Requirement for affordable housing

Garden Land SPD

Cheltenham Borough Council faces significant challenges in relation to the affordability of homes in the town. A combination of high average house prices and relative constraints on developable land has resulted in a significant unmet need arising for affordable housing in Cheltenham borough. As of March 2023, the latest statistics drawn from the UK house price index indicated that the average house price in England stands at £304,193.00, with the South West having an average house price of £326,025.00. By comparison, Cheltenham Borough’s average house price as of March 2023 stood at £323,990, which was marginally lower than the South West Average (by 1%), yet was notably 7% greater than English average respectively.

Clearly, therefore, increasing the provision of affordable housing in Cheltenham is a key priority for the council, as reflected within the council’s 2023-2027 corporate plan, which aims to deliver 450 additional affordable homes between 2023/24- 2027/28. We recognise that increasing the delivery of affordable homes can provide a critical safety net to help tackle and prevent homelessness and rough-sleeping, reducing the reliance upon temporary accommodation, as well as creating strong, resilient communities with a sense of belonging.

Between April 2017 and March 2022 (the latest publically available data), data provided through the government’s statistical data return (SDR) and live tables on dwelling stock indicate the total number of council and registered provider (housing association) affordable homes in Cheltenham Borough has risen slightly, from 7,131 homes in March 2017 to 7,375 homes in March 2022, despite the loss of 96 council affordable homes over this period through Right to Buy, in addition to the demolition and disposal of an additional 31 affordable homes.

In terms of new affordable housing provision, since April 2018, Cheltenham has delivered 375 new affordable homes, with an average annual delivery of 75 affordable homes. The per annum delivery of affordable homes is broken down as follows:

  • 2018-2019- 80 affordable homes delivered 
  • 2019-2020- 79 affordable homes delivered
  • 2020-2021- 80 affordable homes delivered
  • 2021-2022- 70 affordable homes delivered
  • 2022-2023- 66 affordable homes delivered

Additionally, our current Local Housing Needs Assessment (LHNA) identifies a need for Cheltenham Borough to deliver 3,874 new affordable homes (194 per annum) between 2021 and 2041.

Comparing this identified need against our prior delivery over the past five years indicates that demand for affordable housing in Cheltenham continues to significantly outstrip supply. Over the past five years, identified housing need in Cheltenham have been almost three times higher (2.88 times) than affordable housing delivery (375 homes delivered against a cumulative need of 1,081 new affordable homes between 2018/19- 2022/23). As of December 2023, the council had 2,544 households on our housing register waiting for a new affordable home, with 632 (25%) being classified as having a reasonable preference (Gold or Silver band priority need). For further information surrounding affordable housing delivery, the annual local authority housing statistics data records the full details including types of affordable housing delivered by local authority area.

How do we deliver affordable housing in Cheltenham borough?

To address the rising demand for affordable homes in the borough, this council is committed to:

  • Working closely with our development management officers to negotiate the provision of new affordable homes on developments in line with our Joint Core Strategy (JCS) policies and identified housing needs
  • Allocating commuted sums secured from new development to buy-back homes lost through Right to Buy via the CBC-CBH acquisitions programme
  • Reviewing and improving our current planning policies to enhance the delivery of affordable housing in the borough
  • Consulting with registered and preferred providers to deliver levels of affordable housing above and beyond the numbers delivered through the market, known as ‘additionality’
  • Engaging pro-actively with Homes England to increase the provision of affordable homes above and beyond what is agreed within S.106 obligations
  • Delivering new affordable homes of all tenures (with a strong emphasis on securing rented tenures) on council-owned land

Affordable versus affordability:

  • Affordability is a measure of whether housing may be afforded by certain groups of households
  • Affordable housing refers to particular products outside the main housing market

We define affordable housing and other associated terms in line with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) Annex 2: Glossary.

For further information about the council’s future plans relating to affordable housing, please refer to our new 2023-2028 housing, homelessness and rough sleeping strategy. The Council has also published a 2023-2028 housing strategy action plan, with this document setting out how the Council intends to deliver on the key priorities outlined within the 2023-2028 housing, homelessness and rough sleeping strategy.