Draft Affordable Housing Supplementary Planning Document

1. Introduction

Context

1.1 Whilst the cost of housing varies across East Suffolk, access to affordable housing is an issue across the district. Government statistics show that, at the time of preparation of this Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), the ratio of earnings to house prices is on average 8.60 in East Suffolk (i.e. the average house is 8.60 times the average earnings[1] ), meaning that for many households market housing is not an option. Affordability issues are not equal across the district and in some places house prices are considerably higher than regional and national averages. The Strategic Housing Market Assessment, which was produced as evidence to inform the district’s two Local Plans, identified a need for 94 affordable houses per year in the Suffolk Coastal Local Plan area and 208 affordable houses per year in the Waveney Local Plan area, giving a scale of the need for affordable housing.

1.2 The benefits of adequate affordable housing provision are not limited to being low cost to the occupants. Affordable housing also helps to provide long-term, safe and needs-appropriate housing for people whose needs are otherwise not met by housing that is available on the market. 

1.3 Affordable housing is fundamental to support the district’s health, a strong local economy and communities with more permanent, diverse, and cohesive communities. Addressing the district’s needs for affordable housing is therefore a corporate ambition of the Council, with both the Housing and the Planning services playing a key role in achieving higher rates of delivery and at a high build quality.  

1.4 The Council’s Housing Strategy (2017-2023)[2]  sets out the Council’s ambitions for increasing the provision of affordable housing and includes a priority of “Increasing the supply of new housing to meet a range of needs – a more proactive role for East Suffolk supporting the development of affordable homes”.  

1.5 The Housing Development Strategy (2020-2024)[3]  sets out the Council’s approach to direct provision of affordable housing, setting out an action to develop and publish a 3-year rolling development programme with an objective of achieving at least 50 units per annum.  

1.6 The Housing Enabling Strategy (2020-2025)[4]  sets out actions to proactively boost housing delivery, including affordable housing through working with communities and through the development of the Council’s own assets. 

1.7 Affordable housing is delivered through the planning system primarily through one of two ways – through policies that require a proportion of affordable housing as part of certain market housing developments (residential developments of 10 or more dwellings or 0.5 hectares or more in the Suffolk Coastal Local Plan area and of 11 or more dwellings in the Waveney Local Plan area) and through policies that provide support for affordable housing to come forward in certain circumstances as an exception to planning policies for housing (known as ‘exception sites’). The latter may include community led housing developments.

1.8 The East Suffolk Council – Suffolk Coastal Local Plan (September 2020)[5]  and the East Suffolk Council – Waveney Local Plan (March 2019)[6] contain policies which seek to support and facilitate the delivery of affordable housing to address the needs for affordable housing that have been identified in the evidence base underpinning the production of the two Local Plans. 

1.9 The need for affordable housing was assessed through the Strategic Housing Market Assessment[7] (part 2) which underpins the affordable housing policies contained in the Local Plans. The Strategic Housing Market Assessment identified that in the Suffolk Coastal Local Plan area there is a need for affordable housing for 94 households per year and in the Waveney Local Plan area a need for affordable housing for 208 households per year, over the Plan period to 2036.   

Purpose

1.10 The overarching aim of the SPD is to facilitate the delivery of affordable housing in accordance with the Local Plan policies. The guidance contained in this SPD will assist in the implementation of policies contained in the Local Plans for East Suffolk regarding affordable housing, and as an SPD this guidance will, when adopted, be a material consideration in determining applications for planning permission. 

1.11 This SPD does not cover parts of East Suffolk that are within the Broads, for which the Broads Authority is the local planning authority.

1.12 The guidance in the SPD may also be relevant to the implementation of Neighbourhood Plan policies that relate to affordable housing.

1.13 This document provides guidance which will be relevant during the preparation and determination of any planning applications which involve affordable housing, or for which the Local Plan policies concerning affordable housing are relevant.

1.14 Once adopted this Affordable Housing Supplementary Planning Document will replace the following documents: 

Planning Policy

1.15 The East Suffolk Council Local Plans - the Suffolk Coastal Local Plan and the Waveney Local Plan (outside the Broads Authority who produce their own Local Plan), - as well as ‘made’ Neighbourhood Plans and the Minerals and Waste Local Plan produced by Suffolk County Council, form the development plan for the district. The delivery of affordable housing is a key element of the strategies of both Local Plans. 

