Housing strategy

Our housing vision and ambition

The 2030 vision for 'Barnsley - the place of possibilities' seeks a healthy, growing, learning, sustainable Barnsley. Providing quality, affordable, inclusive and sustainable housing that suits resident needs and lifestyles is critical.

Living in a warm, safe home is needed for staying healthy and well. There is strong evidence that living in cold, damp and unsafe homes can affect people’s physical and mental health and can increase the risk of ill health, injury or dying. Living in good quality, affordable housing supports our health and wellbeing, and is something every resident in Barnsley should have access to. Having this foundation helps people support their family, be part of their community and contribute to our economy.

Our revised housing strategy (2024-2028) sets out our current strategic priorities. Our four pillars of success will focus and guide our collective efforts over the next four years. Our Sustainable Barnsley theme and ambitions cut across each of the four pillars.

Our updated strategy

The draft housing strategy consultation was live between Monday 16 October and Monday 13 November 2023. We were delighted with 108 responses to the consultation. The feedback has helped to shape changes to the strategy and will help guide the delivery plan that follows.

Key changes include:

  • Strengthening sections, such as our commitment to the Age Friendly Partnership and Armed Forces Covenant.
  • Highlighting our past successes.
  • Providing links to the evidence that helped shape the strategy.
  • Including more information about preventing homelessness after the publication of the Homelessness Prevention and Rough Sleeping Strategy.

Since the consultation we've made updates to the document, the strategy has gone through our internal approvals process and has been adopted by councillors. Now the strategy has been adopted, we're excited to look at how we put the strategy into action.

Our pillars

Pillar 1 – Maximising existing borough stock

Best use of existing stock

We currently have 113,625 homes across the borough. We need to maximise the value of existing housing assets as some homes are left empty for a significant amount of time. We need to prioritise bringing empty homes back into use and reduce the number of private sector homes that have been empty for more than six months. This extends the ambition set in our empty homes strategy.

Ensure sustainable social and affordable housing to meet need

Currently, demand for council and social housing far exceeds supply. The new lettings policy will ensure we meet our legal and statutory duties and will help better manage expectations for applicants.

Transformational change following the Social Housing White Paper in 2020 seeks to empower residents and improve the quality of social housing, giving greater powers to the regulator and housing ombudsman and re-defining the role of the landlord in terms of both accountability to the regulator and health and safety. The council must have a robust assurance framework to ensure our service provision:

  • Meets all consumer standards.
  • Performs well and to the satisfaction of our tenants.
  • Ensures the tenant’s voice is heard and at the heart of everything we do.

Decarbonising existing stock

Housing in the borough presents the biggest challenges as there are high proportions of older and non-traditional stock. These perform poorly in regard to energy efficiency.

60% of private sector housing in Barnsley is over 50 years old, while almost 30% were built before 1919. We're working with Berneslai Homes to develop a robust retrofit plan which seeks to deliver efficiency works on a phased basis.

Reduce fuel poverty and improve health and wellbeing

The link between poor housing and poor health outcomes has been recognised and understood. Housing conditions impact on physical and mental health and contribute to avoidable health inequalities. Our housing and support services will need to respond as residents live longer and our population of older and vulnerable people continues to grow. We can improve health and wellbeing by adapting homes and making the best use of disabilities grant funding.

Working with our partners, we'll take the main cause of ill health and health inequalities from housing. This will include:

  • Tackling fuel poverty through energy efficient measures.
  • Reducing overcrowding.
  • Addressing the causes of damp, mould and poor indoor quality.
  • Reducing trips and falls in the home.

Pillar 2 – Supporting strong and resilient communities

Transforming neighbourhoods and ensuring safer communities

We'll work with local communities and agencies to help shape the future of neighbourhoods and will continue to prioritise the economic revitalisations of our:

  • Seven strategic masterplan areas.
  • Principal Towns programme.
  • Goldthorpe Towns Fund Programme sites.
  • Barnsley town centre.

