First-time buyers get extra help

THERE will be room in the inn for hundreds of families who cannot afford to buy their own homes, following a change in planning rules by Huntingdonshire District Council. Developers of plots of more than 15 homes in Huntingdonshire will, in the future, be

THERE will be room in the inn for hundreds of families who cannot afford to buy their own homes, following a change in planning rules by Huntingdonshire District Council.

Developers of plots of more than 15 homes in Huntingdonshire will, in the future, be required to make 40 per cent of them available as "affordable".

The average split of affordable housing will be 70 per cent for social rented homes and the balance "intermediate", such as shared equity where occupiers pay part-mortgage and part-rent until they can afford the full mortgage.

With more than 2,000 families on the district council's housing registers, the need for such housing is extremely high, Steve Ingram, head of planning services, told the council's cabinet.


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Currently, HDC insists on 29 per cent affordable housing on developments of 25 or more homes. The new requirement, agreed by the cabinet, will be for at least 40 per cent on sites of 15 dwellings or more. The rules will also be applied to developments in settlements of 3,000 or more population, or of 0.5 hectares, irrespective of the number of dwellings and on all sites in smaller settlements. In the rest of the district HDC will continue to insist on at least 29 per cent affordable housing using the same thresholds.

But planners will be mindful of the commercial viability of sites when demanding developer contributions.

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"We will be really robust on this policy," Mr Ingram assured members. "We are well aware of land values in the district."

The council has revealed £5.4million additional funding for affordable housing in St Neots, Huntingdon, Alconbury and Yaxley.

An extra Housing Corporation grant of £3million also means building more than 101 affordable homes on the Loves Farm estate in St Neots can be brought forward. The 101 homes represent over a quarter of the allocation of about 400 affordable homes to be built as part of the 1,250-home development.

Councillor Deborah Reynolds, cabinet member for public health and housing, said: "House prices in our district are such that many local people cannot afford to buy their own homes. We have more than 2,000 households on our housing register and this money will help us to meet some of this need.

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