District council urged to act to encourage more affordable housing

Pathfinder House, Huntingdon, HDC,

Pathfinder House, Huntingdon, HDC, - Credit: Archant

A group of councillors have put forward a series of recommendations they believe will help increase the much-needed supply of affordable housing in Huntingdonshire.

The affordable housing working party believes demanding more from housing developers, encouraging parish councils to earmark sites, and carrying out a district-wide assessment of available land will help tackle the problem

According to the working party’s report, which will be put before the overview and scrutiny panel tonight (Tuesday), there is need for a further 8,000 affordable homes in Huntingdonshire by 2036.

Most of the burden is expected to fall upon developments at Alconbury Weald, RAF Wyton and in St Neots.

But the report notes that there are no sites allocated for affordable housing in the district’s rural areas, with identifying suitable sites set to provide the “main challenge” for the council over the coming years.

The report notes: “The group has suggested that the council should actively promote the provision of affordable housing on exceptions sites to town and parish councils as they may have land holdings that could be used.”

The working party says that in cases where parish councils decide not to support sites for affordable housing, the district council should “take decisions that are in the best interest of the area”.

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Another of the working party’s key recommendations was to reduce the threshold for developments on which affordable housing can be sought from 15 houses down to 10, forcing house builders to provide affordable housing in smaller developers.

And the working party also says a “systematic assessment” should be carried out of all land in Huntingdonshire to identify potential sites for affordable housing.

If approved by the overview and scrutiny panel, the working party’s recommendations will then be put to the council’s cabinet and could form part of the district council’s next housing strategy, set to run from 2016-2019.

The working group was set up in March 2014 and tasked with carrying out a study on affordable housing supply in Huntingdonshire, considering successful schemes nationally and exploring ways of encouraging more building to take place.