Policy H/BR: Build to rent homes

DRAFT version for various committee meetings.

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What will this policy do?

This policy will set out when and how proposals for Build to Rent homes would be supported.

Proposed policy direction

The policy will require that proposals for Build to Rent developments, or the amount of Build to Rent within a mixed tenure development, do not create an over-concentration of this tenure in a local area, are distributed across the development (if part of a wider mixed use or mixed tenure development), and meet specific criteria in terms of ownership and management, covenants, and tenancies. No more than 10% of the total housing on a mixed tenure development of 500 or more dwellings should be Build to Rent.

Build to Rent developments should meet the requirements as set out in the Greater Cambridge Housing Strategy Annexe 9: Build to Rent (Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council, June 2021) or a successor document.

The policy will require at least 20% of homes on a Build to Rent development of 10 or more homes to be affordable private rented, and make clear that these homes will contribute towards the overall 40% affordable homes to be provided on a mixed tenure development. Affordable private rented homes must be designed to be indiscernible from market homes and that the affordable homes should be distributed throughout the site in small groups or clusters.

As new homes, all Build to Rent developments must meet the nationally described residential space standards and accessible homes standards, as set out in H/SS.

Why is this policy needed?

National planning policy requires the size, type and tenure of homes needed for different groups in the community, including those who rent their homes, to be assessed and that the results of that assessment be reflected in planning policies.

Build to Rent homes can respond to a need, by proving quality homes for those who wish to rent, which adds to the flexibility of the local housing market to respond to demand. There is evidence of local need for this type of housing, and therefore the Local Plan needs to be clear how any proposals for these types of development will be considered.

As national planning policy sets out that 20% is generally a suitable benchmark for the level of affordable housing to be provided on a Build to Rent development, these developments are unlikely to achieve the 40% affordable homes as required on other residential developments. Given this and that Build to Rent developments will only provide one tenure of affordable housing, it is therefore necessary to limit the proportion of Build to Rent homes within new developments in order to secure the provision of affordable housing to meet our identified need and provide mixed and balanced communities. The limit however still needs to enable the resulting number of Build to Rent homes to be sufficient to be viably delivered and managed. 

Based on evidence of high levels of affordable housing need, the Councils will aim wherever possible to secure more than 20% of the homes on any Build to Rent scheme to be provided as Affordable Private Rent homes, looking in particular for a balance between the percentage of Affordable Private Rent homes which can be achieved and the potential rental affordability of those homes.

What consultation have we done on this issue?

Responses received to the First Conversation highlighted the need to create balanced and integrated communities by providing a mix of housing types, sizes, tenures, ownership and management that reflect the findings of the Councils evidence of housing needs of specific groups. This included support for private rented / Build to Rent accommodation, as part of making housing more widely accessible. Respondents also commented that specific allocations should be made for Build to Rent developments.

What alternatives did we consider?

1. No policy - Not considered a reasonable alternative as national planning policy requires the housing needs of different groups, including those to rent their homes, to be reflected in planning policies. There is evidence of local need for this type of housing, and therefore the Local Plan needs to be clear how any proposals for these types of development will be considered.

2. To include a policy with a presumption against Build to Rent developments - This is not the preferred approach as national planning policy requires the housing needs of different groups, including those who rent their homes, to be reflected in planning policies. There is evidence of local need for this type of housing, and therefore the Local Plan needs to be clear how any proposals for these types of development will be considered.

Supporting evidence studies and topic papers

Existing policies in adopted 2018 Local Plans

South Cambridgeshire Local Plan 2018

  • Paragraph 7.36 of Policy H/9: Housing Mix supports the provision of build to rent housing.

Cambridge Local Plan 2018 - None

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