Social housing done well in North Hertfordshire
In North Herts District Council, efforts to stem the recent rates of loss of affordable homes to Right to Buy have been made by cross-party councillors.
During the development of the Local Plan, a new policy was introduced to ensure that 40% of all developments consisted of affordable housing, with two-thirds being designated to social housing. This percentage is an increase compared to an earlier policy that required a mere 25% of affordable housing in developments larger than 20 dwellings.
Adopting a firmer policy has meant that elected officials are able to regain power from developers in regard to housing provision in their locality. Such power has been exercised in the process of determining the viability of the affordable and social homes which requires developers to cover the costs of an independent assessor to review the proposals. This has been regarded as a success by the council, as it has resulted in limited instances of development plans being deemed unviable by developers.
Moreover, the council has established another policy to regulate developers which involves accepting cash in lieu of affordable and social housing. This creates a fund of money that is directed to local housing associations to develop the necessary properties elsewhere. In doing so, a middle ground is found in which social and affordable housing requirements are met whilst allowing developers to operate more flexibly.
The North Herts District Council displays its clear commitment to delivering housing that local people can afford through distinctive policies that hold developers accountable. Executing similar policies across the country will prevent developers from building for profits rather than for people.