Decision details

Developing a Homes Strategy for Lancaster District

Decision Maker: Cabinet

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: Yes


This report is the first of a series of reports to update Cabinet on progress on the draft Homes Strategy 2020-25 and to seek in principle support to advance a number of housing priorities identified and seek authority to set up a LATCo.


(Cabinet Member with Special Responsibility Councillor Caroline Jackson)


Cabinet received a report from the Director for Communities and the Environment to enable Cabinet to agree the key elements that will comprise the Homes Strategy. A Homes Strategy for the Lancaster District was currently being drafted. The report provided evidence of need and sought agreement for the four strategic housing projects that will meet those needs. It also sought in principle agreement for the  financial and borrowing mechanisms required in order to deliver against these priorities as well as proposing that the council moves forward with setting up a Local Housing Company (LATCo) as a means of generating the finance to support housing and regeneration activities outside of our current social housing provision.  


The options, options analysis, including risk assessment and officer preferred option, were set out in the report as follows:


Option 1: Cabinet endorse the four strategic projects identified in the report, approve the initial feasibility costs associated with setting up the LATCo and agree to using the existing HRA headroom to generate the necessary development finance.


Advantages: Will be instrumental in delivering against the council’s re-affirmed priorities. Maximises the borrowing opportunities available to the council.  Could generate some surpluses.  Diversifies the council’s existing housing portfolios.  The council is more able to meet a growing local housing need.  


Disadvantages: Some initial set up costs will be required.  


 Risks: New area of business for the council particularly if new forms of tenure are being created.  Different governance arrangements for the LATCo.  Lack of development experience/skills/capacity within the council’s existing structure.  


Option 2: Do not proceed with the strategic priorities identified or utilise the borrowing options.  


Advantages: No risk or exposure to the council.  The council could continue to work in an existing enabling capacity through partnerships to achieve some but not all of the desired outcomes.  


 Disadvantages: No specialist legal and financial advice will be obtained therefore the council cannot fully consider its options.  The council is not delivering against its own key priorities or positively contributing to the provision of good quality housing locally to meet a wide range of need or proactively contributing towards climate change.   No opportunities to generate surpluses as part of the council’s investment strategy.


 Risks: Could give rise to significant problems if the required investment into the council’s existing stock is not carried out in a timely way.  Reputational damage.  Loss of opportunity.  



The officer preferred option is Option 1.   Setting up the LATCo and utilising prudential borrowing provides a number of potential benefits and opportunities for the council in relation to diversification of its existing role, increasing its landlord capacity, offers greater opportunities to cross subsidise mixed tenure schemes which will meet a local need, creates more potential to provide new build residential development that contribute positively towards climate change and improving the thermal efficiency of existing dwellings within areas of significant need. Borrowing through the HRA provides the opportunity to increase and improve the council’s existing social housing portfolio and diversify its local housing offer.  Should this report be approved, the consultants reports will be brought back to Cabinet for authority to set up the LATCo and fully costed development proposals for each of the four housing priorities will also be reported in due course.


Councillor Caroline Jackson proposed, seconded by Councillor Hamilton-Cox:-


“That the recommendations, as set out in the report, be approved.”


Councillors then voted:-


Resolved unanimously:


(1)  That Cabinet endorse the four strategic housing projects identified in the report.


(2)  That Cabinet approves the Capital Strategy Group’s recommendation to use up to    £50K funding from reserves for the initial specialist legal and financial advice required to set up a Local Housing Company (LATCo). 


(3)  That, subject to a business case being made, a Housing Stock Condition Module    be purchased to provide a comprehensive dwelling stock and energy efficiency database at address level based on cost estimates of £67K.


(4)  That the findings and the preferred vehicle model be reported back to Cabinet for further approval.


(5) That in principle support be provided to using the existing HRA headroom to generate the necessary development finance for schemes identified subject to detailed proposals being brought back to Cabinet.  


(6) That Cabinet provides authority to consult residents on options to regenerate Mainway estate.


Officer responsible for effecting the decision:


Director for Communities and the Environment


Reasons for making the decision:


The decision is consistent with the Council Priorities – Happy and Healthy Communities, a Sustainable District, an Inclusive and Prosperous Local Economy.  The decision fits with the Local Plan and contributes towards the provision of housing to meet a locally identified need and opportunities to increase the choice and supply of affordable housing. The decision also links directly to the emerging Homes Strategy for Lancaster district which is currently being prepared. 

Report author: Kathy Beaton

Publication date: 22/07/2020

Date of decision: 14/07/2020

Decided at meeting: 14/07/2020 - Cabinet

Effective from: 30/07/2020

Accompanying Documents: