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Housing Information - Affordable Housing - East Fife Seminar
Fife Council Report which highlights issues raised by communities and elected members
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Fife Council East Area Services Committee, 25th August 2004 - Agenda Item No 9

REPORT ON AFFORDABLE HOUSING SEMINAR IN EAST FIFE

1.0 Background

With increases in house prices in many areas of East Fife and the high uptake by Council tenants of their “right-to-buy”, the lack of affordable housing in both the private and public sectors has become a critical issue, leading to homelessness, lengthy waiting times for re-housing, and communities depleted of indigenous young people and young families.

Communities across East Fife repeatedly raised the issue of affordable housing at the five “Your Place – Your Plan” events held in Spring 2004 to inform the development of the draft Local Plan for St. Andrews and East Fife. A summary of opinions and suggestions is attached (Appendix 1).

The purpose of this report is to highlight the issues raised by communities and also by East Fife elected members at a seminar in June 2004 and to inform Fife Council’s developing Affordable Housing Policy.

2.0 Elected Members’ Seminar

In response to local concerns, Housing and Development Services co-hosted a seminar for East Fife elected members in June 2004, at which key information was provided on:

  • definitions of “affordability” the estimated need for 3,304 affordable units in East Fife;
  • the transfer of an annual average of 128 properties from the social rented to the private sector through right-to-buy and the likely limitations of “pressured area status” in addressing this;
  • the high proportion of second homes in East Fife (60.72% of all second homes), of which 38% are in the East Neuk;
  • the high level of houses in multiple occupation in St. Andrews for the student market;
  • possible transfer of the management of Communities Scotland development funding to Fife Council.

3.0 Issues Raised

Issues raised by elected members and communities, many of which are already being progressed within the context of Fife’s Local Housing Strategy and associated action plan, included the need:

  • for pressured area status for East Fife as one route to protect affordable housing into the future, where practicable; for the Council to establish an affordable housing building programme;
  • for better communications and “joined-up” approaches between Fife Council, Housing Associations, private developers, local elected members and communities;
  • for surplus land and property owned by Fife Council to be identified for potential affordable housing development at appropriate use value;
  • for developers to be required by planning permission to build quotas of affordable housing at all phases of development;
  • to encourage and support alternative means of provision, including shared ownership and co-housing, where practicable;
  • to support the University of St. Andrews and RAF Leuchars, through the statutory planning process, to address the major impact of students and personnel on local housing markets.

3.2 In addition, it was recommended that the following issues be raised within the context set by the National Policy Framework:

  • the need to investigate measures to ensure that affordable housing built with public subsidy in the private sector remains affordable in perpetuity;
  • the need for an increased time-limit for claw-back of discounts for re-sale of properties;
  • support for the proposal to remove Council Tax exemptions for second-home owners;
  • a proposal to establish a national study into applying business rates to houses in multiple occupancy.

4.0 Future Steps

4.1 A joint report by Housing and Development Services has been considered by each of the three Area Development Committees this month and will be considered by the Environment and Development Committee in September. This report outlines the links between the Local Housing Strategy and the Development Plan and identifies the timetable and actions in developing the Affordable Housing Policy for Fife. Housing and Development Services have confirmed that this policy is still on schedule to be submitted to members for consideration in October/December this year.

Recommendations

5.1 It is recommended that the Committee:

  • i. notes the contents of this report and the issues identified at the affordable housing seminar;
  • ii. agrees any further actions and recommendations arising from this report.

Mike Robinson Head of Local Services (East) County Buildings Cupar

Author: Lindsay Macgregor Local Support Co-ordinator (East) 01334 412775 1st August 2004

APPENDIX 1

Summary of participants’ comments on affordable housing from the Your Place - Your Plan events, held in the five East Fife localities in Spring 2004.

Across all five events, participants identified some common principles related to how affordable housing should be delivered:

  • Listen to communities and consult as to size, type, density, design and location of any affordable housing development;
  • Don’t be developer-led;
  • Consider small communities and villages as well as towns for affordable housing;
  • Ensure balanced communities, e.g. young and old; vulnerable and secure; families and single households;
  • Make use of planning gain to secure affordable housing;
  • Make use of planning gain in negotiations with the University of St. Andrews to secure affordable housing/ensure student need for accommodation is met by the university;
  • Affordable housing provision in St. Andrews will reduce some pressure from other areas;
  • Identify surplus land/properties owned by Fife Council for affordable housing development;
  • Consider partnerships of communities, Fife Council, developers, and housing associations to deliver affordable housing;
  • Identify and inform communities about future demographic trends to determine housing need;
  • Consider all options for affordable housing with communities, e.g. co-housing, self-build, housing association, sheltered housing, supported housing for people with mental health problems…
  • Ensure St. Andrews gains special status as an area of recognised housing pressure;
  • Consider discussing with Scottish Executive application of business rates to landlords of student accommodation in multiple occupancy in St. Andrews;
  • Consider discussing with Scottish Executive application of full Council Tax charges to second homes;
  • Build on brownfield sites where possible, rather than extending villages;
  • Any development should be proportionate to the existing size and character of settlements;
  • A comprehensive environmental strategy and infrastructural improvements to roads, traffic management, water, sewerage must accompany any development;
  • Keep communities unique and separate and maintain community identity;
  • Link affordable housing to employment and transport provision.
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