Draft Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report

Ended on the 15th January 2010
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(1) 13 Housing

13.1 Introduction

13.1.1 Housing is a key policy theme, high on the agenda of both the Government and the public. Part of the Government’s aim to create prosperous, inclusive and sustainable communities is that everyone should have the opportunity of living in a decent home at a price they can afford, in a place in which they want to live now and in the future.

(1) 13.2 What’s the policy context?

13.2.1 The Government’s key housing policy goal, as set out in PPS3: Housing211 , is to ensure that everyone has the opportunity of living in a decent home, which they can afford, in a community where they want to live. In particular, the planning system should deliver a “sufficient quantity of housing taking into account need and demand and seeking to improve choice". Both PPS3 and PPS1: Sustainable development highlights the need to provide affordable housing.

13.2.2 The East of England Plan212 states that at least 508,000 net additional dwellings should be provided by LPAs within the region over the period 2001 to 2021. Policy H1 sets out the indicative minimum that must be provided within Harlow over this period as 16,000. This figure represents total housing growth at Harlow, including urban extensions in Epping Forest and East Herts Districts, split between the three districts as determined through DPDs. Policy E7: The Region’s Airports states that housing development related to employment growth at Stansted Airport should be located at Harlow and nearby towns, and the Harlow housing allocation should be sufficient for both airport-related and other housing needs, though this will need to be kept under review as the airport develops.

13.2.3 Within this overall housing requirement DPDs should set appropriate targets for affordable housing and provision should be made by local authorities for site/pitches to meet the identified needs of Gypsies and Travellers living within or resorting to their area.

13.2.4 Although the Government published the East of England Plan in May 2008, the number of additional Gypsy and Traveller pitches that each district will be required to provide was not established. Therefore, the Government has since undertaken a Single Issue Review to the East of England Plan in respect of gypsies and travellers, Policy H3 Provision for Gypsies and Travellers. The policy was published on 20 July 2009 and states that Harlow District needs to provide a minimum of 15 additional pitches between 2006 and 2011213.

13.2.5 The general spatial approach taken by the Plan is to concentrate development in urban areas to reflect the polycentric nature of the East of England. To support this ambition Policy SS3 of the East of England Plan identifies Harlow as one of a number of Key Centres for Development and Change (KCDC). KCDCs are intended to reflect the “polycentric nature of the East of England" and its arrangement of small and medium sized towns and cities surrounded by more rural areas which look to those towns for employment and higher level services. Policy HA1: Harlow Key Centre for Development and Change states that the housing allocation for Harlow should put in place a development strategy which promotes Harlow’s regeneration, is as sustainable as possible and can be implemented at the required pace. It will also require planned delivery of additional waste water treatment capacity.

13.2.6 Harlow is located within the London Commuter Belt sub-region. The 2005-2008 London Commuter Belt Sub-region Strategy is currently being updated for 2009 onwards. Key priorities are:

  • Maximise the delivery of a range of new affordable homes and make best use of existing housing resources to help those in housing need

  • Improve the condition of the housing stock both public and private

  • Build sustainable and thriving neighbourhoods and communities and ensure that vulnerable people are supported in the community

13.2.7 Harlow is working with five other authorities to undertake a SHMA for the M11/East LCB sub-region to inform housing policies in the partners’ LDFs.

13.2.8 The Harlow Housing Strategy and Action Plan214 provides a framework for housing activity and investment within the District, setting out the vision for housing in the Town, the key housing objectives and the aims and objectives relating to individual issues. Four priorities areas are outlined within the Strategy:

  • Maximise the delivery of a range of new affordable homes and make the best use of existing resources to help those in housing need

  • Improve the condition of Harlow’s housing stock across all sectors

  • Help develop sustainable and safe communities

  • Provide an efficient and effective housing service that provides value for money

13.2.9 Harlow’s LSP has developed the District’s Community Strategy, known as the Harlow 2020 Vision215 , which must be taken into account when preparing the LDF. The vision includes “a variety of homes and jobs to meet local needs". The Partnership has identified the delivery of affordable housing as a key issue.