This will not only instil pride of place but also have a positive impact on property values.

We recognise the importance of people feeling safe in their homes and neighbourhoods, and tackling anti-social behaviour (ASB) is a priority. We'll continue to work with partners to build on the successful multi-agency approach that has been developed through the councils Safer Barnsley model. We'll identify areas and individuals that are most at risk and develop tactical plans for tenants and homeowners to reduce ASB.

Improve access to housing for all

We continue to work with residents and partners to assess housing needs for vulnerable groups to inform future housing policies, schemes and services. This includes:

  • Younger and older residents who are vulnerable.
  • Those on benefits.
  • Those with disabilities.
  • Those living with dementia.
  • Those fleeing from domestic abuse.
  • Refugee, asylum seekers and economic migrants.
  • LGBTQ and BAME groups.

Our Local Plan and planning policies also set requirements to ensure that new housing developments are built with a range of local services and community facilities within a reasonable walking distance. We'll work with our partners to provide a range of supported accommodations for homeless young people that are unable to return home and we stride to provide a safe environment where they can gain the necessary life skills to sustain and enjoy their own home in the future.

Provide support and advice and ensure community engagement

In the wake of the energy and cost of living crisis, we must continue to find ways to help residents avoid getting into financial difficulties due to increased rent/mortgage payments and/or other household costs.

It's our aspiration to provide a health housing hub which would work in partnership with voluntary, community and faith partners to provide joined up advice across Barnsley. Providing a one stop healthy housing hub would bring together all aspects of advice, information and guidance, using a hub and spoke model and offering the benefits of a home improvement agency to all Barnsley residents.

Maximise private rented offer

It's essential that we make plans to meet this need and we know there will need to be an increasing number of vulnerable households being re-housed into the private rented sector. We also remain committed to reducing overcrowding, eradicating homelessness and improving housing conditions and management standards in the private rented sector, including via the delivery of the Private Sector Housing Plan.

Pillar 3 – Supporting people to live healthy, independent lives

Help young and older residents live healthy independent lives

The current housing market and policy changes make it more difficult for young people to afford suitable housing. We'll continue to work with our partners on managing money and running a home. We also want to facilitate home ownership by working with our partners to enable and promote low-cost home ownership options for first time buyers.

As our population of older people grows, demand for adaptations is also expected to increase for those living with long term health conditions. We'll continue to deliver and provide a range of accommodation which meets the varied needs of older people to help them age well.

Support people with additional needs

We'll update our accommodation strategy for people with learning disabilities and other additional and complex needs, including those with mental health needs.

This will aim to:

  • Increase the number of people who have their own home.
  • Increase the quality of housing and support for people with learning disabilities.
  • Ensure that housing and support is affordable and in the right place.

In the short-term, another priority will be ensuring that all people with learning disabilities who have previously been placed outside Barnsley can be supported in affordable housing within the borough.

Prevent homelessness

We want to prevent individuals from ever becoming homeless, by identifying and acting to prevent the known root causes of homelessness.

Due to the problems people face in sustaining their homes, in the future we expect to see an increase in demand for services to help homeless people. We'll continue to provide advice and assistance to help prevent homelessness in line with our Homelessness Strategy. The development of an effective supported accommodation pathway will also help vulnerable people of all ages to access and leave supported accommodation in a more planned way.

Support those with bespoke housing needs (including Gypsy Travellers)

Barnsley Council's needs assessment indicated a shortfall of permanent pitch provision for Gypsies and Travellers in the borough and in response the adopted Local Plan policies. The longer-term solution will be to ensure the sites outlined within the Local Plan are delivered. The council also created an emergency stopping place to help with better management and to reduce the frequency of illegal and unauthorised encampments.

Pillar 4 – Enabling sustainable housing growth to meet need

Increase housing supply, including in our urban centre Principal Towns

We know that some of our residents have concerns regarding planned housing growth in our borough and our priority is to always make the very best use of our existing housing provision.

