District Dispatch - 20 October 2022
Housing is a huge issue for the district. Nearly 2,000 households with a local connection - such as people who have been brought up here or who are a key worker in the district - are on the housing register.
Many of these people are living with extended family, or live in private rented accommodation, but want to access social housing to meet their long-term needs. Just over half of these have pressing housing needs. This may be because they are living in overcrowded housing, at risk of homelessness, or in temporary accommodation.
These people are our children, grandchildren, local nurses, and other key workers. They are important people who we rely on and want to keep close by. We want those who grow up here to have the option to stay and enable key workers to be able to afford to work here - and so we need to make sure that there are homes of the right size and type.
This is why our planning powers are so important. By the end of the year, around 300 affordable homes will have been provided in the district, including at Chichester, Westhampnett, Shopwhyke Lakes, Bracklesham, Selsey, and Loxwood. This includes delivering shared ownership and affordable rental properties. Our housing policy, under the Local Plan, means that we can make sure that a proportion of all housing on all larger developments is affordable and that this is prioritised for those who are on our housing register. The majority of affordable homes are provided through this route.
On top of this, we have invested over £2 million pounds into expanding our short stay temporary accommodation for those who are homeless. A further seventeen flats have been built to complement the council's existing short-stay accommodation.
As part of our 'Supporting You' campaign one of the key themes that we are highlighting is the housing support that is available. It's worth explaining that we don't own or manage social or affordable housing. Instead, we work with housing associations to help provide accommodation for people who need it.
Affordable housing schemes aim to make cheaper homes available for people who cannot afford to buy or rent at market rates. There are different types of affordable housing schemes, from renting to shared ownership, to helping you to buy your own home. You can find out more on our Help with Housing web page.
There are also people who don't quite fit the national system of income support or who need additional help to cover their rental costs. Every day, we make discretionary housing payments to prevent hardship and homelessness. This vital support enables people to afford housing in the private and social housing sector. You can find out more about this support on our Help with Finances web page.
The Government has also introduced a new scheme called First Homes. This scheme means that a First Home must be discounted by a minimum of 30% against the market value. After the discount has been applied, the first sale must be at a price no higher than £250,000. 'First Homes' will be protected to ensure that restrictions are place on the property at each future sale to make sure that the home continues to be affordable to future buyers.
Along with our charity partners, including Stonepillow, The Four Streets Project, and HEART, we are also continuing to work hard to make sure that rough sleepers access accommodation and the support that they need. I'm pleased to say that the number of rough sleepers in the district has significantly reduced. We know that once rough sleepers are willing to access a roof over the head, we can then provide them with a package of support to help them get their lives back on track.
To access housing support, please visit our housing pages.
Cllr Eileen Lintill
Leader of Chichester District Council