Meeting the challenge of enough social housing of the right type being made available has led to councillors making recommendations for Calderdale Council’s Cabinet to consider.
Councillors Jenny Lynn (Lab, Park) and Coun Peter Caffrey (Con, Northowram and Shelf) were tasked with undertaking a detailed review of social housing in Calderdale and they have come up with five key findings, of which colleagues want to see four go forward for Cabinet consideration.
Councillor Lynn presented the findings on behalf of both councillors at the council’s Place Scrutiny Board.
The first is that more detailed work should be undertaken to better understand the demand for social housing by property type and location and how that matches with proposed development in Calderdale and land availability.
The second finding is that following that a social housing development prospectus is developed identifying what types of property are needed in which location.
Thirdly, the council should better manage the requirements of people with special needs and adaption requirements that might be needed when matching then with new or existing properties.
Fourthly, the council should consider setting up a lettings agency, possibly with third sector partners, and consider working with smaller private sector landlords to enable more properties of a suitable standard to be made available.
Finally, the council should explore with Homes England the potential for a pilot scheme which looks at changing demographics in terms of life expectancy and healthy life expectancy and the impacts this will have future demand for types of housing stock.
In summarising the report, Scrutiny Support Officer Steve Barnbrook said that they had not been able to do completely was talk to social housing providers and their tenants about their needs.
“The big issue in Calderdale is land availability.
“Topography is a key factor and most housing will be on brownfield sites.
“There is a crucial need of the Local Plan in terms of enabling us to get land,” he said.
Mr Barnbrook said in terms of demand the only factor that came out strongly was bungalows – but these were the most expensive type of property to develop.
Coun Lynn said in terms of understanding supply and demand, communities across Calderdale were so different and people got attached to their locations.
The fourth recommendation might not be feasible but the group thought it was worth considering, she said.
Coun Josh Fenton-Glynn (Lab, Calder) asked how the council’s new Local Development Company could enable this work and Coun Bryan Smith (Lab, Ovenden) had concerns about quantity.
“We don’t seem to have a delivery plan that’s going to address the number of homes we need,” he said.
Coun Regan Dickenson (Con, Rastrick) said homes for people with special needs were required and changing demographic needed to be taken into account with more people living alone.
Officers advised that there were one bedroom apartments available – but they were not always where people wanted them.
Coun Amanda Parsons-Hulse (Lib Dem, Warley) said the ability of local authorities to fund housing was an issue and Coun Helon Rivron (Lab, Ovenden) said tenant engagement was very important.
The board believed investing in co-housing and community-led housing projects should be explored.
They also agreed Cabinet should consider the first four of the recommendations and provide its response to the board.
The review group should also be requested to carry out additional work on tenant engagement.