Agenda item

First Homes Early Delivery Programme

Decision:

RESOLVED

 

KEY DECISION

 

That the Executive:

 

a)     Noted the officer decision taken under delegated authority to apply the national eligibility criteria, level of discount, income cap and price cap for First Homes being delivered in North Northamptonshire.

 

b)     Approved the decision to apply discretionary local connection criteria to First Homes so that they are sold to first-time buyers with a local connection to North Northamptonshire.

 

c)      Approved that the above will apply to any future First Homes being delivered under Homes England’s First Homes Early Delivery Programme, and on any other First Homes delivered in North Northamptonshire. This will be the case until the Local Plan is updated to include any alternative First Homes policy for North Northamptonshire.

 

d)     Delegated authority to the Executive Member for Housing, Communities and Levelling Up, in consultation with the Executive Director for Place and Economy to enter Deeds of Variation on the basis set out above to enable the delivery of additional First homes, where deemed appropriate.  

 

 

Reason for Recommendation: The decision to enable the early delivery of First Homes will lead to an increase in the overall supply of affordable homes in North Northamptonshire and improve access to homeownership for local first-time buyers. Early delivery also provides the Council with an opportunity to pilot the legal and sales procedures for First Homes, ahead of their delivery through the planning system, and will help officers to refine this process and make any necessary adjustments or improvements prior to larger numbers of First Homes being delivered via Section 106 agreements. 

 

Alternative Options Considered: The alternative option is to refuse requests to vary existing section 106 agreements to provide First Homes. Taking this approach was discounted as it would mean the Homes England grant being diverted to another local authority area and it would mean the loss of additional affordable homes for local people.

 

Minutes:

The Chair invited Cllr Matthew Binley, the Executive Member for Housing, Communities and Levelling Up to introduce a report which sought to provide an outline of the Government's First Home scheme and requested that Executive note the officer decision taken under delegated authority to apply the national eligibility criteria, level of discount, income cap and price cap for First Homes being delivered in North Northamptonshire. Executive were also asked to approve the decision to apply discretionary local connection criteria to First Homes so that they were sold to first-time buyers with a local connection to North Northamptonshire and that this would apply to any future First Homes being delivered.

 

The Executive was also asked to delegate authority to the Executive Member for Housing, Communities and Levelling Up, in consultation with the Executive Director for Place and Economy to enter Deeds of Variation on the basis set out above to enable the delivery of additional First Homes, where deemed appropriate.

 

It was noted that First Homes were a type of affordable housing introduced into the National Planning Policy Framework on 28th June 2021. They comprised discounted market sale units which:

 

a) must be discounted by at least 30% against the market value;

b) be sold to households who meet the First Homes eligibility criteria;

c) remain discounted and sold to eligible households in perpetuity by way of

a restriction registered on the title at HM Land Registry in favour of the

Council; and,

d) cannot be sold for the first time at a price higher than £250,000 after the

discount has been applied

 

The Council could set its own eligibility criteria, discount levels and income caps, however the decision to do so must not be arbitrary and must be implemented via the Local Plan-making process. The Council was therefore not permitted to divert from the national First Homes policy until the Local Plan was updated to include an adopted local policy on First Homes in North Northamptonshire.

 

To expedite the delivery of First Homes, developers had been invited to bid for a grant from Homes England under the First Homes Early Delivery Programme to meet the costs associated with First Homes being sold at 70% of the open market.  Funding had been secured by Persimmon to provide six First Homes at Glenvale Park, Wellingborough. These homes were in addition to the affordable housing at the development secured via the Section 106 (S106) agreement. To secure the delivery of these six homes, a Deed of Variation was required to the existing S106 agreement to include the First Homes and the criteria that applied to them to ensure that the homes were legally protected as affordable homes in future, and that the relevant criteria would always be applied to any future sales.

 

It was noted that the Council could recover a £150 fee for each First Home sold to cover administration costs, although it was note believed that this would cover the full costs of the work involved. There was a risk that increased demand for such properties could put pressure on Council resources.

 

Both Councillors Lawman and Brackenbury spoke to welcome the initiative, with the latter making reference to the work required to implement an updated Local Plan.

 

 

RESOLVED

 

KEY DECISION

 

That the Executive:

 

a)     Noted the officer decision taken under delegated authority to apply the national eligibility criteria, level of discount, income cap and price cap for First Homes being delivered in North Northamptonshire.

 

b)     Approved the decision to apply discretionary local connection criteria to First Homes so that they are sold to first-time buyers with a local connection to North Northamptonshire.

 

c)      Approved that the above will apply to any future First Homes being delivered under Homes England’s First Homes Early Delivery Programme, and on any other First Homes delivered in North Northamptonshire. This will be the case until the Local Plan is updated to include any alternative First Homes policy for North Northamptonshire.

 

d)     Delegated authority to the Executive Member for Housing, Communities and Levelling Up, in consultation with the Executive Director for Place and Economy to enter Deeds of Variation on the basis set out above to enable the delivery of additional First homes, where deemed appropriate.  

 

 

Reason for Recommendation: The decision to enable the early delivery of First Homes will lead to an increase in the overall supply of affordable homes in North Northamptonshire and improve access to homeownership for local first-time buyers. Early delivery also provides the Council with an opportunity to pilot the legal and sales procedures for First Homes, ahead of their delivery through the planning system, and will help officers to refine this process and make any necessary adjustments or improvements prior to larger numbers of First Homes being delivered via Section 106 agreements. 

 

Alternative Options Considered: The alternative option is to refuse requests to vary existing section 106 agreements to provide First Homes. Taking this approach was discounted as it would mean the Homes England grant being diverted to another local authority area and it would mean the loss of additional affordable homes for local people.

 

Supporting documents: