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Chapter 8: Housing

ReferenceThe overarching strategy for housing provision during the plan period is set out in Chapter 4: The Development Strategy and includes Policy DS1, which sets out the overall housing target to 2028.

The Development Management Plan will include further policies relating to housing development, together with site allocations.

 

Housing density

8.1 Density is a measure of the number of dwellings that can be accommodated on a site or in an area. Higher residential densities are required in the interests of achieving more sustainable forms of development, and reducing the use of greenfield land. This is especially important in Hastings where there are relatively few opportunities for identification of land for housing.

8.2 Densities should generally be set at 30 dwellings per hectare (dph) across the town and potentially higher densities of 40dph and above in sustainable locations including Hastings Town Centre, where access to a good range of services and public transport, warrant a higher density development. It is recognised however, that there may be instances where particular environmental or historic issues may justify a lower density.


POLICY H1: Housing Density

Residential developments should make full and effective use of land by achieving the following densities:

  1. at least 40 dwellings per hectare in sustainable locations close to a good range of existing or potential services and facilities and where there is, or there is potential for good public transport.  This includes Hastings and St Leonards town centres, and the district centres of Silverhill and Ore
  2. at least 30 dwellings per hectare in all other locations unless there are special local circumstances that require a different treatment

Different densities may be justified where there are particular site circumstances which require consideration. Further individual site assessment work to be carried out through the Development Management Plan, will explore in more detail where it will be appropriate to vary minimum density requirements.

Housing mix

8.3 The Hastings & Rother Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) shows that Hastings has a significantly higher proportion of smaller dwellings and flats/maisonettes when compared to the profile of the stock in the South East as a whole.

8.4 Addressing imbalances in the housing stock is important both in terms of improving housing choice, and in terms of the contribution it can make to delivering long term policy objectives around economic regeneration. New housing can help to change the image of an area and the perceived quality of life to help foster in- migration of skilled workers. The cumulative impact of new housing development over the lifetime of the Plan will be significant in terms of influencing the make-up of the housing stock.

8.5 Influencing the mix of dwellings will be important where there are gaps in the choice of dwellings available to local residents within the broader housing market area, or where there are problems with particular neighbourhoods, which might be tackled through changes to the types of dwellings available.

8.6 Some areas of the town have large concentrations of one type of tenure. Central St Leonards for example, has a concentration of poor quality private rented sector accommodation which has encouraged a transient population. Similarly, the Ore Valley has high concentrations of social rented housing which has contributed to similar issues associated with deprivation.

8.7 The Council wishes to encourage a greater variety of provision in terms of dwelling types and sizes. In particular, the development of larger homes (3 or more bedrooms) given the bias in the stock towards smaller dwellings and flats, will be encouraged. It is likely that developments within the existing suburban areas will provide the best opportunities to deliver larger homes where relatively lower density development will be appropriate.

8.8 The policy will be delivered through more detailed site level planning regarding dwelling types and densities within the Development Management Plan and through the assessment of planning applications. The Development Management Plan offers an opportunity to examine more detailed area based approaches where the predominance of one particular type or tenure exists.


POLICY H2: Housing Mix

Planning permission will be granted for residential development that delivers a balanced mix of housing both within each site, and across Hastings as a whole. The Council will seek to ensure a genuine mix of housing types within existing and future communities by encouraging proposals for housing development in terms of the extent to which they:

  1. contribute to a well integrated mix of housing types and tenures to support a range of household sizes, ages and incomes to meet both current and projected housing needs
  2. address local tenure mix and whether there is a concentration of a particular tenure of housing that would benefit from diversification or greater choice
  3. take account of existing local household characteristics and whether there is a bias towards younger or older households, families or sharers and how the new development will fit into this context
  4. provide a proportion of homes to Lifetime Homes Standard
  5. in suitable and accessible locations, residential schemes of 50 or more dwellings will need to include at least 2% fully adapted dwellings for wheelchair users

Affordable housing

8.9 Affordable housing is defined as housing available to those who are unable to access accommodation suitable for their families’ needs, at a price that they can reasonably afford on the open market, whether for rent or home ownership. It should be available at a cost low enough to be afforded by eligible households, and is determined with regard to local incomes and house prices. Affordable housing is usually subsidised in some way to make it affordable through private sector contributions via the planning system, and not public funding. However, in certain circumstances public funding may be available.

8.10 There are a number of different types of affordable housing, including social and affordable rented housing. Low cost market housing is not included.

