Buckinghamshire Council takes steps to secure more affordable housing in the county
Buckinghamshire Council is taking proactive steps to tackle the challenges around delivering enough affordable housing in Buckinghamshire. As a key priority for the council, the council’s Cabinet has, this week, agreed an affordable housing position statement and committed to some specific actions. These include exploring the viability of piloting of an affordable housing development on disused council owned sites to help increase the delivery of affordable housing.
Led by the Cabinet Member for Housing, Homelessness and Regulatory Services, a working group has been looking at how the council can help secure more affordable housing. Over the next 12 months, as well as exploring the piloting of an affordable housing development using one of its own disused sites, Buckinghamshire Council will:
- work closely with house builders and use planning obligations to maximise delivery of affordable housing on all new sites. Developers who apply for planning permission for homes have to supply a percentage of affordable homes within their development. On average, this system has delivered 643 new affordable homes in Buckinghamshire each year.
- work closely with Registered Social Landlords to support them to deliver their development plans and also use s106 funds and other enabling grants to make nomination rights for affordable rented accommodation available to those on the Bucks Home Choice system.
- engage with private house builders to explore the viability of acquiring homes to accommodate key workers. Provided this is a viable option, the Council will deliver at least one scheme in 2022.
- review and catalogue empty homes in Buckinghamshire and explore if these can be brought back into use. Council Tax charges for persistently empty homes will also be reviewed.
Councillor Nick Naylor, Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Homelessness and Regulatory Services said:
“We recognise that many people, especially younger residents, are priced out of the market in Buckinghamshire and it’s a really key issue that we want to tackle. We know here, like in many other places, there’s a real shortage of homes people can really can afford, whether that’s through being able to buy their own property or living somewhere with truly affordable rent. We also know it’s essential there’s enough affordable housing for key workers to access.
“Having a safe and secure home is a basic need we all have a right to, so we’re looking at a suite of options to secure greater numbers of affordable homes across the county.
“Today is a good step forward in this process which goes hand in hand with our Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy – these are really important issues for us to tackle to create better opportunities and circumstances for all of our residents.”
Buckinghamshire Council has also set out how the Government’s First Homes scheme will work in Buckinghamshire. The scheme is designed to help local first time buyers and key workers onto the property ladder, by offering homes at a discount of at least 30% compared to the market price. This could save each buyer a significant amount of money, making deposits and mortgages more affordable. The discounts will apply to the homes forever, meaning that generations of new buyers and the local community will continue to benefit every time the property is sold.
The council has set local eligibility criteria restrictions so that First Homes have the best chance to be sold to local people and key workers.