Get involved in the final phase of our housing conversation and help to shape our strategy to meet the county's housing needs both now and in the future.
We're developing a new housing strategy for 2024 which will update and replace the strategy agreed in 2019. The strategy outlines what we and our partners need to do to make sure County Durham will be a place of good quality, affordable homes, that meet the needs of both existing and future residents, including our older and younger generations.
Housing is more than just the roof over our heads. Good quality housing supports economic growth, helps to improve health and wellbeing for our residents and the educational achievements of our children, and creates and maintains thriving communities where people live long and independent lives. It therefore links into many areas of our work including planning, climate change, the economy, health and children's services, as well as ways to tackle homelessness and poverty.
The conversation so far
From the end of June to the middle of August this year, we asked you about what you valued about your house and home and the area you live in now and also about your future aspirations and needs.
This was to check against a proposed vision, seven principles and five priorities which had been developed and could be used to shape the new housing strategy. They were based on local evidence of the county's housing needs, both now and in the future, and what our housing market looks like.
Our first housing conversation included:
presentations to 13 Area Action Partnerships
attendance at nine County Durham Partnership groups including the County Durham Together Partnership, the Health and Wellbeing Board and the Place, Health and Communities Board
a workshop for all scrutiny councillors
presentations to the County Durham Association of Local Councils
a rural housing event, focussed on specific issues for rural housing
online consultation events with members of the public
a social media and communications campaign
The conversation was supported by three specialist surveys. We received back 368 residents' surveys, 357 children and young people (under the age of 25) surveys, and 15 industry surveys.
A range of views came through the consultation and those detailed points have informed the development of the draft Housing Strategy. The main messages from the consultation can be summarised as follows:
Overwhelming support for the vision, principles and priorities.
Concerns about anti-social behaviour and crime is illustrated by 34% of respondents to the resident survey disagreeing that they thought that their area was safe.
Support for the delivery of homes to meet needs, including homes for older people, families and affordable homes.
The importance of adaptation of houses to meet changing needs over a lifetime illustrated by one in three respondents to the residents' survey stating that they did not think their home would meet their needs in the future.
Energy efficiency improvements to the existing housing stock and high standards in new housing that both help the environment, and reduce bills, was seen as very important shown by 91% of respondents to the resident survey stating that they wanted to live in an energy efficient house in the future.
Financial pressures were clearly expressed, for example 27% of respondents disagreed that they thought they would be able to afford to keep their home warm in the future.
Concerns raised about the impact of concentrations of private rented properties, which can be associated with anti-social behaviour, empty homes and absent landlords.
Support for regulation of landlords, including through selective licensing, but also an ask for more recognition of good landlords
Local schemes to improve our towns and villages were recognised as an important future priority
Whilst recognising that meeting the needs of all groups is important, the impact of student housing on mixed and balanced communities was raised by many respondents.
Recognition of the rising issue of homelessness in the county expressed by 1 in 10 young people agreeing that they or their family was homeless, or at risk of homelessness.
48% of those with a disability disagreed that their home allowed them to live independently.
The importance of bringing empty homes back into use, but also recognition that some properties are beyond their useful life and demolition may be appropriate.
Agreement that good quality housing is a significant factor in supporting health and wellbeing outcomes.
A recognition that new housing needs to be provided alongside sufficient infrastructure to accommodate the impact of the development including schools, doctors, parking etc
If you would like to see the full Housing Conversation Feedback Report, please contact us.
What's involved in this phase
Your feedback from phase one has been used to help shape the draft Housing Strategy, including five priorities:
Priority 1: Increase the delivery of new homes, including secure, affordable housing to meet housing needs together with the infrastructure required.
Priority 2: Ensure that everyone has access to appropriate, safe and secure housing that supports health and wellbeing.
Priority 3: Ensure high quality, energy efficient homes and effective landlord services.
Priority 4: Ensure a comprehensive range of housing options for older and vulnerable people, disabled people and children and young people, including specialist accommodation and support.
Priority 5: Ensure high quality placemaking, creating safe, accessible, prosperous and sustainable places to live.
We'd now like your views on this draft before we finalise it and send it to our Cabinet for approval.
The closing date for comments was 5.00pm on Monday 18 December 2023.
What happens next
We'll look at all the feedback and make final amends to the strategy where relevant. We expect to finish the document and it be adopted by our Cabinet in March 2024.
The new housing strategy will be delivered in partnership through the County's Housing Forum, and in discussion with the county's residents, the private sector and other agencies as appropriate. The current housing strategy will remain in place until the new one is ready.