At its meeting on July 30 Rother District Council’s (RDC) cabinet agreed to create a housing and homelessness strategy following the recommendation of its Housing Issues Task and Finish Group.
The housing and homelessness strategy will focus on actions that need to be taken to deliver affordable housing across the district. The lack of affordable housing is a national issue but the figures presented to the Cabinet demonstrated that it is particularly bad in Rother: only 10.4% of the housing stock in Rother is considered affordable, well below the national average of 17.6%.
Land supply issues were discussed and Cabinet members were informed that the Council is unable to demonstrate a five-year land supply for housing. They also heard that the lack of supply will be exacerbated as it is expected the government will seek substantial increases the number of houses that need to be built across the UK each year.
The Cabinet agreed that the strategy should include the creation of a “delivery vehicle”, such as a local housing company or public/private joint venture, which will purchase or build accommodation for those in housing need.
In addition, the Council will look to purchase and develop “stalled” sites – these are sites that have been granted planning permission but the houses haven’t been built. The cabinet felt that the sites were vital for the delivery of affordable housing and that they should be brought under council control through negotiation or a Compulsory Purchase Order issued if other options have failed.
The strategy will also include working with parish and town councils and community groups to identify suitable housing sites that could deliver community led housing.
What this means for Rye has yet to be established but unlike most areas in Rother, Rye already has a housing target set via the draft Neighbourhood Plan. The latest target of 67-112 new homes by 2028 has actually been exceeded by the number of housing sites identified within the Plan. The Plan estimates that there is room for 160 new homes in Rye on both large and small sites. It is harder to know how the issue of stalled sites will affect Rye and whether RDC will step in. Some large sites, such the former Thomas Peacocke/Lower School site, have been vacant for years and are crying out for development.
Photo: Kevin McCarthy