To agree the public minutes of the informal, hybrid meeting held on 11 January 2022.
The Committee considered the public minutes and summary of the hybrid, informal meeting held on 11 January 2022 and approved them as a correct record, subject to the addition of the point below.
Moor Lane (page 6) – A Member stated that he had been in email correspondence with Officers on this matter since the last meeting and had been informed that a report had also been issued to the Chair. He questioned whether the Chair was in a position to share this report with the wider Committee. Officers confirmed that this paper had been issued to the Chair and, by way of an update, reported that negotiations were continuing with the developer following the public consultation feedback received. Officers undertook to provide Members with further detail in writing. The Member stressed the importance of this issue and the need to find a resolution to this.
15 and 16 Minories and Land Fronting Aldgate High Street, 62 Aldgate High Street: Deed of Variation in Respect of Affordable Housing Matters: Planning Permission 15/01067/FULL (page 7) – A Member reported that the Housing Sub Management Committee had had a very detailed discussion on this at their most recent meeting where a lot of concern had been raised as to the City’s Affordable Housing Policy on payments in lieu and the current costs of this. The Member understood that this would now result in a resolution to this Committee and the Policy and Resources Committee requesting a meeting with Officers to outline these concerns and ensure that the City was delivering on affordable housing and were receiving the level of payments required with all of this reflected in the refreshed Local Plan. Another Member spoke to clarify that the resolution of the Housing Management Sub Committee was actually that the Chair and Deputy Chair of the Sub Committee should write to the Chair of Planning expressing these concerns.
Another Member spoke to state that this Committee agreed a significant change in the commuted sum but that this change was then deferred as part of the response to the COVID pandemic. He therefore sought some clarity as to the current position and when this deferral might cease. Officers reported that, in terms of the deferral of CIL and Section 106 payments, the COVID deferral process had now ended and that, for CIL purposes, payments were now being sought in line with previous policy. In terms of Section 106, Members were reminded that the Committee adopted a revised Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) which significantly increased the contribution to affordable housing from both commercial and residential development last year and that this was implemented from 1 October 2021. This, however, did not apply to this scheme as this had been negotiated and agreed under the previous SPD.
A Member commented that the uplifted figure now in place was very welcome but questioned whether this was an absolute figure or whether there was any linkage to inflation given that there was currently very significant inflation in the building trade. Officers stated that the figure was index linked to the RICS index which was linked to build costs.
Another Member requested an update from Officers as to how negotiations with the developer around the proposed phasing of payments were now progressing. Officers reported that the applicant had confirmed that they were happy to accept the revised phasing of payments proposed by the Committee. Legal Officers were therefore now looking to revise the Section 106 agreement on this basis and working to progress sign-off of this to allow the development to get back on track.
The Committee were informed that its Local Plans Sub-Committee had met yesterday where Members had, again, expressed some concerns around affordable housing contributions and Officers had taken from this a very firm instruction to revise the Policy to address the requirements for on-site as opposed to off-site as well as to work very closely with colleagues in Community and Children’s Services to ensure that the requirements of the City’s own housing estates could be addressed. This piece of work would therefore be taken forward and Officers intended to report back to the Committee later in the year on this. Separately, the Sub Committee had also agreed that Officers should undertake a ‘Call for Sites Consultation’ – this would go out to landowners, developers, residents and the general public to ask for potential housing sites to be identified and brought forward for the City’s consideration. This would take place in April and May of this year.
A Member commented that this was not solely about affordable housing payments but that it was also about ensuring that affordable housing was being delivered in the City. Design and the avoidance of things such as ‘poor doors’ would therefore be crucial as would the need to avoid very high service charges. The City therefore needed to be very clear from the outset on these expectations. The Member went on to state that she felt that this matter would merit discussion amongst the wider Court. The Chair assured the Committee that the Local Plans Sub Committee had taken a very broad overview of this matter at its meeting yesterday, including regional and national policy and whether this was leading to the outcomes and the type of housing the City wanted to see. He assured Members that discussions would be had with the policy makers and all stakeholders and that this would be an iterative process. He accepted that, at present, the Policy was not working and that the market was not providing what it needed to.
A Member questioned what the City were currently receiving per unit. She stated that she was very pleased to learn of the proposed call for sites exercise and questioned whether the City would also be calling on itself for this with consideration given to sites such as London Wall and Bastion House. Officers confirmed that the call for sites would go out to everyone including the City Corporation in its capacity as a developer and that it would be open to anyone, including elected Members and City residents to suggest sites and put these forward. With regard to current costs, Officers stated that the guidance in the SPD stated that the affordable housing contribution would be calculated by looking at the viability of a fully market development and then the viability of a development with affordable housing and compare the two, with the difference being the contribution that should be made. It also stated that this should be within the context of a minimum of £400,000 per unit which represented a significant increase from the previous SPD.