CITY PLAN PART TWO: HOUSING
Liberal Democrats recognise the importance of having a "base" for reasons of health, welfare, quality of life and work. We believe that people should have choice and that there should be a mixture of housing provision available to meet different needs. We also recognise that in a City such as Brighton and Hove there is a shortage of affordable housing and social rented homes. It is therefore a priority for the Council to make every effort to provide those affordable/social rented homes in the City to house the thousands of people who are on the local Housing Waiting List.
- We support the aim of providing 40% "affordable homes" within housing developments and this should include a considerable element of "social rented" housing. It has been disappointing that many housing developments in recent years haven't met this aim, with some developments, both on publicly and privately owned land, failing to meet the requirements of the City. Some examples are: the former AMEX Site (Edward Street); Artisan development (Davigdor Road); the Ellen Street development; former Baptist Church Hall (Montpelier Pl); and former Council owned buildings in Buckingham Rd.
This 40% rule for the provision of affordable/social rented homes should apply to the "Strategic Site Allocations" listed in the City Plan including the former Brighton General Hospital Site in Elm Grove (SSA1); the Combined Engineering Site in New England Road (SSA2); and the Lyon Close Site (SSA3).
- The City Plan needs to reflect the trend towards more home working; self-employment; part-time work; and flexible working. The Council therefore needs to ensure that vacant, disused and underused commercial/office space in the City is put to good use, including through the conversion of existing commercial buildings. The Council's Planning and Housing Departments should therefore work with the owners of these vacant and underused commercial sites to maximise the amount of affordable housing provision by means of encouragement, support and (where possible) resources. This should include encouraging the conversion of existing underused commercial buildings into affordable and social rented housing units with a minimum requirement of 40% being "affordable homes".
- The failure to meet the aim of "40% affordable homes" in new developments over recent years means that there is now even more of a need for such homes. We believe that the existing plans are unlikely to meet the demand up until 2030, given that there are currently more than 19,000 (INDIVIDUAL) PEOPLE on the Housing Waiting List. We therefore support the re-allocation of Hollingbury Golf Course as an area for "Mixed Use". This Mixed Use designation should include approximately 40% of that area for "Eco" Social Rented Homes; 40% to be preserved in perpetuity as a "nature reserve"; and 20% to be used as open leisure space, allotments and other recreational/leisure uses.
- The Council need to work in partnership with Housing Associations, Housing Co-ops, the Community Land Trust and the Private Sector to ensure the maximum provision of affordable and social rented homes in the City. Wherever possible, this housing should be close to transport links, meet high environmental standards and be close to community amenities.
SPECIFIC RESPONSES TO THE HOUSING SECTION
DM1 HOUSING QUALITY, CHOICE AND MIX
(f) (P14) Minimum Gross Internal Floor Areas and Storage Levels: The stated levels should be an absolute minimum and the "desirable" level of living space should be 10% above this for the purposes of the City Plan. In addition, space must be made available as part of any housing development for safe storage areas for rubbish and recycling.
(Justification: Healthy Living; Safe Space; Quality of Life; Encouraging Recycling)
DM2 RETAINING HOUSING AND RESIDENTIAL ACCOMMODATION
This should include buildings where accommodation is (or has recently) been provided within office blocks, Pubs and above shops or other commercial buildings, in order to prevent the loss of residential accommodation.
(Justification: Provision of affordable homes; lack of land available for housing)
DM4 HOUSING AND ACCOMMODATION FOR OLDER PERSONS
2.29 (OLDER PERSONS HOUSING NEEDS ASSESSMENT)
The Council should further consider changes in demographics; the availability/closure of care homes; the need to provide independent supported accommodation; and the demand for sheltered and warden-assisted homes, including flats. It might be the case that the current assessment of needs is an underestimate.
The Council should consider directly investing in some housing for older people and the Developers of Sheltered Homes and Warden Assisted Flats should provide at least 20% of their units as "social rented" accommodation to help meet the increasing needs of our City.
(Justification: Meeting growing Housing, Health and Care needs. Helping to reduce the number of hospital and nursing home beds required for older/vulnerable groups)
DM5 SUPPORTED ACCOMMODATION (SPECIALIST AND VULNERABLE NEEDS)
2.37 should include Rehabilitation Units for people with drug and/or alcohol related issues, which might be provided through Charitable, Voluntary Organisations and Housing Associations.
Specialist Supported Accommodation should also be provided for victims of Domestic Abuse.
(Justification: meeting the housing needs of disadvantaged groups)
DM6 BUILD TO RENT HOUSING
2a There should be provision of a minimum of 20% affordable social rented housing, with tenancies open to people for application from the Council's Housing Waiting List as part of "Build to Rent" housing developments. (Justification: Lack of Affordable Homes; Lack of available land for housing)
DM7 HOUSES IN MULTIPLE OCCUPATION
2.67 This should include a minimum bedroom size in addition to the provision of facilities for a single Person or Couple.(Justification: Space; Quality of Life; Reduce Overcrowding)
DM8 PURPOSE BUILT STUDENT ACCOMMODATION
- The University Authorities should be asked to notify the Council's Housing and Planning Departments about any proposals to expand the number of students who are studying with them and the likely numbers needing accommodation.
- Appropriate Facilities should be provided for the storage and removal of rubbish and recycling within all student accommodation.
(Justification: Planning; Quality of Life; Improving Recycling)