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Decision details

First Homes Interim Statement

Decision Maker: Executive Councillor for Housing

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: No

Purpose:

To agree a policy statement on how the council will implement the government’s new First Homes initiative on new developments.

Decision:

Matter for Decision

First Homes is a new form of affordable home ownership aimed at first time buyers. National Guidance states that 25% of all new affordable housing provided as developer contributions on section 106 sites should be provided as First Homes (with a few exceptions). Other requirements also apply although local authorities are allowed some limited flexibilities in how they bring First Homes forward.

 

This report recommends how the national policy should be implemented locally through a proposed First Homes Interim Position Statement for Greater Cambridge which is attached at Appendix 1 to the report. 

 

Decision of Executive Councillor for Housing

i.  Approved the First Homes Interim Position Statement at Appendix 1 to the officer’s report, in particular that:

a.  The preferred split between affordable housing tenures will be: 25% First Homes; 5% shared ownership or other intermediate tenures; and 70% social/affordable rent.

b.  The price cap for a First Home, once the discount has been applied, will be £250,000 in line with the maximum cap allowed within national guidance.

c.  The discount applied to a First Home will be 30% of market value in line with the minimum discount allowed within the national guidance.

d.  The household income cap for eligible applicants for First Homes will be up to £80,000 in line with the maximum income allowed with in the national guidance.

e.  For developments which cross the boundary into South Cambridgeshire, and/or where joint nominations on the affordable homes have been agreed, any purchaser of a First Home  will need to  have a local connection to either Cambridge City or South Cambridgeshire District Council; this will apply for the first three months of marketing in line with national guidance.

f.  For developments within Cambridge City which do not cross the boundary into South Cambridge or where no joint nominations on the affordable housing have been agreed, any purchaser of a First Home will need to have a local connection to Cambridge City. This will apply for the first three months of marketing in line with national guidance.

g.  The First Homes local connection criteria to be applied will be as detailed in paragraphs 4.21 to 4.27 of the First Homes Interim Position Statement shown at Appendix 1 to this report.

h.  No specific priority will be given to ‘key workers’ but the council may work with developers and employer organisations to ensure that marketing is targeted towards particular employers where appropriate.

i.  Where developers wish to bring forward a First Homes exception site in Cambridge City they will need to demonstrate that the availability of First Homes or other affordable home ownership tenures is insufficient within Cambridge City to cater for the needs of first-time buyers.

j.  The  First Homes Interim Position Statement at Appendix 1 to this report will only be used when a development proposal includes reference to First Homes as part of affordable housing provision. If a development proposal does not refer to First Homes, the affordable housing split detailed in Annexe 5 of the Greater Cambridge Housing Strategy 2019-2023 (or successor document) will apply.

k.  Any subsequent minor amendments and editing changes to the First Homes Interim Position Statement and/or the First Homes Issues & Options paper, that do not materially affect the content, be delegated to the Director of Housing & Communities in consultation with the Executive Councillor for Housing, the Executive Councillor for Planning and relevant Chairs and Spokes.

 

Reason for the Decision

As set out in the Officer’s report.

 

Any Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

Not applicable.

 

Scrutiny Considerations

The Committee received a report from the Housing Strategy Manager.

 

The Committee made the following comments in response to the report:

i.  Expressed concerns with the concept of ‘First Homes’ and noted that in Appendix 1 paragraph 4.13 that a household would need an income of £55,000 per year to be able to afford a First Home in Cambridge and that average salaries are much lower than that. Queried how many people would be able to benefit from this new scheme.

ii.  Supported comments made in i. above. Felt the way in which Central Government had developed the scheme that it may do more harm than good. Queried recommendation h which stated that no specific priority would be given to key workers.  Noted that the Mayor in London had created a definition for key workers. Asked if any data had been gathered regarding housing need in certain key areas / jobs. Would welcome a definition of ‘key worker’ going forward.

 

The Housing Strategy Manager said the following in response to Members’ questions:

i.  Noted in relation to the query regarding recommendation h that Addenbrookes had undertaken a piece of work looking at gaps in housing need for their workers.  Officers had also had discussions with Cambridgeshire County Council about their workers; they had said that they would provide evidence around housing need and the impact on their services but this had not been provided to date.

 

The Executive Councillor drew attention to a letter which had been sent to Michael Gove on pages 125-130 of the agenda which set out the council’s concerns regarding First Homes.

 

The Committee resolved by 6 votes to 0 to endorse the recommendations.

 

The Executive Councillor approved the recommendations.

 

Conflicts of Interest Declared by the Executive Councillor (and any Dispensations Granted)

No conflicts of interest were declared by the Executive Councillor.

Publication date: 04/05/2022

Date of decision: 15/03/2022