted area. This will provide the basis for the
necessary infrastructure and investments required.

The Action Plan focuses on the following themes:

   •   Evidence base & modelling

   •   Congestion busting

   •   Connections to the Strategic Road Network

   •   Bus Enhancements (Harlow Area Rapid Transit System (HART))

   •   Rail Enhancements

   •   Cycling & Walking

   •   Behavioural change

   •   Town Centre

   •   Parking




                                                                                       44
4.0 Strategic Objectives
The Council has consulted and identified with its partners, further developments it wants
and needs to make to meet the housing need and aspirations of the existing and future
residents of Harlow. As the national, regional and local drivers change, which they are
bound to over the five-year life of this Strategy, the Council will continue to adapt and
take opportunities as they arise.

In collaboration with the London Commuter Belt Sub-Regional Housing Group we have
identified three strategic objectives that are relevant to all the partners. In addition, the
Council has adopted its own strategic objectives to provide an effective and efficient
service. The actions that contribute to the objectives are both agreed sub-regional ones
and also local actions that are relevant to Harlow. The Action Plan is at Appendix 1 and
contains both the Sub-Regional and the local actions. The Housing Strategies produced
by the 15 local authority partners in the LCB, all follow a similar format and will be
amalgamated into a Housing Strategy for the London Commuter Belt Sub-Region in
2009. The Action Plan is a working document and may need to be adapted or amended
as further instances of best practice emerge, or when the results of the SHMA are known
or if external drivers, such as significant changes in the national economy emerge.

4.1 Strategic Objective One

“Maximise the delivery of a range of new affordable homes and make best use of
existing housing resources to help those in housing need”
Our vision for Partnership delivery
To develop strong informative partnerships with all agencies to deliver a high performing,
customer focused service to the community of Harlow. Through developing these
partnerships we will develop a range of options to meet housing need in Harlow
Our vision for Homelessness
Through accurate advice, prevention and, when appropriate, intervention we will provide
customers with guidance and assistance to help each individual’s housing need. The
council will use its resources to develop a range of methods for meeting homelessness
crisis.

There is a growing affordability problem in Harlow. This is a result of many factors but
predominantly due to high prices in comparison to income levels. This in turn is placing
greater pressure on the existing affordable housing in the town. There is simply not
enough affordable housing to meet the increasing need of Harlow’s residents.

Ensuring a supply of new affordable housing is challenging, but with the new schemes at
the Gateway and at Newhall there will at the very least be a limited supply of affordable
housing coming through. The Council and its partners must continually seek to secure
opportunities for the development of new affordable housing, to maximise access to
existing affordable housing through nomination agreements with Registered Social
Landlords (RSLs) and to make effective use of existing affordable rented homes through
management of the housing register.




                                                                                          45
4.1.1   What is already being done?

a)     Developing new housing
The East of England Plan Policy H1 – Regional Housing provision 2001-2021, sets out a
minimum dwelling provision for the Harlow area of 16,000 new homes (this includes
development in the neighbouring Council’s of East Herts and Epping Forest).

Under the new planning system, introduced in 2004, each local authority is at a different
stage in preparing its Local Development Framework (LDF).           The Council began
preliminary work on its LDF in late 2007 and anticipates adoption of this document
during 2010/11. In the interim period up to 2011, Harlow’s adopted Local Plan, sets out
the strategy for development across the Town, including that for housing provision.

In terms of developing new affordable housing the Council’s role is that of an ‘enabler’
which consists of identifying housing need and bringing together key partners to
generate new opportunities for affordable housing development. The Council has 6
preferred partner RSLs that it works with on the delivery of affordable housing in the
district. The objective is to provide homes of the right size; type and tenure that meet
housing need and that are high quality, energy efficient and promote sustainable,
balanced, mixed communities.

Annual Housing Requirement for Harlow – As reported in Opinion Research Services
Housing Requirement Study (taken from 5 year requirement) -
Property Type       Shared                Social Rent       Total Affordable
                    Ownership          /
                    Homebuy
Gross Requirements
1 bedroom           84                    236               320
2 bedrooms          116                   240               356
3 bedrooms          69                    74                143
4+ bedrooms         6                     62                68
Total               275                   612               887

Net Requirements
1 bedroom          53                  Nil                       53
2 bedrooms         16                  43                        59
3 bedrooms         10                  Nil                       10
4 bedrooms         6                   24                        30
Total              85                  67                        152
Market = 64% LCHO = 20% Social Rent = 16%

Our targets are set out in the Local Area Agreement (NI155) and reflect the forecasts for
development. This figure will be reviewed following the outcome of the strategic housing
market assessment in early 2009.

The Council will continue to work with partners to develop innovative ideas and solutions
aimed at providing affordable homes within Harlow.

As well as increasing the number of new affordable homes provided, the Council and its
RSL partners are driving to push up the environmental quality of the new homes. All new
affordable housing must meet The Housing Corporation Quality Standard of level 3 of
the Code for Sustainable Homes that Government released in April 2007.

The Council’s Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), Affordable Housing Policy
stipulates that on residential developments of 15 dwellings or more up to 33% affordable
homes should be included. The document sets out what type and tenure of affordable
housing private developers must provide on their sites. This ensures that the Council

                                                                                      46
gets the right type of affordable housing. Lifetime homes provision is included and it is
expected that 25% of the 33% of all new affordable homes constructed be to Lifetime
Homes standards 39 .

b)      Making better use of existing affordable housing
In addition to the provision of new affordable homes, the Council wishes to make better
use of existing affordable housing to ensure we are effectively using what is already
available.

i)     Nominations to existing social housing
Nominations to existing affordable housing are how the greatest number of people in
housing need are assisted. The Council has an agreement with all the RSLs owning
affordable homes in the District. The agreement states how many homes the Council
can nominate households from the housing register to in each of the RSLs different
housing schemes. Standard practice is that the Council will nominate to 100% of all new
properties the first time they are let and then to 75% of all subsequent vacancies
occurring in a scheme.

The Council is in the process of evaluating the possibility of a Common Housing Register
for Harlow to provide one point of access for all social rented accommodation in the
town.

ii)    Overcrowding and under occupation:
In December 2007 the Government published a paper called Tackling Overcrowding in
England: An Action Plan. In the paper it states that they want ‘a new focus on
overcrowding alongside homelessness to help improve homes for all’.

       •   The Government want to see a substantial reduction in the number of
           households who are living in overcrowded conditions. They believe that this will
           provide better circumstances for individual households to achieve their ambitions
           and improve their life chances.

The level of under occupation in Harlow in both the public and private sector is currently
unidentified. The Council operates an Incentive Scheme within its existing Council
Housing Policy to encourage people living in larger homes they no longer need to move
to something smaller thereby freeing up a large property for another family.

In September 2008 the Council reviewed its allocations policy , and will be looking to
offer a package of support to those people wishing to move to smaller accommodation.

Similarly the level of under occupation in the private sector is unknown, and further
research is required. The suggestion is that there is a lack of suitable accommodation
available for ‘last time buyers’ and filling this gap may result in optimum occupation of
private sector homes.

iii)   Empty Homes
Long term empty homes in the private sector present a potential resource to Harlow.
Harlow is fortunate that it has a relatively low number of long-term empty homes. The
table below compares 2007 levels for Harlow with the total for England, and for the
Eastern region.

                          Total empties    Percent of stock       Private  empty    for
                                                                  more than 6 months
England                   672,924          3.02%                  279,281
East of England           61,028           2.5%                   26,244
Harlow                    554              1.58%                  140

39
     http://www.harlow.gov.uk

                                                                                          47
One major initiative has been the Private Lease Agreements Converting Empties
(PLACE) project, which is a pilot project that received £3.5 million funding from the
Government and is a partnership between Harlow, Chelmsford, East Herts, Epping
Forest and Uttlesford Councils. It provides grant funding for the complete renovation of
empty homes. The renovation work is managed by an RSL who then leases the
property for three years during which time it is used to provide homes to households that
have approached the Council for assistance with their housing circumstances. For more
information please visit our website 40 .

4.1.2     Strategic outcomes for the future for tacking affordability and meeting
          housing need: -
      •   Work with partners to endeavour to increase supply of affordable housing.
      •   Look at the feasibility of and progress any recommendations to look at setting up
          a Local Housing Company to deliver new affordable housing and improvements
          to the existing stock.
      •   To evaluate and monitor levels of affordability both at district level and sub-
          regionally.
      •   Develop landlord accreditation scheme in the private sector.
      •   Increase awareness of all housing solutions to those in housing need.
      •   Review the existing Choice Based Lettings policy and develop the service as
          best practice emerges.
      .




40
     http://www.harlow.gov.uk

                                                                                        48
4.2 Strategic Objective Two -

“Improve the condition of Harlow’s housing stock across all sectors”
Our vision for Decent Homes
To ensure that Harlow meets the Decent Homes standard across all sectors by
developing initiatives that assists all households.
Our vision for the Private Sector
Through development of this sector we will utilise the private sector as a key tool to
deliver housing solutions, independent living and create safe sustainable communities .
We will improve the condition of Harlow’s housing stock across all sectors
Our vision for the Housing Regeneration Initiatives
The council is committed to supporting the choice of tenants. We will look at local
solutions to tackle problems and drive forward the council’s corporate vision

The Government Green Paper Quality and Choice: a Decent Home for All (2000)
recognises that the condition of people’s homes has wide implications;
       Our homes influence our well-being, our sense of worth, and our ties to our
       families, communities and work. If we live in decent housing we are more likely to
       benefit from good health, higher educational attainment and better-paid work.

And that;
       People who are decently housed have a stronger sense of security and place.
       Decent housing strengthens communities and provides a better setting in which
       to raise families. It improves health and educational achievement and provides a
       long-term asset that can be passed on to future generations.

In 2000 the Government set a target that by 2010 all social housing should meet a
minimum standard of decency. The target was extended in 2002 to vulnerable
households in the private sector with a trajectory of 65% decent by 2006/07, 70% by
2010 and 75% by 2020. The target for decent homes in the private sector has recently
been abandoned by the Government. Nevertheless, improving the condition of people’s
homes and ensuring that current stock is maintained for future generations is a priority
for housing in the Town.

4.2.1   What we know is happening.

a)     The private sector
The condition of properties in the private sector is primarily the responsibility of its
owners but the Council recognizes limitations on some owners’ ability to maintain heat
and improve their homes. The demographic trends in the Town are particularly important
for housing in the private sector as an ageing population maybe less able to afford to
maintain their homes and require greater assistance to do so.

The Government has made changes to the way Councils measure the condition of
private housing to check for faults in homes and assess how dangerous they are to the
health and safety of someone living in the home, visiting it, neighbours or people passing
by it. This new system is called the Health and Safety Rating System which gives each
home a hazard score based on the likelihood of the hazard occurring, how serious it
would be if the hazard occurred and the risk to health and safety. The higher the score
the greater the hazard to health and safety.

The Government’s standard for ‘Decent Homes’ is that housing should
   a) meet the current statutory minimum standard for housing i.e. at that time, not
      unfit, but now to be free from significant hazards.
   b) be in a reasonable state of repair.

                                                                                       49
      c) have reasonably modern facilities and services.
      d) provide a reasonable degree of thermal comfort.

Privately owned homes make up the majority of housing available in Harlow. In 2007, the
Council commissioned a survey of private sector house condition. Although the final
report is in the process of being reviewed a sample of the key headlines are shown
below:-
    • Decent Homes - An estimated 5,800 dwellings in Harlow (24.9% of the stock)
        are non decent. The majority of dwellings are non decent due to thermal comfort
        failure (3,300 dwellings, 14.3% of the stock compared with 19.8% at national
        level).
    • Unfitness and the Housing Health and Safety Rating System - The overall
        rate of unfitness of 1.2% (300 dwellings) in the private sector housing across
        Harlow is below the proportion of unfit dwellings in England (4%). Since the new
        Housing Health and Safety Rating System has replaced the Fitness Standard
        from April 2006 the proportion of dwellings with a Category 1 Hazard has become
        the more significant figure. At present 1,200 (5.3%) dwellings are estimated to
        have at least one Category 1 Hazard.
    • Repair Costs - The total requirement for repair in all dwellings that fail under the
        repair criterion of the Decent Homes Standard is £3.6 million, an average of
        £1,660 per dwelling. The comprehensive cost of repair in the same dwellings
        totals £19.5 million, an average of £9,110 per dwelling. Due to the distribution of
        household income levels in Harlow, a significant part of the demand for repairs is
        likely to come from households where income is below £10,000 per annum and
        where vulnerable occupiers live.
    • Modern Facilities - 400 dwellings, 1.9% of the private sector housing stock, fail
        the Decent Homes Standard because they provide inadequate modern facilities.
        This is above the national average of 1.3%. The nature of this criterion of the
        Decent Homes Standard means that this number is unlikely to increase
        significantly in the coming years.
    • Thermal Comfort and Energy Efficiency - There are estimated to be 850
        (3.7%) dwellings which contain households in fuel poverty within Harlow. The
        Centre for Sustainable Energy Fuel Poverty Indicator shows the national average
        to be approximately 6.1% when using the full income data.

The Council will publish further information on the results of the stock condition survey
when it is available.

Further details on privately owned homes are addressed through the Council’s existing
Private Sector Housing Strategy. This will be updated in 2009 41 .

i)     Energy Efficiency and Affordable Warmth
The Council has a commitment to the local environment to ensure “A clean, safe and
sustainable environment” as its top strategic priority.

Investment into energy efficiency services directed at vulnerable households in the
private sector will assist in both meeting Decent Homes targets and the expectations of
the Audit Commission by providing an effective and efficient service that is accessible to
all residents in Harlow, not just Council tenants. It also potentially reduces the number of
dwellings that are unfit or where a Category 1 hazard exists.

The Council is dedicated to the reduction of fuel poverty, energy consumption and the
release of harmful emissions in the environment and is currently reviewing it
Sustainability Strategy. The Council will make best use of external funding and
partnership arrangements. The Council currently undertakes the following activities:-

41
     http://www.harlow.gov.uk.

                                                                                         50
       (a)    Provides funding to the local Home Improvement Agency (Papworth
              Trust) to provide a signposting and information service to different
              communities on Energy Efficiency.

       (b)    Helps to promote the work of the Eaga Partnership through the
              ‘WarmFront’ scheme. This is the national Government vehicle for the
              promotion of affordable warmth. The Council sends letters with details of
              the scheme to all owner occupied householders that are in receipt of
              benefits 2 times a year.

       (c)    Through a partnership with British Gas the Council offers a £75 rebate off
              the cost of cavity wall or loft insulation to persons in the ‘able to pay’
              sector. British Gas will also provide free insulation to their customers over
              the age of 70.

       (d)    The Council has benefited from the advice and support of ‘National
              Energy Action’ who has assisted the lead member for fuel poverty to set
              strategic objectives and formulate policies and goals that will be used to
              formulate the Council’s ‘Affordable Warmth strategy.

       (e)    In partnership with Mark Insulation the Council has rolled out their ‘Energy
              Care’ scheme to householders in the Netteswell ward. The scheme
              makes use of the Council’s local knowledge and data to promote free
              cavity wall or loft insulation to households in a defined geographical area.
              Initially, a letter is sent to all eligible households within the area followed
              by door knocking exercise. Both the Council and Mark Insulation shall be
              able to access the website to book surveys and check on the progress of
              the work.

       (f)    Partnership with Age Concern and E-ON to promote the take-up of free
              insulation by vulnerable elderly households through a new scheme that
              has been promoted by E-ON. The scheme provides a cash incentive to
              voluntary groups to promote free installation of cavity wall or loft
              insulation.

