Northern Ireland is experiencing a housing crisis, exacerbated by an acute shortage of affordable housing. On 1 January 2013, 22,675 of the 41,870 applicants on the social housing waiting list were in housing stress and 9,878 applicants were classed as statutorily homeless. Of the four UK jurisdictions, Northern Ireland also has the highest proportion of young adults living with their parents.
In response, Northern Ireland housing associations are significantly increasing the number of new homes we provide. This year our members are working to achieve a 64% increase in the number of social housing starts, from 1,275 to 2,000. This is the level of new provision NIHE considers necessary both to meet existing need and begin to tackle the effects of many years of under-supply. Furthermore, DSD and our members are working to sustain this much higher level of building for the next few years, resources allowing.
Currently there is significant public and private funding available to deliver much-needed affordable homes. The main constraint is access to suitable land at reasonable prices. Most adopted development plans are significantly out-of-date, exacerbating the shortage. And although PPS12 – Housing in Settlements, encourages the zoning of land for social housing,
NIFHA is aware of only two development plans that actually do this. Therefore housing associations are competing against all other developers when purchasing sites. In a recovering market, this competition for land is intensifying just as we are attempting to achieve in step-change in delivery.
NIFHA believes that residential developments should be mixed, including affordable and other homes to meet identified local needs. Affordable homes as a key element within a development can significantly contribute to creating a balanced and sustainable community, enabling people from diverse backgrounds to live together, strengthening community cohesion, reducing social division and exclusion and increasing well-being. A developer contributions policy is also an important way to increase housing choice and promote equality of opportunity.
As identified in the consultation documents, mixed-tenure developments have been delivered through the planning systems in other jurisdictions for some time. Therefore NIFHA supports a system of ‘developer contributions’ that can help make mixed and balanced communities much more common, increase the supply of new sites for affordable housing and support the delivery of new affordable homes.
Read the NIFHA Developer Contributions response in full.