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Plans to provide ‘a secure home for all’ move forward as councillors debate response to housing crisis

Proposals to tackle the unprecedented pressure on housing in Cornwall and meet the Council’s priority of providing every resident with the opportunity to live in a secure home have taken a step forward. 

Tuesday’s meeting of the Council’s Economic Growth and Development Overview and Scrutiny Committee gave councillors an opportunity to discuss the plans in more detail and put their questions to senior officers and members of the cabinet. 

The plan will now go to the Council's Cabinet

As a result, the committee has made a series of recommendations which will now go to the Council’s Cabinet to consider when it meets to make a final decision on the plans. 

Olly Monk, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Planning, said: “This is the start of a multi-faceted approach to address the housing crisis. There are lots of aspects to the plan and each one will make a significant difference to the overall crisis – now, in the medium term and moving on into the future.  

“This plan will involve more than £300m – that’s a third of a billion pounds’ worth of potential investment moving forward into housing that the people of Cornwall want, and it will also go some way to try to get the legislative changes we need at Parliament to be able to control the amount of second homes and also give us the ability to be able to set a Council Tax surcharge against those homes.” 

The Housing Crisis Plan proposals, which have been informed by engaging with the Council’s housing partners and were the subject of a residents’ survey completed by more than 2,500 people in October, cover four main areas: 

To work towards ending homelessness and rough sleeping 

The Council aims to reduce the reliance on short-term hotel and B&B accommodation and is already expanding its provision with sites at New County Hall in Truro and Rosewarne car park in Camborne, building a modular homes site near Pool and is in the process of buying a holiday park to provide more safe places to stay. The Council is also investing £39m in acquiring a portfolio of properties to provide decent temporary accommodation across CornwallWork is also under way on a Tenancy Sustainment and Rescue scheme, which will directly intervene to help tenants to remain in their privately rented homes. 

To improve availability and access to homes for local residents 

A modular keyworker housing programme is proposed to provide rented homes across Cornwall’s main towns. These homes will be for keyworkers and other residents, working with public sector partners including the NHS and private sector businesses and employers. 

The Council will also continue to work to reduce the number of Long Term Empty homes in Cornwall and reduce under-occupation in social housing, as well as clamping down on covenant breaches that see former Council homes that were sold under right-to-buy being unlawfully used as holiday lets. 

The Council has also proposed being a pilot area to develop models to encourage private landlords to make their properties available to help meet housing needs through improved financial and tax incentives. 

The Council has also proposed to the Government that planning permission should be needed to switch a home to a second residence or holiday let, and the authority should be able to charge double Council Tax on second homes. 

A step change in the supply of affordable homes in Cornwall 

It is planned to establish a Strategic Land Development Partnership between Cornwall Council and leading Registered Providers. Through this the Council will provide a pipeline of council-owned and acquired sites for accelerated development. 

The Council has recently purchased 130 open market homes at West Carclaze Garden Village in St Austell to convert them into affordable homes for local people in need. It is proposed to significantly expand this programme throughout Cornwall. 

In 2020 the Council entered into a strategic partnership to bring forward 750 new extra-care homes across Cornwall.  

The Council will explore with partners, developers and Homes England, a proposal that in future ensures that on rural exception sites 100 per cent of homes are for affordable home ownership and rent. 

It is also proposed to explore with Homes England more flexible funding for community-led housing. 

To deliver the new homes Cornwall needs through the Local Plan 

The Council will work on a raft of measures to bring development forward more quickly and unlock stalled sites for housing and employment, including delivering derelict and brownfield sites and through release of Council land to provide new homes. 

Story posted on November 18, 2021

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