       (g)    The Council has distributed over 5,000 free light bulbs to vulnerable
              persons in the town over the last 12 months and intends to distribute free
              ‘power-downs’ and more free energy saving light bulbs over the next
              financial year.


ii)    HMOs and Licensing
A well maintained and managed private rented sector including houses in multiple
occupation (HMOs), is essential to the wellbeing of those who cannot, or do not wish to,
access the owner occupied or social housing sectors.

The Housing Act 2004 introduced a new evidence based approach to assessing the
suitability of housing for occupation, by replacing the fitness standard with the Housing,
Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). The HHSRS methodology involves
assessing the likelihood of harm arising from certain hazards. New duties and powers
relating to private sector housing were also introduced, bringing significant changes for
local authorities and private landlords.

The Act also introduced mandatory licensing of HMOs with three or more storeys and
five or more occupiers not living as a family, with certain exemptions, such as buildings
converted into flats. A licence is issued where the house is reasonably suitable for


                                                                                          51
occupation as an HMO, the management arrangements are satisfactory, and the
licensee and manager are fit and proper persons.

Publicity about HMO licensing has taken place by placing information on the Council’s
website, visits to letting agents, letters and presentations to the landlord forums.

There is a requirement for an HHSRS assessment to be carried out within five years of a
licence being issued. The Council aims to do so within three years of issuing a license,
or before issuing the license where possible, although priority is given to licensing
applications received.

In addition to the current work, the following areas have been highlighted for
action:

Continue to deliver improvements to the private rented sector through the use of HMO
licensing.

iii)   Empty Homes
The Council’s empty homes action plan sets out the staged approach to tackling empty
homes. As well as making better use of existing dwellings, these activities contribute to
targets for decent homes. Although there are relatively few long-term empty private
sector homes the Council is working to ensure these properties are returned to use
where possible.

b)      Public Sector stock
The Council is by far the largest single owner of homes in Harlow, making up over 30%
of the homes in Harlow.

The Council owns approximately 10,000 homes, of these 40% are flats and 60% are
houses or bungalows of which 15% were built using non-traditional construction
methods. As many were built around the same time, many of the Council’s properties
are simultaneously encountering the same problems, producing an unusually high
concentration of demand for repair and replacement of homes.

Our stock condition survey found that 2,574 of the Council’s properties failed to meet
one or more of the criteria that make up the standard. At 1 April 2008 the number of non-
decent homes had fallen to 806.

The Council’s targets for achieving Decent Homes standard are set out in the table
below. The numbers of non decent homes shall be no greater than identified in the
following table, which shows the target for the maximum non decent homes at 1st April
each year:

                 YEAR       2007          2008      2009       2010
                 Properties 600           728       364        0

The condition of the Council’s housing stock does not stand still. Homes, which originally
met the Decent Homes Standard, may fail to do so over time and homes that originally
failed to meet the standard may do so as a result of works carried out to them. In order
to address this, the Council assesses the works its homes will require over a thirty-year
period. This includes works required to ensure the Government target of all homes
meeting the standard by 2010 is met and works to ensure that all homes continue to
meet the standard.

The Decent Homes Standard only measures a limited amount of repairs and
improvements to homes and is, in the Council’s view, a basic standard for modern
homes to meet. It does not take into account the broader wishes of Council tenants for
improvements to homes and housing areas. Consequently, the Council has taken the
                                                                                       52
view that its programme of works will not just be limited to those necessary to meet the
DHS target. The programmes include works designed to meet tenants’ wishes for
improvements and to help build the overall sustainability of Council owned homes and
housing areas.

In the financial year 2007/08, the level of non-decent homes fell to 7.5% of the overall
stock. This is significantly better than the national average, which is around 22%, and
places the Council in the upper quartile of best performing local authorities.

Full details of the repairs and improvements needed for the Council’s homes and the
costs of carrying out the work are set out in Harlow Council’s Housing Asset
Management Strategy 2007, which can be found on the website 42 .


c)       Kier Harlow Ltd – Joint Venture Company

The Council’s joint venture partnership with Kier has had an important role in bringing
about service improvements to the repairs service and also in delivering value for
money. The partnership has provided the opportunity for a new business to be created
in which the Council retains an important stake and influence, and has also brought new
life, motivation and direction, as well as changing the culture of the organisation to more
appropriately reflect the market place in which it now operates.

In brief summary, the following are some of the benefits the JVCo. have brought:-

     •       More certainty in going forward with the workforce.
     •       Contract backed performance improvements.
     •       Risk transfer away from the Council.
     •       The creation of a sustainable business in which the Council has a share.
     •       The injection of private sector experience in modernising the business.
     •       A demonstrable move towards increased partnership working.
     •       New work opportunities in the surrounding area.
     •       The Council to share in any future profitability of the business.
     •       Stakeholder involvement through the Partnership Board.
     •       Organisational cultural change.

Tenant Inspectors

Harlow Council has now recruited several tenant inspectors. Their main aim is to assess
people’s perceptions of the performance of the repairs service and provide reports to
both Kier Harlow and Harlow Council as to the performance and progress.


4.2.2      Strategic outcomes for the future - increasing decent homes: -
           (a)    Ensure that all Council and RSL tenants live in decent homes that meet
                  the Government’s Decent Homes Standard, through the effective
                  maintenance of the public sector housing stock.

           (b)    Work to find solutions and options to tackle the issues identified as
                  Harlow’s ‘Priority Estates’.

           (c)    Ensure that adequate information is obtained and updated on the
                  condition of the public sector housing stock, through periodic stock



42
     http://www.harlow.gov.uk/Default.aspx?sID=860.

                                                                                           53
      condition surveys and procedures to record maintenance work
      undertaken.

(d)   The Council will review its Private Sector Housing Strategy in 2009.

(e)   Deliver against actions highlighted in Private Sector stock condition
      survey including affordable warmth and category 1 hazards and to bring
      private sector empty homes back into use.

(f)   Evaluate enforcement powers for Harlow Council in the private sector.

(g)   Monitor and improve the quality of temporary accommodation for
      homeless people.

(h)   Work to ensure that all partners work together help deliver
      neighbourhoods that are clean, safe and sustainable.




                                                                              54
4.3 Strategic Objective Three -

“Help develop sustainable and safe communities”
Our vision for Harlow Council’s Housing Management
To become a high performing social housing management organisation that is
recognised both nationally and regionally as a best practice example. We will ensure
that this operational service meets top quartile performance across all elements of social
housing management.

The Council is committed to helping to create and maintain sustainable neighbourhoods
and communities. This section of the Strategy sets out how the Council and its partner
agencies will contribute to the development and maintenance of sustainable
communities through housing-related activity.       Achieving sustainable communities
requires effective approaches both in terms of policies to promote inclusiveness, assist
the vulnerable, increase safety and the perception of safety and in ensuring the built
environment and public space meets people’s needs and aspirations.

4.3.1   What we know is happening

Shaping Neighbourhoods
It is important that when the Council is making large investments in areas and
developing homes that this includes improving the local environment. Good public
spaces and facilities are key to creating sustainable communities. It is about creating
quality spaces in which people want to live and can be proud of and which others will
respect.
The Local Plan is concerned with the delivery of sustainable development. The policies
and proposals it contains have been written in the context of national, regional and
Structure Plan guidance and provide the land use guidance for the Council and external
strategies.

Local Housing Company and the Area Investment Renewal Framework
In 2007 it was announced that Harlow would be a pilot authority for the Government
initiative of the Local Housing Company. The council is working across departments and
with Harlow Renaissance Ltd to determine whether a Local Housing Company might be
a suitable delivery vehicle for housing regeneration across the town, in particular for
those estates identified in the Area Investment Renewal Framework.

