Key Decision identified as Telford & Wrekin Draft Housing Strategy, 2020-25. Report on outcome of consultation process and consideration of revised draft Strategy in the Notice of Key Decisions published on 17 February 2021.
Councillor D Wright, Cabinet Member: Economy, Housing, Transport and Infrastructure presented the report of the Director:Housing, Employment & Infrastructure.
The Council’s draft Housing Strategy, 2020-25 was approved by Cabinet in June 2020. This was an overarching Strategy which set out the Council’s commitment to work with partners and communities to ensure every resident had a safe and affordable home. It established three key objectives: to create sustainable, accessible, affordable and integrated communities; to make the best use of existing homes; and to provide homes to support and empower the most vulnerable people.
The Strategy set out a series of actions and priorities to guide delivery, some of which would be implemented by the Council through the Local Plan Review, and through new investment into delivering further homes via Nuplace, the Better Homes for All Programme, the Council’s commitment to No Return to Rough Sleeping and new initiatives, which included the Safer and Stronger Communities programme.
The Strategy also set out priorities for the Council’s partners and engagement through the consultation had contributed to the new Allocation Policy being presented to Cabinet alongside this Report. There was a commitment to work with the Authority on delivering the priorities in the Specialist & Supported Accommodation Strategy.
A new Affordable Warmth Strategy and a new Empty Properties Strategy were to be presented to Cabinet and would be key enablers in delivering some of the Council’s strategic housing objectives.
The importance of a decent home as the foundation for people’s lives had become even more apparent during the Covid-19 crisis. During this time, the Authority had seen many more households seek the Council’s support as they faced homelessness following the loss of employment or family breakdown or challenges with the condition of their homes. Under the commitment to ‘No Return to Rough Sleeping,’ since March 2020 the Authority had accommodated c.400 people who were faced with rough sleeping and prevented a further 370 from reaching this point.
The Housing Strategy was a key element of how the Council would continue to respond to housing needs across the Borough to ensure it futureproofed and built resilience into its communities.
The draft Housing Strategy was subject to a ten-week period of consultation in 2020, which involved partners, stakeholders, and the community. Overall, there was strong support for the draft Strategy. A range of comments were received and a number of themes had emerged. They included:
· New house building and infrastructure
· Existing homes
· Affordable homes
· The housing needs of older, disabled and vulnerable people
· Green spaces and ecology
· Climate change
The report provided an initial response to these themes, highlighted actions already taken and identified how others would be addressed further over the life of strategy.
As a result of the consultation a number of amendments had been made to the Strategy including:
· To acknowledge the key themes raised through the consultation process
· To reflect the impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic
· To set out arrangements for continued partnership working and consultation to support the delivery of this strategy
It was proposed to adopt the amended Housing Strategy (Appendix A) and to bring an annual report to Cabinet that set out progress in delivery against the objectives.
Cabinet Members expressed their thanks to the officers involved in the report and praised what was deemed a forward-looking plan. It was noted that the report embodied the pledge to Build a Better Borough.
The Leader of the Liberal Democrat / Independent Group expressed his support for the strategy and his hopes that NuPlace could set high standards for other developers to follow. The environmental aspects of the report were also praised.
The Leader of the Conservative Group expressed support for the green agenda and an interest in the retrofitting of NuPlace properties in line with that. Support was expressed for the Council’s plan to use its powers to bring empty dwellings back into use.
In response to the Leader of the Liberal Democrat / Independent Group, the Leader of the Council stated that as the largest private sector landlord in the Borough, NuPlace was well placed to raise standards across the sector.
a) The outcome and response to the consultation process in relation to the draft Housing Strategy be noted.
b) The final version of the Housing Strategy be approved.
c) An annual progress report on the implementation of the Housing Strategy be received.