The Chairman emphasised that building new affordable homes and offering a variety of options was a key part of the Council’s housing strategy. The Council had previously worked with Footsteps Living Limited on a scheme in Otterbourne.
During public participation, Ian Tait spoke in support of the scheme, which he noted had previously been considered by Winchester Housing Trust (of which he was a Director) but the Trust had suggested Footsteps might be a more appropriate organisation to deliver the scheme due to design issues.
At the invitation of the Chairman, Councillor Rutter spoke as a local Ward Councillor and in summary, whilst not objecting to the proposals overall, raised a number of concerns:
· The proposed size of the flats was very small and whilst possibly large enough for one person, would not allow for growing families. Would the person become ineligible for other affordable housing options if they wished to sell and move on?
· She requested reassurance about the level of demand for such properties locally;
· Why was the site being offered to Footsteps to develop rather than the Council developing itself?
On behalf of TACT, Mrs Gill stated that the TACT view was the Council should develop the site itself. Mr Fawcitt also queried the status of Footsteps as it was not a registered provider.
The Head of New Homes Delivery responded to questions raised during public participation, in addition to concerns raised by TACT and some of the other invited Members present, as summarised below:
· At 35 sq.m, the flat size was acknowledged to be small. However, officers had visited other similar schemes and had been impressed by the standard of design. Research undertaken amongst younger members of Council staff had indicated there was a demand for the option to buy such properties as an alternative to equivalent priced private renting of a room in a shared HMO property.
· Any resident whose situation “outgrew” their accommodation was able to sell and move on.
· Conditions of sale of properties would include a restriction on sub-letting.
· Footsteps had undertaken investigatory work into the site and specialised in offering this type of product. In the longer term, it might be appropriate for the Council to build on experience of this scheme to develop other similar schemes itself. However, for this project, it was considered preferable for Footsteps to be given the opportunity to develop, within a stated timeframe.
· Footsteps were considered to be too small an organisation to qualify as a registered provider but their work was consistent with such an organisation.
· The Head of New Homes Delivery emphasised that the potential surplus generated for the Housing Revenue Account by the sale of land was dependant upon further investigations not highlighting additional costs.
· On the wider issue of providing additional housing, the Leader confirmed that the possibility of establishing a Housing Company was still under investigation and the Corporate Head of Housing (Interim) advised it was intended to bring a further report on the matter in early 2019.
During further discussions it was suggested that additional details (including photographs) of similar schemes undertaken by specialist providers, in addition to the research into potential demand, be shared with Committee Members.
The Committee agreed to the following for the reasons outlined above and set out in the report.
1. That the disposal of the land at Mountbatten Place, Kings Worthy, as shown outlined in the plan attached as Appendix 1 to the report, to Footsteps Living Limited be approved in principle, subject to the Corporate Head of Asset Management negotiating terms and conditions with a further report to approve.
2. Subject to final approval, that the Corporate Head of Housing be authorised to take the appropriate action to terminate any tenancies of garages affected by the scheme.
3. That the Corporate Head of Asset Management be authorised to negotiate and agree terms for easements, wayleaves and related agreements with utility providers, Highway Authority and neighbours in order to facilitate the development.