13.2.10 The Council’s Affordable Housing Supplementary Planning Document (SPD)216 clarifies the Council’s policies on affordable housing for the benefit of informing negotiations between the Council, developers and Registered Social Landlords (RSLs). The document sets the proportion of affordable homes that should be aimed for on new housing schemes, the minimum for which was set by the latest ‘Housing Requirements Survey’. Guidelines are given for how the Council will determine the type and tenure of dwellings, as well as their design and layout.

13.2.11 The Harlow Common Guidelines SPD217 sets out guidelines to provide applicants, members and officers with advice in relation to the assessment of proposed domestic property extensions and alterations to ensure that they:

  • strengthen, enhance, protect and create local character

  • relate to their setting

  • where possible, are sustainable

13.2.12 Harlow has developed a Housing Strategy to address the housing needs of the local Black and Minority Ethnic Community that is aimed at218:

  • Improving services – through monitoring and training to ensure that high standards are set and achieved.

  • Education – to promote better awareness and understanding of existing services that can help people resolve housing related problems.

  • Developing services – such as specific schemes and policies to help fill the gaps that remain.

13.2.13 In addition to the LSP, there are a number of other partnerships relevant to Harlow housing:

  • Harlow Renaissance – local delivery agency for regeneration projects

  • Harlow Social Housing Partnership – The Council has partnered with selected Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) to deliver affordable housing in way that delivers the wider strategic aims of the community

  • Stansted Area Housing Partnership – The District Councils of Harlow, Uttlesford, Braintree, East Herts, are addressing affordable housing within a ten-mile radius of the airport following planning permission to increase passenger throughput to 25 million

  • Harlow Homeless Prevention Partnership – Carrying forward the Council’s Homelessness Strategy

  • Private Sector Landlords Forum

  • Service Improvement Teams (SITs) – addressing repairs and maintenance, housing management and home ownership

  • London Commuter Belt Sub-Region – Partnership of fifteen local authorities (including Harlow) and over twenty RSLs

  • Home Improvement Agency (Papworth) – Helping vulnerable people maintain independence in Harlow by repairing or adapting homes.

13.3 What are the key objectives and other decision-making criteria that we need to consider?

13.3.1 Many of the objectives set out in the Integrated Regional Sustainability Framework for the East of England – see Table 2 – are relevant in considering future impacts on Harlow’s town centre. Particularly relevant objectives include:

  • Promote sustainable growth within environmental limits

  • Reduce poverty and inequality and promote social inclusion

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions

  • Adapt to the impacts of climate change

  • Increase resource efficiency and reduce resource use and waste

  • Conserve, restore and enhance the region’s natural and built environment

  • Meet the needs of the changing regional demographic

  • Provide decent, affordable and safe homes for all.

13.3.2 Harlow also has a number of key priorities for 2009/10 to 2012/13 as outlined in the Council’s Sustainability Strategy and approved in January 2009 by the Environment and Community Committee. Relevant priorities include219:

  • Regenerating the Town

  • Promoting a clean, green, healthy and safe environment

  • Tackling housing need

  • Providing value for money.

13.4 What’s the situation now? (including any existing problems)

13.4.1 Harlow is a relatively small, former New Town. It is one of the most densely populated areas in the East of England and is strategically located within the London Commuter Belt Housing Sub-Region – an area of fast population growth due to ease of commuting to London and Europe. The proximity of London to Harlow has led to rising house prices beyond affordability for many local residents220. The average house price (for all types of dwelling) in Harlow in 2006 was £173,647 – this is below the average regional price (£212,186) and national price (£206,715)221, and prices in Harlow also compare favourably to other neighbouring districts (see Table 15).

