Memorandum by Rochdale Metropolitan Borough
Council (AFH 69)
Rochdale is located to the north east of the
city of Manchester and straddles the trans-Pennine M62. The borough
includes not only the town of Rochdale but also Middleton, Heywood,
Littleborough, Milnrow, Newhey and Wardle. Between and around
the towns and villages are large areas of open space.
The skyline to the north and east of the borough
offers views of open moorland along the Pennine edge while to
the south and west are pleasant river valleys, woodlands and meadows.
Although Rochdale is geographically the second
largest of the 10 metropolitan boroughs that make up Greater Manchester,
it has the lowest population density, with some 62 square miles
shared by a population of more than 200,000. Rochdale has a significant
ethnic minority population (about 11 per cent) mainly of Pakistani
and Bangladeshi origin.
As at 1 April 2001 the total housing stock in
the borough was 88,703. This figure was made up of the following:
|Registered Social Landlord||5,413
|Other Public Sector||3,241
In the Deprivation Indices 2000, for all six summary measures
Rochdale Borough ranks between 13 and 42 nationally (and between
two and six in Greater Manchester).
2. RESPONSE TO
The Definition of "affordable"
The adopted Unitary Development Plan (UDP) for Rochdale defines
affordable housing as "that which is available to local people
whose incomes do not enable them to buy or rent housing appropriate
to their needs on terms generally available on the open market".
The wording of this definition has been changed slightly in the
draft replacement plan and simply reflects the definition given
in Circular 6/98. More local definitions of affordable housing
may be developed from local housing needs studies. These more
specific, local definitions can then be used in guiding the local
requirements for affordable housing eg the relationship between
available income and price of appropriate dwellings.
The scale and location of the demand for affordable housing
Rochdale MBC has used the findings of a boroughwide housing
needs survey, its housing waiting list and a recent housing market
study to assess the level of demand for additional affordable
housing and to identify the priority areas for new provision.
Whilst the Authority is clear about the priority areas for
affordable housing within the borough, development of new homes
in these areas is often extremely difficult due to lack of available
A boroughwide housing needs survey carried out in 1996 indicated
that 7,190 households were in housing need.
Within Rochdale there is a requirement to develop affordable
homes which meet the acute housing needs of Rochdale's Asian community.
However the limited amount of land in the areas where the majority
of the community currently lives means that sites in alternative
areas have had to be considered. When developing homes for Asian
families outside traditional areas the Local Authority has adopted
a multi agency approach to ensure that key services, eg Health,
Education, Social Services, etc are available to provide support.
The Quality of affordable housing
The majority of new affordable housing developed within the
Rochdale MBC area is provided by housing associations. As a result
the properties built have to meet scheme development standards
(SDS) laid down by the Housing Corporation. These standards help
to ensure that new properties developed by housing associations
are of a good quality.
The Local Authority currently requires all private developers
delivering affordable housing through the implementation of the
affordable housing policy to build homes to the Housing Corporation's
scheme development standards.
For a number of years the Council has required all new housing
association homes for rent to be developed to the Life Times Homes
(LTH) Standards introduced by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
These standards, which exceed the Housing Corporations SDS, ensure
that properties can easily be adapted to meet the needs of older
and disabled persons.
One of the original targets within Rochdale's Asian Housing
Strategy was the production of a design brief to meet the essential
and desirable housing requirements of the borough's Asian community.
The brief was drawn up by the Local Authority and Ashiana Housing
Association. The Authority requires housing associations to meet
the requirements laid down in the design brief when they develop
new homes for rent within Inner Rochdale, which is the area of
the borough where the majority of the Asian Community currently
The adequacy of the existing supply and the level of resources
Sixty per cent of current social housing stock within the
Rochdale MBC area does not meet the decency standard. Rochdale
MBC has ambitious, but achievable plans to ensure that 100 per
cent of its stock will meet the decent standard by 2006.
