Due to a combination of escalating property prices, an increasingly competitive housing market and relatively low local incomes, many local people can no longer meet their housing needs through the private housing market. Delivering affordable housing in partnership is a thus key aim to both help people in housing need and create sustainable, vibrant communities in Rhondda Cynon Taf for current and future generations.
What is Affordable Housing?
Affordable Housing is classed as housing that is provided for sale or rent at below open market prices and where there are secure mechanisms in place to ensure that it is accessible to those who cannot afford market housing, both on first occupation and for subsequent occupiers. However, it is recognised that some schemes may provide for staircasing to full ownership and where this is the case there must be secure arrangements in place to ensure the recycling of capital receipts to provide replacement affordable housing.
This definition therefore includes social rented housing (provided by housing associations at benchmark rent levels), intermediate rented housing (provided by housing associations at sub market rent levels) and low cost home ownership (discounted housing for sale to first time buyers). Private housing for sale or rent is not classified as affordable housing as the price of such accommodation is set by the market and the occupation of such units is not subject to control by the local housing or planning authority.
Local Housing Market Assessment 2012
Local Housing Market Assessments (LHMA) are conducted by the Council's Affordable Housing Officer to identify strategic housing priorities within the locality. Whilst assessing the local housing market as a whole, the most recent LHMA 2012 also specifically estimated the need for affordable housing within the County Borough. Overall, there is a net need for 167 additional affordable housing units per annum comprising:
• A shortfall of 219.48 general needs social rented units
• A shortfall of 64.92 general needs low cost home ownership units
• A shortfall of 10.08 general needs intermediate rented units
• A shortfall of 4.4 purpose built adapted social rented units
• A surplus of 132.21 sheltered social rented units
However, these figures are not annual delivery targets or even the solution to the affordability issues within the County Borough. They are instead an indication of the scale of the affordable housing problem and a benchmark to which the Council will work towards as far as practically deliverable. Additionally, it is important to emphasise that headline figures distort differences in sub market areas and between property types required. Hence, it is more important to focus on sub market needs and further information can be found in the LHMA 2012 report in this respect.
How does the Council provide Affordable Housing?
The Council will work with its partners and prioritise affordable housing delivery through a number of mechanisms, including:
Social Housing Grant (SHG) - a capital grant made available by the Welsh Government to provide new affordable housing. SHG is also used to provide much needed supported housing which is often difficult to deliver through any other mechanism. The Council coordinates distribution of SHG to our housing association partners based on agreed criteria relating to housing need and scheme delivery.
Section 106 (s106) – affordable housing is also secured through the planning system via s106. The adopted Local Development Plan specifies that 10% affordable housing provision is required on sites of 10 residential units or more in the Northern Strategy Area, and 20% is required on sites of 5 residential units or more in the Sourthern Strategy Area. SHG is not normally available for s106 sites in Rhondda Cynon Taf.
Vacant Property Refurbishment - all housing associations in the County Borough have investment strategies to bring long-term empty properties back into use. The Council will help co-ordinate and monitor the number long-term voids brought back into use and also work in partnership to bring back private sector empty properties into use.
Cartrefi Hafod Social Lettings Agency - Cartrefi Hafod Lettings Agency was set up in partnership with the Council to help people on social housing waiting lists rent properties in the private rented sector. Cartrefi Hafod's aim is to increase the number of properties available to rent and provide wider housing options to households waiting for social housing.
Affordable housing delivery is monitored by the Council's Housing Strategy and Standards Team and reported through both annual returns to the Welsh Government and monitoring reports to the Local Housing Partnership (relating to the Housing Strategy’s Operational Plan). For more information, please contact us.
More detailed information on affordable housing options for sale and rent in Rhondda Cynon Taf can found on the Housing Solutions webpage.
Housing Strategy and Standards Team
Public Health and Protection
Dinas Isaf East
Telephone: 01443 425678