5th July 2021
Housing is a huge issue for the district. Around 1,500 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 40% 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 200 affordable homes have been provided in the district, including at Graylingwell, Shopwhyke and Southbourne. This includes delivering shared ownership 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 that 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 housing associations and Community Land Trusts to deliver affordable housing and have invested nearly £1 million into these projects over the past year. This includes social rented homes in Bracklesham, Midhurst and Chichester.
On top of this, we are investing over £2 million pounds into expanding our short stay temporary accommodation for those who are homeless. This project has been moving forward throughout the pandemic and we hope that the seventeen new flats will be available early next year. You can see the progress that we are making here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtCjqpqo04c
The Government has also recently introduced a new scheme called First Homes. This new 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. Since the pandemic began, we have worked 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 from 32 in 2019, to three in 2021. 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 over the past year where people’s lives have quite literally been turned around. We have 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 www.chichester.gov.uk/housing
Cllr Alan Sutton
Cabinet Member for Housing, Communications, Licensing and Events at Chichester District Council