Agenda item

First Homes - Local Criteria


The Deputy Leader reported that the Council had an excellent record of delivering new homes in the borough with around a third of these being homes available for affordable rent, social rent or shared ownership. This clearly demonstrated the Council’s commitment and performance in delivering quality homes for all residents.


In the last 10 years, the supply of affordable housing had increased significantly to over 300 homes per annum with the Council securing around 40% of the Borough’s affordable housing supply through section 106 Agreements with the remaining 60% secured through other routes such as 100% affordable housing schemes delivered by Registered Providers or sites that benefited from grant funding through Homes England.


First Homes was a Government initiative to introduce a new form of discounted market housing available for first time buyers but it was felt that this scheme did not positively meet the needs of local residents in the Borough.   From 28thDecember 2021, Government policy would require Local Planning Authorities (LPA) to set aside 25% of the affordable homes that they would secure through section 106 Agreements as First Homes.  It was projected that around 30 affordable homes per annum locally (10% of total delivery) would be delivered by First Homes and would replace shared ownership properties which were a better means of meeting local affordable needs on developments where First Homes would now be required.


The Council recognised that the national criteria did not meet the delivery of affordable homes for residents in Telford & Wrekin and, in accordance with the legislation, a local criteria would be introduced that would better reflect the housing needs of local residents including increasing the minimum discount applicable to First Homes from 30% to 40% making homes more affordable for those most in need.  Decreasing the price cap from £250,000 to £180,000 would help target more affordable one to three bedroomed properties.  Decreasing the joint income cap from £80,000 to £60,000 would help prioritise the needs of key workers and allow joint households to purchase first homes.  The introduction of a local connections test would ensure that First Homes were targeted to meet the needs of local residents, as well as meeting the needs of those relocating to the Borough to provide care for relatives.  The 40% discount, income cap, local connection test and priority for key workers would also apply to all future resales of First Homes.


The Council was committed to increasing the supply of affordable homes to residents of the Borough and maintain its excellent track record of delivery.


Members felt that the national scheme was a missed opportunity but welcomed the local eligibility criterial to help meet local housing needs. 


The Leader of the Conservative Group commented that the scheme would help low paid local residents and key workers get on the property ladder and reduce the pressure on the rental market.  He mentioned that affordable homes were not always delivered as part of a planning application due to affordable housing requirements being waived or reduced 


In response, the Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Green Spaces, Natural and Historic Environment expressed that the Council supported housing needs but the rules concerning viability on development had an impact on affordable housing.  Investment in social housing, a house for life and good quality rented accommodation was what really made a difference.


The Deputy Leader stated that the Council would do its best to deliver and support key workers, the Council was passionate about housing and residents having access to better properties.



RESOLVED – that Cabinet


a)    Note the impact of First Homes on the supply of local affordable housing; and


b)      Approve the introduction of the local First Homes Criteria contained in the Policy Position Statement.

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