Affordable housing

On many new housing developments in the Lancaster district some of the houses are available to qualifying households at a discount on the open-market price.

Do you qualify for affordable housing?

  • Do you live in or work in the Lancaster district?
  • Would you like to buy a new house in order to move on from your parents’ home or set up home with a partner or get a larger house for a growing family?
  • Are your plans on hold because local house prices are out of your reach?

If these are your circumstances then you may qualify for a discount on a new house through our affordable housing policy.

This page explains:

  • the purpose of the affordable housing policy
  • who the affordable housing policy is designed to help
  • the level of discounts that can be expected
  • where the affordable homes will be built
  • how to apply for an affordable home
  • the restrictions that apply when you decide to re-sell your affordable home

What is the purpose of the affordable housing policy?

High house prices mean that for many people buying a house in the Lancaster district is beyond their means. In 1999 we asked housing consultants to look at the problem of local housing affordability. They found that many hundreds of households in the Lancaster district do not earn enough to buy a house that matches their needs.

This problem of affordability is not just a local one, it is found throughout the United Kingdom. To help with this problem, the government has encouraged local authorities to ask housing developers to provide a reasonable amount of affordable housing on suitable sites. In districts like Lancaster where there is a proven need for affordable housing, local councils will expect house developers to build housing for sale at a discount of the market price. These discounted houses will be in addition to the usual range of house types.

To buy one of these new discounted homes you must get formal confirmation from us that you are a qualifying household.

Who is the affordable housing policy designed to help?

The rules about who can qualify for a new discounted house may be slightly different on each of the housing sites. However, as a general guide new homes for sale at a discount are aimed at households (a household can be a single person) that:

  • Do not have a large enough income to buy a house that matches their needs at normal market prices, and
  • Have at least one member who lives or has previously lived in the Lancaster district, or
  • Have a member who has recently started, or is about to start work, in the Lancaster district, or
  • Have a member who needs to live in the Lancaster district to act as a carer to an ill or elderly person, or
  • Have a member who has another justifiable reason to live in the Lancaster district

What level of discount can be expected?

The level of discount will be different on each site. If new affordable houses are built in a part of the district where house prices are very high then a high level of discount may be offered, perhaps 25% or even 30%. If new affordable houses are built in areas where house prices are moderate then a discount of perhaps 15% might be offered.

The house developer will work out an appropriate level of discount. The developer must ask a chartered surveyor or valuer to establish the open market price of the new house. For example if a chartered surveyor says that an affordable house has an open market value of £65,000, the developer might offer a discount of 20%. This house would then be sold to a qualifying purchaser at a price of £52,000.

Where will the affordable homes be built?

There is a need for affordable housing throughout the Lancaster district. We will ask developers to provide a reasonable element of affordable housing on suitable sites in both the urban areas and the rural areas. In rural areas special rules will apply to try to make sure that people from the local parish or the neighbouring parishes buy the affordable homes.

We will keep a record of where the new affordable homes are built and what type of accommodation they provide. We can ask developers to provide a particular type of property in particular areas. For example we might say that one-bedroom flats are needed in the centre of Lancaster.

To let people know that affordable homes are available to buy, developers will place adverts in the Lancaster Guardian and the Morecambe Visitor.

How do I apply for an affordable home?

If you have visited a housing site where affordable homes are being built you should let the developer’s sales agent know that you are interested in buying one that matches your needs. However the developer cannot sell you the house until you have a letter from us that confirms that you are a qualifying household. For an affordable housing application form contact the developers sales office.

You will need to let us know about your total household income, your savings, or other capital (for example money that might be raised from the sale of an existing house), and your current housing needs. You will also have to provide other information that shows that you have a previously lived in the Lancaster district or, for example, if you are moving to the district to start a new job, a copy of your offer of employment. We will aim to deal with your application promptly, and, if successful, you can return to the developer’s sales agent to complete your purchase.

What restrictions apply when you own an affordable home?

Once an affordable home has been built and sold it must always be sold at the same level of discount on the market price. For example a new house with an open-market price of £65,000 might be sold at a discount of 20%, so the first qualifying affordable housing buyer gets the property for £52,000.

Then, perhaps in ten years time, the first purchaser might want to sell this house. By now the open market price of the house might have risen to £85,000. The next purchaser would get the same level of discount, 20% off the current value, so the price the second buyer would pay is now £68,000. An independent chartered surveyor or qualified valuer must determine the current open market value of the house.

If a new qualifying affordable house purchaser does not come forward within a reasonable period of time, usually between three and six months, then the house can be sold to a non-qualifying purchaser. However it must still be sold at the discounted price.

Affordable homes must remain affordable for subsequent purchasers so if you plan to alter or extend your home you should first discuss your plans with us (this is of course in addition to any planning consent or building regulations that you might need).

Can I talk to someone at the council to find out some more about the affordable housing scheme?

Yes - please contact us. We can help you decide if the discounted affordable housing scheme might be of benefit to you and also let you know where developments might be taking place in the near future.


See also

Last updated: 12 September 2016