Sustainable communities are created in neighbourhoods where an efficient use of land, high quality urban design and effective integration with the physical and social infrastructure such as public transport, schools, amenities and other facilities combine to create places people want to live in. Additional features of sustainable communities include:
- compact, energy efficient and high quality urban development;
- tenure mix with a wide range of accommodation types;
- accessibility via public transport networks and also meeting the needs of the pedestrian and cyclist; and
- provision of a good range of amenities and services within easy and safe walking distance of homes.
These policies were adopted by the Department in its 2007 publication "Delivering Homes Sustaining Communities" and confirmed in the subsequent 2014 document "Social Housing Strategy 2020".
Subject to limited exemptions for projects of 4 dwellings or less, all leasing proposals are submitted to my Department by local authorities for review and to ensure that the project complies with the terms of the relevant leasing scheme; that there are sufficient funds available; and that the project is sustainable in the long-term and represents value for money. The local authority is also required to examine the proposal and report to my Department that it is suitable to meet housing need in the local area; that the properties comply with relevant standards and regulatory requirements; and that the objectives of the Department’s policy on sustainable communities, as set out above, are being met. Proposals under the Leasing Programme, as with all forms of social housing, must demonstrate that they do not conflict with the mixed dwelling type/mixed tenure dimension of the overall sustainable communities’ objective. This reflects the broad objectives of sustainable communities which are at the heart of the Government's housing policy.