Barnsley’s growing and changing population means that we must deliver a significant number of new homes annually to meet need. We want to increase access to new homes by actively enabling more people to buy on the open market and have allocated a broad range of sites across sustainable locations. Our Local Plan, adopted in 2019 (and reviewed in 2023), sets up the spatial framework for housing growth. It ensures that new development must be in keeping with the character of the area and that growth must be sustainable. 

Provide a range of quality homes

Our Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) shows an ongoing need of all types and sizes of dwellings, with the strongest need for two and three bed houses. There's also a need for smaller properties, bungalows and level access accommodation.

In order to attract and retain residents we need to provide a mix of homes, including larger and higher value homes. This will make the borough a more appealing and more prosperous place.

Ensure new affordable housing, first homes and supported housing

We'll continue to work with partners to increase the range of affordable homes for people on low and middle incomes. Providing affordable housing options will address inequalities and provide opportunities for those residents who aspire to want their own homes. In areas of Barnsley where land and property prices are high, we'll explore the potential for purchasing homes for sale on the open housing market, to turn them into quality, affordable rental accommodation. We'll strive to continue to deliver our council build programme, where funding allows. In areas where social housing is already high, we'll focus on providing a balance of homes for affordable rent and sale.

Develop low carbon new built options

New and existing homes collectively account for 17% of UK greenhouse gas emissions. While considerable progress has been made, more must be done to decarbonise homes to help to meet the government’s commitment to achieve net zero by 2050. The introduction of a Future Homes Standard for England by 2025 will ensure that new build homes are future proofed with local carbon heating and high levels of energy efficiency.

For housing, this means:

  • Raising standards in the design, efficiency and the build quality of housing to reduce carbon emissions.
  • Ensuring that all new build council homes (and those delivered by our affordable housing providers) are delivered to the Barnsley low carbon standard.
  • Exploring opportunities to make the best use of the borough’s natural assets and industry by-products to enable innovative heat networks and solutions.

Case studies

Solar battery scheme

Berneslai Homes and Barnsley Council have been working in partnership with Energise Barnsley and Age UK Barnsley to successfully secure funding to install 75 domestic smart batteries in homes with existing solar PV panels across the borough. The project specially targeted residents over 50 years old.

Residents will see a reduction in their bills of between £200 and £250 per year – a saving of up to £3750 per home over the 15 year lifecycle of the batteries. This is great news to help us meet our zero carbon ambition.

Goldthorpe regeneration

The council has secured more than £23.1m investment to regenerate, renew and revitalise Goldthorpe, Thurnscoe and Bolton upon Dearne through the government’s Towns Fund.

The regeneration proposals include:

  • Goldthorpe market
  • Goldthorpe housing project
  • Goldthorpe housing retrofit project

Read more about each scheme in the draft housing strategy.

Queens House

In response to the COVID pandemic the government introduced 'Everyone In' - asking all local authorities to support rough sleepers off the streets. As a council we stepped up the temporary management of 12 flats which we used to support rough sleepers for 18 months. From this work it was clearly identified that there was a gap in local provision for this client group. This led to the development of a business case and the sourcing of capital and revenue funding to purchase and renovate a building to be used for temporary accommodation.

The aim of the accommodation is to ensure that any instances of rough sleeping are rare, brief, and non-recurring. It provides accommodation for those with some of the most complex needs, assessments are undertaken and a move on plan developed in a multi-agency way.

The flats were purchased in April 2021, a full refurbishment programme was undertaken, and the first resident moved in July 2022. It provides an invaluable local resource to support the aims of ending rough sleeping.

Woodmoor View, Athersley South

Completed in September 2022, seven bungalows now occupy Woodmoor View. This helps to meet the demand for affordable rented housing in the borough. All of the bungalows are accessible and adaptable homes.

As well as being let at affordable social rents, the properties are also energy efficient as they have high levels of insulation and are fully electric - using air source heat pumps to provide heating and hot water, and have solar panels to generate electricity.

Read more about this case study and other case studies in the draft housing strategy.

Useful links