Housing Strategy 2018 to 2023
Objective 1: supporting housing growth and increasing choice
Residents and those wanting to live in Stockton-on-Tees should have the opportunity to live in a decent home at a price they can afford in a place that they want to live and work. In order to support this it is critical that housing growth is balanced with good local services, infrastructure and high quality green and open spaces.
Good quality housing plays a fundamental role in supporting the delivery of care and support to older people, young people and vulnerable people (including but not limited to adults with learning disabilities, Gypsies and Travellers and those experiencing Homelessness), it is imperative that we ensure appropriate housing is provided to meet the needs of these groups. This will be addressed in more detail in Chapter 3.
We will work to deliver high-quality homes for our growing local population by influencing decisions affecting the location and quality of new build housing development and work in partnership with our housing provider partners. By taking this approach we aim to ensure a wider choice of each type, location and price of homes to meet residents' needs and aspirations, in particular the projected growth in the number of people who are beyond retirement age.
Where possible, we will intervene and work in partnership where there are locations that suffer from low demand housing and imbalance to re-model neighbourhoods through demolition, rebuild and refurbishment options to create sustainable communities where there is choice from a high quality housing offer.
What we need to focus on and why
Following the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008 there was a reduction in housebuilding both locally and nationally. In recent years the rate of house building has improved significantly within the borough. The Council continues to support delivery of new housing and the range of housing options available to our residents including bringing empty properties back into use.
Over the last 2 years more than 1600 new homes have been completed including more than 230 new affordable homes, many of them funded by Homes England (formerly the Homes and Communities Agency).
The emerging Stockton-on-Tees Local Plan contains the overarching spatial strategy for the borough. It is anticipated that the Local Plan will be adopted by the end of 2018. The Local Plan identifies the location type and number of new homes that need to be built across the borough to meet the needs of the current and future populations over the next 15 years (until 2032), and is supported by the SHMA 2016 which has identified a need for 9,130 (600 annually) between 2017 and 2032, including 3,600 new affordable homes (240 annually).
It will also give us the ability to guide planning decisions by establishing the framework for the sustainable economic growth of the Borough up to 2032. A fundamental part of the Local Plan is supporting the aspiration of delivering housing in the Regenerated River Tees Corridor, creating Sustainable Urban Extension at West Stockton and delivering Wynyard Sustainable Settlement.
The delivery of new housing play a key role in contributing to the economic growth of the borough, allowing local businesses and supply chains to benefit from development activity as well as bringing training and employment opportunities for local residents. The Council is committed to working with developers to maximise local targeted recruitment and training opportunities that are available to local people, especially on development schemes that are a direct result of the work that we do.
The Council takes a primary role in stimulating investment in housing and infrastructure to develop and diversify the housing offer in Stockton and to provide access to good quality schools, open spaces and local facilities.
Over recent years the Council has secured substantial inward investment via Homes England and we continue to have a positive relationship with them and the Tees Valley Combined Authority and work collaboratively with them to drive the delivery ambitions for new housing in the Borough.
The Tees Valley Combined Authority, Local Authorities and Homes England are working collectively to prepare a Tees Valley Housing Investment and Delivery Plan that will seek to identify and secure the necessary funding and investment to unlock and deliver housing sites across the Tees Valley.
At a national level the Council has been successful in securing £10million from the Government's Housing Infrastructure Fund which will be used to develop infrastructure like roads to help us continue to support the delivery of new housing.
Stockton needs more affordable housing in order to meet the housing needs of those who are priced out of the housing market. Affordable housing provides opportunities for people to access housing for both rent and home ownership where they are unable to do so in the open market. The delivery of new build affordable housing has generally been positive in the Borough over recent years with over 784 delivered in the 5-year period 2011/12 - 2016/17. However this scale of delivery has relied on our ability to work with Registered Housing Providers (RP's) on our large scale major housing regeneration schemes (specifically Hardwick and Mandale) and the Council's ability to identify and release suitable land.
The impacts of reduced Council land and asset availability are likely to have a significant impact on our ability to directly deliver new affordable units going forward. The delivery of new build affordable housing not only supports both our local community's needs, but also supports wider Council agenda's such as adult social care. For example there have been a number of notable projects delivered which have provided housing for adults with Learning Disabilities, enabling these residents to live independently with support and alleviating pressures on Council budgets.
There continues to be an increasing demand for affordable housing across the borough. Current economic conditions coupled with welfare reforms have resulted in increased demand from young people, families, vulnerable people and older people. The SHMA 2016 identifies a need of 3635 affordable units for rent and affordable homeownership between 2017 and 2032. The SHMA also identifies that 70% of new affordable homes should be for rent and 30% should be for intermediate tenures (such as shared ownership or shared equity). Over recent years this split has been achievable and delivered on new housing sites.
The affordable housing sector is experiencing a period of significant change due to changes in national Government policy and the financial viability of schemes. Despite this the Council and its local RP partners are committed to identifying creative ways to continue to deliver the level of affordable housing in the right sizes and tenures and in the right locations to meet the needs of our residents. This includes exploring broader options for affordable homeownership products and bringing empty properties back into use to let at affordable rents.
