Strategic housing market assessment update and housing viability assessment
With the significant downturn in the current economic climate and its impact on the need for affordable housing, the onset of a ‘credit crunch’ has triggered a serious downturn in the housing market.
People’s inability to raise deposits coupled with a severe reduction in the availability of mortgages and reducing house prices have led to an increase in demand for affordable housing. At the same time this has also impacted on buyer confidence.
Nationally it has been acknowledged that private developers are being more cautious on developing houses for sale. This has caused concerns around viability and housing developments which are coming forward, something which has been reflected locally in Wirral.
Wirral Council has re-engaged Fordham Research to undertake an update of the 2007 SHMA along with a Housing Viability Assessment. This is to help the Council respond to the changes and challenges in the housing market. It will also further strengthen its current planning policies in relation to affordable housing targets that can be delivered through private developer contributions on housing schemes (known as Section 106 ‘Affordable Housing’ Agreements).
This is important, as Government Policy places the onus on local authorities to set a target for social rented and intermediate affordable housing provision, specify the size and type, set out the range of circumstances in which it will be required and set out the approach to seeking developer contributions that takes economic viability into account. This has to be supported by a robust viability assessment to ensure that policy requirements for affordable housing are reasonable and can be properly justified.
Wirral needs to ensure it maximises the amount of affordable housing which can be achieved via Section 106 affordable housing agreements. However in light of the recent economic climate and the impact this is having on the housing market ,it is essential that Wirral’s policies and targets for affordable housing are realistic and credible taking into account current circumstances.
Wirral Council recognises the need to take into account the current changes in the economic climate and to ensure through rigorous analysis, what affordable housing targets can be achieved. This needs to be done without undermining site viability, preventing sites from coming forward and stifling the development of not only affordable housing but also open market housing.
The 2009 SHMA and Viability Assessment will enable realistic targets to be set locally. It is anticipated that both the findings of the 2009 SHMA and the Housing Viability Assessment will be available early in 2010.