Table 15: Property price comparison with other London Commuter Belt local authorities (April 2008 average)222

Local Authority Detached Average Semi Detached Average Terraced Average Flat / maisonette Overall

Harlow

£338,300

£235,600

£184,400

£135,200

£193,500

Brentwood

£552,653

£293,036

£220,411

£191,898

£329,075

Epping Forest

£717,900

£346,200

£267,900

£195,100

£389,000

Uttlesford

£496,700

£289,000

£248,500

£155,600

£350,800

Broxbourne

£494,800

£280, 700

£232,800

£156,100

£256,600

East Herts

£555,600

£312,500

£252,200

£188,100

£325,500

13.4.2 As has been the trend in neighbouring areas, Harlow has experienced a large increase in average house prices in recent years, as shown in Table 16:

Table 16: Rising cost of buying a home in Harlow223

Type of home Average price April 2008 Average price Jan-Mar 2003 Cash increase Approx % price increase

Detached

£338,300

£269,914

£68,386

20.21

Semi-detached

£235,600

£179,789

£55,811

23.69

Terraced

£184,400

£135,360

£49,040

26.59

Flat/maisonette

£135,200

£95,560

£39,640

29.32

Overall average

£193,500

£142,089

£51,411

26.57

13.4.3 The social rented sector accounts for approximately 35% of housing stock compared to 18.4% for England224. In April 2006, 66.7% of dwellings in Harlow were owner occupied and private rented, compared to 83.7% in the region and 81.8% nationally225. The private rented sector in Harlow is relatively small and expensive compared to other tenures and, coupled with high housing prices, this has resulted in a high demand for affordable housing in Harlow with significant growth in demand over the past decade226. Table 17 below shows that the average weekly council rent and Private Landlords (PLs) rent is lower in Harlow than for surrounding districts, as is the Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) rent (apart from East Herts).

Table 17: Average weekly rent in Harlow and surrounding areas227

Local authority Council rent (weekly rent £) RSL rent (weekly rent £) PLs rent (weekly rent £)

Harlow

63.32

77.66

128.82

Brentwood

67.82

89.41

161.97

Epping Forest

69.51

80.69

137.16

Uttlesford

N/A

77.10

139.64

Broxbourne

N/A

79.57

153.74

East Herts

71.27

87.41

155.06

13.4.4 The population of Harlow was estimated in mid-2007 to be 78,300 with an approximate 2.21 persons per household228. Of the 33,185 households in 2001229:

  • 30% were one-person household

  • 36% were married couple households

  • 10% were cohabiting couple households

  • 11% were lone parent households.

13.4.5 Currently almost 20% of the Harlow population is aged over 60 and 37% of the total population of Harlow is projected to be older persons over the next 15 years. Care and support needs will need to be met by new and existing housing provision.

13.4.6 Only 0.6% of dwellings are considered to be unfit in Harlow, compared to 3.2% in the East of England and 4.2% in England230. Harlow is in the top 25% of local authorities for its Decent Homes performance231. The Council owns approximately 30% of dwellings in Harlow. The percentage not meeting the Decent Home Standard decreased between April 2006 and March 2007 from 18% to 14.4%232. The Council’s Private Sector Stock Condition Survey found that the percentage of non-decent homes in Harlow is lower than the national average, the main reason for which is thermal comfort failure. The percentage lacking modern facilities and in need of repair is slightly higher than the national average (see Table 18)233. Construction of new homes within the last fifty years is a major factor in the good condition of dwellings, but the local BME Housing Strategy notes that significant works may be required in the near future234.

Table 18: Private Sector Stock Condition Survey235

Number dwellings Percentage of stock National average
Total non-decent homes 5,800 24.9% 27.1%

Thermal comfort failure

3,300

14.3%

19.8%

Category 1 hazards

1,200

5.3%

U/K

Lacking modern facilities

400

1.9%

1.3%

In need of repair

2,100

9.3%

8.1%

13.4.7 The number of households on the housing register for affordable homes has risen annually between 2005 and 2008 (see Table 19). These high numbers has meant that forecasting and delivering suitable affordable housing is a challenge to Harlow. According to the Housing Strategy, the evidence suggests that social housing stock numbers are not going to meet current demand236. However, the 2020 Vision Key Achievements 2007-08 report states that Harlow is on course to achieving its target of at least 33% of homes built on eligible housing developments to be affordable237.

