District Dispatch - 19 September 2023
Housing is a huge issue for the district. Around 2,000 households with a connection to the district — such as people who have been brought up here or who are a key worker in the district — are waiting for a home in our area. Around 48% of these have urgent housing needs.
These people are your 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 here and important 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. Over the past year, nearly 400 affordable homes have been provided in the district, including those at Graylingwell, Minerva Heights (at the West of Chichester), Shopwyke Lakes, Southdown's Holiday Village, Fishbourne Road and Park Farm in Selsey. This includes delivering shared ownership, social and affordable rental properties. Our housing policy, under the Local Plan, means that we can make sure that 30% of all housing on all larger developments is affordable, and in most areas this is ring fenced for those with a local connection. By far, the majority of affordable homes are provided through this route, and this is why it is so important.
We also work closely with Registered Housing Providers and Community Land Trusts to deliver affordable housing and have invested nearly £900,000 into these projects over the past year. This includes social rented homes in Chichester and Westbourne.
On top of this, the council invested over £2 million pounds into expanding our short stay temporary accommodation for those who are homeless. We are committed to reducing homelessness in the district, and this is one of a number of initiatives the council has introduced to tackle this issue. This project is already making a real difference to the lives of local people facing homelessness.
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. These homes will also account for 25% of all affordable housing units delivered by developers through planning obligations moving forward.
There are also people who don't quite fit the national system of income support. 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.
We're also working really hard to make sure that rough sleepers access accommodation and the support that they need. We work really closely with our charity partners, including Stonepillow, The Four Streets Project, and HEART, to help transform lives. The amount of rough sleepers in the district has reduced since 2019 and currently stands at six in June 2023. This continues to be a priority for us, because 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. We have some amazing stories where people's lives have quite literally been turned around. We also provided Stonepillow with £100,000 towards acquiring a property so that they can provide move on accommodation, and we are bidding for more funds to further expand this work. To find out more about the work we are doing or to access support, please visit our Housing in Chichester District information.
Cllr David Betts
Cabinet Member for Housing, and Revenue and Benefits.