The 1996 Housing Needs Survey found that 31.6 per cent of
all households in the borough were in housing that wasn't suitable
for their needs, though not all were in need of affordable housing.
Our key concern is that changing demographics mean that much of
our affordable housing is no longer meeting need both in terms
of design and location.
The levels of available funding will need to be increased
significantly to undertake the level of clearance, refurbishment
and redevelopment required in both the public and private housing
The extent to which planning gain can fund the level of affordable
It is extremely unlikely that planning gain, ie securing
on site provision on private developments, on its own will be
able to fund the level of affordable housing required.
Virtually all new affordable housing developed in the borough
is on brown field sites. The development of such sites is often
expensive and it is therefore unlikely that residential schemes
would be viable if local authorities sought significant levels
of affordable housing from private developers.
It has been the experience of Rochdale Council that contributions
from developers towards on site provision have not been sufficient
to meet the full cost of the affordable housing required. Additional
funding from a housing association partner or from the Housing
Corporation is usually required.
How resources should be balanced between social housing and
options for owner occupation for those who cannot afford to buy
(including shared ownership) and whether any additional mechanisms
are required to bring forward shared ownership-type schemes
Our housing market study confirmed that in keeping with national
trends, the desire and aspiration for owner occupation is strong,
particularly amongst the younger generation. Arguably there is
an abundant supply of "low cost" terraced housing in
the borough which would meet this demand.
However, evidence from the same study and subsequent area
specific research has demonstrated a growing dissatisfaction with
the style and concentrations of terraced housing within Rochdale.
Our need is therefore to restructure areas of dense housing by
removal of some of the poorer quality stock and replacement with
lower density modern stock. In partnership with Oldham, Bolton
and Manchester we are currently developing detailed proposals
on how to ensure that home ownership is accessible to relatively
low income householders in our housing regeneration areas.
We are particularly interested in adopting the "Homebuy"
model along the lines suggested by the recent Joseph Rowntree
Foundation reportSwamps and Alligators. We are also looking
at "gap" funding and risk sharing with developers. Further
details of these initiatives are available on request.
Whether targets in Regional Planning Guidance (RPG) are appropriate
The draft RPG for the North West included an estimate that
around 30 per cent of all new homes built in the region between
1996 and 2021 may need to be affordable. A recommendation in the
Report of the Panel following the Examination in Public (EIP)
of the draft RPG, stated that even this indicative target should
be removed. This is in line with Government advice in Planning
Policy Guidance Note 11 "Regional Planning", which states
that "Regional targets [for affordable housing] are inappropriate
since assessments of housing need are matters for local authorities
to undertake in the light of their local circumstances."
We concur with this approach as regional variance may be
so great as to render such targets, however indicative, meaningless.
Such targets could also be restrictive or overbearing depending
upon local affordable housing requirements and the need to realise
other planning objectives which may be a priority in the area.
Whether targets on decent and affordable housing will be met
by central and local government
Rochdale MBC would not have been able to meet the Government's
target regarding decency standards for social housing if it had
not switched the management of its housing stock to an arms length
Switching the management of the housing stock to an ALMO
will provide the level of funding required to carry out the improvement
works necessary to ensure that all the Council properties meet
the decency standards set by the Government.
There is evidence to suggest that the number of affordable
housing units being secured on sites is less than the number required.
However, it does take some time for local policies to be developed
to a level where more significant results in terms of affordable
housing will start to come through. Another issue is that affordable
housing can only come forward on sites of a certain size. If the
housing supply for a local authority area is made up of predominately
smaller sites then the potential to secure affordable units is
Whether current policies and practices are leading to the creation
of mixed communities
One of the key areas of advice within revised PPG3 was the
need for local authorities to develop policies which promote mixed
and balanced communities. It is likely that, like ourselves, many
authorities are only now formulating policies to take account
of this advice and so it may be some time before we start to see
the results. In Rochdale recent housing development has seen schemes
which incorporate a high proportion of three and four bed detached
dwellings. Whilst this is necessary to some extent to increase
housing choice in the borough, (as with many authorities in the
North West there is a high number of smaller, terraced properties),
it has led to large areas of housing with similar characteristics.
