The Committee gave consideration to a report from the Homes, Health and Wellbeing Team Manager, providing an update on First Homes, setting out the Early Delivery Programme for First Homes in West Lindsey and seeking to adopt the West Lindsey position on this new government initiative. Members heard that the First Homes Guidance had been prepared alongside, and met, the national guidance prepared by Homes England. The proposed guidance document did not fall outside of the parameters of the First Homes Scheme. All First Homes required a Section 106 agreement to secure the necessary restrictions on the use and sale of the properties, and a legal restriction on the title of the properties to ensure that these restrictions were applied to the properties at each future sale, guaranteeing perpetuity.
It was explained that the government First Homes scheme was introduced on 28 June 2021 via Ministerial statement. This made substantial changes to planning policy to provide discounted homes to first time buyers in England who otherwise would not be able to afford to purchase their first home. The national guidance allowed for Local Authorities to place local parameters on some of the criteria set out in the guidance. Any local parameters must be evidence based and be adopted and published for developers and purchasers to access.
The Committee heard that Central Lincolnshire Authorities had come together to determine some of those local parameters and ensure they were, where possible, aligned across the Housing Market Area. A guidance document had therefore been drafted which set out West Lindsey’s local parameters against the national position. Alongside this, Homes England had allocated 30 properties in West Lindsey to be delivered under the First Homes Early Delivery Programme.
Note: Councillor C. Darcel left the Chamber at 8.21pm and returned at 8.23pm.
Members were keen to understand why the policy of prioritising key workers had not been included in the document, particularly at a time where the importance of key workers had been so keenly felt on a national basis. It was explained that the definition of a key worker had changed significantly through the course of the pandemic and in discussing the inclusion of that element, it was considered important that the parameters for being eligible were not too narrow. It was also highlighted that there would be a certain level of assessing need and demand under the scheme and the requirements could be reviewed where necessary. Officers agreed to consider the definition of a key worker to help ensure those who would benefit would not be excluded.
With thanks given to the Officer and teams involved, and having been moved and seconded, it was
a) the West Lindsey First Homes position set out within the Guidance be agreed; and
b) the West Lindsey First Homes Guidance be adopted.