Go-ahead for affordable homes to Starter Homes switch at Northstowe

A scheme to provide 3,500 homes as part of a planned new town in Cambridgeshire will include 40 per cent discounted Starter Homes and 10 per cent affordable homes, following the agreement of a revised affordable housing deal that has replaced earlier plans for 20 per cent of the homes to be affordable.

Northstowe: revised affordable housing provision approved
Northstowe: revised affordable housing provision approved

In June 2015, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Northstowe Joint Development Control Committee backed an outline planning application for the 3,500-home scheme, submitted by government housing and regeneration quango the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), which also included proposals for a secondary school and two primary schools.

The plans form the second phase of development at the site and are part of an overall plan to deliver 10,000 new homes at Northstowe.

The application proposed that 20 per cent of the 3,500 homes be affordable and was recommended for approval ahead of the signing of a Section 106 agreement.

But the plans were resubmitted for fresh consideration to take into account issues including emerging government policy on Starter Homes.

Starter Homes are intended to give first time buyers aged between 23 and 40 at least a 20 per cent discount on the market price of a home.

The revised plans sought to change the affordable housing provision for the scheme from 20 per cent affordable housing to 40 per cent Starter Homes and 10 per cent affordable rented units.

A report considered by the council’s planning committee today said that in January the Prime Minister announced Northstowe as "one of five pilots for direct commissioning with 40 per cent Starter Homes to accelerate delivery and enhance access to the housing market for first time buyers".

"The HCA, as the government housing and regeneration agency, is keen to ensure that housing delivery on key government sites contributes fully to the provision of starter homes and meets government policy".

The document said that, at the time of writing, the housing minister had "signalled that the government are looking to broaden the starter homes definition set out in the Housing and Planning Act to include other types of low-cost home ownership schemes such as rent-to-buy".

"It is anticipated that the government will be publishing a white paper shortly that will give some clarification on this issue".

The report said that planners "considered that subject to anticipated changes in the Starter Homes definition and the provision to agree an alternative housing mix in the event that all starter homes do not sell, the revised proposal of 40 per cent starter homes and 10 per cent affordable rented properties does give the flexibility to provide a wider housing choice for residents, with the ability to provide a broader housing outcome than the original 20 per cent affordable housing agreed ... in July 2016.

"The proposal is considered to balance national policy and local need."

A statement from the HCA said that the rest of the developer agreement for the second phase of the town remains unchanged with a £73 million investment in community facilities.


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