Cheshire East Council has approved a new housing strategy that sets out a requirement of 355 affordable homes each year until 2023.
In July last year, the council formally adopted a Local Plan after a drawn-out process. That Local Plan, which has since survived a legal challenge, provides a context for the medium-term development of housing.
In affordability terms, the borough has delivered more over the last three years than its future targets, delivering 1,400 affordable homes in the period, with 978 of those being social or affordable rented homes, and brought 243 empty homes back into use, it said.
At £214,000, the average house price in Cheshire East is 9.7% below the national average, but exceeds the regional average of £157,000 by 36.2%. By comparing estimated incomes and prices, Knutsford, Ponyton and Wilmslow are considered the least affordable areas in the borough.
Along with affordability, dealing with an aging population and mstching housing with jobs-led growth are issues covered in the strategy,
Cllr Ainsley Arnold, cabinet member for housing, planning and regeneration, said: “Our new housing strategy contains our ambitions for facilitating the delivery of affordable housing alongside a robust, well-managed rental and sales market.
“We have made the decisions with feedback and engagement from residents to ensure the best possible outcome for housing that meets the needs of Cheshire East.”
On the affordable housing target, Cheshire East said: “By working in partnership, the council will facilitate this requirement, providing homes of the right type and in the right place to continue its ambition for good quality of place and the health, wellbeing and quality of life for our communities.”
The council has become involved in a series of appeals in recent years, with mixed results. In October 2017, its refusal of a 900-home extension to Wychwood Village was backed by Sajid Javid, but a month later, considering plans at White Moss by Renew Developments, a Planning Inspector questioned the robustness of supply, picking out delayed starts on key sites within the plan.
Zeroing in on “exceptions sites” looks to be a priority in largely rural areas that have been prepared to give some ground in potential development sites. The strategy document said that: “Many rural areas now have neighbourhood plans which contain information about need for affordable housing. If there is an identified need for affordable housing in rural areas, it will be a priority for the council to bring forward affordable housing on exceptions sites where appropriate.”