Importance of affordable homes highlighted by council

House building. Construction on a Hopkins Homes site. Picture: ANDREW HENDRY

New guidance aims to help developers provide the best affordable homes - Credit: Archant

Developers will be expected to talk to housing chiefs about affordable homes in their projects at the earliest opportunity.

East Suffolk Council has outlined its expectations for developers for creating new affordable homes to ensure there is a good supply of properties of good standard across the district.

It is an important issue with the average house in East Suffolk costing 8.39-times the average earnings, meaning market housing is not an option for many households.

The council’s cabinet has unanimously agreed an affordable housing supplementary planning document (SPD) – a pamphlet which outlines current planning policies and what is expected of developers for the affordable homes portions of their sites.

councillor david ritchie

Councillor David Ritchie, East Suffolk’s cabinet member for Planning and Coastal Management. - Credit: East Suffolk Conservatives

The new plan replaces separate documents for Suffolk Coastal and Waveney, which are considered out of date having been created in 2004 and 2012 respectively.

Among expectations in the document are for registered providers to oversee affordable housing for rent, developers to engage with the council at an early opportunity to outline affordable housing needs, and to spread affordable homes across their sites.

In the Suffolk Coastal area, developments of 10 or more homes are expected to deliver a third as affordable homes, while the Waveney local plan says that should be 30% for 11 homes or more.

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The exceptions are in Southwold and Reydon, where that number is 40%, while Lowestoft and Kessingland are set at 20% affordable.

Conservative cabinet member for planning, David Ritchie, said: “The affordable housing SPD provides guidance on a range of topics, including in relation to types of affordable housing, identifying an appropriate mix of affordable housing, the design of affordable housing , legal agreements, vacant buildings credit and carrying out local housing needs assessments.

“The affordable housing SPD does not provide new policies but rather seeks to provide guidance that will help with the implementation of relevant policies in the Suffolk Coastal and Waveney local plans.

“For developers, its really necessary to have clear guidance because affordable housing is a complicated area.

“On adoption, the affordable housing SPD will be a material consideration in the determination of planning applications.”

Peter Byatt from the opposition Labour group said the plan will be helpful for developers and planning application decision-makers, and urged owners of brownfield sites to consider how they can help deliver affordable homes on their sites.