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Housing Needs Survey 2011

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Monday 10 December 2012

Housing Department/Environment Department - Housing Needs Survey 2011

"Not enough new homes are being built in Guernsey", according to Housing Minister, Deputy Dave Jones. That is the principal message from a comprehensive study of the Island's housing requirements commissioned by the Housing Department and published today on the States' website. The vast majority of Islanders are adequately housed, but the demand for additional homes continues to grow thanks to an under supply of new homes, exacerbated by greater numbers of Islanders choosing to remain in Guernsey.

Deputy Jones said:

"The target is to build 300 new homes per year, but that's not happened so the latest Survey says that number should be increased. While we have been doing our bit to meet the needs for social rented and partial ownership housing through our work with the Guernsey Housing Association, this is only part of the picture. For Islanders that don't qualify for partial ownership or social housing this is a real concern, as even where people have the wherewithal to purchase, there simply aren't enough properties to go round; and there's nothing we can do to force a landowner or developer to build the houses that already have, or would get, planning permission. Combine this with the fact that, since the credit crunch, mortgages are harder to come by, and the Island will have to consider what measures - fiscal and otherwise - are necessary to address the housing shortfalls."

"It's easy to become complacent because of the huge progress that we've made in recent years in social housing. However, recent events have shown that meeting all housing needs is rising up the political agenda again. It may not have been an election issue for several years but it is still at the forefront of people's minds".

The Department is releasing the Housing Needs Survey to the public now rather than wait until the publication of an accompanying States Report in spring 2013.

"The information collected by the Housing Needs Survey forms the bedrock of the Corporate Housing Programme, which has to meet housing needs across all tenures. It is so important and so relevant to work being carried across the States, in particular the Environment Department's Development Plan Review, that we decided to release it as soon as it was finalised. There are some important debates coming up about how the housing market performs and what the States can do to best meet Islanders' need for accommodation. By publishing the Survey now we're making sure that people are in possession of all the facts, and can engage with the States in an informed and meaningful way."

The Chief Officer of the Housing Department, Stephen Langford, said that the Survey formed a robust base of evidence upon which to build future strategy and policy:

"The prime purpose of the Survey information is to plan for Guernsey's current and future housing requirements over the next five years. But the data will also be used by the Policy Council, Environment, and Health and Social Services, to inform and develop other social policies, create long-term plans and to update property records."

Environment Minister, Deputy Roger Domaille, said:

"In Spring of next year we will embarking on our next round of public consultation as part of the ongoing Review of the Island's Development Plans, which will inform policy decisions about how much, where and in what form development should take place. Housing provision is one of the key development issues, so understanding the extent of housing requirements is crucial to determining what options are available. Like Housing we think there is considerable merit in making this study available now so that the Island has an informed debate on how much and what type of housing is required and how this requirement can be met over the coming years."

Requirement for new homes

In the past, the Survey has been used to calculate the number of extra units of accommodation - across all tenures - that Guernsey needs if it is to meet Islanders' housing requirements over the next five years. This number is crucial in determining the States' strategic target for the creation of new homes.

In 2006, when the Survey was last carried out, the Island was said to require 340 units of accommodation a year, over a five-year period. Five years on, that figure has increased to 451 (see note 3), but it is important to note that new homes can be delivered not only by creating new builds, but also by converting pre-existing property into smaller units of accommodation, or by converting other buildings into dwellings.

The increase is largely attributable to a drop in the number of Guernsey people who are anticipating leaving the Island between now and 2016. While the number of households expected to arrive on the Island is expected to stay roughly the same as before, it is anticipated that considerably fewer people will decide to leave.

Deputy Jones said: "It appears that, presumably as a result of unfavourable economic conditions elsewhere, local people are opting to stay on the Island for the foreseeable future. Anecdotally, the Department has also heard of people who have returned to weather the storm here rather than look for work and accommodation elsewhere."

In addition, monitoring of the housing market performance indicates there is a backlog in provision.

Simone Whyte, Principal Forward Planning Officer for the Environment Department, said: "The number of dwellings granted planning permission has fluctuated over the years, and whilst the strategic target has always been achieved, ensuring a two year housing supply is effectively available, for a variety of reasons this has not resulted in a sufficient number of new dwellings on the ground to meet the Island's housing requirement. So although our statistics show that sufficient planning permissions have been granted to meet the current strategic target of 300 permissions per year, in terms of new dwellings being built on the ground, in 2011 the net growth was only 230 new dwellings. Clearly, this is contributing to the requirements identified by the Survey."

The annual requirement for new households is spread across all tenures: for requirements to be met, the Survey models that every year from 2011 to 2016 the Island will need to produce an additional 238 properties for purchase, 158 units of social rented accommodation, and 100 units of partial ownership accommodation. If this occurred there would be a modest oversupply of private rental housing, but in the meantime people would occupy private rented accommodation until their most appropriate tenure of property becomes available.

The latest iteration of the Housing Development Plan, to be presented to the States in the Spring, will outline how the Housing Department intends to meet the future need for social and partial ownership housing suggested by the Survey. The Environment Department will also be using the Survey to inform how overall requirement can be met through the Plan Review.

Deputy Jones recently confirmed that the Housing Department intended to ask the States to release one or more of the Housing Target Areas identified as being suitable for development.

Deputy Jones said: "Even before we saw the results from the latest Survey we knew that we had to build more properties. When we formally ask the States' permission in the Spring, we'll be able to point to the evidence collected as part of the Housing Needs Survey."

Householder satisfaction

But the Survey does more than indicate future requirements; it also looks at how satisfied Islanders are with their current accommodation. When asked where they wanted to be in 12 months' time, four in five households said they were happy where they were and did not want - or feel that they needed - to move.

The Survey also offers an insight into the type of problems faced by households living in accommodation that doesn't meet their needs. While 80% of households consider their accommodation adequate, the remaining 20% report problems ranging from a lack of facilities to basic unaffordability. The most common complaint relates to the condition of a property, followed by overcrowding and the need to share facilities such as toilets or a kitchen with another household.

Age-related needs

The Survey showed that Islanders value their independence, with nearly 80% of the over 50s saying that as they get older they would prefer to stay in their own home with services delivered to them. Conversely, very few wanted to live with their family or move into a residential or nursing home.

When asked how important various factors were in relation to housing and growing older, respondents most commonly said that they wanted to live in a property that had been designed or could be adapted to allow them to age in their home and keep their independence. The need to live near people of a similar age was the least important consideration.

"These particular findings absolutely validate the States' investment in sheltered and extra care housing," said Deputy Jones. "The Department has long argued that Islanders want to hold on to their independence as they get older, rather than move into an institutional setting: the Survey evidences support for providing more specialist housing for older people - a key element of the 2020 Vision for health and social care agreed by the States last year."

Deputy Jones also added that Islanders' desire to remain at home as they got older showed the wisdom of the Guernsey Housing Association's decision, taken with the support of the Housing Department, to build all of its new properties to lifetime homes standards. "Properties built to these specifications are more easily adaptable and are intended to meet the evolving needs of the ageing occupant", he said.


Housing Needs Survey 2011

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