First Homes scheme
On 24 May 2021, the government published a Written Ministerial Statement and updated planning practice guidance to set out the plans for delivery of First Homes.
The First Home requirement came into effect on 28 June 2021, meaning that First Homes can now be delivered.
First Homes policy will not apply to sites before 28 December 2021 and either have:
- a full or outline of planning permissions already in place
- or where a right to appeal against non-determination has arisen.
It will also not apply to sites that have had significant pre-application engagement before 28 March 2022.
First Homes guidance
The planning practice guidance sets out what First Homes are. In summary First Homes are market housing which:
- must be discounted 30% against market value, determined by a surveyor with the discount retained for every future sale
- must be priced below £250,000 after the discount is applied and the cap only applying to the initial sale.
A minimum of 25% of all affordable housing units secured through developer contributions should be First Homes.
Eligibility for First Homes
First Homes are secured through S106 agreements like other affordable housing. Local councils will be responsible for ensuring applicants meet the nationally set criteria. Councils will also be responsible as overseeing their resale where the discount will be held for every resale in perpetuity, alongside letting restrictions.
The eligibility criteria for First Homes:
- for first time buyers only
- household can have a combined annual income up to £80,000
- all buyers must use a mortgage or home purchase plan for at least 50% of the discounted purchase value.
First time buyers looking to buy a home through the First Homes scheme should:
- look out for new developments
- enquire with the developer about any homes under the scheme.
Applications for reserving and buying a First Home are dealt with by the developer at first.
For any questions about First Homes, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our approach to First Homes
Planning law requires that applications for planning permission be determined by following the development plan unless, material considerations show otherwise. The Written Ministerial statement and planning practice guidance are a material consideration and applied accordingly, along with existing guidance for affordable housing set out in Medway's Guide to Developer Contributions and Obligations.
Currently, we will apply the national eligibility criteria for first homes in advance of more evidence base work, as well as follow national guidance.
Medway's emerging Local Plan sets out a requirement for 25% affordable housing with 60% affordable rent and 40% for affordable homeownership where shared ownership is the preferred option.
Sites that are being considered under these policies, at least 25% of affordable homes (for example 6.35% of the total homes on the site) should be First Homes on sites over:
- 15 dwellings in rural settlements
- 25 dwellings in urban areas.
The rest should be in line with Local Plan requirements.
If a large portion of affordable homes have been proposed as First Homes, the total number of affordable homes will increase in line with the planning practice guidance.
The guidance states a policy compliant planning application should seek to capture the same amount of value as would be captured under the local council's up to date published policy.
For further information about making a planning application including First Homes, contact Medway's pre-application advice service.
Medway's emerging Local Plan
The emerging new Local Plan uses updated evidence to propose a different requirement for affordable housing in high value areas including:
- the Hoo Peninsula
- suburban greenfield sites.
We also need affordable housing in lower value areas such as brownfield inner urban sites. 10% of all residential units should be affordable including on all sites over 10 dwellings.
The mix across these areas should be 51% social and affordable rented housing, and 49% affordable home ownership including First homes. This is based on the latest Local Housing Needs assessment referencing National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) paragraph 65.
As such 7.5% of all homes on sites in higher value areas, should be First Homes, and 7.2% should be affordable homeownership, and the rest should be social and affordable rented housing.
In lower value areas, 2.5% of all homes should be First Homes, with the rest meeting housing needs of identified groups in line with NPPF paragraph 65.
If a larger proportion of affordable housing is proposed as First Homes, applicants will need to show that there is a net additionality to the total affordable housing being proposed in line with planning practice guidance.