2. Planning Policy Context

What is affordable housing?

(2)2.1 The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) defines affordable housing as follows:

Affordable housing:

Social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing, provided to eligible households whose needs are not met by the market. Eligibility is determined with regard to local incomes and local house prices. Affordable housing should include provisions to remain at an affordable price for future eligible households or for the subsidy to be recycled for alternative affordable housing provision.

Social rented housing is owned by local authorities and private registered providers (as defined in section 80 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008), for which guideline target rents are determined through the national rent regime. It may also be owned by other persons and provided under equivalent rental arrangements to the above, as agreed with the local authority or with the Homes and Communities Agency.

Affordable rented housing is let by local authorities or private registered providers of social housing to households who are eligible for social rented housing. Affordable Rent is subject to rent controls that require a rent of no more than 80% of the local market rent (including service charges, where applicable).

Intermediate housing is homes for sale and rent provided at a cost above social rent, but below market levels subject to the criteria in the affordable housing definition above. These can include shared equity (shared ownership and equity loans), other low cost homes for sale and intermediate rent, but not affordable rented housing.

Homes that do not meet the above definition of affordable housing, such as “low cost market” housing, may not be considered as affordable housing for planning purposes.

(1)2.2 The submission Cambridge Local Plan 2014 uses the same definition (as above) to define affordable housing. Any references within this document to housing tenures, including affordable housing, social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing will be as defined in the Glossary of this SPD.

(1)2.3 References to social rent and affordable rent in this SPD will also apply to any future forms of affordable housing tenure for rent (other than intermediate rent tenures) which may be introduced through national policy. Reference to dwelling size refers to the number of bedrooms.

Government guidance

(1)2.4 On the matter of affordable housing, the Government’s guidance is provided through the NPPF. Section 6 of the NPPF looks specifically at delivering a wide choice of high quality homes. Paragraph 3.1 sets out the NPPF definition of affordable housing. Paragraph 50 specifically states the following:

“50. To deliver a wide choice of high quality homes, widen opportunities for home ownership and create sustainable, inclusive and mixed communities, local planning authorities should:

  • plan for a mix of housing based on current and future demographic trends, market trends and the needs of different groups in the community (such as, but not limited to, families with children, older people, people with disabilities, service families and people wishing to build their own homes);
  • identify the size, type, tenure and range of housing that is required in particular locations, reflecting local demand; and
  • where they have identified that affordable housing is needed, set policies for meeting this need on site, unless off-site provision or a financial contribution of broadly equivalent value can be robustly justified (for example to improve or make more effective use of the existing housing stock) and the agreed approach contributes to the objective of creating mixed and balanced communities. Such policies should be sufficiently flexible to take account of changing market conditions over time.”

2.5 Paragraphs 56 (good design), 159 (need for a Strategic Housing Market Assessment) and 173 to 177 (viability and deliverability) are also relevant to this SPD. This guidance has been taken into account in preparing this SPD.

(1)2.6 The Government has also issued new National Planning Practice Guidance in March 2014, which has been taken into account during the production of this SPD, in particular, sections on planning obligations and design1.

2.7 The Government’s Housing Standards Review was launched in October 20122. It aims to be a fundamental review of the building regulations framework and voluntary housing standards. It seeks to rationalise existing codes, standards, rules, regulations and guidance.

2.8 The review was undertaken by a wide range of cross sector stakeholder working groups and this consultation set out their proposals on:

  • accessibility;
  • space;
  • security ;
  • water efficiency;
  • energy;
  • indoor environmental standards;
  • materials;
  • process and compliance.

(1)2.9 The consultation closed on 22 October 2013 and an interim announcement has been made. Any changes in national housing standards will be reflected in the final version of this Affordable Housing SPD.

Cambridge Local Plan 2014 - Policies and relevance to Affordable Housing SPD

2.10 The emerging plan for Cambridge is the Local Plan 2014: Proposed Submission (as amended by the Addendum to the Cambridge Local Plan 2014 Proposed Submission Document (July 2013): Schedule of Proposed Changes Following Proposed Submission Consultation (February 2014)). This SPD supports Policy 45: Affordable housing and dwelling mix of the local plan. This policy is included in full in Appendix 1.

(4)2.11 A number of other policies in the submission Cambridge Local Plan 2014 also reference affordable housing requirements, some of which are listed below. This list is not exhaustive and it is recommended that the submission Cambridge Local Plan 2014 is read as a whole. Pre-application advice can be obtained from development management officers, who will also be able to give more detailed information on which policies apply. Contact details for officers can be found in Appendix 5 of this document.

  • Policy 47: Specialist housing – where the development of specialist housing falls within the use Class C3 (Dwellinghouses), which can be found in the glossary definition, the development will be expected to contribute to the supply of affordable housing.

  • Policy 77: Development and expansion of hotels - notes that aparthotels and serviced apartments will be treated as residential uses and therefore affordable housing provision will be sought.

  • Policies which include the provision of housing as set out in Section Three: City Centre, areas of major change, opportunity areas and site specific proposals of the submission Cambridge Local Plan 2014.

Other relevant strategies and documents

(1)2.12 There are a number of other relevant strategies and documents that have informed the production of the Affordable Housing SPD or must be considered in tandem with the SPD. These are listed below.

1 http://planningguidance.planningportal.gov.uk/ 2 www.gov.uk/government/consultations/housing-standards-review-consultation
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