Affordable housing is ‘a priority’ for the Horsham district

One of Berkeley Homes' previous projects - Highwood, west of Horsham.
One of Berkeley Homes' previous projects - Highwood, west of Horsham.

A Government report recommending councils to focus on providing large private rental schemes to kickstart the housing market does not have the full support of Horsham District Council.

The Montague Plan released last week says council should use ‘flexibilities in the planning system’ to enable large developments of private rental housing. They could also waive the affordable housing requirement for developers.

Just eight per cent of homes in the Horsham district are rented privately and HDC cabinet member for living and working communities, Ian Howard (Con, Southwater) said, although they were important, it was not a priority to provide more through major developments.

“Our prime objective is still for affordable housing whilst making sure the development is still viable. We can see the merit in investing in the private rental sector, but our current priority is affordable rented housing.

“The more vulnerable people in the community are the ones who need the most help and that’s where our priority should be.”

Andrew Smith, housing development and strategy manager at HDC, added: “We need to meet all needs across the spectrum. We need good quality private rented accommodation, but not at the expense of affordable rented.”

‘Affordable’ housing can be social rented homes managed by housing associations or homes with shared ownership.

In the 1,000 home development to the south of Broadbridge Heath, Countryside Properties have agreed to provide 193 affordable units on site and £7.73m for homes off-site.

In the Berkeley Homes West of Horsham 1,000 home development there will be 126 affordable units on site and £4m will be paid to HDC for off-site affordable homes.

If gross sales revenue increases substantially at the time homes come on the markey, the council will receive up to £7.25m more from Berkeley Homes and up to £3.3m from Countryside Properties.

HDC would put all this money towards affordable homes elsewhere in the district.