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New housing strategy approved to deliver homes and jobs

22 September 2016
 
A new strategy to deliver much needed new homes, create new jobs and improve the standard of existing homes has been approved.

This evening (22 September) a full meeting of South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) agreed the new South Lakeland Housing Strategy 2016 to 2025 for publication next month.

The strategy sets out how SLDC will address several key issues:

The need for more affordable housing

  • Demand for new market housing to meet the demands of a growing economy
  • Need for older person’s accommodation and services due to growing ageing population
  • Retaining young people in South Lakeland
  • Tackling fuel poverty and poor energy efficiency standards in private housing stock
  • Poor housing standards in the private rented housing sector
  • Bringing long-term empty homes back into use
  • Ensuring the most vulnerable people are assisted with their housing problems to avoid homelessness

The council has targets to address these areas in the period up to 2025.

These include enabling the completion of 1,000 new affordable homes for rent, enabling the completion of 750 new affordable homes for sale, enabling the completion of 6,700 new homes (market and affordable), enabling completion of 500 new self-build homes, enabling completion of 300 new extra-care housing homes (this target to be agreed with Cumbria County Council) and reducing the number of private sector homes with the most serious hazards to health from 21% to 15%, reducing the percentage of homes with the lowest energy performance to less than 10%, reducing the number of long-term empty homes by 20% and ensuring the number of homeless households living in temporary accommodation is no more than 20 at any one time.

A report presented at this evening’s full council says that SLDC, as the housing authority for the district, has identified a key affordability problem in South Lakeland, with high housing costs coupled with modest incomes meaning that in some parts of the district average house prices are up to 12 times higher than average incomes.

In some areas this problem is made worse by high numbers of second homes, which make up more than 20% of the housing stock across the district and where, in some popular villages in the Lakes, this figure rises to more than 50%.

Figures show that median house prices in South Lakeland have increased from £74,000 in 2000 to £210,000 in 2013.

The report states: “Many people, particularly young people, are unable to buy their own home or rent a home privately close to where they may work.

“There are also problems associated with an ageing population and ageing nature of rural housing stock, particularly poor energy efficiency standards leading to high energy costs, fuel poverty and ill-health.

“Affordable, decent housing was identified as the second most important issue for residents (behind health) in the South Lakeland Quality of Life Survey.’’

The council is tackling all these issues through its Council Plan priorities on housing, the economy, health and wellbeing and the environment.

SLDC is also one of the few local authorities in the north west to have an adopted Local Plan in place, which identifies sites for the delivery of a significant number of new homes to meet the diverse needs of its communities.

The council’s vision outlined in the new housing strategy is to: ‘Enable the provision of quality new homes and raise the standard of existing homes to meet housing needs, improve health, support economic growth and create sustainable communities.’

The strategy sets out in detail how the council will continue to build on the progress made in these areas in the past few years and how it will work with partners, including the national park authorities, county council and health and third sector organisations, to realise that vision.

Councillor Jonathan Brook, SLDC’s portfolio holder for Housing and Innovation, said: “We have already made excellent progress on our housing ambitions for the future of our district and this strategy puts in place how we will deliver our targets.

“Our young people need housing they can afford and our growing number of elderly residents need specialist housing.

“Our businesses need housing for employees and the economic growth generated by housebuilding. A better standard of new and existing housing needs is essential to enhance health and wellbeing. More energy efficient and better designed housing will be better for the environment.

“If our economy is to grow, more people will come into the district. Employers need to be able to attract and retain talent. This means that affordable housing is needed for employees and to enable our young people to take up jobs locally. It also means that high quality housing is needed to attract skilled people to come and work in South Lakeland and surrounding areas and generate wealth.

“Much of our house building industry is locally based. There are currently 4,400 construction jobs in South Lakeland. Civil engineering, building, fitting out, furniture, gardening, landscaping and professional services – all benefit from house building activity. It has been estimated that every new house built generates 4.3 jobs. New housing development also helps to deliver local infrastructure through the Community Infrastructure Levy.

“With remote working and better broadband connectivity, many new homes are also workplaces. People start new businesses from home. People, including highly skilled high earners are able to work for businesses which may be located anywhere in the world and spend their income locally.

“This strategy sets out the steps that the council will take over the next decade to ensure that local people have access to the homes that they need and to help the local economy to grow. It also forms part of the foundation of the council’s wider ambitions to promote wider economic growth both in Cumbria and in the Morecambe Bay sub-region.’’

The South Lakeland Housing Strategy can be viewed in full.

For more information, please contact the SLDC Communications Team on 01539 793300