Tetlow King Planning (TKP) is very pleased to have secured recognition of rent to buy in meeting affordable housing need in recent adopted policy and emerging policy guidance in the South West on behalf of Rentplus, an innovative provider of this tenure. Rentplus homes are let to eligible households at an affordable rent, set at the lower of Local Housing Allowance or 80% of market rent, giving families an opportunity to save for purchase outside the private rented sector.
Revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) have brought widespread changes to the way in which housing need is calculated, but also to the ways in which need can be met. The widened definition of affordable housing in Annex 2 of the Framework now provides four main categories: affordable housing for rent; starter homes; discounted market sales housing; and other affordable routes to home ownership, which includes rent to buy.
Local planning policy is tasked with responding to and reflecting the NPPF; the changes are now filtering through to planning policy and guidance updates, as seen in the recently adopted Plymouth and South West Devon Joint Local Plan. After direct discussion with Rentplus a 2013 committee report noted that rent to buy provides a ‘complementary option for affordable housing’, commenting that:
“Many people on housing waiting lists aspire to own their own home but are unable to save for a deposit whilst paying expensive open-market rents. … [Rentplus] is an innovative model which provides affordable rented housing with the option and assistance to purchase.”
Engagement by TKP in the development of local planning policy in the following years resulted in this Local Plan becoming the first in England to explicitly recognise the tenure and its capacity alongside other affordable rented and sales tenures to meet local needs.
The delivery of rent to buy has also recently been recognised in the East Devon draft Affordable Housing Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) after TKP promoted a wider approach through recent planning policy consultations. With an adopted policy split of 70% social or affordable rent and 30% intermediate or other affordable housing, the draft SPD indicates that rent to buy can make up the 30% provision.
Bringing planning evidence up to date to reflect the NPPF changes is now a priority as the need for affordable housing of all types and tenures is at crisis point, requiring local authorities to take an ambitious approach to diversifying supply. TKP is proud to be an advocate for providers of affordable housing working across the UK and continues to focus on meeting needs through flexible and consistent policy.