Table 19: Number of households on the housing register for affordable homes in Harlow238

2005 2006 2007 2008

Total number

3303

4008

6234

7005

Increase actual

-

705

2226

771

Percentage increase

-

21.34%

55.54%

12.37%

13.4.8 The homelessness rates in Harlow are comparatively high, although the total number accepted as homeless and in priority need has fallen annually between 2004/2005 and 2007/2008. The number of households in Temporary Accommodation (TA) also fell annually between 2003/2004 and 2007/2008, however, it is noted that this figure is still relatively high due to a lack of affordable housing in both the public and private sectors239.

13.4.9 There are 36 Gypsy and Traveller pitches in Harlow with a capacity of 72240.

13.4.10 IMD 2007 for Barriers to Housing and Services is mapped in Figure 17. It illustrates that Harlow contains two areas in the west of the District that are in the 10% most deprived nationally (within the wards of Great Parndon and Sumners and Kingsmoor). None of the District contains areas in the 20% least deprived nationally. The western and eastern borders of the District are notably the most deprived in the District.

Figure 17: IMD 2007 for Housing and Barriers to Services in Harlow

Figure 17

Are there any evidence gaps?

13.4.11 The full extent of the impacts from the current recession on housing development and the housing market in Harlow is unknown at this stage.

13.5 What will be the situation without the plan? (the ‘business-as-usual’ option)

13.5.1 The Housing Strategy expects that the current national and international economic recession will have an impact on local housing objectives, given that it is already having a significant effect on the delivery of national housing objectives. A lack of a Core Strategy will make this situation harder to address and the objectives harder to attain.

13.5.2 16,000 houses need to be delivered between Harlow, Epping Forest and East Herts; and a lack of a Core Strategy will make this target difficult to achieve and may have a negative impact on the District. Planning for new housing and adequate provision for a growing population, the local community and the local economy is complicated in a District that is primarily a built-up, urban area. Indeed, the town is already beyond the capacity set out in the original Gibberd Master Plan. A plan could assist through a more strategic approach to delivery.

13.5.3 Without a Core Strategy, issues such as homelessness and adequate provision of affordable housing may be difficult to address. Moreover, a slowdown in local housing development may reduce the number of developer contributions to the supply of affordable housing. In addition, a lack of a plan may set back the refurbishment of existing housing stock which will likely become an issue in the near future.

13.6 What issues should be a particular focus for the appraisal?

13.6.1 In light of the information above, key issues to take into account in the appraisal in relation to housing include:

  • To increase the provision of affordable housing

  • To ensure that the appropriate levels of new dwellings are provided over the plan period

  • To ensure that national PDL targets are met

  • To ensure that that the housing needs of an ageing (and disabled) population are met

  • The need to provide Gypsy and Traveller pitches, if required


211 Communities and Local Government (2006) Planning Policy Statement 3: Housing [online] available at:
www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/pps3housing (accessed 1 July 2009).

212 GOEE (2008) East of England Plan [online] available at:
www.gos.gov.uk/goeast/planning/regional_planning/ (accessed 20 August 2009).

213 GOEE (2009) Accommodation for Gypsies and Travellers and Travelling Showpeople in the East of England: A Revision to the Regional Spatial Strategy for the East of England [online] available at:
www.gos.gov.uk/goeast/planning/regional_planning/687221/?a=42496 (accessed 12 October 2009).

214 Harlow Council (2008) Harlow Housing Strategy and Action Plan 2008-2013 [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/housing_services/housing_strategy/harlow_housing_strategy.aspx (accessed 20 August 2009).

215 Harlow 2020 Local Strategic Partnership Board (2006) Harlow 2020 Vision 2006-09 [online] available at:
www.harlow2020.org.uk (accessed 18 August 2009).

216 Harlow Council (2007) Harlow District Council Affordable Housing Supplementary Planning Document [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/docs/Affordable Housing Supplementary Planning Documenta.doc (accessed 20 August 2009).

217 Harlow Council (2007) Harlow Common Guidelines Supplementary Planning Document [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/pdf/Harlow%20Common%20Guidelines%20Supplementary%20Planning%20Documenta.pdf (accessed 20 August 2009).

218 Harlow Council (2006) Housing Strategy for Harlow's Black and Minority Ethnic Community [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/housing_services/housing_strategy/black_minority_ethnic_housing.aspx (accessed 20 August 2009).

