Members considered a report which provided an update on the progress of the Accelerated Housing Delivery Programme (AHDP). The AHDP was a package of measures to tackle the low level of development activity.
The Staffordshire Moorlands had suffered from low levels of development for many years. Planning approvals were being granted on sites but some were not coming forward to the construction phase.
In order to tackle this problem the Council listened to the issues raised by developers and developed a comprehensive delivery programme to tackle the problem. The AHDP was approved by members in April 2018.
The accelerated housing delivery programme had two aims, to;
· Drive forward delivery of the local plan and maintain 5 year land supply by proactive measures and Council led interventions where appropriate.
· Deliver community benefits in form of increased income from council tax, business rates and New Homes Bonus for reinvestment in the community.
In the short time the AHPD had been operational, officers had achieved the following outcomes;
· 34 affordable homes completed in 2018/19
· Successful bid to LGF for Growth Fund Deal grant for Blythe Park Extension Infrastructure Scheme £1,250,000
· Successful EOI to Homes England, Small Sites Fund with invitation to make a full funding application for Cornhill, Leek
· Completion of the Investment and Acquisition Strategy
· Completion of Wharf Road and Tunstall Road masterplans
· Anticipated completion of Cheadle Town Centre masterplan December 2019
· Strengthen and improved relationship with local registered providers
However, the latest demographic information showed that in 2018 the population in Staffordshire Moorlands declined for the first time in many years. It was the only Staffordshire district to see a decline in population.
The lack of new housing growth had exacerbating these demographic trends. In 2018/19 there were 140 new homes completed in the district. This compares to 660 in Stafford, 620 in East Staffordshire. Only 2.2% of houses sold in Staffordshire Moorlands were new homes. This is the tenth lowest figure for local authorities in England (out of 382 councils).
This low level of housing delivery combined with an ageing population leads to low investment in the town centre and high levels of empty shops, difficulty in recruitment, Investment going to higher growth areas, leading to a reduction in income to the Council and other public services. Therefore there was a continued need to drive the accelerated housing delivery programme.
Dai Larner – Executive Director (Place), introduced a presentation which covered the following topics:-
· The problem
· Few new houses being built and sold
· Deaths exceed births
· Missing young productive people
Members were disappointed that in some cases, planning permission had been granted which included a number of affordable houses and then developers were unable to fulfil the affordable housing quota, due to viability reasons. A letter had been sent to the Secretary of State in relation to this matter and the response to this would be chased up.
Examples of young families who occupied bungalows were described by a member and it was felt that there weren’t enough properties being built for elderly people. It was vital for the correct balance of housing to be built for the elderly and younger generation.
There was a level of concern in relation to facilities being built and infrastructure to meet the demand created by new development sites. In particular, facilities for young people and larger entertainment venues. It was also the opinion of some members that such ideas should be gathered from local people.
Discussion took place around the development of the mills in Leek and that these sites were not being developed like they had in city centres due to lower land prices, viability and demand.
Members also commented that there could be improvements to the size of industrial units in the area and to the digital infrastructure.
DECIDED: That Councillors NOTE the update report.