Community Housing Fund
Councillors Chowney, Lee and Poole, having declared a prejudicial interest in a related matter, left the chamber during the debate on this item. Councillor Fitzgerald took the chair for this item.
The Assistant Director, Housing and Built Environment, presented a report which advised members of an allocation of £244,000 of Community Housing Funds from central government and to outline planned expenditure in respect of the grants funding.
The government has produced guidelines as to how funding can be used to promote community led housing to support and enable local people to play a lead role in solving local housing problems. The criteria to meet the definition of community-led housing schemes included a requirement for the community to be integrally involved throughout the process in key decisions, a presumption in favour of community groups that are taking a long term formal role in ownership, management and stewardship of homes and a requirement that the benefits to the local area and specified community must be clearly defined and legally protected into perpetuity.
The report set out a number of benefits of this approach to housing authorities, such as the ability to provide genuinely affordable housing and promoting community cohesion.
The report noted a £50,000 allocation from the grant to Heart of Hastings Community Land Trust, which was in the process of developing a proposal for the Broomgrove power station site. Further funding had also been set aside to encourage any further community land trust (CLT) proposals which may be brought forward.
Councillor Batsford proposed approval of the recommendations to the Assistant Director, Housing and Built Environments, report which was seconded by Councillor Beaney.
RESOLVED (unanimously) that:
1. The allocation of £50,000 to the Heart of Hastings Community land Trust from the Community Housing Fund is noted.
2. Up to £50,000 is set aside from the Community Housing Fund for council expenditure that will assist bringing forward a plan and assist with the redevelopment of the former power station site at the Ore Valley.
3. Up to £50,000 is set aside for the council to support any CLT proposals that might be encouraged and enabled in other areas of the borough.
4. £10,000 is committed in support of a county-wide partnership to help share expertise in respect of community-led housing groups.
5. The Assistant Director, Housing and Built Environment, in consultation with the Assistant Director, Financial Services and Revenues, and the Lead Member for Housing, are granted delegated powers to allocate the remaining £84,000 at a later date to the CLT’s or other groups, subject to suitable progress being made in respect of Community Self-Build Plans on the former power station land or alternative sites
The reason for this decision was:
On 23 December 2016, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) confirmed a £60 million fund to support community–led housing developments in areas where the impact of second homes is particularly acute. Community-led housing is about local people playing a leading role in solving local housing problems, creating genuinely affordable homes and string communities in ways that are difficult to achieve through mainstream housing.
The community housing fund is set at £60 million a year for 5 years. Hastings Borough Council has been given an initial awarded of £244,098, any subsequent awards will be dependent on how the initial fund is spent. As the funding is ring-fenced the first year’s funding in 2016/17 was awarded in two tranches, the second on the basis of an outline expenditure plan submitted by the council which set out its broad plans and commitment to enabling community housing development.
The first year’s funding of £244,098 was received after the annual budgets were set. Therefore, there is a requirement for this funding to now form part of the council’s budget and for a plan to be formulated setting out how it should be spent.