Priority Estates – Housing Regeneration Initiatives
The identified estates in Harlow have a number of issues, which principally revolve
around the homes being built as ‘short life’ properties following which it was expected
they would be replaced.

The Area Investment Renewal Framework identified a number of potential proposals
ranging from redevelopment, targeted renewal, and stock transfer. Whilst no formal
studies have been completed, and no decisions have yet to be made as to future
options, any proposals will be evaluated fully in consultation with tenants and residents
which may bring longer-term sustainability and may provide more choice of their housing
solution.

Each of the estates is very different and will require different solutions. On five of the six
identified estates there are relatively high levels of owner-occupation that will need to be
taken into account for the development of potential regeneration options. Density levels
are relatively low, in national terms, and this provides opportunities for tenure mix and
housing type in a significant way.


                                                                                           55
In partnership with others the Council has made available background papers, which are
now the subject of a series of local consultation exercises to secure residents views of
the issues with the objective being to arrive at a common understanding of what has to
be tackled before any options are agreed.

Growth
The Regional Plan sets the scale of housing development in the East of England and for
each local authority. It reflects the Governments Sustainable Communities Plan 2003,
which brought a step change in housing delivery and identified the London-Stansted-
Cambridge-Subsequently extended to Peterborough, Growth Area, which includes
Harlow.

i)     Growth Area Funding 2
Harlow is targeted as an area of growth. With existing Growth Area Funding 2 (GAF2)
programmes ongoing through partnership working, the Council is seeking to tackle town-
wide issues. Schemes supported through GAF2 are underway and these include
funding towards several projects within the local neighbourhoods of Harlow.

ii)     Programme of Development 3
The Council has led a partnership of neighbouring Councils and Harlow Renaissance
Ltd to secure around £17million of funding for a range of new initiatives to be carried out
under the GAF3 Programme of Development. and include supported housing for older
people, an eco-homes scheme through partnership with the Stansted Area Housing
Partnership (SAHP) and the Strategic Housing Market Assessment SHMA)

Mobility and Choice
The Council was one of the first to introduce a Choice Based Lettings in place in
September 2005 for people applying for social housing and for existing social tenants
needing to transfer to another home.            Applicants are required to register for
accommodation and then bid for properties suitable to their needs. Properties are
advertised fortnightly in a free magazine and on-line. The main benefit for current and
future social housing tenants is that the scheme enables them to register their interest
for a home they want to live in rather than the Council choosing the property for them.

Through partnership working within our sub-region and with RSLs we will explore the
possibility of developing CBL across our boundaries and also expanding it to other
housing sectors such as private landlords.

Safer Stronger Communities

Youth Task Force Agenda
Linked to Anti Social Behaviour, the Council is committed to the CLG Youth Taskforce
and Safer Stronger Communities agendas. Through its agreement with Government as
an Action Area, the Council and its partners are fully engaged with this process which
includes a partnership sign up to the Respect Standards for Housing Management 43 .

Anti Social Behaviour
The Council is recognised as a ‘beacon’ in tackling Anti Social Behaviour through its
innovative partnership working arrangements. All details related to Anti Social Behaviour
are covered in the Council’s Partnership Plan, which is available on its website 44 .

The Joint Strategic Needs Assessment for Essex states
 “Thurrock, Harlow and Southend have higher than average crime rates. Harlow also has
a higher than average violent crime rate and alcohol-related crime rates.

43
     http://www.harlow.gov.uk.
44
     http://www.harlow.gov.uk


                                                                                        56
Older people generally feel less safe and people living in urban areas tend to feel less
safe after dark. For example, only 37% of respondents in Harlow feel safe after dark,
compared to 64% in Uttlesford.

BCS crimes have consistently fallen year on year. However, crime rates across Essex
are variable and are typically higher in urban areas. For example, in 2005/6 the rate of
crime was 72 crimes per 1,000 people in Harlow but only 23 per 1,000 in Uttlesford.
Essex also has a lower rate of violence against the person than the England and Wales
average (13.87 per 1,000 population compared to 19 per 1,000). Harlow has a
significantly higher rate than elsewhere in Essex.

In Essex, Harlow and Thurrock have a rate of alcohol-related crime higher than the
England average. In terms of violent crime, Harlow again shows a significantly higher
than average rate.

After dark, respondents in Uttlesford (64%), Maldon (57%), and Braintree (54%) feel
safest whereas only 37% of respondents in Harlow feel safe in a similar situation.
Respondents from Harlow are indeed the only cohort more likely to feel unsafe than safe
whilst outside in Essex after dark”

Sustainable Homes
The Council and its partners cannot build homes that have a negative impact on the
climate and that are unable to adapt to changes in demographics and lifestyles. The
Code for Sustainable Homes sets out the Government’s targets for reducing carbon
emissions. To comply with the Code, carbon emissions from new development are
required to be reduced in stages until 2016 when all new build dwellings must be free of
emissions of carbon dioxide from all energy use in the home. At present compliance with
the Code is voluntary with the exception of developments of affordable housing that
receive public subsidy where the schemes are expected to meet Code level 3 from April
2008 onwards. Current Building Regulations require lower levels of energy efficiency
than those contained within the Code for Sustainable Homes; however, they will become
increasingly stringent so that all new housing in the future will be of a sustainable
construction type.

Promoting independent living
Essex County Council defines the following as promoting independent living – “services
designed to promote independence can and indeed should, promote independent living,
so the promotion of independence is in one sense a driver of services to attain
independent living. The distinction is very important because the two aspects are
sometimes mutually incompatible. ‘Promoting independence’ is service and policy
driven. The ‘independent living’ is concerned with full civil rights, access and civil
participation”.
Source –
http://www.essexcc.gov.uk/vip8/ecc/ECCWebsite/content/binaries/documents/promoting_indepen
dence_outcomes03_04.pdf?channelOid=null

Independent Living
Independent living is highlighted by Essex County Council as “having choice and control
over personal decisions in a way comparable to other members of the community, rather
than having them made by somebody else. It also means not having personal choices
and freedom artificially curtailed because of the way the community independent lifestyle
may have little or no link with a service designed to promote independence.” –
Source                                                                                    -
http://www.essexcc.gov.uk/vip8/ecc/ECCWebsite/content/binaries/documents/promoting_indepen
dence_outcomes03_04.pdf?channelOid=null




                                                                                        57
Floating support
Not all vulnerable people require supported schemes and the Council has developed the
requirement for “floating support”. In partnership with “Better In Touch” and Supporting
People, the Council now has a holistic service that is accessible to people living in all
tenure types within the town. Although only introduced in April 07 initial uptake is
detailed in the below table –

                                                   April 07 – November 07
Number of approaches and enquiries for floating 156
support
Total number of approaches accepted               86
Total number of approaches accepted and finalised 66

Disabled Facilities Grants
Funding for Disabled Facilities Grants is limited. The figures shown below are the
number of approaches received by Harlow Council via Occupational Health referral.

                        Year – 1st April – 31st March   Approaches
                        2005 – 2006                     154
                        2006 – 2007                     215
                        2007 – 2008 up to Nov 07        176

Of the referrals received above the total number of grants awarded is shown in the table
below. This also includes the average grant awarded and the figures are also dated
back to 2001 - 02.

                  01-02           02-03      03-04      04-05      05-06        06-07
Total No.         19              18         24         52         71           86
Total Exp.        £190,000        £192,000   £147,000   £200,000   £343,000     £333,000
Avg. Grant        £10,000         £10,667    £6,125     £3,846     £4,831       £3,872

Home Improvement Agency
Effective partnerships also allow the Council to work more effectively in areas that the
Council has not traditionally been involved with in the past. The Home Improvement
Agency (HIA) in Harlow is a good example of how effective partnerships can support
owner-occupiers in the private sector. Papworth Trust provides the HIA in Harlow and at
just over a year in, they are fully engaging with the residents of the town. As the majority
of the town’s population (approximately 70%) are either owner-occupiers or living in
other forms of tenure within the private sector, this is an invaluable service.

