Council strategy sets out vision for housing in Cornwall

Row of new terraced houses

Cornwall Council has formally published its Housing Strategy which sets out how it will deliver its vision for providing homes in Cornwall where people and communities can thrive.

All local authorities are required to produce a local housing strategy which explains how they will manage and deliver their strategic housing role. Earlier this year the Council approved a draft Housing Strategy as part of its Prosperous Cornwall 2050 plan which aims to create a ‘Cornwall where everyone can start well, live well and age well’.

The Prosperous Cornwall plan identifies a series of priorities for the Council. These include ‘A thriving, sustainable Cornwall that offers a secure home, a decent income and a great environment for all’, which the Housing Strategy vision aligns to.

“We all need and deserve somewhere to live and call home,” said Olly Monk, Cornwall Council’s portfolio holder for housing and planning. “Having a home to call our own provides a sense of belonging, it means better health and wellbeing and it strengthens community spirit. We want our residents to live in affordable and high-quality homes that enable them to build settled, safe and healthy lives, within sustainable and thriving communities.

“We recognise that we are facing significant challenges in tackling the current housing crisis. Our ‘Cornwall’s Housing Strategy to 2030’ sets out how we will work with partners across the housing sector to provide ‘homes where people and communities can thrive.’

“This means providing appropriate and affordable homes, particularly for those in the greatest need. Our ‘Secure Home for All’ plan outlines our desire to urgently provide more homes for local people and we will work with our communities to deliver this and build the homes needed by residents and future generations.”

The Housing Strategy sets objectives, targets and policies for how the authority intends to manage and deliver its strategic housing role over the next eight years, providing an overarching framework within which more detailed policies will be developed. Working alongside social and supported housing landlords, government agencies, housing developers and everyone in the housing sector, the aim is meet the needs of residents, communities and the economy by providing the right homes in the right places.

The strategy is focused around four key priorities

  • Great places – places and communities are thriving and contain decent and secure homes.

This will be achieved by making better use of existing places, houses and buildings; reusing and regenerating land and homes not in use, reshaping and revitalising town centres, and ensuring that homes and communities are well designed and meet local needs. We will also lobby the Government to introduce new measures or devolve powers to the Council to implement policies that will help secure homes that meet the needs of local residents and communities – including piloting a new use class for homes being converted to a second or holiday homes and a Council Tax Premium rate for second homes.

  • Successful people – all residents have a good, safe and secure home from which they can build a great life.

This will be achieved by providing homes which are designed to meet the current and future needs of residents and improve their health and wellbeing, preventing homelessness and rough sleeping, and ensuring that people who require support have access to the right support.

  • Sustainable Growth – growth that will meet Cornwall’s needs

This will be achieved by ensuring that growth meets the local demand for housing of all types; maximising the number of affordable homes and social housing delivered in Cornwall and supporting communities to work with the Council and developers.

  • Climate change – ensure resilience now and in the future for residents, homes and communities.

This will be achieved by ensuring that new homes and communities are developed and constructed with a wide range of climate change considerations in mind, reusing and repurposing homes rather than building new ones, and working with partners to retrofit existing homes to cut carbon, improve thermal efficiency and lift families out of fuel poverty.

The Council is already working with partners on a range of schemes to prevent homelessness and rough sleeping, increase the availability of homes for local residents, and provide more affordable homes and homes for social rent.

Initiatives include:

  • Providing temporary and emergency accommodation – plans to deploy the first 15 Solohaus ‘micro homes’ on Council-owned land at Old County Hall in Truro were given the go ahead in May, with residents expected move into their new homes in July. The scheme, the first of its kind in the South West, will build on the success of the Council’s Bunkabin sites and other temporary accommodation projects by providing homes for local people who are ready to move on from emergency accommodation to the second stage of their journey out of homelessness and rough sleeping. The Council also worked with Harbour Housing and the owners of the former Escape surf lodge in Newquay to secure all year-round use of the building for the next two years to provide accommodation for local people who would otherwise be homeless or sleeping on the streets.
  • Refurbishing redundant Cornwall Council owned properties to provide homes for local people in urgent housing need –work on converting a Council owned house in Trevose Avenue in Newquay to provide five new self-contained flats for people who had been homeless or living in temporary or emergency accommodation was completed in May. A further project to transform a former office building in Chough House in Truro into a purpose-designed ‘Somewhere Safe to Stay Hub’ with nine flats is due to be finished at the end of the Summer.
  • Building significantly more Council houses  for local people to rent or buy  – last year the Council completed its first “own build” housing scheme in a generation with 16 new homes provided in Veryan. All the homes have been provided for social rent to people with a local connection to the area. Work is now taking place to deliver further “own build” schemes as part of the Council’s commitment to build 1,000 new council houses for local people over the next five years.
  • Buy existing homes to use as social housing – the first 12 one bedroom properties bought on the open market by Cornwall Council and refurbished to provide high quality “move on” accommodation are due to be handed over to Cornwall Housing Ltd in the next few weeks. They will be allocated to single people from Cornwall who are currently in temporary or emergency accommodation and who would otherwise be homeless.
  • Buying new homes on the open market for social and affordable rent or shared ownership schemes for local people – last November the Council completed a landmark multi-million-pound deal to buy 130 homes at West Carclaze Garden Village as part of its work to tackle the housing crisis. Keys to the first two homes were handed over to Councillor Olly Monk at the end of May, with a further ten homes expected to be completed within the next few weeks. The remaining homes will be handed over to the Council during the next three to four years. All 130 low carbon homes will be available for either social or affordable rent for local households in need or for shared ownership.
  • Supporting the provision of affordable homes by housing associations for local people to rent or buy      
  • Ensuring sites deliver affordable housing through the planning process     
  • Unlocking the potential for town centres to be regenerated to provide more housing     
  • Supporting community-led organisations that want to deliver their own homes     
  • Offering loans to bring empty homes back into use 
  • Enabling communities to stop new builds being snapped up by would be second homeowners.

“The Council has set itself a clear mission for the next four years of ‘working with communities for a carbon neutral Cornwall, where everyone can start well, live well and age well’ said Olly Monk. “ This means that everything that we do as a Council will be focused around tackling the inequalities that exist in our society, so that everyone can have a good life here in Cornwall.”

“We want to provide homes that meet the needs of our residents and communities. We want to support those residents that need help in finding and keeping a home that they can afford. We want to support our residents who have specific needs and whose home can help them remain independent. And we want to support communities to be sustainable and thriving places to live.

“Making sure that every resident has a safe, warm and secure home is not something that one organisation can do alone. The housing strategy provides the framework within which we can ensure we are working with the right partners and are supporting each other to achieve the outcomes set out”.

The Housing Strategy will be kept under review so adjustments can be made to the Council’s approach as things change.

Story posted 01 July 2022

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