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Accelerated housing delivery given go ahead by Council’s District Executive Committee

| District

The opportunity to own your own home in South Somerset is set to become easier following a decision South Somerset District Council’s District Executive Committee made today to approve a number of new measures that will enable the council to achieve its housing targets.

Housing delivery in the district is set to be accelerated after Councillors were asked to:

  • Consider and note the external 3 Dragons report entitled ‘Accelerating Housing’
  • Approve the use of £250,000 from the Business Rates Retention Fund to finance the Housing Delivery Programme Manager and budget for 2 years
  • Note that officers will prepare a Priority Project Action Plan
  • Note that progress on delivery will be monitored by the Strategic Development board and District Executive
  • Approve the further allocation of £100,000 to supplement specific work to support housing delivery.

The Council had been very clear in a report that went to District Executive Members that South Somerset needs more homes to be built in order that residents have every opportunity to own or rent their own home. A lack of a choice of homes also greatly affects the economic performance of the district.

The report presented a set out way ahead to achieve a faster delivery for all types of homes in the right locations and to ensure a pipeline of delivery for the future.

Councillor Val Keitch, the Council’s Leader and Executive Portfolio Holder for Strategy and Housing, said: “We made it a priority project this year to develop proposals to accelerate the delivery of key housing sites and associated infrastructure and by making this decision today we will help to achieve this project and enable more houses to be built across South Somerset quicker.

“We recognise the importance enabling housing and communities to meet the existing and future needs of residents and employers, where we can create and sustain thriving communities. This means residents should be able to access the broad range and type of

housing they need.”

What work has the Council undertaken to achieve a higher rate of housing delivery?

The Council commissioned a consultancy, the Three Dragons, to work with them to deliver a roadmap to achieve a higher rate of housing delivery.

The report findings are based on a thorough analysis of the causes of under supply. It followed extensive consultations with the local development industry, affordable housing providers and Homes England.

The report highlighted a number of key findings that confirmed a persistent pattern of delivery falling behind the targets set out in the Local Plan. Furthermore, the evidence shows that whilst not meeting the needs of the district, the delivery of homes in the larger, sustainable settlements identified in the Local Plan Settlement Strategy has been less than expected/forecast. Apart from not providing enough homes this decreases the affordability of housing, and from a planning perspective, can leave the Council vulnerable to planning applications in less favourable locations that were not previously identified as suitable sites for development.

The Three Dragons report set out a range of proposals for SSDC to consider and suggested an action for the Council to also consider.

How will the Council deliver the action plan?

In order to make a significant difference to housing delivery, the Three Dragons report highlighted the need for SSDC to recognise that it has a needs staff with appropriate skills as well as capacity in key areas to make a step change in pace and outcomes.

Today’s decision at District Executive Committee will enable SSDC to deliver the action plan and the Housing Delivery Programme Manager role will focus on helping to unlock major sites with planning permission (especially in the main towns), enable complex sites to come forward, negotiating with developers and affordable housing providers. It also suggests the council become involved as a developer working with others in partnership and finally, support the growth of new entrants and small and medium sized developers within the local market. All of this will help to accelerate the delivery of housing in South Somerset.

You can read the full report online that went to District Executive Committee.

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