8.11 Demand for suitable and affordable housing in Hastings far outweighs supply. In 2005, research showed that there was a shortfall of 596 affordable homes per annum, which significantly exceeds what has been delivered in previous years. Many people are living in unsuitable accommodation, such as properties which are overcrowded or in a state of disrepair. Although house prices in Hastings are lower than many areas within the South East region, the affordability of housing is about the relationship between income and house prices. In Hastings this ratio is on a par with many areas in the South East because of our low wage economy.

8.12 Taking these issues into account, we will consider the characteristics of the neighbourhood in determining whether as part of new development, affordable housing provision should be made on site, or a commuted payment made to permit off-site provision elsewhere in the town.  In addition, the size and form of affordable housing provided in connection with new development will take account of:

  • analysis of the characteristics of those households in housing need;
  • include those that the local authority has a duty to house; and
  • the existing pattern of re-lets

8.13 These factors will be regularly monitored and the implications fed into discussions with developers and housing associations. The proportion of affordable housing will, where appropriate, be indicated for each housing site proposed in the Development Management Plan.

8.14 With regard to affordable housing tenure, our evidence strongly supports a policy that plans for a continuing high level of demand for rented housing1.  Demand for other forms of affordable housing, such as shared ownership, has grown in recent years as the gap between local incomes and house prices has widened. However, affordable housing tenure mix should be related to evidenced needs, and site specific circumstances.

8.15 The main opportunity to deliver affordable housing numbers is through open market schemes delivering a proportion of affordable housing. Provision of affordable housing will be primarily through Registered Providers.

8.16 Detailed implementation will be through site specific negotiations, taking account of needs evidence, and deliverability aspects. The level of affordable housing contributions will be tested by economic viability analysis provided by the developer and assessed by the Council or an independent surveyor. The developer will be responsible for all reasonable costs associated with its production. The Council will co-ordinate the approach through its housing and planning functions, and through partnership working. Detailed guidance will be set out in a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD).


POLICY H3: Provision of Affordable Housing


  1. Housing developments on Previously Developed Land (Brownfield) will be expected to make the following provision for affordable housing:
    Site size range (number of net dwellings) Percentage requirement On-site provision required?
    Yes/No
    Or, financial contribution in lieu of on-site provision?
    Yes/No
    1-4 10% financial contribution No Yes
    5-14 20% Yes Yes
    15+ or 0.5 ha or more in size (irrespective of the number of dwellings) 25% Yes No

    Table 6: Provision for affordable housing on Previously Developed Land

  2. Housing developments on Greenfield land will be expected to make the following provision for affordable housing:
    Site size range (number of net dwellings) Percentage requirement On-site provision required?
    Yes/No
    Or, financial contribution in lieu of on-site provision?
    Yes/No
    1-4 20% financial contribution No Yes
    5-9 20% Yes Yes
    10-14 40% Yes Yes
    15+ 40% Yes No

    Table 7: Provision for affordable housing on Greenfield Land

  3. Affordable housing will be provided on the application site, except where the development involves 4 or less units, where a financial contribution will be required.  However, where the Council determines that off-site provision can provide an equivalent or better housing solution, off-site provision or a financial contribution in lieu of on-site provision (of at least equivalent value) may be invited.  This will only be done where the agreed approach contributes to the creation of mixed communities elsewhere in Hastings.  This may be particularly relevant in situations referred to in paragraph (d) where a better tenure or housing mix can be achieved.
  4. The type and level of provision on individual sites will be determined through negotiations – taking into account market conditions. The Council’s preferred approach is for the greater part of affordable housing to be for affordable rent, although other forms may be acceptable where they would complement wider strategic priorities for tenure diversification.  Schemes should enable the provision of different forms of affordable housing where necessary, avoiding the over concentration of any one tenure.
  5. The Council will work with the private sector and registered social providers to achieve the required level of affordable housing. If it can be demonstrated, by transparent financial evidence, that the full affordable housing contribution makes a site unviable, developers and the Council will work through a cascade2 approach until a site is made viable, whilst still retaining an element of affordable housing.
  6. Due to the on-going level of need in the Borough, affordable housing will normally take precedence over other types of planning contributions.
  7. If an allocated site comes forward as two or more separate development schemes, the Council will seek a level of affordable housing on each part to match, in total, the provision that would have been required for the site as a whole.
  8. Affordable homes must be well integrated within the development scheme and be indistinguishable from other tenures in terms of style, location and build quality, small clusters of affordable housing would be preferred.
  9. Homes should remain at an affordable price for future eligible households, or if these restrictions are lifted, for the development subsidy to be recycled for alternative affordable housing provision.
  10. Reflecting the targets in a) and b) as a guide, the proportion of affordable housing will, where appropriate, be indicated for each housing site proposed in the Development Management Plan.
  11. Windfall sites3 will also be subject to this policy, as will planning applications for conversions and/ or change of use which result in additional units of accommodation.

