Housing in Cornwall and the Strategic Housing Framework
I think it is a given that people know housing and the lack of affordability is an issue in Cornwall. As of January 2014 the average price of a property in Cornwall was £180,797. This is a staggering eight times the average (median) income of £22,246. The demand far outstrips the demand. In Cornwall 35.6% of households have an income less than £15,000 compared nationally of 25.1%.
Currently population of Cornwall is 532,273 as per the 2011 Census a rise of 6.7% since the 2001 and is set to rise to an estimated 585,500 by 2021 (ONS population projection). So the issue of the lack of housing and its affordability is not going to go away, and is in fact, going to get a lot worse unless something is done about it.
The 2011 Census identified Cornwall has 258,883 dwellings. From that number, there are at least 2,000 empty homes* which could be brought back into use. However, that is not always easy, as some landlords are unwilling to engage. Compulsory Purchase is a difficult and is often a long and complex issue for a Council to undertake. Good news is the Council has been working with landlords and has been able to bring a stead number of empty homes back into use.
There is also the added impact of at least 5% of Cornwall’s housing are second homes*** which despite the Council wanting some planning regulations brought in to control the number of second homes, the Government is unwilling to help.
Mortgage lending a lot tighter, and taking into account the average income of Cornwall, people will struggle to get an approval for a mortgage. Hence why affordable housing is key to making sure we have enough housing for residents. Cornwall also has a high proportion of privately rented accommodation. These private rents are often at the peak of the market prices. Unlike affordable rentals owned by either an RSL and/or the LA are set up to 80% of the local market rent.
Housing affordability is also an issue when you take into account the Welfare Reform, which the full impact of the reform has yet to be fully understood. Furthermore, 19% of households are in fuel poverty. A household is said to be in fuel poor if it needs to spend more than 10% of its income on fuel to maintain a satisfactory heating regime – 21 degrees for main living area.
Currently, there are 28,000 households on the Homechoice register. From that register there are 2,000 lettings per year. This means someone on the register has a less than 1 in 10 chance of being successfully housed. For the period of 2010-13, 2,262 affordable houses were completed. It is estimated** the need for a further 2,240 to be built over the next five years. So there is some good news on affordable housing being provided, but this is not enough.
One way to start to address the issue of affordable housing is the recently approved Strategic Housing Framework 2014-19. This document sets out the Council’s aspirations and priorities for housing four the next five years. It has been designed to complement the Local Plan, Strategic Economic Plan and the Health and Wellbeing Strategy. Key to the housing framework is this is not just about the Council, but the Council’s partners too.
By using this plan will allow Cornwall Council with its partners to address the housing issues Cornwall faces now and is going to in the future in nothing is done about affordable housing in Cornwall.
*Empty Homes Register 2013
**Strategic Housing Market
***Council Tax Register 2012