A question posed at Full Council to me this week related to this issue and the timing allows me to expand on the issue in a more general way to help inform residents of the borough
Within the draft local plan review the Council is committed to providing ‘Homes for All’. In commissioning its evidence base for the review of the Local Plan the Council commissioned a complete assessment of needs with the borough and this is documented in the Strategic Housing Markets Assessment. This includes housing for older people and households with specific needs including those who are disabled and those with a long-term limiting illness.
: It is expected that by 2033 around 31% of all households will be single people including those over pensionable age, people with disabilities and households re-forming. Many of these households are likely to require affordable rather than market housing (SHMA 2016).
There is a Borough wide shortage of homes which are affordable and homes which are suitable for older people and specially designed homes for people with learning and physical disabilities. This leads to a strong local Borough need for family-sized affordable rented housing and intermediate tenure homes together with both smaller and lower cost market housing. It is important that housing of the right type is delivered to meet these needs and the Council will seek to achieve this through use of a range of approaches, including Supplementary Planning Documents and how it brings forward and disposes of its own land.
In addition to requiring a proportion of the homes to be ‘affordable’, the Council will identify the tenure, mix and type of the homes and any requirements for homes to be designed to meet specific needs such as those of older or disabled people.
Securing Design Quality, requires a Building for Life 12 assessment as part of all major planning applications. This requires developers to assess their proposal with the 12 Building For Life criteria and this includes having a mix of housing types and tenures that suit local requirements through to ensuring the whole development is suitable for those whose needs are being provided for on the development such as street and amenity space layout and location to services.
The Council is committed to developing more affordable ‘extra care’ accommodation for people who are vulnerable and have support needs. All affordable extra care development must be planned and designed in consultation with the Council’s Director for Adult Social Services.
Since 2013 the Council has worked with various partners to develop new rented housing for people with disabilities:
- 6 schemes for people with a learning disability, providing accommodation for up to 42 people (various locations in south of the Borough, 2013 – 2016)
- 28 ‘assisted living’ apartments for people with mental health needs (North Solihull, 2015)
- 40 new apartments for over 55s (North Solihull, 2015)
- 2 new bungalows for older people developed as part of a Solihull Community Housing development (Meriden, 2014)
- 3 new bungalows for older people as part of a housing association development (Meriden, 2015)
- We are continuing to add to this,
- New schemes are in development for ‘extra care’ housing for older people (38 homes in Solihull Lodge and 51 in Chelmsley Wood)
- 19 apartments are being developed for people with a learning disability in Solihull Lodge
- 6 bungalows for older people as part of the 106 affordable homes being developed at Mount Diary Farm
- The development of 261 apartments by the Extra Care Charitable Trust at Shirley with 60% (156) of these being affordable
Furthermore, in 2015 the government introduced an update to Building Regulations in England, “Access to and use of buildings: Approved Document M”. These Regulations ensure that people are able to access and use buildings and their facilities. The Council ensures these are met as part of the Development Management process in the borough.
Looking ahead: sites identified for development in the draft Local Plan will be subject to a master planning exercise. We will work closely with developers so that the residential mix best helps toward meeting the housing needs that we have. This will include consideration of how new development areas can provide for people with disabilities as part of our wider place shaping agenda.
New housing is important but it also has to be remembered that existing housing has a significant role in the housing options to support families that have disabled members. People with a disability may wish to stay in general housing that is already suitable or homes which can be adapted to meet their needs.
Through Solihull Community Housing, the Council provides home adaptations for vulnerable people through provision of statutory Disabled Facilities Grants, Minor Works grants and low-value assistance through the Handyperson Scheme. Each of these activities helps people to remain living independently in their current home. In the five year period 2011-2016 2,963 works were carried out across the borough. I am pleased to say that we have been able to allocate more funding to this work in recent years and I will set the 2017/18 budget when I consider next year’s Housing Capital Programme at my decision-making session on 20 March.