To consider the report that provides an update on the preparation of the Liverpool City Region Housing Strategy.
The Committee considered a report relating to the Draft Housing Strategy Update presented by Tim Jago, Lead Officer, Housing Strategy and Policy. He referred to the Appendix attached to the report that summarised the comments and contributions from the Housing Strategy Workshop and how it would feature in the Draft Housing Strategy. He stated that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee conducted a pre-scrutiny exercise that was invaluable for the Draft of the Housing Strategy, which had now been shared with the Housing and Spatial Planning Advisory Group (HASPAG) and Housing Associations for feedback.
Members enquired about the following: -
· Had consideration been given to leasehold and freehold properties for new developments where the new properties are built for freehold and would any action be taken.
· First time buyers would continue to struggle and would not welcome any additional costs to new built houses.
· A motion had been submitted to the Council at Sefton to develop a Housing Corporation to control the sale of houses.
· Had a Private Landlords Charter been created and if there were any minimum standards to comply with.
· The Local Plan and if the Housing Strategy would shape or influence the local plans and what were the timescales.
· 25% of affordable housing should be more 3 and 4 bedrooms.
· It needs to be evidenced based because previously 2 bedroom houses were built and it was difficult to sell, so it is worth considering that 3 and 4 bedroom houses be built to secure sales.
Tim Jago informed the Committee that according to Appendix 1, the issues have been raised with Local Authority colleagues and it is on the Government’s radar, but it would require national legislation for something substantial to be done relating to freehold and leasehold properties. However, Sefton and other Local Authority colleagues are currently working together to take regional action. He also stated that at the Housing Workshop information was shared that related to the indices of deprivation and identifying those areas to Government.
He responded to the enquiries stating that he was not aware of a Private Landlords Charter but would look into, but he was aware that local authorities already had landlord licences in place. He also stated that once the Spatial Development Strategy was approved, it would form part of the Local Plans for the local authorities and confirmed that a draft was scheduled to be produced in Summer 2020 and would also form part of the Development Plan.
Tim Jago also informed the Committee that a dedicated evidence and research team were already collating evidence across the CA and that housing evidence was being currently collected as well including bespoke evidence to inform City Region issues. Information collected would show trends, meet and identify needs, but also aspirations and getting the balance right. He stated that the Housing Strategy did not form part of the Spatial Development Strategy (SDS) and was not policy, but that it may inform, but was not statutory. Local plans were statutory plans and set the trend, but the Housing Strategy was non-statutory and could not over-ride the local plans as it was not statutory.
Kirsty Pearce informed the Committee that she would collate a short summary that would explain the Local Development Plans, the SDS and the Housing Strategy.
Resolved that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee: -
a) approves this report noting the progress made on the preparation of the City Region Housing Strategy to date:
b) notes the responses provided in Appendix 1 of this report to points raised by Committee Members at the November 2018 Housing Strategy Workshop; and
c) requests the Director of Policy and Strategic Commissioning to report the City Region Housing Strategy to a future meeting of this Committee for its information.