Hopefully future policy and supplementary planning guidance will
help to create new estates which are more distinctive and incorporate
a range of housing in terms of type, size and tenure to reflect
local demand. A key challenge will be to incorporate affordable
housing within the scheme in a way which would make visitors to
the scheme unable to differentiate between the affordable and
standard housing units.
Segregation of communities along racial lines was highlighted
as a concern in a number of reports following the disturbances
in several northern towns last year.
The reports mentioned a number of communities that have been
segregated on racial grounds in Oldham, Burnley and Bradford and
this segregation was creating a barrier to promoting "community
cohesion and racial harmony".
The Cantle report specifies that the "principles of
a new citizenship" should be used to drive a more coherent
approach to housing services. Housing and planning practice would
feed into an essentially social agenda for mixed communities.
Cantle observes that the impact of housing policies on community
cohesion "seems to have escaped serious consideration to
date", in contrast to the substantial amount of work on equal
opportunities regarding access to social housing.
In Rochdale we have successfully developed a "mixed"
housing scheme working in partnership with Northern Counties Housing
Association, Ashiana Housing Association and the Surma Housing
It is our view that in towns and cities with significant
BME population social landlords should give priority to developing
mixed housing schemes to promote social cohesion.
We support the recommendation in the Cantle report (see below)
and urge the sub-committee to consider introducing a mechanism
to encourage and promote "mixed" housing schemes when
capital allocations for new social housing are made.
Recommendation in the Cantle Report regarding mixed housing
"Housing agencies must urgently assess their allocation
systems and development programmes with a view to ensuring more
contact between different communities and to reducing tension.
They must also consider the impact on other services, such as
youth provision and health. It is also essential that more ambitious
and creative strategies are developed to provide more mixed housing
areas, with supportive mechanisms for minorities facing intimidation
The impact of housing policies and programmes on school catchment
areas in particular, should be subject to review and a significant
part of each local Community Cohesion Strategy.
Whether more green field development is needed to meet housing
In the case of Rochdale Borough, the draft replacement UDP
does not envisage the need to release any new greenfield sites
over the period of the Plan. It is anticipated that the RPG requirement
for Rochdale can be met through current commitments, brown field
windfalls, conversions and a relatively small number of brown
field allocations. We believe that restricting green field development
is necessary to achieve urban regeneration objectives by making
more efficient use of previously developed land and buildings
within the urban area.
A large proportion of the new households forecasted to be
formed in Rochdale over the next 15 years will come from the growing
Asian community, which is located predominately within the inner
wards. The needs of these households are unlikely to be met by
green field extensions to the urban area. Instead we need to tackle
issues of inappropriate housing within the inner areas of the
towns within the borough, through clearance and renewal, in order
to develop a stock of housing which meets the needs of local people
and requirements for modern living.
The cost to individuals
The consequences of any shortfall in the provision of decent,
affordable housing can vary significantly depending on the circumstances
of individual households. In Rochdale we have a significant number
of households in the inner part of the borough living in grossly
overcrowded conditions. A typical example of an overcrowded household
would be a family of two adults and five children living in a
two up, two down terraced house.
In such circumstances there is evidence to show that children
from overcrowded families achieve low attainment in schools as
they often struggle to find any "quiet space" in their
home to do their homework.
There is also evidence that:
the health of family members suffers due to overcrowding
and in particular the incidence of asthma is greater than the
some young people who are sharing bedrooms are
no longer prepared to tolerate this and are running away from
their family home.
As a local authority we feel that adverse housing conditions
have a profound detrimental affect on the health, educational
attainment and social well-being of individuals. There is also
a potential negative affect on the economy where there is a shortfall
in the provision of decent affordable housing. We therefore urge
the sub-committee to do all it can to ensure that every effort
is made by the relevant agencies to address this issue.