More information about the services available from the local Home Improvement Agency
can be found on their organisation’s website 45 .

Affordable Warmth
The Council’s affordable warmth strategy is to be revised in line with our recent stock
condition survey. This will include details on a range of initiatives to help those
households who struggle to keep their homes warm. Grants and assistance are
available to all households, with additional schemes, including referrals to national
schemes and funding such as Warm Front, targeted to those most at risk from being
cold at home. Top up grants are available where the Warm Front scheme does not
cover the full cost of necessary heating. The strategy thus aims to help elderly and
vulnerable households, and can improve the health and well being of residents, with
wide reaching impacts, such as for education, for example by enabling children to study
more effectively at home.

45
     http://www.papworth.org.uk

                                                                                         58
Equalities
Working towards sustainable communities involves reviewing existing and proposed
housing provision and policies and their impact on the community. The Council is
developing a programme of Equality Impact Assessments to ensure its services are fair
and accessible to all.

4.3.2 Strategic outcomes for the future - sustainable communities
       (a)     Promote community cohesion and support the local economy by providing
               housing that is affordable for local people.
       (b)     Ensure that housing policies and practices promote equalities and
               diversity.
       (c)     Support the Harlow Safer Harlow Partnership action plan on crime and
               anti-social behavior.
       (d)     Promote opportunities to enhance and develop services to the vulnerable
               residents of Harlow.
       (e)     Work with health and care agencies to target vulnerable households on
               specific issues.
       (f)     Improve the overall standard of all housing services in a way recognized
               by service users.
       (g)     Improve communication with residents, ensuring that a range of methods
               are used.




                                                                                    59
4.4 Strategic Objective Four -

“To provide an efficient and effective housing service that provides value for
money”
Our vision for Harlow Council’s Housing Services
“Deliver a high performing, customer focused housing services that ensures value for
money and high level efficient and effective services”

Value for Money & Efficiency Gains
The Council is committed to continuing its work of improving the efficiency of its Housing
Service to ensure value for money is maximised. This work will include ensuring that
housing services run efficiently, income is maximised, services are delivered in
partnership where possible, and continuing savings are made to reduce overall
expenditure

The Housing Service will continue to develop its performance monitoring framework to
provide evidence of improvements and will improve its use of benchmarking tools to
increase its understanding of relative costs of services provided in relation to other
Councils.

4.4.1 Strategic Outcomes for the future – Ensuring Housing Services Offer Value
for Money:-

   •   Manage the HRA finances and assets so that the capital and revenue budgets
       are effectively funded to enable strategic objectives to be delivered.
   •   Ensure Housing Service provides a customer focused service.
   •   Housing Services to provide an efficient and effective service that gives value for
       money.




                                                                                       60
5.0 Resources

Council and other funding opportunities
To highlight resources and funding opportunities it is important to understand the
revenue streams linked to housing through local government.

Capital Funds
Spending which gives benefits over many years, e.g. on building new homes, is known
as capital expenditure. Council capital spending on housing, both for its own housing
stock, on new housing developments and on grants to help disabled people adapt their
homes etc. have to compete with demands for capital expenditure from other areas of
Council services, such as leisure, Information technology etc.

The Council prioritises its capital expenditure in accordance with its agreed priorities. It
has a Medium Term Financial Strategy which sets out the council’s overall financial
plans for the next three years. This is available on its website 46 .
The demands for capital expenditure on housing are: -
        (a)    Improvements and modernisation of the Council’s housing stock.
        (b)    Providing grants for adaptations of properties to help people with
               disabilities and grants to help private residents maintain their homes.


The funding for the Housing Capital Programme, much of which relates to decent
homes, is dependant upon a number of sources of finance.
Housing Summary Capital Programme 2006/07
                                               £000’s
Council housing - Decent Homes Works           10,325
Home Repair Assistance Grants                  42
Disabled Facilities Grants (Private Sector)    368
New Housing Association Homes                  Nil
Total                                          10, 735

Revenue Spending
Spending on the day-to-day costs of implementing this Housing Strategy is called
revenue expenditure. Revenue expenditure falls into two, separate Council accounts:

(a)     The General Fund
This account is funded from the Council Tax collected from all residents and from
Government grants. It is used to fund all of the Council’s other activities, including
housing activity that doesn’t relate to being a landlord, e.g. homelessness, working with
RSL’s to deliver more affordable Housing, Housing Strategy and providing advice to
older or disabled people in private homes.




The major housing expenditure is on trying to prevent people becoming homeless and
improved performance in this area will result in a focus on more efficient and customer
focused working methods . This will result in a reduction in the use of bed and breakfast,
resulting in a reduction in spending..


46
     http://www.harlow.gov.uk

                                                                                         61
The Council has been successful in securing additional funding for homelessness
services in Harlow. This is by way of increased grant from CLG for Homelessness
prevention.

The Council’s strategic housing service is currently in the process of undertaking a
review of all of its services and it is anticipated that there will be gains achieved in
efficiency of services and value for money for the services it provides.

(b)       Housing Revenue Account
The funds in this account can only (by law) be used on the Council’s activities as a
landlord, such as day-to-day repairs, rent collection, caretaking etc. More details on the
Housing Revenue Account can be found in the Housing Revenue Account Business
Plan 47 .

                     Housing Revenue Account Budget Against Actuals 2007/08
                           Budget       Actual                                  Budget       Actual
  Expenditure              £            £             Income                    £            £
General Management         7.039.360 7,809,707      Dwelling Rents              32,978,800   33,169,624
Special Management         4,920,920 4,985,803      Garage Rents                2,424,600    2,357,705
Repairs                    9,914,060 9,087,347      Other Rents                 81,000       75,742
Rents Rates Taxes &                                 Charges for Services &
Other Charges              30,000     19,982        Facilities                  3,648,780    3,206,330
Provision for Bad &                                 Transfer    from     Major
Doubtful Debts             100,000    76,991        Repairs Reserve             346,000      346,000
Housing Subsidy payable
to DCLG                    10,602,500 10,374,773    Interest Receivable         1,144,465    1,376,9488
Negative Subsidy Transfer 1,038,000 1,038,000
Rent Rebate Subsidy
Limitation                 0          0
Incentive            Areas
Adjustment                 0          0
Supporting          People
Transitional Arrangements 40,000      30,678
Major Repairs Allowance
(Net Depreciation)         7,108,600 7,107,506
Debt          Management
Expenses                   9,500      4,400
Revenue Contribution to
Capital Expenditure        0          0
                           £             £                                      £            £
  TOTAL EXPENDITURE 40,802,940           40,535,188    TOTAL INCOME             40,623,645   40,532,349
                                                       Surplus B/f              1,474,445    1,322,626
                                                       Surplus/(shortfall) for               (-)2,838
                                                       year                     -179,295
                                                       Surplus          carried              1,319,788
                                                       forward                  1,295,150




47
     http://www.harlow.gov.uk


                                                                                             62
6.0 Monitoring the Strategy and Performance
Review
Delivering Previous Objectives
The Council’ last Housing Strategy contained a number of detailed targets and plans for
the authority for 2004/07 and beyond.

A detailed analysis of its progress against those targets and actions can be found at
appendix 5.

Delivering Objectives and Improving Services – The Housing Strategy 2008 - 2013
An action plan for this Strategy has been developed and incorporates the action points
for the future detailed throughout chapter 4. All of the actions in the plan are SMART
(Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Resourced and Time Bound) and will be monitored
by the Senior Housing Management Team.

A regular review process will enable any delays to be considered and either accepted or
remedial action taken.

In order to ensure we are continually improving the services the Council offers, it also
has a set of performance targets against which it measures and reports its performance.
It compares its performance against the best 25% of Councils in the country.
Information on how the Council has performed to date and its overall performance can
be found at appendix 4.

Key Lines of Enquiry (KLOE)
Key Lines of enquiry represent sets of questions and statements around either service or
judgement specific issues which provide consistent criteria for assessing and measuring
the effectiveness and efficiency of housing services. KLOE’s are designed to provide
inspectors, inspection bodies and others with a framework through which to view and
assess services. Descriptors of excellent and fair services will help Councils to
understand how the qualities of its services are judged against the KLOE. These
descriptors are not intended to act as a checklist or to prescribe the services that
organisations would be providing if they were judged to have an excellent or fair service
by inspectors. In line with this the Council will review all applicable KLOE’s that are
linked to the Council’s Housing Services.




                                                                                      63
7.0 Appendices

Appendix 1 – Action Plan – Housing Strategy 2008 - 2013
Appendix 2 – Glossary of Terms
Appendix 3 – Web links to relevant papers
Appendix 4 – Previous Performance
Appendix5 –Equalities and Diversity




                                                          64
Appendix 1
Action Plan
Local Strategic Objective 1 - Maximise the delivery of a range of new affordable homes and make best use of existing housing
resources to help those in housing need
Objective                                                         Resources          Deadline       Key Partners Lead
Work with partners to endeavour to increase supply of affordable Within     existing April 2009 and All       RSL Housing
housing                                                           resources          ongoing        Partners      Strategy and
                                                                                                    Planning,   , Partnerships
                                                                                                    HCA,
                                                                                                    Developers,
                                                                                                    HRL
                                                                                                    Sub-region,




Look at the feasibility of and progress recommendations to look at IKON            free March 2009       IKON            Regeneration
setting up a Local Housing Company to deliver new affordable housing consultancy
and improvements to the existing stock                               support       plus                  Housing
                                                                     existing                            Strategy and
                                                                                                         Partnerships.

                                                                                                         Harlow
                                                                                                         Renaissance
                                                                                                         Ltd

                                                                                                         Regeneration
To evaluate and monitor levels of affordability both district and sub- Within    existing By June 2009   Housing         Housing
regionally                                                             resources                         Strategy        Strategy and
                                                                                                         ‘Homebuy’       Partnerships
                                                                                                         zone agent




                                                                                                                                        65
Develop landlord accreditation scheme in the private sector            Within    existing November 09   Housing        Housing
                                                                       resources                        Strategy       Strategy and
                                                                                                        Environmenta   Partnerships
                                                                                                        l Health
                                                                                                        Housing
                                                                                                        Benefits



Increase awareness of all housing solutions to those in housing need   Within    existing December      RSL partners, Strategic
                                                                       resources          2009          CLG,    other Housing
                                                                                                        agencies




                                                                 Within    existing December            Housing        Strategic
Review the existing Choice Based Lettings policy and continue to Resources          2009                Strategy       Housing
review and develop the service as best practice emerges




                                                                                                                                      66
Local Strategic Objective 2 - Improve the condition of Harlow’s housing stock across all sectors
Objective                                                               Resources       Deadline         Key Partners     Lead
Ensure that all Council and RSL tenants live in decent homes, that meet To         be December           Housing          Housing
the Governments Decent Homes Standard, through effective established                    2010 and later   Property         Services
maintenance of the public sector housing                                                                 services, Kier
                                                                                                         Harlow    Ltd,
                                                                                                         Environmental
                                                                                                         Health
                                                                                                         Legal
                                                                                                         Regeneration
                                                                                                         Planning
Work to ensure that all partners work together help deliver Within    existing December                  Housing          Housing
neighbourhoods that are clean, safe and sustainable.        resources          2009                      Property         Services
                                                                                                         services, Kier
                                                                                                         Harlow    Ltd,
                                                                                                         Environmental
                                                                                                         Health
                                                                                                         Community
                                                                                                         Safety
                                                                                                         RSL partners
Identify solutions and options to tackle the issues identified as Harlow’s To            be April 2010   Harlow           Housing
‘Priority Estates’                                                         established                   Renaissance      Services
                                                                                                         Ltd,      RSL
                                                                                                         partners,
                                                                                                         CLG,       Go
                                                                                                         East,
                                                                                                         Planning,
                                                                                                         Legal,
                                                                                                         Regeneration
Review and update the Council’s Private Sector Housing Strategy           Within    existing July 2009   Environmental    Housing
                                                                          resources                      Health           Services

Ensure that adequate information is obtained and updated on the           Detailed    in December        Housing        Housing
condition of the public sector housing stock, through periodic stock      Housing  Asset 2012            Property       Services
condition surveys and procedures to record maintenance work               Management                     services, Kier
undertaken                                                                Strategy                       Harlow    Ltd,
                                                                                                         Environmental
                                                                                                         Health




                                                                                                                                     67
Deliver against actions highlighted in the Private Sector Stock condition Within existing December   Environmental Housing
survey including affordable warmth and category 1 hazards and bring resources             2010       Health        Strategy and
private sector empty homes back into use.                                                                          Partnerships
                                                                                                                   &
                                                                                                                   Environmental
                                                                                                                   Health




Evaluate enforcement powers for the Council in the private sector    Within    existing Dec 2009     Environmental Housing
                                                                     resources                       Health         Strategy and
                                                                                                                    Partnerships
                                                                                                                    &
                                                                                                                    Environmental
                                                                                                                    Health
Monitor and improve the quality of temporary accommodation for       Within    existing December     Housing        Strategic
homeless people                                                      resources          2009         Property       Housing
                                                                                                     services, Kier
                                                                                                     Harlow,


Monitor and Review the Homelessness Strategy                         Within    existing Ongoing      Housing       Housing
                                                                     resources                       Strategy      Options     &
                                                                                                                   Advice




                                                                                                                                    68
Local Strategic Objective 3 - Help develop sustainable and safe communities
Objective                                                          Resources          Deadline        Key Partners   Lead
Promote community cohesion and support the local economy by Within           existing April 2013                     LSP
providing housing that is affordable for local people              resources                          Planning,
                                                                                                      Housing
                                                                                                      Strategy     &
                                                                                                      Partnerships,
                                                                                                      RSLs,
                                                                                                      Regeneration,
                                                                                                      HRL
Ensure that housing policies and practices promote equalities and Within    existing December 2009    Housing        Housing
diversity                                                         resources                           Strategy and Strategy and
                                                                                                      Partnerships   Partnerships



Support the ‘Safer Harlow Partnership’ action plan on crime and anti- Within    existing Ongoing      Housing   & Community
social behaviour                                                      resources                       Community   Safety Team
                                                                                                      Services
Promote opportunities to enhance and develop services to vulnerable Within    existing April 2010     Housing     Housing
households on specific issues                                       resources                         Strategy    Strategy and
                                                                                                                  Partnerships
Work with health and care agencies to target vulnerable households on Within    existing April 2010   Housing     Housing
specific issues                                                       resources                       Strategy    Strategy and
                                                                                                                  Partnerships
Improve the overall standard of all housing services in a way Within    existing Ongoing              Housing     Housing
recognized by service users                                   resources                               Strategy    Strategy and
                                                                                                                  Partnerships
Improve communication with residents, ensuring that a range of Within    existing Ongoing             Housing
methods are used.                                              resources                              Services




                                                                                                                                    69
Local Strategic Objective 4 - To provide an efficient and effective housing service that provides value for money
Objective                                                             Resources            Deadline          Key Partners     Lead
Manage the HRA finances and assets so that the capital and revenue Within         existing December 2012 Housing              Housing
budgets are effectively funded to enable strategic objectives to be resources                                Property         Services
delivered                                                                                                    services,
                                                                                                             Financial
                                                                                                             Services, Kier
                                                                                                             Harlow Ltd
Ensure Housing Services provides a customer focused service.          Within      existing March 2009        Housing          Housing
                                                                      resources                              Property         Services
                                                                                                             services, Kier
                                                                                                             Harlow Ltd


Housing Services to provide an efficient and effective service that gives Within    existing April 09        Service          Strategic
value for money                                                           resources                          improvement      Housing
                                                                                                             team




