Policy HOU5 Affordable Housing in Settlements
Where a need for Affordable Housing is established by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) or other relevant housing authority through a Housing Needs Assessment; proposals for housing developments of 10 dwellings or more, or on a site of 0.2 hectare or more, will only be permitted subject to meeting the following quota:
Main and Small Towns: 20% Affordable Housing
Villages and Small Settlements: 10% Affordable Housing
All proposals for residential development will also be required to meet the General Policy and accord with other provisions of the LDP.
Justification and Amplification
Affordable housing includes social rented housing and intermediate housing (see Glossary).
In applying this policy, the up to date Housing Needs Assessment (HNA) for Mid and East Antrim, currently carried out annually by the NIHE will be a material consideration. Where it is shown that there is an unmet need for affordable housing in a settlement, there will be a requirement for all housing schemes above the specified threshold to provide affordable housing in line with this policy. In those circumstances where the number of affordable housing units required by this policy would exceed the need, a lower number of units will be acceptable.
The provision of both social rented and intermediate housing is currently delivered by registered housing associations with the help of public sector grant and loan funding. Prior to submitting a planning application, an applicant/developer is therefore advised to liaise closely with a registered Housing Association and the NIHE to discuss the exact mix of affordable housing required in each case. This should ensure that affordable housing provided under this policy takes account of the specific needs of those in housing stress in a locality according to the common housing selection scheme as well as the broader housing need for the Borough as identified through the up to date HNA.
The policy requires a minimum provision of 20% of units as affordable housing in main and small towns and a minimum of 10% in villages and small settlements, above the threshold stated. Where Council considers it necessary to provide a higher proportion of affordable housing, the LDP Local Policies Plan may seek to deliver this through key site requirements attached to specific housing zonings. Alternatively, enhanced provision may be sought directly with applicants on a case by case basis via the development management process. In either case, account will be taken of the viability of securing an enhanced level of provision in these areas where a high level of affordable housing need is confirmed through the HNA.
It will not be acceptable to artificially divide lands for the purposes of circumventing the policy requirements or to propose applications to develop a larger site in phases of less than 10 units or 0.2 hectares, to avoid delivery of affordable housing. It is, however, acknowledged that in some cases a developer may have a reason for adopting a phased approach to the development of a site. Where this is the case, the concept masterplan should demonstrate the comprehensive planning of such a site and how the full affordable housing obligations will be met. Partial development may be permitted if the affordable housing element can be secured by way of Section 76 planning agreement.
The delivery of affordable housing will be secured by way of a planning condition or a formal planning legal agreement between Council and the developer.
Given the complexities around the delivery of affordable housing, supplementary planning guidance may be prepared in the future to provide greater clarity.