The Housing Strategy and Enabling Manager presented a report on the subject of First Homes.
The Executive Committee was informed that the Government had introduced the First Homes Scheme in 2021. This required housing developments agreed from March 2022 onwards to include First Homes. The First Homes were subject to a discount on the price and only first time buyers were eligible to purchase homes under the scheme. The aim of the scheme was to increase the proportion of affordable homes available to prospective purchasers.
Local authorities could opt to include local connection criteria in the application of the First Homes scheme locally. This was a discretionary part of the scheme which Officers were suggesting should apply in Redditch due to the level of demand for affordable housing in the Borough. There were a few exemptions on the local connection criteria, including in respect of veterans leaving the armed forces.
There would be a fee of £150 applicable to First Homes. This fee would be included in the Fees and Charges report, due for Members’ consideration later in the municipal year.
Following the presentation of the report, Members requested clarification about the extent to which there would be flexibility applied in the local connection criteria in relation to family members. In raising this issue, Members commented that modern families could comprise a range of connections, including those involving stepparents, grandparents and half siblings. The Committee was assured that Officers would have discretion when applying the policy in relation to the local connection criteria.
the Council adopt the First Homes Policy and delegate authority to the Head of Community Services, following consultation with the Housing Portfolio Holder, to make an amendments to the Policy to reflect any future Government Guidance.