This policy will be supported by a Supplementary Planning Document giving further information together with details of Section 106 requirements.

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

8.17 National planning policy guidance provides the context for ensuring that future housing delivery leads to the creation of sustainable, inclusive and mixed communities and to avoid situations where existing neighbourhoods become dominated by a particular housing type, such as shared houses (HMOs). Policy H4 provides guidance for developers and landlords regarding future schemes for HMOs.

What is a HMO?

8.18 There are already high numbers of HMOs in the town, and whilst we recognise that shared housing is important in meeting the needs of certain residents, including those on low incomes and young people starting out on their careers, we also recognise the negative effects that high concentrations of this type of housing may have on local communities.

8.19 It is likely that the number of HMOs in the town as a whole will increase, driven by increasing student numbers as a result of the new University campus, changes to housing benefit and the increasing need for smaller affordable units of accommodation. If we are to continue to accommodate the need and demand for HMOs, we need to ensure that local communities are mixed and balanced in terms of both housing tenure, and the people that live there.

8.20 The National HMO lobby has identified a ‘tipping point’ in respect of concentrations of HMOs. This tipping point is described as a threshold beyond which a deviation departs so far from the ‘norm’ that a community can ‘tip’ from balance to un-balance. The HMO tipping point, largely based on the impacts of associated demographic change, is considered to occur when HMOs exceed 10% of properties.

8.21 Planning Use Class C4 (Houses in Multiple Occupation) covers small shared houses or flats occupied by between three and six unrelated individuals who share basic amenities such as a bathroom and/or kitchen. Larger shared properties occupied by 7 or more unrelated people are unclassified by the Use Classes Order and are therefore considered to be “sui-generis”.


POLICY H4: Houses in Multiple Occupation

In order to support mixed and balanced communities and maintain an appropriate housing mix within the Borough, applications for changes of use from:

  1. a Class C3 (dwelling house) to a Class C4 (House in Multiple Occupation), or;
  2. a Class C3 (dwelling house) to a House in Multiple Occupation in a sui generis use (more than six people sharing)

will not be permitted where more than 10% of the total numbers of properties4 within a 100m radius of the application property are already in use as either Class C4, or other types of HMO in a sui generis use.

This policy will not apply to social housing, care homes, children’s homes, bail hostels and properties occupied by students which are managed by an educational establishment5.

This policy will not apply to households who have foreign students staying as guests for a set period of time.

Accommodation for travelling communities

8.22 Increasingly, as traditional seasonal work has declined, gypsies and travellers have adapted to permanent residential sites where they can more easily access health care, schools and other services and employment while maintaining the cultural traditions of being a gypsy or traveller. Permanent authorised pitches can also help to promote integration and social inclusion with settled communities.

8.23 Although there is an increasing need for permanent pitches, the Government also recognises the need to provide transit sites to facilitate the travel undertaken by these groups to maintain their traditional way of life.  National planning guidance states that Local Planning Authorities should set pitch and plot targets that address the likely permanent and transit site accommodation needs of travellers in the light of historic demand and through consultation with travellers and their representative bodies. We will allocate sites to meet the identified need through the Development Management Plan.

8.24 Policy H5 will be used to assess any proposals for residential developments for gypsies, travellers and travelling showpeople.


POLICY H5: Accommodation for Travelling Communities

In assessing the suitability of sites for allocation for permanent residential sites for gypsies and travellers, and for the purposes of considering planning applications for sites for gypsies, travellers and travelling showpeople, proposals will be supported where the following criteria are met, the site should:

  1. respect areas of high conservation or ecological value
  2. be acceptable in respect of vehicular access and parking
  3. achieve a reasonable level of visual and acoustic privacy for both people living on the site and for those living nearby
  4. avoid locations where there is a risk of flooding

In the case of sites for travelling showpeople, site suitability assessment will also take account of the nature and scale of the showpeople’s business in terms of the land required for storage and/or the exercising of animals.



1. Housing Needs Survey 2005 www.hastings.gov.uk/environment_planning/planning/localplan/evidence_base/
2. Through reductions in other planning contributions, changes to the mix, tenure or number of affordable dwellings or by the payment of commuted sums in lieu of provision, the site becomes viable.
3. Windfall sites are those that have not previously been identified as available for development.
4. Defined as self contained accommodation with its own separate address.
5. Communities & Local Government Circular 08/2010: These uses are excluded from the definition of C4. Some of these uses will be C3, others will be in other use classes or fall to be treated as sui generis.


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