Securing Affordable Housing on Private Sector Housing Sites
The Council currently relies on provisions set out in affordable housing policy in the Local Plan and Supplementary Planning Documents to secure delivery and meet the borough's affordable housing need via Section 106 obligations. The Council's current requirement for affordable housing is 15% to be provided on all residential developments over 15 units or more or where sites are 0.5 hectares or more. This is under review through the emerging Local Plan which is proposing 20% on sites of 11 or more units. The Council's preference via this policy is the delivery of affordable housing on site. However on occasions, due to the nature of development or type of development and with robust evidence, the Council will negotiate a commuted sum in lieu of on-site delivery.
Section 106 Obligations
Implementation of the above policy has resulted in the delivery of a range of affordable units on private sector sites across the Borough, often in areas with high demand or limited (if any) existing affordable housing stock (in areas such as Yarm and Eaglescliffe).
In addition, a number of agreements have been signed to secure a commuted sum in lieu of on-site provision. Whilst the Council actively continues to negotiate a number of further S106 agreements, site viability issues, timing and low scheme density numbers are making it increasing difficult for the Council to meet its identified affordable housing need. Looking ahead this position is unlikely to improve.
Direct Commissioning of Affordable Housing
The Council has worked with a number of Registered Providers to bring forward a range of new build affordable housing on Council owned sites. A number of these schemes have been specifically targeted at meeting specific housing needs (which are key priorities for the Council) for example, older persons accommodation at Winford House in Billingham, independent living accommodation for adults with learning disabilities at Churchland Gardens in Norton and Willow Court in Hardwick and the recently completed Acorn House in Thornaby.
Funding of these schemes has been linked to the availability of Homes England grant funding, the Council's ability to secure other funding such as the Department of Health Care and Support Specialised Housing fund and the availability of council owned land (all of the above examples were developed on land previously owned by the Council).
Stockton-on-Tees has brought about an exciting transformation in facilities and opportunities for local people and has ambitions to continue this. Significant housing-led regeneration has taken place at Hardwick and Mandale, is on-going at West End Gardens and Norton Park and is proposed for the Victoria Estate. These areas were suffering from a spiral of socio-economic decline and the housing was classified as 'non sustainable' and therefore demolition was identified as the only viable regeneration option. Given the lack of national funding for large scale regeneration projects coupled with viability issues linked to brownfield redevelopment sites in the North East it is unlikely that there will be any further major demolition schemes in Stockton-on-Tees Borough over the life-time of this strategy.
To date on our key regeneration sites 2143 properties have been demolished and 1,375 new homes for private sale and rent and 539 for affordable rent have been built. Once all the schemes are complete, 2,200 new homes will have been provided, which will have seen over £250m of public and private sector investment within the Borough.
In addition to regeneration on Council owned land a further focus of the Council's regeneration aspirations is associated with the Regenerated River Tees Corridor (between A66 and Newport Bridge) in close proximity to Stockton Town Centre and the largely developed is the Vivo development at North Shore. Alongside this are sites which will contribute to the regeneration of the borough which include sites with planning consents (Navigation Way and Jubilee Gardens) and allocated sites within the Local Plan (Tees Marshalling Yard, Victoria Estate and Land off Grangefield Road).
What we are going to do and how we are going to do it
Our priorities and actions directly respond to the challenges outlined in this chapter and support the key priorities identified in the Council Plan 2018-21 and Economic Growth Plan 2017-20, and therefore provide a consistent thread through all our activity.
Priority 1: Delivering the homes required
- maximise use of council land via the Council's Asset Review Group
- work with partners to deliver the sites identified in the Local Plan
- work with the TVCA and Homes England to unlock stalled sites and to speed up delivery of new homes to meet demand
- explore ways for the Council to influence and enable new homes for sale and rent
- explore the use of modern methods of construction and new technologies (including modular build)
- continue to support the regeneration of the Victoria Estate and appoint a Joint Venture partner and commence delivery of the Victoria regeneration site
- investigate the use of delivery vehicles that might allow the Council to finance the delivery of new homes
- develop masterplans and strategies to facilitate delivery and ensure the provision of appropriate community and transport infrastructure
- new open market and affordable housing delivered at previously stalled housing sites (examples sites include Jubilee Gardens, formerly known as Queens Park North and West End Gardens)
- complete an option appraisal to explore the potential and viability of a delivery vehicle/s to accelerate growth/housing opportunities on Council owned land
Priority 2: Ensure the housing offer meets housing need
- increase the number of new affordable homes delivered in the Borough through effective engagement with our Registered Provider partners and by maximising inward investment via the Homes England Affordable Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes Programme (SOAHP)
- support the delivery of a broad range of affordable housing through the use of S106 contributions and other funding opportunities
- deliver accommodation for older people, young people and those with specialist housing needs
- identify and explore opportunities to use council owned assets to support the delivery of affordable homes
- encourage a broader range of housing in the private rented sector