Councillor Goodeve presented a report outlining the results of the public consultation on the draft Affordable Housing Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), and seeking Members’ consent to adopt a revised document. She said the statutory consultees had made no comment on the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), so advised a SEA was not required. She proposed a motion that the recommendations in the report be supported.
Councillor Bolton seconded the motion.
Councillor Crystall said he recognised the National Planning Policy Framework limited what could be proposed in the SPD. However he was concerned that it would, despite best efforts ultimately benefit developers, at the expense of those who needed affordable homes.
Councillor Redfern said the requirements on developers which had been stated in the original SPD had now been watered down, and she queried how East Herts Council would meet its provision for affordable housing and social rent. She asked how the Council would guard against inadequate provision by developers, particularly if Covid – 19 had an impact on housing development. She also questioned, in relation to phasing of a site into separate parts what safeguards the Council could put in place to ensure developers did provide affordable housing near to the original site. Finally, she asked why this district did not have a target for social rents, as other authorities such as Three Rivers did.
Councillor Goldspink said she supported the aspirations but could not support this SPD. She called for a recorded vote.
Councillor Ward-Booth said the document had been the subject of consultation earlier this year, and that timely submission of comments would have been helpful.
Councillor Beckett said, as a Member of the Development Management Committee, that the Committee was almost toothless in some cases due to lack of robust wording in the Local Plan, and this SPD would similarly lack robustness.
Councillor Symonds asked whether there was any key worker accommodation in the District, and if not, whether it could be reinstated.
Councillor Corpe said the SPD had been put out to consultation twice. The Liberal Democrat Group had responded during those consultations with similar comments, but those had been ignored. He questioned why there could not be a link to local salaries, as was the case at a number of other councils, such as West Midlands.
The Principal Planning Officer responded to a number of points, stating that it was necessary to follow national policy.
Councillor Boylan reminded Members that he had, at the December Council meeting, agreed to commission a piece of work on social housing and social tenures. Having drafted it, he had written to the Chief Executive and Head of Housing and Health to request for an officer to be recruited to carry out this work. He was glad to report that although recruitment had been slow, an appointment was shortly to be made. A more detailed proposal would be issued later in the year.
Five Members having confirmed a request for a recorded vote, a recorded vote was taken, the result being:
Councillors Alder, Andrews, Bolton, Boylan, E Buckmaster, R Buckmaster, Bull, Burmicz, Crofton, Cutting, Deering, Devonshire, Drake, Fernando, Goodeve, Hall, Haysey, Hollebon, Huggins, Jones, Kemp, McAndrew, McMullen, Newton, Page, Pope, Reed, Rowley, Ruffles, Rutland-Barsby, Snowdon, Stowe, Symonds, Ward-Booth, Williamson and Wyllie.
Councillors Beckett, Bell, Brady, Corpe, Crystall, Dumont, Frecknall, Goldspink, Redfern and Wilson.
Councillors Curtis, Kaye, Ranger and Stevenson.
RESOLVED – that (A) the responses of the consultation be noted and the officer responses and proposed changes to the Affordable Housing Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) be supported;
(B) the Affordable Housing SPD, as detailed in Appendix C of this report, be approved for adoption; and
(C) in accordance with the Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004 it has been determined that a Strategic Environmental Assessment of the emerging Affordable Housing SPD is not required as it is unlikely to have significant environmental effects.