                                                                                                                                          70
Appendix 2
Glossary of Terms
2020 / LSP – Local Strategic Partnership (Harlow 2020), a single body comprising
representatives from public, private and voluntary sectors for the planning of local
services.
S106 – Section 106 Agreement. An agreement made between a local council and a
private developer in which the developer agrees to meet som eofthe needs of the local
community as a condition of being granted permission to build what they are proposing.
These contributions usually include a contribution towards the provision of affordable
housing. Education and local infrastructure.
Affordable housing – Housing that is available to meet the needs of people who cannot
afford to buy or rent housing generally available on the open housing market. Affordable
housing can mean social rented (Council or RSL), low cost home ownership, some
private rented and intermediate rent.
AIRF – Area Investment Renewal Framework
Assured short hold tenancies - A tenancy agreement with a private landlord
for a period of 6 months that can be renewed.
Audit Commission - A body appointed by the Government to be responsible for
(amongst other things) the appointment of local authority’s external auditors and best
value inspectors (Including the Housing Inspectorate), and promoting the best use of
public money in local government.
BCCGCRA - Residents Association of Bishopsfield and Charters Cross
Bed and Breakfast accommodation – Bed and breakfast hotels used a temporary
accommodation for homeless people
Benchmarking - To measure the quality of something by comparing it with something
else of an accepted standard.
BME - Black Minority Ethnic
BVPI’s - Best Value performance Indicators. These are national targets set by
Government for local authorities to measure themselves against. From
April 2008 these will be replaced with National Indicators.
Capital Expenditure - Broadly, this is expenditure, which will have a value over more
than one year, and is therefore for the purposes of investing in a Council’s assets. In the
Housing context, this will mean expenditure in the acquisition or construction of housing,
and in substantial repairs and improvements.
CBL - Choice Based Lettings - A new method for Council’s allocating affordable homes,
where people choose the property that they would like through a local bidding system.
CAB - Citizens Advice Bureau– An organisation that can give free advice and information
to local people in person or by telephone.
CLG - Communities and Local Government department, with a remit to promote
community cohesion and equality and responsibility for housing, urban regeneration,
planning and local government.
Common Housing Register – This involves a single form for all applicants in
a particular area to complete and a single pool of applicants from which new or existing
social tenants requiring a transfer to alternative social housing can be allocated vacant
social housing.
DFG – Disabled Facilities Grant – funding from local housing authorities to help meet the
cost of adapting people’s homes when they have a disability.
ECC – Essex County Council
EHOG – Essex Housing Officers Group
Floating Support – support services provided by Supporting People Services to enable
vulnerable people to obtain or sustain a tenancy for example assistance with attaining life
skills such as budgeting. Support is provided in a persons own accommodation, by
visiting workers, for a specific period or for as long as the individual requires it and then
transfers to another household.
GAF – Growth Area Funding
General Fund - The Council’s account that records the revenue income and expenditure
for all of its functions, except the landlord function as owner of housing stock. The duty to
the homeless, the ‘enabling’ role in promoting Housing Association activity in the area,
and grants for private sector housing are General Fund activities.
Go East – Government Office for the East of England – central government’s regional
office through which they work with local councils in the East of England
HB - Housing Benefit – this is a type of benefit to assist residents in paying rent for their
home.
HHPP – Harlow Homelessness Prevention Partnership
HMO – House in Multiple Occupation- A dwelling occupied by more than one or
numerous households.
Homeless Presentation - People applying for housing to the locale authority under the
Housing Act 2002
HCA - Homes & Communities Agency – A newly formed government agency for
supporting Registered Social landlords in England.
Housing Register - The Council’s register of households who have applied for housing.
Housing Strategy - A Housing Strategy is an over-arching document that reviews
housing-related issues in a local authority’s area, sets out its housing objectives,
establishes priorities for action both by the local authority and by other service providers
and stakeholders, and sets out a clear Action Plan in agreement with the council’s local
partners.
HRA - Housing Revenue Account - The funds in this account can only (by law) be used
on the Council’s activities as a landlord, such as day-to-day repairs, rent collection,
caretaking etc
HRL- Harlow Renaissance – A partnership committed to the present and future of Harlow
JSNA – Joint Strategic Needs Assessment
LA – Local Authority
LAA – Local Area Agreement – targets that are agreed bu Councils to tackle particular
issues such as providing more affordable homes. The targets are usually delivered
through working in partnership with others.
LCB – London Commuter Belt Housing Sub Region – 15 local authorities and 20+ RSL
forming a housing sub-region. The local authorities are Broxbourne, Dacorum, East Herts.
Hertsmere, North Herts., St. Albans, Stevenage, Three Rivers, Watford and Welwyn and
Hatfield and five district Councils in Essex Brentwood, Chelmsford, Epping Forest, Harlow
and Uttlesford,
LDF – Local Development Framework. The process by which local planning authorities
build up their policies and plans for the future development of an area.
Lifetime Home Standard – Newly built homes that are designed to be more easily
adaptable in the future to meet a number of needs so that as peoples needs change there
is less chance of them having to move elsewhere.
Local Plan – Current planning document
MAA – Multiple Area Agreement
NAHP – National Affordable Housing Programme – the source of funding allocated by the
Homes and Community Agency to help fund the building of affordable homes by
registered social landlords.
ONS – Office of National Statistics
PCT – Primary Care Trust – NHS bodies with responsibility for delivering better health
care and health improvements in a local area.
PPS3 – Planning Policy Statement 3
PSL - Private Sector leasing – An arrangement through which a local authority or a RSL
leases accommodation from the owner of a private property, guarantees the rent for the
period of the lease and sub-lets the accommodation to a family in need.
RSL - Registered Social Landlord - A not for profit social housing organisation that is
registered with the Housing Corporation. They are organisations that provide housing for
rent and low cost home ownership.
RSS – Regional Spatial Strategy
SAHP – Stansted Area Housing Partnership
SHMA – Strategic Housing Market Assessment. A study of past and current housing
trends that can be used to help plan for what future housing requirements are for a


                                                                                          72
district. All local authorities are required to have one in place in order to inform their
planning policies on housing.
SPD – Supplementary Planning Document
SIT – Service Improvement Team
Supporting People - The Supporting People programme provides housing related
support services. In Harlow it is administered and managed by Essex County Council.
Tenure – There are four tenure categories. These are:
         1. Owner occupied which includes accommodation that is owned out right or
         brought with a mortgage
         2. Rented privately which is all non-owner occupied property
         3. Rented from Registered Social Landlords
         4. Rented from Local Authorities




                                                                                       73
        Appendix 3
        Web Links to relevant papers associated with
        this document
Document                                            Link
Barker K 2003 Review of Housing Supply: Securing http://www.hm-
our Future Housing Needs                            treasury.gov.uk/media/E/4/barker_review_execsum
                                                    _91.pdf
Communities and Local Government (2007) Homes http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/
for the future: more affordable, more sustainable – pdf/439986
Housing Green Paper
Core New Lettings Summary Statistics April 2006 – http://www.core.ac.uk/
March 2007
East of England Housing Investment Plan             http://www.eera.gov.uk/Text.asp?cat=45&id=SXD2F
                                                    8-A77FC873
Hills J: Ends and Means: The Future of Social http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/dps/case/cr/CASEreport34.p
Housing in England                                  df
Housing Act (2004):                                 http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2004/ukpga_20040
                                                    034_en_1
Lifetime Neighbourhoods: A National Strategy for http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/
Housing in an Ageing Society                        pdf/lifetimehomes
London Commuter Belt Sub-Regional Housing http://www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council
Strategy 2005 – 2008                                _services/housing/housing_strategies_-
                                                    statistics/lcb_regional_housing_stategy.aspx
Places of Change: Tackling homelessness through http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/
the Hostels Capital Investment Programme CLG pdf/152564
2006
Planning Policy Statement 3 (Housing)               http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/plannin
                                                    gandbuilding/pps3housing
Secure By Design - Design Standards                 www.securedbydesign.com
Sustainable Communities: Building for the Future    http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/commu
                                                    nities/sustainablecommunitiesbuilding
Sustainable Communities: Homes for All              http://www.communities.gov.uk/archived/publication
                                                    s/corporate/homesforall
Sustainable Communities: People, Places and http://www.communities.gov.uk/archived/publication
Prosperity                                          s/corporate/peopleplacesprosperity
The Future of the Code for Sustainable Homes: http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/corporat
CLG (2007)                                          e/pdf/Makingaratingmandatory




