Agenda and draft minutes

Select Committee - Affordable Housing - Wednesday, 12th February, 2020 2.00 pm

Venue: Darent Room, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone. View directions

Contact: Gaetano Romagnuolo  Email: 03000 416624

Note No. Item




Members were asked to note that Mr Bond replaced Mrs Hurst and Mr Murphy replacing Mr Lake.

14:00 - 14:45


Tom Marchant (Head of Strategic Planning and Policy and Interim Head of Countryside and Community Development), Tim Woolmer (Policy & Partnerships Adviser – Kent Public Services) and David Godfrey (Policy Advisor) pdf icon PDF 108 KB

Additional documents:


1.            The Chairman opened the hearing by informing the committee of the terms of reference which are:


a)            To define and put into context affordable housing. 

b)            To explore Kent County Council’s (KCC) current role in supporting the development of new affordable housing in Kent.

c)            To consider additional ways in which KCC can support the development of affordable housing in Kent.

d)            For the Affordable Housing Select Committee to make recommendations after having gathered evidence and information throughout the review.


2.            The Chairman welcomed the three guests; Tim Woolmer, Tom Marchant & David Godfrey to the Select Committee meeting and invited all those present to introduce themselves.


3.            Tom Marchant explained that he was Head of Strategic Planning and Policy within Growth Environment and Transport directorate for KCC and Tim Woolmer explained that he leads on housing within the corporate policy unit as well as having a wider focus on strategic relationships with KCC’s statutory partners.


4.            Both Tim Woolmer and Tom Marchant presented a power point presentation to Members headed ‘Affordable Housing’.


5.            During the presentation the Chairman reminded Members that questions could be asked at any time.   The presentation was paused during the slide on ‘Challenges in delivering affordable housing’.


6.            Mr Brazier asked if there was a difference in the quality of affordable housing compared to full market price housing on the same site?   In relation to permitted development rights and commercial properties in town centres, he felt that these units were being bought up by developers to be converted into units of accommodation and then let to Local Authorities who were then responsible for providing accommodation and weather this was what was being referred to within the presentation?


7.            Tom Marchant advised that it was his understanding the Government was about to release findings of a review which discussed these issues especially around quality of accommodation.  However, he clarified that the accommodation should be the same for both affordable housing and the market housing.  There is a strong policy focus on integration of units and for them to be undistinguishable from the market housing. 


8.            Tim Woolmer informed Members that there had been greater focus within Kent and Medway to work with London Councils on deterring placements of homeless households into the county, particularly into former office blocks converted for residential use under permitted development. These are often in town centre environments without the necessary infrastructure to support residential dwellings such as school places, health provision and come without developer contributions meaning that any necessary provision is completely unfounded and difficult to establish, compounding capacity issues on already stretched local services.


9.            Brian Horton who was in attendance to speak on the item 5 of the agenda added that in his experience as a Chief Executive of a Housing Association and Head of Housing for a District Council, there were many cases that social housing was usually a higher standard than homes for sale because a landlord building homes to let for forty to sixty year  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

15:00 - 15:45


Tom Marchant (Head of Strategic Planning and Policy and Interim Head of Countryside and Community Development), Tim Woolmer (Policy & Partnerships Adviser – Kent Public Services) and David Godfrey (Policy Advisor)



16:00 - 16:45


Interview with Brian Horton (Strategic Housing Advisor - South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP)) pdf icon PDF 95 KB

Additional documents:


1.            The Chairman referred to the previous session with Tim Marchant, Tim Woolmer and David Godfrey, for which Mr Horton had also been present, and thanked him for taking the time to attend. Mr Horton said he was very pleased that a select committee was looking at the issue of affordable housing in Kent as he knew from his 30 years’ experience in housing how important an issue it was. He was keen to speak to the committee and thanked them for inviting him.


2.            Mr Horton set out his experience before he had started his current consultancy role. He had previously worked for 3 - 4 years as a Strategic Housing Advisor to the County Council, and his role included encouraging joint working between the County Council, District Councils and Medway Council.  Before that, he had been the Chief Executive of the Swale Housing Association and the Head of Housing and Property at Thanet District Council.  His current role was to run a very small independent housing consultancy retained by the SELEP and other public and private sector clients.  The work was similar to what he had done with the County Council but had been scaled up to cover the whole of the SELEP area. He was also a Board member at West Kent Housing Association, based in Sevenoaks, working with commercial clients, advising them on how to work with the public sector. He was also the Chairman of the Kent and Medway Sustainable Housing Partnership Board.


3.            Referring to his role in the SELEP, he was involved in supporting the development of the strategic economic plan for in the south east. Housing and jobs shared equal priority within the original SELEP Strategic Economic Plan and housing remained the key priority for the SELEP.  He was currently working on the local industrial strategy (LIS), of which housing was a very important part. The LIS for the south east resonated with the Kent and Medway Housing Strategy (KMHS) and provided a strong strategic platform to support local ambitions, including accelerated housing delivery. The methodology for this work had been provide by the Government.  SELEP had invested in his work as it saw housing as a priority, although it was not a direct deliverer of housing as it did not build. Instead, it worked with other partners to create an environment which was conducive to good development.


4.            Mr Horton then responded to questions from the committee, including the following:-


a.    asked if the priorities of the SELEP, a business-led strategic board, aligned with the priorities of local government, Mr Horton explained that priorities needed to be a matter of balance.  LEPs were in conception business-led, but the priorities of both they and local authorities needed to be based on an agenda for improving economic viability and improving productivity. Housing was a priority for the SELEP Board and  this prioritisation had  been welcomed by providers, supporting the idea of Kent being ‘open for business’ for good quality development;


b.    asked if  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.