Herefordshire Council has taken a major step towards delivering more affordable housing in the County following a decision by Cabinet (Thursday 26 November 2020).
Addressing the shortage of affordable housing in the County is a key priority in the council’s County Plan 2020–24, with the ambition to provide 1,000 affordable housing units over the next four years.
Compared to neighbouring counties Herefordshire has relatively low availability of housing that is genuinely affordable to both rent and buy given local earnings. In a developer-led market the focus is on building the most profitable housing types on the most profitable sites, leading to fewer smaller and affordable new homes. This is placing additional pressure on house prices and the impact is that many residents, especially younger people, are unable to remain living in their local communities. There is also a shortage of homes suitable for Herefordshire’s vulnerable residents and growing population of older people.
Cllr Ange Tyler, Cabinet Member housing, regulatory services, and community safety explains: “It is a key priority for this Cabinet in addressing the imbalance of providing genuinely affordable homes for local people to stay connected with families and to remain in Herefordshire. Building high quality homes and supporting residents to afford living in their homes to meet their needs will inevitably create healthy and integrated communities.
“By influencing delivery of affordable housing the council can control what is ultimately built. This means we can ensure we develop the types of housing we need in the county that also meet the highest environmental standards in line with our climate change aspirations.”
Cabinet today agreed that the housing will be delivered through a process whereby the council build and retain the affordable units initially under the General Fund and then establish a Housing Revenue Account at a later date. This will allow the council to retain full control over what is developed and when and how the units are managed and maintained.
Cllr Tyler added: “While our decision today is an important early step in realising our ambitions for affordable housing in the county we still have some way to go, with further decisions to be made around the types of development and funding. These details will be developed, discussed and agreed over the coming months.”