WITH fewer than 100 affordable homes built in the last five years on the Isle of Wight, the new planning strategy is seeking to address that need.

The Isle of Wight Council has unveiled dedicated policies for delivering affordable housing in its latest draft of the Island Planning Strategy (IPS).

There will also be opportunities for the council to further discount market value and control who can buy the properties.

There are currently more than 2,000 individual households on the council’s housing register in the top four most urgent categories of need.

Between April 2015 and March 2020, 93 affordable properties were built, with one year (2018/19) no affordable units being built at all.

During that five-year period though, 1,473 homes were built on the Island, but that still fell below the expected level of 2,600 properties.

Across sites allocated for housing growth included in the IPS, which will run between 2023 and 2038, the council hope 2,023 affordable homes will be built.

See how that pans out across the Island here:

  • West Wight: 89
  • West Medina: 332
  • Newport: 748
  • East Medina: 176
  • Ryde area: 554
  • The Bay area: 124

The council’s 2018 housing needs assessment said 242 homes should be built a year to meet the affordable housing need on the Island, based on an overall housing need figure of 641.

However, with the council aiming for a revised housing target of 486, the IPS states 35 per cent of those built, or 135 properties, should be affordable.

To help manage this, new policies have been drafted for the delivery of units and exception sites for first-time buyers and in rural areas.

Exception site designation allows for a more lenient view of planning policies as long as certain conditions are met.

In developments with a net gain of ten or more dwellings, at least 35 per cent will need to be affordable, and only in exceptional circumstances will it be considered through an off-site provision or financial contribution.

Out of that 35 per cent, at least 25 per cent will need to be made available as first homes with the remaining units split 70/30 into affordable rent and either starter homes, discounted market sales or other routes to affordable homeownership.

For example, in a development of 100 houses, using the minimum targets required, 65 houses will be sold at market value, nine as first homes, 19 affordably rented and seven sold with shared ownership.

A new government scheme has been introduced for first homes, where properties will be available to buy with a minimum discount of 30 per cent below their full market value.

The council has the ability to prioritise the first homes for local people or key workers and increase the discount to require a minimum of 40 per cent off the market value.

When a first-time buyer wishes to sell their first home though, it can only be sold to another first-time buyer.

However, work done by the council has shown for a property to be truly affordable for an Islander, there needs to be around a 60 per cent discount of the market value.

House prices are not affordable for young people living within rural communities, so many young Islanders move away from the places they have grown up to find accommodation they can afford.

The council has introduced a policy for rural and first home exception sites to be built outside of the settlement boundaries.

In rural exception sites, the council will support the principle of affordable housing to meet the local need on sites that may not normally be used for housing.

Ideally, rural sites would provide nothing but affordable properties, however the IPS recognised with reduced public subsidy and the need for affordable homes there needs to be a level of flexibility so a small number of market homes is accepted.

The small sites will provide up to 20 homes unless there is a significant local need.

First home exception sites, however, will not be acceptable in designated rural areas so should be located next to an existing settlement, proportionate in size and not have a negative impact on protected areas.

The council is currently seeking views on the IPS, with comments accepted until October 1.

To read the IPS and find where to comment, you can visit: iow.gov.uk/Residents/Environment-Planning-and-Waste/Planning-Policy-new/The-Island-Plan-Review/Surveys-and-Consultations