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District Dispatch - 11 May 2022

Helping people to get on the housing ladder and access affordable housing is a top priority for us. We don't own housing stock, but we can use our planning policies to make sure that at least 30% of all large housing developments is affordable housing.

Alan Sutton resized

We have also insisted on introducing a local connection test that must be met by people opting to buy a home as part of the Government's First Homes Scheme. This is designed to help local first time buyers and key workers onto the property ladder by offering homes at a discount of 30%, compared to the market price. The idea is to help make mortgages and deposits more affordable.

New residential developments providing affordable homes are now required to provide a proportion of these as first homes. The Government has asked councils to decide whether or not to introduce a local connection test, which prioritises first time buyers. We believe that this is important because we want to make sure that there are homes to meet the needs of local people. The local connection test will apply for the first three months of the sale and will also apply on any future sales of the property moving forward — protecting it for this purpose.

First Homes in the district must be sold on a freehold basis at a minimum discount of 30%, and the property cannot initially be sold for more than £250,000 once the discount has been applied. They must also not be sold to households with an annual income of more than £80,000. You can find out more about this by visiting Own Your Home (opens new window)

We're pleased to tell you that a new development in Loxwood offering affordable homes will be available in July, and we want to make sure that local people maximise this opportunity. Fifty homes will be made available. Thirty of these will be affordable rental properties that will be allocated through the council's housing register. There will also be seven rent-to-buy properties and 13 shared ownership properties available. We want to make local residents aware of this now, so that they can start considering this option. If you would like to apply for the rental properties, please make sure that you do this through the council's housing register. You can find out more at Stonewater - Current Developments (opens new window)

Some of the larger strategic housing sites across the district are also delivering a significant number of new affordable homes. In the last week alone, we have advertised 14 new family homes for affordable rent, which Vivid Homes are providing in the West of Chichester at the Minerva Heights development. These will be let through our housing register over the next few weeks. As a result of this, and our new temporary accommodation, the need for privately owned emergency accommodation has reduced significantly, which is positive news.

I'm also pleased to say that our short stay accommodation is already making a real difference to the lives of local people who are facing homelessness. Having opened in March this year, our 17 new flats are now occupied and supporting families, couples, and individuals in need of a temporary home while they get back on their feet. One gentleman who moved into the accommodation was so relieved to have somewhere to stay that he was overcome with tears.

Making sure that our residents have a roof over their head and the financial support that they need is a top priority for us. We know that there are people in our district who are facing homelessness and this project provides a warm, safe, and high-quality home environment for them, as well as a platform upon which they can start to rebuild their lives. If you are interested in finding out more then please visit our Freeland Close Project webpage, where we have created a video explaining the project in more detail.

If you are struggling, please be aware that there is a range of support available. We have produced a 'supporting you' leaflet which can be found at Help With Finances which is well worth referring to and you can find out more about the work of our housing team and how they can assist you.

Best Wishes

Cllr Alan Sutton

Cabinet Member for Housing, Communications, Licensing and Events at Chichester District Council