The Council aims to ensure that housing needs and aspirations are met by enabling access by all to a home that is well maintained, warm and affordable in a peaceful and secure environment and has put in place a number of long-term plans and policies for housing across the Borough. However, housing markets are not confined within local authority boundaries and in recognition of this, housing strategy and policy development has in recent years been taken forward at a sub-regional and city region level.
Barnsley is in the unique position of being located in two city regions - the Leeds City Region and the Sheffield City Region. Prior to the development of the City Regions Barnsley had close working relationships at the South Yorkshire (sub-regional) level with Doncaster MBC, Rotherham MBC and Sheffield City Council; these strong linkages continue.
Housing Strategy documents
How we develop our housing strategy
The following strategic documents provide the core framework, within which housing policies to meet Barnsley's particular requirements are developed.
• South Yorkshire (Sub-Regional) Housing Strategy 2005 -2021
• Leeds City Region Housing & Regeneration Strategy and Investment Framework 2009
• Sheffield City Region Housing and Regeneration Framework 2010
In Barnsley' s strategic interventions are reviewed on an annual basis and any changes are brought forward for approval in our "The State of the Housing Market" report. This report brings together the housing plans and programmes in the city regions that are applicable to Barnsley. The report also provides the high level summary of a range of other strategies, plans and research of relevance to housing in one document.
At the local level we are currently embedding our housing interventions within the new Area Partnership arrangements - in effect this will provide a link between strategic housing priorities and action at the local level on the ground.
During 2011 the Council began to increase its focus on plans to support, grow and strengthen the local economy within Barnsley; housing (and a well-functioning housing market) has a very important role to play in underpinning the economy and it is against this backdrop that housing strategy and policy development is being reviewed.
Housing interventions at the neighbourhood level are reflected in the Council's Area Partnership arrangements, providing a link between strategic housing priorities and action at the local level on the ground.
The amount of public investment in housing has been significantly reduced by central government as a part of a wider and ongoing programme of cuts in public expenditure to address the national budget deficit. Inevitably, this will have an impact on the delivery of our housing ambitions but every effort in being made to attract as much funding as possible, from both the private and public sector, for housing related activity in Barnsley.
Key strategic objectives for housing in the borough
1. Balancing housing markets
We are confronted by a combination of weak or failing housing markets in some parts of the Borough whilst elsewhere (but especially in the rural west of the Borough) markets have over heated with the result that housing for many is now unaffordable, despite the general downturn in the housing market over recent years.
Housing regeneration activity has taken place over the last 10-years or so to strengthen some of the weaker markets in the Borough. The Housing Market Renewal Programme in the Dearne Valley and the Green Corridor Programme in the North East of the Borough have helped to improve housing conditions and local environments. Likewise, the regeneration of housing in Grimethorpe and Kendray has been a central plank in the strengthening of those communities. Our ability to deliver our original ambitions for housing regeneration have had to be scaled back given the reduction in public expenditure that has already taken place (and with more forecast). However, regeneration activity is still taking place and planned for areas of New Lodge, Worsbrough, Thurnscoe and Goldthorpe.
In many other parts of the Borough, housing demand exceeds the supply of housing which has led to increasing problems of affordability for many. There is a need to increase the supply of new homes, including affordable housing to rent or buy. The main source of new affordable housing has for many years been provided through Housing Association developments but this was supplemented by a programme of 5 new-build council house schemes in 2010/11 which has seen the construction of 76 new homes, the first new council housing in the Borough for a generation.
Another source of new affordable housing is through private sector housing developments. The council introduced its Affordable Housing Policy (in January 2007) and this requires that affordable housing be provided on private sector housing developments above a certain size. By increasing the provision of affordable housing more people will be able to obtain a home of their own and for some, take the first steps into home-ownership.
Barnsley, within the context of the Leeds City Region and the South Yorkshire sub-region, acquired Housing Growth point status in 2008. The Council's planning framework will facilitate an increase in the supply of housing in the Borough up to 2026 to meet forecast household growth. The new housing will meet a range of housing needs and aspirations and will help to underpin the economic growth that is required in the Borough.
2 Ensuring quality in housing provision
The Decent Homes programme (which is managed by Berneslai Homes on behalf of the Council) was completed in December 2010. Under this programme some 13,500 council houses have been improved. The Decent Homes standard as been replaced with a local variant called "the Barnsley Homes standard"; the Council will continue to invest in the repair and improvement of council housing to ensure that all council homes are maintained to this new standard. Housing Associations have their own arrangements for ensuring that their properties meet the Decent Homes standard.
In the private sector there are pockets of poor quality, often older housing which do not meet modern standards and especially so at the bottom end of the private rented sector. The Council can provide some assistance to private sector landlords to improve the conditions of the accommodation that they provide and also provides a regulatory function to ensure that housing conditions in the private sector meet minimum legal standards.
Growing concerns in recent years about environmental sustainability and global warming have resulted in an increased focus on the energy efficiency of housing. The Council participates in and helps to fund a number of schemes that provide assistance to householders to enable them to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, although the reach of some of these schemes has been curtailed as a result of recent cuts in public expenditure.
The quality of new housing is in large measure determined by good design. Housing officers work closely with colleagues in Planning Services to ensure that new housing is built to good design standards.
3 Fair access to housing
It is important that the more vulnerable and often marginalised members of our communities also have access to good quality housing, sometimes of a more specialist nature, that promotes their independence.
The housing needs of older people, (who are growing as a proportion of the Borough's population) is perhaps the most obvious example of the requirement for more specialist housing provision. An Extracare housing complex for older people was opened in Kendray in 2006, a second was then opened in Royston, and a further two have recently been completed in Goldthorpe and Hoyland. Berneslai Homes and Housing Associations also provide a range of specialist accommodation for older people within the Borough.
Disability can often give rise to a particular set of housing needs. The Council may be able to provide assistance to convert existing homes in the private sector through its Disabled Facilities Grant programme. Berneslai Homes run a similar scheme for council tenants, whilst Housing Association tenants should contact their landlord for further information.
There are, of course, other vulnerable members of the community, who need assistance to secure good quality housing and associated support services. We work closely with colleagues in Supporting People (Adult Social Services) and the Housing Association movement to ensure that their housing needs are identified and met in such a way as to maximize independent living.
4 Providing excellent council housing services
The management and maintenance of council housing is provided by Berneslai Homes on behalf of the Council. Berneslai Homes is an Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO) which was set up in December 2002. The 19,000 council homes that Berneslai Homes manages are still owned by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council.
Although the Council is no longer directly responsible for the day-to-day Council Housing Service, it works closely with Berneslai Homes and monitors their performance to make sure the services they provide are of good quality and value for money. In 2009 Berneslai Homes was awarded a three stars excellent rating with excellent prospects for improvement by the Audit Commission following an inspection. We continue to work in partnership with Berneslai Homes and their tenants and leaseholders to ensure that service delivery remains at a high standard