219 Harlow District Council (2009) Harlow Sustainability Strategy [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/corporate_services/policy_and_performance/sustainability_strategy.aspx (accessed 13 August 2009).

220 Harlow Council (2008) Harlow Housing Strategy and Action Plan 2008-2013 [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/housing_services/housing_strategy/harlow_housing_strategy.aspx (accessed 20 August 2009).

221 ONS. Key Figures for Housing  [online] available at:
neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk (accessed 3 September 2009).

222 Source: Harlow Council (2008) Harlow Housing Strategy and Action Plan 2008-2013 [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/housing_services/housing_strategy/harlow_housing_strategy.aspx (accessed 20 August 2009).

223 Source: Harlow Council (2008) Harlow Housing Strategy and Action Plan 2008-2013 [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/housing_services/housing_strategy/harlow_housing_strategy.aspx (accessed 20 August 2009).

224 Harlow Council (2008) Harlow Housing Strategy and Action Plan 2008-2013 [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/housing_services/housing_strategy/harlow_housing_strategy.aspx (accessed 20 August 2009).

225 ONS. Key Figures for Housing  [online] available at:
neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk (accessed 3 September 2009).

226 Harlow Council (2008) Harlow Housing Strategy and Action Plan 2008-2013 [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/housing_services/housing_strategy/harlow_housing_strategy.aspx (accessed 20 August 2009).

227 Source: Harlow Council (2008) Harlow Housing Strategy and Action Plan 2008-2013 [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/housing_services/housing_strategy/harlow_housing_strategy.aspx (accessed 20 August 2009).

228 Harlow Council (2008) Harlow Housing Strategy and Action Plan 2008-2013 [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/housing_services/housing_strategy/harlow_housing_strategy.aspx (accessed 20 August 2009).

229 Harlow Council (2008) Harlow District Council Annual Monitoring Report 2007-08 [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/pdf/Annual%20Monitoring%20Report%202007-2008.pdf (accessed 20 August 2009).

230 ONS. Key Figures for Housing  [online] available at:
neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk (accessed 3 September 2009).

231 Harlow 2020 Partnership (2008) Harlow 2020 Vision – Key achievements 2007-08 [online] available at:
www.harlow2020.org.uk/downloads/key_achievements/harlow_2020_report.pdf (accessed 3 September 2009).

232 Harlow Council (2008) Harlow District Council Annual Monitoring Report 2007-08 [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/pdf/Annual%20Monitoring%20Report%202007-2008.pdf (accessed 20 August 2009).

233 Source: Harlow Council (2008) Harlow Housing Strategy and Action Plan 2008-2013 [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/housing_services/housing_strategy/harlow_housing_strategy.aspx (accessed 20 August 2009).

234 Harlow Council (2006) Housing Strategy for Harlow's Black and Minority Ethnic Community [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/housing_services/housing_strategy/black_minority_ethnic_housing.aspx (accessed 20 August 2009).

235 Source: Harlow Council (2008) Harlow Housing Strategy and Action Plan 2008-2013 [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/housing_services/housing_strategy/harlow_housing_strategy.aspx (accessed 20 August 2009).

236 Harlow Council (2008) Harlow Housing Strategy and Action Plan 2008-2013 [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/housing_services/housing_strategy/harlow_housing_strategy.aspx (accessed 20 August 2009).

237 Harlow 2020 Partnership (2008) Harlow 2020 Vision – Key achievements 2007-08 [online] available at:
www.harlow2020.org.uk/downloads/key_achievements/harlow_2020_report.pdf (accessed 3 September 2009).

238 Source: Harlow Council (2008) Harlow Housing Strategy and Action Plan 2008-2013 [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/housing_services/housing_strategy/harlow_housing_strategy.aspx (accessed 20 August 2009).

239 Harlow Council (2008) Harlow Housing Strategy and Action Plan 2008-2013 [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/housing_services/housing_strategy/harlow_housing_strategy.aspx (accessed 20 August 2009).

240 Harlow Council (2008) Harlow Housing Strategy and Action Plan 2008-2013 [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/housing_services/housing_strategy/harlow_housing_strategy.aspx (accessed 20 August 2009).

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