1.16 The Local Plans set out a spatial vision and strategies for the period to 2036. The key Local Plan policies to which this SPD relates are listed in Table 1.1 below. 

Table 1.1 – key Local Plan policies

  Local Planning Policies –Suffolk Coastal Local Plan 

   SCLP5.10: Affordable Housing on Residential Developments 

   SCLP5.11: Affordable Housing on Exception Sites 

Local Planning Policies – Waveney Local Plan 

   WLP8.2: Affordable Housing  

   WLP8.6: Affordable Housing in the Countryside 

1.17 Whilst the policies in the two Local Plans are founded on similar principles, i.e., they aim to secure affordable housing through residential development and provide opportunities for affordable housing to come forward on ‘exception sites’, there are differences in parts of the detail within each policy and these will be explained throughout the SPD.  

1.18 Neighbourhood Plans may also set local policies on affordable housing, informed by local circumstances and evidence.  

1.19 The guidance in this SPD has been written also with regard to the Government's most recent revision of the National Planning Policy Framework[10]  (NPPF, 2021) and the relevant categories of the Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) to which the Council has regard as a material consideration in reaching decisions on planning applications. Of particular significance are NPPF Paragraphs 63, 64, 65, 72 and 78 and Annex 2, and the Planning Practice Guidance on ‘Housing needs of different groups’[11] , ‘Build to Rent’[12] and ‘First Homes’[13]

Role of the Council and other organisations

1.20 The Council has two important but distinct roles in the provision of affordable housing, as the local planning authority and as the housing authority. 

1.21 As local planning authority, the Council has adopted Local Plans setting out requirements and policies to support the provision of affordable housing and will determine planning applications and lead on the preparation of Section 106 agreements. 

1.22 As housing authority, the Council will provide advice on local housing need, input into the preparation of legal agreements, allocate dwellings to eligible households and, in some cases, own and manage affordable housing stock.

1.23 Other Registered Providers of affordable housing are Housing Associations, a number of which operate in East Suffolk. Registered Providers may develop their own stock or purchase affordable dwellings, or land, that becomes available on residential sites.

1.24 Affordable housing may also be developed and retained by community led housing (CLH) organisations. CLH groups can become Registered Providers with the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).

1. Office for National Statistics, Median workplace earnings to median house price 2020 (published 25th March 2021) https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/housing/datasets/ratioofhousepricetoworkplacebasedearningslowerquartileandmedian [back]
2. https://www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/assets/Housing/East-Suffolk-Housing-Strategy-2017-2023/East-Suffolk-Housing-Strategy-2017-23.pdf [back]
3. https://www.paperturn-view.com/uk/east-suffolk/housing-development-strategy?pid=NzU75318&v=1.1 [back]
4. https://www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/assets/Housing/Housing-Enabling-Strategy.pdf [back]
5. https://www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/assets/Planning/Planning-Policy-and-Local-Plans/Suffolk-Coastal-Local-Plan/Adopted-Suffolk-Coastal-Local-Plan/East-Suffolk-Council-Suffolk-Coastal-Local-Plan.pdf [back]
6. https://www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/assets/Planning/Waveney-Local-Plan/Adopted-Waveney-Local-Plan-including-Erratum.pdf [back]
7. Available at https://www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/planning/planning-policy-and-local-plans/local-plans/local-plan-evidence-base/   [back]
8. https://www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/assets/Planning/Suffolk-Coastal-Local-Plan/Supplementary-Planning-Guidance/SPG2-Affordable-Housing.pdf [back]
9. https://www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/assets/Planning/Waveney-Local-Plan/Supplementary-Planning-Documents/Affordable-Housing/01-Adopted-Affordable-Housing-SPD.pdf [back]
10. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1005759/NPPF_July_2021.pdf [back]
11. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/housing-needs-of-different-groups#addressing-the-need-for-different-types-of-housing [back]
12. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/build-to-rent [back]
13. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/first-homes [back]