Lenwell respond to Bedford Borough Councils Housing Strategy


Bedford Borough Council is consulting a new and revised Housing Strategy to cover the period 2021 - 2026 and a response to the consultation has been made on behalf of Lenwell  on the basis that we want to see a private rented sector, that is providing a good quality well managed housing product.  

The strategy has 4 overarching themes of the strategy are:

 
Reviewing the strategy, significantly the last 5 years have seen in a growth in the local population of Bedford, with projections that that population growth will continue from 193000 in 2021  to 20500 in 2040. 
 

Specifically in the context of the private rented sector over, the last 4 years, the Borough has also seen growth in the numbers of privately  rented homes from 18% of the total housing stock to now 23%, making the private rented sector bigger that the social housing sector. 

 

Equally in this 4 year period there has been a steady rise in rents levels, with rents rising across all property types at 19.2%.  

 
           
 
 
2014/15
2015/16
2016/17
2017/18
2018/19
Increase
Room
£350
£350
£365
£420
£395
12.9%
Studio
£350
£450
£450
£475
£458
30.9%
1 bedroom
£495
£525
£575
£600
£595
20.2%

2 bedroom

£650

£695

£750

£750

£750

15.4%

3 bedroom

£750

£815

£895

£895

£900

20.0%

4 or more bedrooms
£1,000
£1,250
£1,250
£1,250
£1,250
25.0%
All Categories
£650
£695
£750
£775
£775
19.2%

Source: Valuation Office Agency

       
 
 

Housing prices have also seen a rise of an average of all property types of 23.4%:

 
 

Oct-15

Oct-16

Oct-17

Oct-18

Oct-19

Increase
Oct 15 – Oct 19

Detached

£375,568

£433,742

£459,196

£470,856

£467,791

24.6%

Semi

£228,030

£263,347

£278,967

£286,738

£284,918

24.9%

Terraced

£182,326

£209,279

£220,665

£226,116

£223,526

22.6%

Flat

£135,096

£156,198

£167,668

£168,276

£162,489

20.3%

All

£232,835

£268,492

£284,696

£290,994

£287,412

23.4%

Source: landregistry.data.gov.uk

 

However on the quality side of the provision of housing, the Council have recently received the resulted of a Borough wide housing condition survey, which raises concerns about the quality of some of the homes in the private rented sector. The report identifies that 16% of properties in the private rented sector may have category 1 Housing Health and Safety System (HHSRS) hazards. The full report can be accessed via these links:

https://bbcdevwebfiles.blob.core.windows.net/webfiles/Housing/Bedford%20Integrated%20Housing%20Stock%20Modelling%20Database%20Report%20-%20Issue%202a.pdf

https://bbcdevwebfiles.blob.core.windows.net/webfiles/Housing/Bedford%20Integrated%20Housing%20Stock%20Modelling%20Database%20Report%20-%20Issue%202a.pdf

 

In our response, we raised 2 issues about the enforcement of housing standards and compliance with legislative requirements. We expressed surprise that the draft strategy acknowledges that there have not been any activities in the Borough that have fulfilled the criteria for an entry onto the national database of rogue landlords and agents since its introduction. Equally there is no narrative about the scale of enforcement action being taken by the Council to ensure standards.

  

In the 2016 - 2020 strategy, one of the key actions was developing a Private Sector Housing Strategy in 2016, but there doesn’t appear to have been one developed. We feel that in view of the size of the sector, a specific strategy for regulating the private rented sector needs to developed, with the aim of driving up standards.

 

The Council will be considering consultation responses at its Housing Committee meeting in early November  with the Executive Committee scheduled to agree the strategy in January 2021.  We will advise on their decision and report on the final version, particularly in the context of the Council’s plans in relation to the private rented sector.

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