The Chairman invited the Senior Housing Strategy and Enabling Officer to present the report on rural designation. She explained that the purpose of the report was to seek approval to make an application to the Secretary of State to designate areas of West Lindsey as rural under Section 157 of Housing Act 1985. She explained that the reason for seeking rural designation at this time was because the Government was proposing to temporarily raise the small sites affordable housing threshold to up to either 40 or 50 residential units. The idea was that this new higher threshold will be implemented for an initial period of 18 months during which time the Government would ‘monitor its impact before reviewing the approach’ – thereby leaving the door open to extending the time limit. It was considered that securing the rural designation for West Lindsey would allow the current affordable housing policy in the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan (LP11) to be retained and thus allow the authority to continue the delivery of affordable units on the same basis as now, which had had proven successful and sustainable. Members heard that the areas to be included in the rural designation were detailed in the appendices to the report.
The Chairman thanked the Officer for her detailed explanation and invited Members to ask questions. Vice-Chairman J. McNeill enquired as to the potential impact of a 4th tier governance review and whether the reorganisation of parish boundaries would have an effect on the designated areas. It was explained that the two criteria of population and density per hectare would have to be met and clarified that smaller villages would not trigger the requirement for affordable housing. It was agreed that, should a 4th tier governance review be undertaken, the boundaries and requirements under the rural designation would have to be taken into consideration. A Member of the Committee enquired as to the proposed ‘trigger point’ for affordable housing and it was confirmed that the intention was to maintain limits at current levels.
With no further questions and having been proposed and seconded, it was
a) the areas for Rural Designation be agreed as set out in Appendix 1; and
b) the submission of an application from West Lindsey District Council for Rural Designation under Section 157 of the Housing Act 1985 to the Secretary of State be approved.