                                                                                           74
Appendix 4
Previous Performance
Housing National Performance Indicators Outturn 2006/07
National Indicator               2005/06 Performance      2006/07 Performance
(BVPI’s)
BVPI66 – Local authority         97.49%                   98.20%
rent collection and arrears:
Proportion         of     rent
collected.
BVPI74         –       Tenant    74.00%                   66.00%
Satisfaction with Landlord
BVPI212 – Average time           51.00                    44.70
taken to re-let local
authority housing
BVPI 64 - The number of          6.00                     0.00
private      sector    vacant
dwellings that are returned
into       occupation       or
demolished during 2005 /
06 (2006 / 07) as a direct
result of action by the local
authority
BVPI 183 - Average length
of stay of households
which include dependent
children or a pregnant
woman and which are un-
intentionally homeless and
in priority need:
         (a)       Temporary     2                        2.44
         Accommodation
         (b) B&B                 19                       10.01
BVPI 164 - Does the              Yes                      Yes
authority      follow      the
Commission for Racial
Equality’s code of practice
in rented housing and
follow the Good Practice
Standards        for    social
landlords      on     tackling
harassment included in
the Code of Practice for
Social             Landlords:
Tackling                Racial
Harassment?




                                                                                75
     “Homes For Harlow” – Action Plan 2004-07

Theme/Objective                        Target    Progress
Reviewing and Updating Homes for Harlow
Review of Homes for Harlow on October 2004       London Commuter Belt Sub Regional
publication of new London Commuter               Housing Strategy produced 2005
Belt Sub Regional Housing Strategy –
report to Members on key areas of
strategy              to           be
altered/updated/reprioritised.
Harlow Social Housing Partnership October 2004   Completed October 2004
Group terms of reference expanded to
include reviewing housing strategy


Community Matters – Empowering stakeholders
Produce and publish customer September 2004      Completed 2007
service       standards    for
Homelessness, Allocations and
Housing Strategy team’s



Continue the development of the Ongoing          Ongoing
Homelessness Forum
Publish performance targets and 2004             Completed     Through Harlow
report to residents regularly on                 Homefinder and Harlow Times
Harlow Home, website and press                   publications.
releases




                                                                          76
Affordable Homes – Meeting Local Needs
Complete Housing Needs Survey to June 2004                   Report completed and underpins
ensure adequate information available                        draft local plan. Documents are
to    underpin    draft  local    plan                       available on-line
requirements.
Review the Harlow social housing September 2004              Harlow Social Housing Partnership
partnership agreement and develop a                          Group now runs every quarter for
strategic social housing forum for                           both development and Housing
Harlow                                                       Management
Development of an affordable housing December 2004           Completed and an integral part of all
policy for Harlow                                            affordable housing development in
                                                             Harlow
Continue to develop the Harlow Ongoing                       Project ongoing. Some affordable
Gateway     Housing      Scheme     in                       housing has already been delivered
Partnership with English Partnerships,                       on “Fifth Avenue”
the Housing Corporation and RSL’s
To implement a choice based letting By April 2005.           Harlow      Homefinder    has  been
scheme for Harlow                                            successfully     implemented   since
                                                             2005.
To open negotiations with RSL’s on the Ongoing               Initial discussions underway. Report
feasibility of a common housing register                     due to Housing Committee 2008
for Harlow
To review current empty homes March 2004
procedures and improve performance
on Council void properties.
Continue incentive to move scheme        Ongoing             Further development in this area is
                                                             outlined in this strategy.
Development        of    homelessness December 2004          Homelessness Strategy and review
prevention strategy                                          strategy in place.
Development alternative, private sector March 2005           Private Sector Leasing scheme in
temporary accommodation for homeless                         place with partner RSL.      Further
households to reduce the use of bed                          developments in this are outlined in
and breakfast for homeless households                        this strategy
Decent homes – improving the condition of Harlow’s housing
Complete the housing options appraisal December 2004         Completed. Initial test of opinion with
process                                                      residents has led to the council
                                                             retaining its existing stock at the
                                                             present time
Improve the remaining Council homes Ongoing                  Remains ongoing in line with the
not meeting the DHS                                          Council’s corporate high priorities
Review with other services the Council’s September 2004      Completed
role in relation to private sector housing
to develop a comprehensive private
sector strategy




                                                                                               77
Homes for all promoting social inclusion and regenerating communities
Development of BME Housing December 2004                      Published 2006. Available on-line.
Strategy and Action Plan
The development of an 8 Unit March 2007                       Completed 2007
scheme for people with Autism as
part of the Essex Strategic
Reserve programme
Participate in Supporting People Ongoing                      Review completed
scheme review programme in
partnership with Essex County
Council
Review of existing properties March 2005                      Completed. New purpose built move
allocated to Harlow Women’s Aid                               on accommodation completed 2007
– evaluating development of
purpose built move on facility
(recycling of existing SP funding)
The development of an 8 unit December 2005                    Ongoing. Scheme due Mid 2008
housing scheme for young people
leaving care as part of the Essex
Strategic Reserve
Evaluate        possibilities    for March 2005               Official CLG rough sleepers count
developing a direct access night-                             undertaken in October 2006. Results
shelter for single homeless people                            indicated that this provision was not
                                                              required at this stage. This however
                                                              is kept under review through the
                                                              HHPP
Develop area based regeneration December 2005                 Now known as priority estates as
projects aligned with sustainable                             highlighted in this strategy.    Full
estates priorities                                            details can be found in the action
                                                              plan listed in the appendices



Consult     with     residents   of Ongoing                   Linked to above priority estates.
Northbrooks      estate    on  the
outcome         of       community
consultation exercise and agree a
way forward


Develop joint working protocols     March 2005                Completed and ongoing. Linked to
and standards with local RSL’s on                             HSHP management forum
housing management activity




                                                                                                  78
Appendix 5
Equality & Diversity

The Council’s Equalities and Diversity Policy
The Council is committed to valuing and promoting diversity in all areas of recruitment,
employment, training and promotion. The Council will work towards an environment that is
based on meritocracy and inclusiveness, where all employees can develop their full
potential, irrespective of their race, gender, marital status, age, disability, religious belief,
political opinion or sexual orientation. We are also committed to providing equal access to
Council services for all those who make up Harlow’s diverse communities.
We recognise that equality of opportunity leads to:
    • Services that respond to the needs of all its communities
    • Staff are able to deliver services to the whole community more effectively through
         improved training and development
    • A more positive working environment which enable hearts and minds to embrace
         change
    • A workforce that is representative of the wider community
    • Good partnership between the Council and the community

The Strategy will be subject to an Equality Impact Assessment.




                                                                                              79
Have your say
If you have any views on the Council’s Housing Strategy please let us know via email
(jane.greer@harlow.gov.uk) or by using the postal address shown below.

Please use the space below and return to the following address:
Housing Strategy and Partnerships Manager
Harlow Council
Civic Centre
Harlow
Essex
CM20 1WG

Name: (Optional)
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COPIES OF THIS DOCUMENT ARE AVAILABLE IN
LARGE PRINT BY TELEPHONING 01279 446666 OR IN PERSON
AT THE COUNCIL’S CONTACT HARLOW RECEPTION DESK.




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